Currie Chieftains 31
ALAN LORIMER @ Riverside Park
CURRIE CHIEFTAINS had to produce an exceptional second-half performance to achieve their bonus-point win over a Jed-Forest side which led at the break but which ultimately could not answer the visitors’ control in the later stages of the game.
But Jed, sore perhaps at missing out on a losing bonus point, will come out of this match against the most consistent team in the league over the past few seasons with a new confidence that should augur well for the remainder of their Tennent’s Premiership campaign. It was a point confirmed by their coach Andy Brown, who said: “The boys absolutely took it to them.
“Everything we did was positive for the first 50 minutes. We knew they were going to come out of the blocks after half-time. And they did. We never really managed to get a handle on the game thereafter. When we played them in the first match of the season they beat us by over 40 points. Today it was different. We’re making massive strides. We competed with what I think is the best team in the league.
“We’re bitterly disappointed but happy with the way we’re heading. I’m in this for a couple of years at least. If we can build at the rate we’re going for the rest of the season then we can compete with the top in the league.”
For Currie, who took control of the match after the break with a performance of ruthless efficiency and professional patience, this was a reaffirmation of their championship-winning strength after a couple of derailments earlier this season.
Commenting on Currie’s winning second-half performance, coach Mark Cairns said: “We came good in the second half and put some good phases together and managed to keep a lot of possession. I think we were in their half for most of the second half. I was really happy with our defence today – they challenged us early on and there were moments when our defence really had to stand up.
“Our attack was very good. This was much more testing than our first match against them. After hearing their score against Marr we knew we’d be in for a hard game.”
If there was any lingering sense that this would be an easy match for Currie, then the Malleny mindset was jolted into reality by a break from the home side’s stand-off Jye McGough that morphed into a scoring run as he cut through the remaining Chieftains defence to touch down under the posts, leaving Finlay Scott with a simple conversion.
Currie’s reply, with not a little hint of indignity at allowing such an easy score, was both swift and efficient. The visitors retained possession and punctured the Jed defence with fierce forward forays before Christian Townsend and Charlie Brett combined to send James McCaig over in the corner.
Jed were quickly back on the attack and after Paddy Boyer deliberately prevented the home side from taking a quick penalty, referee Calum Lazenby doled out a further 10 metres as punishment, allowing Scott to add three points to his side’s tally
Then, from a penalty kick to the corner, the Jed forwards pounded the Currie line before the ball was released smartly to the blindside for centre Rory Marshall to squeeze in for his side’s second try, converted from the touchline by Scott to give the Royal Blues a 17-5 lead.
Again Currie replied swiftly to this set-back with slick transference of the ball for McCaig, appearing on his opposite wing to claim his second try. This time Adam Hall was successful with the conversion.
The action/reaction nature of the game again showed itself as Jed ran a poor kick out of defence by Currie. Lewis Young and Robbie Shirra-Gibb cut through the Currie backline to set up a chance for Mason Cullen. The teenager, using his footballing skills, put in a delicate grubber kick, his follow-up seemingly producing a try only for the judgement after a discussion between the referee and his assistant to be that the ball had been marginally nudged forward.
It was disappointing for both Jed and their young wing but the home side did eke out further points before the break with a second penalty by Scottto give the home side a 20-12 half-time advantage.
The gap diminished at the beginning of the second 40 after Currie, from a quickly taken penalty for a deliberate knock-on by Lewis Young that earned the full back a yellow card, used their forwards to mount an assault on the Jed line. It ended with prop Chris Anderson bullocking over for a try converted by Hall.
Currie then made their one-man advantage further tell when from a penalty kick to the corner their forwards drove the subsequent line-out for Kyle Steel to score his side’s bonus-point try.
Jed’s attempts to reply were hampered by two missed penalty touch kicks by the normally reliable Lewis Young. As it was, Currie profited not from these kicking flaws but from set-piece possession and crisp handling that gave replacement Koby McGovern a try, converted by Townsend.
Jed’s never-say-die attitude, however, manifested itself in the last play of the game with a sparkling run by Cullen, only for the winger to be caught inches from the line and then penalised for not releasing, denying his side a possible losing bonus point that the Royal Blues would have richly deserved.
Jed-Forest: L Young; M Cullen, R Marshall, R Ferreira, R Shirra-Gibb; J Mcgough, A Bambrick; G Paxton, F Scott, P Ferreira, E Lauder, C Skeldon©, K Grieve, B Roff, B McNeil. Subs: T Cromarty, J Story, D Wardrop, G Young, O Cranston.
Currie Chieftains: C Brett; C Meager, DJ Innes, A Hall, J McCaig; C Townsend, P Boyer; C Anderson, R Stewart, C Ramsay, W Inglis, J O’Brien, K Steel, J Brown, R Davies©. Subs: A Steel, J Ramsay, R Weston, G Christie, K McGovern.
Referee: Calum Lazenby.
Jed-Forest: Tries: McGough, Marshall; Cons: Scott 2; Pens: Scott 2.
Currie Chieftains: Tries: McCaig 2, Anderson, Steel, McGovern; Cons: Hall 2, Townsend.
Scoring Sequence (Jed first): 5-0, 7-0, 7-5, 10-5, 15-5, 17-5, 17-10, 17-12, 20-12 (ht) 20-17, 20-19, 20-24, 20-29, 20-31.
Yellow cards –
Jed-Forest: L Young.
Man-of-the-Match: There were players on both sides who merited this accolade with strikingly good performances from James McCaig, Charlie Brett, Kyle Steel and Rhys Davies for Currie and Mason Cullen, Rory Marshall, Robbie Shirra-Gibb and Ben McNeill. But it was the sheer all-round talent of Jed’s hooker Finlay Scott, whose four-from-four off the tee and distribution skills allied to his strong defence make him Man of the Match.
Talking point: Both sides were clearly intent on making a point and in the event Currie showed that they are back on track. But in many ways the real winners of this contest were Jed, who have now established a new self-belief that they can compete with the top sides, a contrast from where they were this time last season.