Premiership: Currie Chieftains pushed hard by Musselburgh

A flurry of three tries just before half-time swings contest in home team's favour

Currie Chieftains versus Musselburgh. Image: Ian Gidney.
Currie Chieftains versus Musselburgh. Image: Ian Gidney.

Currie Chieftains 34

Musselburgh 5

IAIN MORRISON @ Malleny Park

CURRIE CHIEFTAINS continue to keep pressure on at the top of the table but the perennial title contenders didn’t have it all their own way at Malleny Park. Musselburgh lost by a margin but remained competitive throughout this encounter. They were ultimately undone by three quick Currie tries in the 15 minutes ahead of half-time which gave the hosts a lead they never looked like losing.

The visitors scored the first try of the game and led 5-3 for a long stretch of the opening half. A little more cutting-edge in attack plus a dollop of self-belief and Musselburgh will quickly dig themselves out of their current hole.

The visitors’ work at the breakdown was exemplary. The pattern of the first half was that Currie would string the phases together and threaten the Musselburgh line and then someone in blue would turn the ball over at the breakdown and full-back Paul Cunningham would hoof a kick 50-yards downfield. All very frustrating for the Malenny faithful and it wasn’t just in open play.


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On at least three occasions, Currie kicked to the corner, set up a driving maul and got no change from a stalwart Musselburgh defence that also swarmed pretty well in loose play, taking away Currie’s time and space and causing no end of problems for a home back-line which was a little below their best in terms of accuracy and execution.

Again the home side were sluggish coming out of the blocks with Musselburgh going five points ahead after as many minutes. Left winger Sandy Watt looked dangerous all day and he did well to offload to his centre Findlay Thomson, who in turn sent scrum-half Fionn Call over the try line. All Currie could manage in reply was three points off the tee from Christian Townsend.

“It’s annoying and frustrating,” said Mark Cairns of yet another slow start for Currie. “We trained well and we warmed up really well so I can’t put my finger on the reason for the slow start.

“But I thought that Musselburgh played really well, especially in that first period. They were quick around the corner and they stretched our defence. However we made them make a lot of tackles and I think they just ran out of puff a bit.”

If the opening quarter was difficult watching, coach Cairns would have been delighted with the 15 minutes before half time when the home side finally hit their straps and scored three quick-fire tries which went a long way towards deciding this contest. All three went to the backs with two scored from long-range and a joy to behold.

The first went to Charlie Brett who had a hand in all three. A gap opened for the full-back on the left side of the field following a period of sustained pressure and a long miss-pass from Townsend, with Brett stepping inside the final defender.

Jamie Forbes followed him onto the scoreboard after replacing winger Cammy Meager who was injured in an ugly looking aerial collision with his opposite number James Ferguson. Forbes and Brett broke from deep inside their own half, swapped passes up the left flank for the little winger to score in almost the exact same spot as Brett had a few minutes earlier.

This time Townsend made good the conversion but Forbes’ afternoon didn’t last long, the utility-back limping off shortly after he scored to be replaced by Ryan Southern.

Musselburgh looked a little shell shocked and it was no great surprise that they conceded again before the break. This time Brett made good yards up the right flank, finding Townsend on the right wing before the fly-half’s excellent inside pass released Kody McGovern to score under the sticks.

Having trailed 3-5 for a long stretch of the first half, Currie suddenly found themselves with a 22-5 advantage at the break.

 

The second half was a lot less entertaining than the first had been; a stop-start affair with continuity at a premium for both sides. The third quarter was about to be scoreless before Southern intervened in superb solo style, cutting back against the grain and beating two, three, perhaps four defenders to touch down under the posts.

There then ensued a forwards scrap that didn’t amount to much but still required the touchie’s intervention and resulted in a yellow card for Currie skipper Rhys Davies.  Musselburgh should have used the one man advantage to grab their second score but, after banging their head against a brick wall umpteen times, lock William Fleming was eventually held up over the line.

Worse was to come for the visitors who lost Kyle McGhie to the sin-bin after the replacement scrummy was guilty of a tip tackle. He passed Davies on his way back so Currie had a man advantage for much of the final 10 minutes.

The home side were unable to make the numbers work in their favour but, ironically, scored as soon as McGhie returned to the pitch. Brett dummying and stepping his way to the line and finishing off with a swallow dive for good measure.

“It’s a feature of our play that we seem to concede a try and then our heads go down for 15 or 20 minutes,” conceded Musselburgh coach Derek O’Riordan after the final whistle.

“I said to the players that I am sick to death of being valiant losers. It didn’t help that we were the only club that was tagged as relegation favourites so the players just need some self belief.”

 

Teams – 

Currie Chieftains: C Brett; C Meager, DJ Innes, A Hall, K MvGovern; C Townsend, P Boyer; C Anderson, R Stewart, C Ramsay, W Inglis, E Stewart, M Vernel, G Nelson, R Davies. Subs used: E McCallum, G Scougall, J O’Brien, J Forbes, R Southern.

Musselburgh: P Cunningham; J Ferguson, R Watt, F Thomson, S Watt; M McMillan, F Call; C Owenson, B Stott, N McNaim, M Badenhorst, W Fleming, G Neill, M Crawford, C Champion. Subs used: F Dura, C Arthur, J Haynes, L Hutson, K McGhie.

Referee: Finlay Brown.

 

Scorers – 

Currie Chieftains: Tries: Brett 2, Forbes, McGovern, Southern; Cons: Townsend 3 Pen: Townsend.

Musselburgh: Try: Call Conv: Pen:

Sequence of scoring (Chieftains first): 0-5; 3-5; 8-5; 13-5; 15-5; 20-5; 22-5 (h-t) 27-5, 29-5; 34-5.

 

Yellow cards – 

Currie Chieftains: Davies (58mins)

Musselburgh: McGhie (68mins).

 

Man-of-the-Match: Musselburgh winger Sandy Watt is one to watch, a powerful and quick runner who needs to get more involved, while both locks Michael Badenhorst and William Fleming took the game to the opposition throughout. For Currie, Christian Townsend distribution was slick from fly-half and forwards Rhys Davies and Ryan Stewart both showed up well in the bish and bash stakes. However full-back Charlie Brett scored Currie’s first and last tries and had a hand in two others.

Talking point: The match was dominated by defence and turnovers with the obvious exception of that purple patch just before the break when Currie found precision in execution that somehow deserted them for much of the rest of the contest. Closer to an 80 minute performance is required if they are to hunt down Hawick.


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About Iain Morrison 84 Articles
Iain was capped 15 times for Scotland at openside flanker between his debut against Ireland during the 1993 Six Nations and his final match against New Zealand at the 1995 World Cup in South Africa. He was twice a Cambridge ‘Blue’ and played his entire club career with London Scottish (being inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 2016). Iain is a lifelong member of Linlithgow Rugby Club. After hanging up his boots, he became rugby correspondent for The Sunday Herald, before moving to The Scotland on Sunday for 16 years, and he has also guest written for various other publications.