Premiership Final: courageous Currie Chieftains break Hawick hearts

14-man visitors hold their nerve to secure a famous win

Currie Chieftains captain Jamie Forbes lifts the Premiership trophy after tense play-off final win over Hawick at Mansfield Park. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Currie Chieftains captain Jamie Forbes lifts the Premiership trophy after tense play-off final win over Hawick at Mansfield Park. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Hawick 24

Currie Chieftains 26

DAVID BARNES @ Mansfield Park

DESPITE playing the entire second half with a man less after the red-carding of scrum-half Gregor Christie just before the break, Currie Chieftains were worthy winners of this gripping Premiership play-off final having produced a performance packed with guts, intelligence and nerve against a Hawick team who paid a heavy price for an uncharacteristically sloppy and ill-disciplined showing.

Having lost last year’s final in excruciating circumstances to the same opposition at the same venue, and the year before’s final to Marr, this will feel like a monkey off the Malleny men’s backs. But they hopefully won’t spend too long looking backwards, because this is a moment to savour for a side who were widely written off as title-challengers after a sticky patch when they lost three out of four games in late September and early October.

It is a bitter pill for Hawick to swallow after finishing the season as runaway winners of the league. They were on the hunt for a historic league and cup double-double. This year, in fact, it would have been a ‘triple’ with the Border league title thrown in for good measure. It was not to be, however, so a deeply disappointing end to the club’s 150th celebration season.


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Chieftains wasted no time in setting out their stall, blasting into a fourth minute lead through powerhouse blindside Rhys Davies from a close-range tap-penalty move, converted by Jamie Forbes.

Hawick responded in quick order, with DJ Innes perhaps harshly penalised for going off his feet and Ford kicking the points, after a typically slippery Lee Armstrong carry had taken the home team to right in front of the posts.

But the pendulum swung back again when Andrew Mitchell was called for an offside after collecting a neat chip ahead and Forbes slotted the points.

Perhaps flustered by Chieftains’ intensity, Hawick could not settle into the game. Visiting full-back Charlie Brett may have knocked the ball on before sending a clearance downfield, but the referee didn’t whistle so Kirk Ford had no grounds for complaint after he let the ball sail over his head for a massive territorial gain for the visitors. The Borderers then knocked on a disrupted line-out, before Armstrong gave away a high-tackle penalty bang in front of the posts on the 22, which Forbes gratefully turned into three more points.

The home team’s unravelling continued. Jae Linton looked strangely unsure of himself as he ran the ball back from deep  usually when he is at his most dangerous – and was brought down by Innes without making any real impact, and then penalised for playing the ball on the deck in a desperate attempt to minimise the damage done by a ferocious Chieftains counter-ruck.

But the visitors were not immune from calamity either, with Brett stubbing his toe on the turf and missing the ball completely as he tried to grubber ahead, which handed some much needed initiative back to Hawick, who soon capitalised by kicking a penalty to just inside the 22 then unleashing a runaway train of a maul all the way to the line for Calum Renwick to score.

Chieftains thought they’d had the last word of the first half with a ruck penalty which Forbes sent through the sticks from five yards inside the right touchline, making it 10-16 with the pitch-side clock in the red, but there was still time for more drama.

Instead of kicking the ball out from the restart, Chieftains picked up a penalty and took a quick tap, but failed to control possession at the breakdown and ultimately lost scrum-half Gregor Christie to a red-card for a tip-tackle on opposite number Gareth Welsh.

 

 

That was a major setback for the visitors, but they were not going to let it kill their chances of a famous win, and they stretched their lead again within three minutes of the resumption, with a score initiated by Forbes breaking from halfway. When he was eventually pulled down the ball was quickly recycled and sent leftward to Cammy Gray, who looked at the two team-mates waiting outside but stepped inside himself to score, with Forbes adding the extras to make it five from five off the tee.

Hawick had a chance to nibble away at that 13 point deficit when they were awarded a deliberate knock-on penalty 15-yards out and right in front of the posts with 32 minutes still to play, but they wanted a bigger bite so kicked sideways for an attacking line-out instead.

They didn’t score that time, but Innes was penalised right in front of the posts for languishing on the wrong side of a tackle, and again Hawick spurned the three easy points, taking a quick-tap from five yards out instead. But there was no way through and when they came away from that period of pressure empty handed it was clear that the defending champions were in trouble.

