Currie Chieftains 32
Glasgow Hawks 0
IAIN MORRISON @ Malleny Park
CAN anyone stop Currie? That was the question on everyone’s lips after Glasgow Hawks, a side with threats across the park, were sent away from Malleny Park with tails between their legs.
“That first half was the best performance of the season,” said Currie coach Mark Cairns after his side turned around 25-0 ahead. “It was more about what we did as everything seemed to stick in that first forty. We played well because it wasn’t as if Hawks weren’t in the fight.
“And then at the end of the game I thought our defenCe was brilliant. We were tackling as though it was a five point game instead of a thirty point game. That aspect was very pleasing.”
The shellshocked visitors will wonder what they did wrong and the answer was not too much bar a little lack of accuracy at several crucial moments in attack. In defence, several men in red put in Herculean shifts, Lewis McNamara, Sione Halafihi and Mathew Stewart among them, but still Hawks found themselves overwhelmed by the speed and relentless nature of the Currie assault, all expertly orchestrated by fly-half Gregor Hunter.
Hawks had their moments, mostly at the start and the end of the game, but still rarely if ever threatened the opposition line.
“It is tough to finish with zero points after putting so much into the game,” said Hawks skipper Paul Cairncross. “We were very physical last weekend (against Hawick) but we lacked something out there today. We were not 100 percent ourselves and Currie are leaders for a reason.”
Two of the best fly-halfs in the league, Hunter and Liam Brims, went head to head with, you might have guessed, the Malleny favorite coming out well on top.
Late in the first half Hunter kicked the ball from his own half to within inches of the Hawks line to earn his side the throw in. In contrast Brims missed touch with an early penalty that would have turned the screw on the hosts and his kicking from hand generally did little other than gift the ball back to the home side. Brims’ first and only shot at posts fell short, Hunter missed one from six all afternoon.
At one point Hunter even read the opposition play and jumped out of the line to make a tackle ten yards behind play and ultimately earn his side a turnover. He has rarely played better and that is saying something.
Worst of all Hawks came with an expansive game-plan which resulted in them throwing the ball wide willy-nilly before the big men had done the hard yards up front, and the Currie defenders in the wider channels were well set and licking their lips every time.
Hawks had already missed an early penalty before Hunter edged the home side in front with a 15 minute penalty after some sharp thinking from skipper Fergus Scott who took a quick tap penalty and Hawks were lured into conceding at the very next breakdown.
Worse was to follow for the Glasgow side who, after dominating the opening exchanges, found themselves trailing 10-0 having done very little wrong.
A simple pre-planned move saw the visitors carry the ball into the Currie midfield where a loose pass ricocheted around until Hunter snapped it up and set off for the Hawks line 40 yards away. Finding himself reeled in, the classy playmaker used Joe Reynolds outside him, and eventually winger Cammy Gray claimed the opening try of the match.
Currie should have been further ahead when a clever inside ball from Reynolds carved open Hawks’ defence only for Jamie Forbes’ pass to find touch rather than anyone in yellow.
The Malleny faithful didn’t have long to wait before they had another score to celebrate. Around the half hour mark, with Hawks under more or less constant pressure, the visitors had a line-out throw five meters from their own try line. For some reason hooker Cairncross fired the throw over the top where Hawks could only tap the ball down for Currie hooker Ryan Stewart to pounce.
Still there was time for one final score in the first half. Hunter found an impeccable touch from his own half to earn his side an attacking line-out. Hawks defended their line manfully as Currie went right with the big men and then came back to the left through the backs where winger Forbes was able to step inside the last man to claim his side’s third try of the afternoon. Hunter missed the conversion, his only one of the day, leaving Currie with a 25-0 lead at the break.
After a decent opening 10 minutes of the second period which Hawks bossed, normal service was resumed with Currie camped on the Hawks’ try line in search of that bonus point fourth try. The visitors lost possession inside their own 22 attempting to run the ball out on at least two occasions but when Currie muscled the ball over the line Hawks, somehow, kept it off the ground.
That bonus point try eventually appeared around the 55 minute mark after full-back Charlie Brett injected some pace into proceedings up the right flank, and when the ball was shifted to the left number eight Rhys Davies barrelled his way over the line. It was the only score of the second half.
With the watch winding down, Hawks proved that there is nothing much wrong with their spirit and pounded away at the Currie line after some indiscipline from the home side gave away high field position. The visitors huffed and the visitors puffed but still the thin yellow line refused to fold.
It won’t be much consolation to Hawks but this gutsy, if flawed, performance would beat many of their other Premiership opponents on another day.
Currie Chieftains C Brett; C Gray, J Reynolds, DJ Innes, J Forbes; G Hunter, R Southern; G Carson, R Stewart, AP McWilliam, E Stewart, H Ferguson, W Nelson, F Scott, R Davies. Subs: S Fisher, C Ramsay, G Nelson, P Boyer, A Hall.
Glasgow Hawks: J Thompson; R Joy, B McGroarty, M Stewart, J Pinkerton; L Brims, M DOnaldson; M Downer, P Cairncross, G Strain, S Halafihi, J McLean, A Syme, I Carmichael, L McNamara. Subs: A Rogers, J Porter, S Greig, C Harrison, Y Alagilly.
Referee: Jonny Perriam.
Currie Chieftains: Tries: Gray, R Stewart, Forbes, Davies; Cons: Hunter 3; Pens: Hunter 2.
Glasgow Hawks: No scorers
Scoring sequence (Currie Chieftains first): 3-0; 8-0; 10-0; 13-0; 18-0; 20-0; 25-0 (h-t) 30-0; 32-0.
Man-of-the-Match: It was an excellent all round performance by Currie even if several Hawks got through a ton of defensive work. Full-back Charlie Brett always looked dangerous with the ball in hand, Joe Reynolds ran his lines, and the entire forward pack set the platform, but it is impossible to look past fly-half Gregor Hunter who had a huge influence on every aspect of this match.
Talking Point: Early in the game, Hawks showed that they had come to play rugby. Lock Jack McLean combined beautifully with Lewis McNamara deep inside their own 22 to send the No 8 charging up the left touchline. It was audacious rugby but still Hawks might have been better advised to kick for territory rather than run from depth and risk the turnover.