Currie Chieftains 45
ANOTHER big home win for the Malleny Park men underlined their Premiership title aspirations and provided further evidence after last week’s victory over Marr that the Chieftains’ opening weekend loss at Hawick has been well and truly expunged from their system.
It wasn’t a flawless performance. Almost inevitably, Chieftains lost some of their shape as they went chasing a bumper score in the second half, but Mark Cairns‘ side were always in control.
“We play a really high, attacking rugby. We want to chuck the ball about and I felt that sometimes we didn’t get the balance there, and forced a few things when we could have stuck to a bit of structure, but overall I was really pleased with our intent to play,” said Cairns, the Chieftains head coach. “Plus, our transition into defence when we did make mistakes, and our ability to steal their line-out, helped to de-risk the rugby we were playing, so that was really pleasing, too.
Next up is a return to the Borders to take on Selkirk at Philiphaugh. “The test for us is to not give them a sniff, not give them any opportunities to create momentum, because once they get going they are really hard to stop, especially down there with the crowd behind them,” surmised Cairns. “That’s what we learned from Hawick, we gave them too many opportunities and they took full advantage then defended really well, so we’ll expect no less from Selkirk next week.”
For opposite number Trevor Carmichael, it was a case of taking it on the chin and moving on. “It was a hard day at the office,” he conceded. “As I said pre-match, Currie are the best team in the league as far as I’m concerned and they really punished our mistakes.
“We could have made life easier for ourselves with a bit better decision-making at times, and a bit more control in the way we went about the game. Our line-out didn’t function at all and not being able to play off that really did hinder us.
“We might argue that the scoreboard does not reflect the game, but it is what it is and we have to move on because it is not going to get any easier with Marr coming to Braidholm next week. We don’t become a bad team overnight, we have a few things to work on this week, but we enjoy the challenge of playing these top teams.”
GHA had an early chance to take the lead when Chieftains were called for chasers in front of the kicker but Adam Scott was uncharacteristically inaccurate with his shot at goal, and the home side took full advantage of that reprieve with a searing break from Gregor Nelson taking play from halfway to inches from the away team’s try-line, before Gregor Scougall rumbled over a few phases later to open the scoring.
Gregor Hunter‘s conversion came back off the post, but he soon had another opportunity to open his account and was spot-on this time, after a loose ball was hacked into the GHA in-goal area and Ryan Southern was first to the scene to claim the try.
When GHA captain Jamie McCarthy was sin-binned for a tip-tackle and Chieftains promptly helped themselves to try number three through some powerful driving play followed by a deft offload from Hunter which sent DJ Innes over, the writing appeared to be on the wall for the visitors – but they dug deep and had the upper hand during the remainder of the half.
From a penalty kicked to the corner, Dario Ewing came close to scoring, but lost possession as he burrowed for the line, then Max MacFarlane failed to hold on to a flat pass as he looked to burst through the centres under the shadow of the Chieftains’ posts, so all that hard work came to nothing for the visitors.
It took a while for Chieftains to reach the bonus point after the break, with the Malleny men perhaps a bit too keen to keep the ball alive with passes which weren’t really on, but they eventually got there when Rhys Davies rumbled over from close range.
Wallace Nelson, Cammy Gray and Matt Bradshaw all went over for tries in the final quarter to seal an emphatic home victory.
Currie Chieftains: C Brett; C Meagher, R Southern, DJ Innes, C Gray; G Hunter, P Boyer; G Carson, R Stewart, G Scougall, H Ferguson, R Davies, G Nelson, F Scott, W Nelson. Subs used: T Banatvala, C Ramsay, S Edwards, C Lessels, M Bradshaw.
GHA: G Mollison; A Scott; C Lonergan, M MacFarlane, L Bardelli; J Crilly, G Baird; T Brogan, E Cavan, M Fox, J Bruce, J McCarthy, D Ewing, W Graham, W Alton. Subs used: G Hiddleston, M Marinkovic, L McCutcheon, J MacKinnon, R O’Keefe.
Currie Chieftain: Tries: Scougall, Southern, Innes, Davies, Nelson, Gray, Bradshaw; Cons: Hunter 5.
Scoring sequence (Currie Chieftains first): 5-0; 10-0; 12-0; 17-0; 19-0 (h-t) 24-0; 29-0; 31-0; 36-0; 38-0; 43-0; 45-0.
Yellow cards –
GHA: McCarthy (30mins)
Man-of-the-Match: Big performances across the park, but Rhys Davies was into everything and is revelling in his new role as a hybrid second-row. Scored the bonus-point securing fourth try for good measure.
Talking Point: Chieftains are impressive when they are on the front foot but they were rattled by Hawick at Mansfield in round one, and they will have to show that they can dog it out in the coming weeks if they want to remain leading contenders in this division. For GHA, it is just a case of dusting themselves off ahead of Marr showing up at Braidholm next week – no profit can be gained from dwelling on a set-back like this.