Currie Chieftains 21
ALAN LORIMER @Philiphaugh
DESPITE a fighting finish by Selkirk, it was Currie Chieftains who took the honours at Philiphaugh after a dominant first half performance in which they scored all their points to consolidate their position at the top of the Tennent’s Premiership table.
The visitors had looked unstoppable in the first half but after the break they were met by tougher resistance from a Selkirk team that looked to have woken up after a somewhat somnolent performance before the break.
Currie’s coach Mark Cairns explained his side’s shift from hot to lukewarm thus: “We were aware that we didn’t want them to get a quick score in the second half. Because of that mentality we found it more difficult to attack and to go after the bonus point. So ultimately it was a disappointing outcome for us even though to come to Selkirk and win is still a good result.”
Scott Wight, the Selkirk coach, conceded that his side had had to dig itself out of a difficult situation at the end of the first half. “We were in a dark place at half time,” he said. “Conditions were difficult in the first half; they just wore us down. We spoke about starting well but we just didn’t do that. To win these games you have to play for 80 minutes”
Currie kicked off and for the first quarter of an hour had their flag firmly planted in the Selkirk 22m area, achieving this territorial monopoly by showing excellent ball retention through multiple phases that had the home side on constant defence alert.
If patience is a virtue then it’s also a means to scoring tries, as the visitors demonstrated amply by denying Selkirk barely a touch of the ball before earning a penalty. And what do penalties mean? Points of course, Currie kicked to the corner, drove the ensuing line-out and mauled their way towards the line before Paddy Boyer splintered off the back to score, converted from the touchline by Adam Hall.
Then, after another period of ascendancy, the ball was shipped to wing Iain Sim, who had the strength, footwork and guile to evade two tackles on his way to scoring Chieftains’ second try, again Hall adding the extra points.
The first half onslaught continued as DJ Innes carved his way through midfield before Fergus Scott displayed soft hands in laying on the scoring pass for second-row Rhys Davies, this time the conversion points added by Gregor Hunter, whose later entry into the fray was for work-related reasons.
Selkirk briefly came into the game and threatened with an attack in which Kieran Clark showed his skills but the half ended with the home side defending in their own 22 and pleased to poke the ball into touch as the clock turned red.
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If all had looked wretched for Selkirk in the first 40 minutes, then the period after the interval provided a confidence lift that led to the home side’s initial breakthrough. It came from slick handling that gave Josh Welsh a chance to show his pace. The wing was caught but not before he put in a clever grubber kick allowing hooker James Bett, on the follow-up, to get hands to the ball for an unconverted try.
Encouraged by this score, Selkirk looked sharper both in attack and defence, and when their pressure earned the Philiphaugh men a penalty, Callum Anderson kicked to the corner allowing Selkirk to set up a driving maul which ended with a try for flanker Andrew McColm, replacement Scott Clark converting from wide out, making the scoreline a more palatable read for the home fans.
Selkirk: K Clark; C McNeill, B Pickles, R Nixon, J Welsh; C Anderson, J Hamilton; L Pettie, J Bett, B Riddell, P Forrest, T Brown, A McColm, A Grant-Suttie, E MacDougall. Subs: A Cochrane, J Anderson, A Renwick, S Clark, V Wara.
Currie Chieftains: Backs: C Brett, J McCaIG, R Southern, DJ Innes, I Sim, A Hall, P Boyer, F Sayers, A Hall, G Carson, S Fisher, G Scougall,, H Ferguson, R Davies, G Nelson, F Scott, W Nelson. Subs E McCallum, C Ramsey, A McCallum, J Reynolds, G hunter
Referee: G Ormiston
Selkirk: Tries: Bett, McColm; Con: Clark.
Currie Chieftains: Tries: Boyer, Sim, Davies; Cons: Hall 2, Hunter.
Scoring Sequence (Selkirk first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 0-14; 0-19; 0-21 (h-t) 5-21; 10-21; 12-21.
Man-of-the-Match: Currie did it all in the first half and in that spell they moved the ball expertly. But what made them tick was the non-stop work of their forwards among whom second-row Rhys Davies frequently caught the eye and he is man-of-the-match.
Talking point: Who wants an 11am kick-off? Certainly not Currie who had to take the field before star players Gregor Hunter and Joe Reynolds – both teachers with Saturday morning commitments – were able to arrive at Philiphaugh. As it was, that early start from their Malleny Park base perhaps benefitted the visitors in the sense that their bodies seemed more awake than the home team players, perhaps explaining their explosive performance in the first half.