Premiership: Currie Chieftains keep eye on the prize with win at Jed-Forest

Malleny Park men are well placed in the Premiership title races just four points behind leaders Marr with a game in hand

Currie Chieftains centre DJ Innes scored one of his team's four tries against Jed-Forest at Riverside Park. Image: Bill McBurnie
Currie Chieftains centre DJ Innes scored one of his team's four tries against Jed-Forest at Riverside Park. Image: Bill McBurnie

Jed-Forest 17

Currie Chieftains 35

ALAN LORIMER @ Riverside Park

THE east coast challenge for the Tennent’s Premiership top honour this season continued with Currie Chieftains registering a sixth championship result from a polished performance against a Jed-Forest side that struggled at times to match the visitors’ athletic pack. 

More specifically the difference was probably in the back-row battle where Gregor Nelson for Currie carried ball effectively in addition to discharging defensive duties with aplomb.

With a plentiful supply of quick ball, Currie’s backs at times looked uber slick when they combined in some excellent moves, which is what you might expect from a unit coached by Ally Donaldson, whereas, for their part, Jed depended much more on individual breaks to try to crack the opposition defence. But when Jed did breach the Currie defences, the visitors had to look sharp in reining in the home team’s dangerous runners, among whom Gregor Young and Mason Cullen excelled.


Also in the Premiership this weekend:

Premiership: Marr stay top with bonus-point win over Edinburgh Accies

Premiership: Hawick rain on Musselburgh’s birthday parade

Premiership: Glasgow Hawks secure win over Selkirk despite second-half fightback


Yet, despite the 18 point gap in the scores, the try count was just 4-3 to Currie. “We expected a difficult match. The scoreboard doesn’t tell the whole story,” admitted Mark Cairns, the Chieftains head coach. “They played well in patches and put us under a lot of pressure. I was happy with the way we stuck at it and when we managed to get opportunities we took them.

“We’ve been trying to get it right between risk and reward. We go it spot on at times. But we were a bit patchy in the second half and maybe did not get the balance right. Our whole pack played really well. They’re athletic and get around the park really well. I thought Rhys Davies and Gregor Nelson were outstanding today.

For Jed’s coach, Scott Tomlinson, there was mixed feelings. “I was disappointed that we came away with nothing today,” he said. “But the commitment and desire was so much better than against Hawick. We didn’t turn up last week whereas today I felt we did. We really asked questions of a very good Currie team. We made a lot of line breaks today but maybe the last pass or the connection was not right.

“What pleased me was that the youngsters we had in the team today played really well. They’ve had to wait in the wings for a week or two and they’ve had a tough couple of years because of Covid. It was good for them to play in a high standard game”.

Jed certainly looked to have sorted out the slow-start problem that blighted their performance against Hawick last weekend, by scoring within three minutes when Clark Skeldon forced his way over from a line-out maul.

But Jed’s early optimism was soon in shorter supply as Currie quickly asserted themselves, first with a Gregor Hunter penalty goal and then an opportunist try by Davies, the big second-row accepting the  invitation to go though an unguarded channel at the side of a ruck to score under the posts.

Hunter converted and then added the extras to a dazzling score for Currie that was all about accurate ball retention, intelligent support play and precision passing that ended with a touchdown from live-wire centre DJ Innes.

Then, when Lewis Young was carded for preventing fair release, Currie made good on their man advantage by turning defence into attack from a poor kick into the visitors’ 22. Again it was Currie’s backing up of the ball carrier and their slick transfer of the ball that did the damage setting up full-back Charlie Brett to dance through an over-stretched defence for try number three.

Shaken by the 22-5 scoreline Jed stirred themselves into action and were unlucky not to score then Skeldon crashed over from a line-out move only for a marginal forward pass to be called.

But just before half time, Jed got their reward for endeavour when Robbie Shirra-Gibb’s inside scoring pass was palmed down leaving referee Finlay Brown no choice but award a penalty try, and show the yellow card to perpetrator Archie McLean.

 

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If Jed appeared invigorated by their pre interval score then they soon faced more despondency when Currie claimed the bonus try after Brett finished off excellent handling by the backs, Hunter converting from the touchline.

Currie appeared to accept their fourth try as ‘job done’ allowing Jed to stage something of a late challenge in the form of pick-and-drive play that ended with Lewis Young crossing for an unconverted try,

Hunter then added to his side’s and his personal tally with two penalty goals to close out the game and seal a comfortable win for the Malleny Park side.

 

Teams –

Jed-Forest: L Young; C Young, Gregor Young, R Marshall, R Shirra-Gibb; R Nichol, A Bambrick; G Paxton, F Campbell, H Meadows, C Skelton, G Law D Wardrop, B Roff, B McNeil. Subs: C Cowan, P Ferreira, E Lauder, N Stingl, M Cullen.

Currie Chieftains: C Brett; F Sayers, R Southern, DJ Innes, J McCaig; G Hunter, P Boyer; G Carson, R Stewart, G Scougall, R Davies, H Ferguson, G Nelson, F Scott©, W Nelson. Subs: AP McWilliam, C Ramsay, S Edwards, A McLean, A Hall.

Referee: F Brown

 

Scorers –

Jed-Forest: Tries: Skeldon, Penalty Try, L Young.

Currie Chieftains: Tries: Davies, Innes, Brett 2;  Cons: Hunter 3; Pens: Hunter 3.

Scoring Sequence (Jed-Forest first): 5-0; 5-3; 5-8; 5-10; 5-15; 5-17; 5-22; 12-22 (h-t) 12-27; 12-29; 17-29; 17-32; 17-35.

 

Yellow cards –

Jed-Forest: L Young

Currie Chieftains: McLean

 

Man-of-the-Match: There were candidates aplenty for this accolade but ultimately what turned a strong performance by the Currie pack into a bonus point win was the clever control at stand-off by Gregor Hunter.

Talking point: Currie Chieftains look winners when they move the ball wide and with a pack that is capable of taking on any set of forwards in the Premiership the Malleny Park side are looking increasingly threatening in title winning terms. As for Jed, this was an improvement but they will have to find more to turn around their season.


Premiership: Glasgow Hawks secure win over Selkirk despite second-half fightback

About Alan Lorimer 183 Articles
Scotland rugby correspondent for The Times for six years and subsequently contributed to Sunday Times, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Scotsman, Herald, Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Herald and Reuters. Worked in Radio for BBC. Alan is Scottish rugby journalism's leading voice when it comes to youth and schools rugby.