They needed a hero, and Linton decided he could be that man with one of those wrecking ball runs up the middle of the park he specialises in. It delivered a much-needed – albeit temporary – shot of composure to the home ranks, and after patiently building pressure through a series of tight drives, they spread the ball right for Charlie Welsh to scamper over.

Ford converted but Chieftains kept their side of the scoreboard ticking over with an offside penalty, meaning it was back to being a two-score game, with about 20 minutes left to play.

Chieftains kept their heads. Sam Cardosi won a great turnover penalty over the tackled and isolated Dalton Redpath just outside his own 22. Hawick then gave away a penalty for pulling down at the line-out and in the blink of an eye found themselves defending a line-out on their own line.

The Borderers survived that but when they got a chance to relieve the pressure through a ruck penalty on their own 10-yard line, Ford raced his kick and ended up sending it dead, meaning a Chieftains scrum all the way back where they had started.

 

 

Finally, it did click again for Hawick, with Linton making the initial dunt, Armstrong splitting the defence, Mitchell providing support and Calum Renwick finishing off his second try of the afternoon. Ford’s conversion meant two points separated the teams with 10 minutes left.

Chieftains initially did a decent job of kettling Hawick back inside their own 22 as the clock slowly ticked down, but when Charlie Welsh found himself in space on the right to send forward a long searching kick into the unmanned back-field, the flustered visitors made a rush job of clearing the ball to safety, which handed the hosts one final tilt at glory.

Hawick dug deep, but Chieftains matched them every step of the way, and eventually won a ruck penalty in front of their own posts with 20 second to go. They kicked to touch, but messed up the line-out. Fortunately, tight-had prop Graham Carson managed to tidy up, and finally replacement scrum-half Paddy Boyer sent the ball out for the final whistle.

The massively outnumbered travelling support ecstatically invaded the field to celebrate with their players. You could have heard a pin drop around the rest of Mansfield.

Rugby is a cruel game, but Chieftains so often the unlucky also-rans – are entitled to feel they had this one coming. Not for what they achieved over the course of the season – nobody can rationally argue that anyone other than the beaten finalists were the top performers in the league this year– but the Edinburgh side were the better team during this 80 minutes, and with the play-off system that’s all that matters.

And as an added bonus, this win also means the Bill McLaren Shield will start next season at Malleny Park.

 

Teams –

Hawick: K Ford; C Welsh, A Mitchell, L Armstrong, R McKean; K Brunton (B Donaldson, 65), G Welsh (D Lightfoot 65); S Muir, F Renwick (R Anderson, 72), N Little (R Graham 55), C Sutherland, D Redpath, S Graham ( F Wilson 69), C Renwick, J Linton. 

Currie Chieftains: C Brett; J McCaig, C Gray, DJ Innes, R Daley; J Forbes, G Christie; T Jeffrey ( C Anderson 52), R Stewart (R Vucago 52), G Carson (O Blyth-Lafferty 32=72), A Bain (A McCallum 52), C West, R Davies, A Fletcher (P Boyer 41), S Cardosi.

Referee: Ciaran Stark

 

Scorers –

Hawick: Try: C Renwick 2, C Welsh; Con: Ford 3; Pen: Ford.

Currie Chieftains: Tries: Davies, Gray; Con: Forbes 2; Pen: Forbes 4.

Scoring sequence (Hawick first): 0-5; 0-7; 3-7; 3-10; 3-13; 8-13; 10-13; 10-16 (h-t) 10-21; 10-23; 15-23; 17-23; 17-26; 22-26; 24-26.

 

Red cards –

Currie Chieftains: Christie (40 mins)

 

Man-of-the-Match: Heroes all over the park for Chieftains with tips of the cap directed at back-rower Sam Cardosi, who was into everything and played a key role in neutralising the threat posed by Jae Linton, and DJ Innes, who was a totem in midfield, but captain fantastic Jamie Forbes clinches it for his all-round composure, pin-point kicking off the tee, and that break at the start of the second half which got his side back on course after the disruption of the red-card.

Talking point: There’s lots of anxiety about what will happen to the top end of Scottish club rugby in the post Super Series era, but if this sort of intensity and drama can be the benchmark for next season’s Premiership then the Murrayfield performance department will have to recognise the need to engage.


