Edinburgh Accies 20
Currie Chieftains 24
DAVID BARNES @ Raeburn Place
THEY pushed Currie all the way but Accies couldn’t break their opponents’ long-winning streak which stretches back to round two of the season – meaning that the home side did not jump ahead of Hawick to third in the Premiership table. They therefore face a re-match against the league’s dominant team at Malleny Park in the play-off semi-finals in three weekends’ time.
“The big difference between ourselves and Currie today was the accuracy,” reflected beaten head coach Iain Berthinussen afterwards. “When they had an opportunity in our 22, generally they took it. We coughed top five line-outs, which made life hard for us, but to be in the game at the end despite that gives us something to build on when we play them again.
He added that he is not too despondent about having to head across the city for the play-off as opposed to cross-country to face Marr. “Its a closer journey so we won’t have to pay for a bus and we might get a few more supporters there,” he reasoned. “Both those teams have beaten us twice this year so it is going to be a tough ask either way. But we’ve got nothing to lose so we’re looking forward to going there and giving it a crack. They’ve done really well to win 17 games on the bounce, but someone has to beat them at some point.”
Meanwhile, Currie head coach Mark Cairns was sanguine enough that his team found a way to win without really hitting their straps. “I’d have liked to see a lot better execution from the guys at times, but Accies definitely put us under pressure and sucked us into a lot of rucks,” he said.
“That left us with limited options at stand-off and we tried to force a few wide passes where they also put us under a lot of pressure. So, our attack was a bit off today, but we’re happy with the bonus-point win.”
“I suppose the good thing about not playing very well is that we didn’t show them much ahead of the play-off, and there is a lot for us to focus on over the next three weeks in terms of our own performance.”
When Currie rumbled a line-out maul 20-yards for Gregor Nelson try with less than three minutes played, it was an early indication of where the visitors believed they had the edge in this contest. Joe Reynolds slotted the conversion to make iy 7-0.
But Accies refused too be spooked and demonstrated with a solid scrum on their own ball, a well-taken line-out and then a huge shove on a Currie scrum that they were ready to go toe-to-toe in this battle. Both sides showed plenty of intent during the opening quarter of an hour, but struggled to work through enough phases to really open the game up.
That was until Accies produced a fine passage of play which culminated in a flat pass from Vincent Hart sending Struan Whittaker on a charge to the line, with Ben Appleson nailing the extras to make it all-square.
Currie bounced back almost immediately. Hamish Janes managed to cut out a long Jamie Forbes pass for what would have been a certain try on the left, but Appleson’s clearance went straight out, meaning the visitors attacked again, and this time a wicked bounce caught-out the Accies cover and Charlie Brett capitalised.
It was going to take more than that to derail the Accies challenge, as an excellent tackle by Finlay Simpson on Joe Reynolds, which forced a turnover, demonstrated. That provided the platform for an assault which failed just short of the Currie line when Jamie Sole was penalised for holding-on.
Accies were five-points arrears at the break, and they will have been frustrated that three penalties inside their opponents 22 meant the scoreboard did not reflect the territorial balance of the first 40, but also encouraged that they had matched their esteemed adversaries in almost every area during that period.
The hosts fired out the blocks after the break, aided by Currie’s kick-off going out on the full. Jamie Troup sniped from the scrum back on halfway, Simpson and Neil Armstrong carried it on, but then yet another not-releasing penalty was conceded and their opponents took full advantage, surging upfield and over for the try, scored by DJ Innes and converted by Reynolds.
Accies then had another long period of pressure inside their opponents 22. Robbie Kent got close with a lovely weaving run through Currie’s midfield, three penalties were kicked to touch, and one drive was held up over the line, before the home team finally closed the gap just before the hour mark in rather peculiar circumstances.
Playing a penalty advantage five yards out and in front of the posts, Troup turned on his heel and fired a drop-goal over to pick up six of the 12 points his team needed. With a bit more time to think things through, he might have decided that keeping the pressure on and pushing for seven points would have been the better strategy.
It was a momentum shift, but not the way Troup had hoped. Currie spent the next 10 minutes camped in Accies’ half, before slick hands sent Ryan Daley over on the right for the bonus-point try.
A bitter pill to swallow but Accies battled back and scored their second try through Cole Imrie following a strong line-out drive, and Max Wallace went over for try number three on the stroke of full-time, but Appleson couldn’t manage either of the tricky conversions which would have salvaged a draw.
Edinburgh Accies: B Appleson; H Janes, R Kent, N Armstrong, M Sinclair (M Wallace 65); V Hart, J Troup (B Grainger 65); C Imrie, C Black (F McAslan 51), C Lacour, C Bain (A Winnington-Ingram 69), S Whittaker (M Crowther 60), F Simpson, S Hegarty, J Sole.
Currie Chieftains: C Brett; R Daley, J Reynolds, DJ Innes, J McCaig (C Lessels 23); J Forbes, P Boyer (F Sayers 69); G Carson, R Stewart (S Fisher 60), A McWilliam (E McCallum 69)_, H Ferguson, C Roman, G Nelson (W Nelson 40), F Scott, R Davies.
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Whittaker, Imrie, Wallace; Con: Appleson; DG: Troup.
Currie Chieftains: Tries: G Nelson, Brett, Innes, Daley; Cons: Reynolds 2.
Scoring sequence (Edinburgh Accies first): 0-5; 0-7; 5-7; 7-7; 7-12 (h-t) 7-17; 7-19; 10-19;l 10-24; 15-24; 20-24.
Yellow cards –
Currie Chieftains: Daley (78mins)
Man-of-the-Match: Despite being on the losing side, Accies inside-centre Neil Armstrong was a powerful presence both sides of the ball.
Talking point: Mark Cairns believes his side under-performed but how much was that down to the pressure Accies managed to exert. With Matt Walker and Ruairi Campbell expected back in time for the re-match in the play-offs, Iain Berthinussen’s men will fancy a real crack against the league’s top dogs – but their opponents will be boosted by the return of some of their missing backs as well.