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About David Barnes 3957 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

47 Comments

  1. SWY, fifty years plus following rugby in Ayrshire. Ayr have taken many boys from surrounding teams not playing them or giving youth opportunity. Glasshouses neighbour,

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  2. As an Ayr supporter, I do not believe that willing ill-will to any club matches the core principles that we try to follow at Ayr, nor indeed the principles of the sport of rugby.

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  3. What many supporters in the stand may have missed was the VERY sporting gesture from the red-carded Currie player offering an apology to Welsh when he was substituted. This was an excellent example of maturity and acceptance that he had been in the wrong. WELL DONE YOUNG MAN.

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    • This regularly happens as such red card offences are normally the result of mis-timed rather than malicious tackles. It’s no less welcome here though and well done to the player concerned.

  4. As a Currie supporter, I’m delighted with yesterday’s win,and commiserations to Hawick.
    The “Greens”supporters we spoke to were mostly gracious in defeat, although whistling while kicking is not “respecting the kicker”
    To all rugby supporters..
    Please keep our game free from bad behaviour.
    And to the “powers that be”
    Please scrap the “play-off”
    system.
    Hawick will probably feel hard done by, but we’ve been in the same position twice.
    so we’ll take this win.
    Hopefully we’ll have another equally competitive season next year.

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  5. As a Currie supporter, I’m delighted with yesterday’s win,and commiserations to Hawick.
    The “Greens”supporters we spoke to were mostly gracious in defeat, although whistling while kicking is not “respecting the kicker”
    To all rugby supporters..
    Please keep our game free from bad behaviour.
    And to the “powers that be”
    Please scrap the “play-off”
    system.
    Hawick will probably feel hard done by, but we’ve been in the same position twice.
    so we’ll take this win.
    Hopefully we’ll have another equally competitive season next year.

  6. As a Currie supporter, I’m delighted with yesterday’s win,and commiserations to Hawick.
    The “Greens”supporters we spoke to were mostly gracious in defeat, although whistling while kicking is not “respecting the kicker”
    To all rugby supporters..
    Please keep our game free from bad behaviour.
    And to the “powers that be”
    Please scrap the “play-off”
    system.
    Hawick will probably feel hard done by, but we’ve been in the same position twice.
    so we’ll take this win.
    Hopefully we’ll have another equally competitive season next year.

  7. As a Currie supporter, I’m delighted with yesterday’s win,and commiserations to Hawick.
    The “Greens”supporters we spoke to were mostly gracious in defeat, although whistling while kicking is not “respecting the kicker”
    To all rugby supporters..
    Please keep our game free from bad behaviour.
    And to the “powers that be”
    Please scrap the “play-off”
    system.
    Hawick will probably feel hard done by, but we’ve been in the same position twice.
    so we’ll take this win.
    Hopefully we’ll have another equally competitive season next year.

  8. The entire group of decision makers at Hawick Rugby should offer their resignations and stand down immediately. We will never be able to measure whether the events over the last few months had a direct effect on the team yesterday, but it can’t have helped. I really feel for the players! I believe there was a heightened pressure on the entire Hawick rugby setup in that they almost needed to win yesterday to ‘get away’ with the shambolic decision to oust the coaching setup at the most important juncture of the season, where stability, confidence and focus are at their most important.
    To create the situation where their coaches were sacked/forced to resign weeks before the team played in a cup then league final is scandalous and against all sporting logic or without precedence. No matter how good or bad the coaches were, the decision to do what they did when they did caused a distraction for the players and staff, whilst in the midst of a consistent and productive run of success.
    To do what they did at that point in the season just reeked of that good ole Hawick rugby arrogance and that ‘we know better because we are from a storied rugby town of old’ attitude that flows through the back rooms at Mansfield Park.
    As seen with the current squad they have, Hawick still produce an envious and impressive volume of talented rugby players, but as has been the case for as long as I can remember, the only thing holding them back is the club itself and it’s inherent ability to cause chaos from within. Sad stuff! But same old, same old!

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    • Trojan08,don’t feel sorry for the players.It was them that had the ” secret vote” without Matty knowing anything about it. Why and when the committee did what they did is beyond comprehension. Look on the bright side at least Hawick have saved £25k in bonus payments to the squad for not doing the double.

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  9. Nothing “Braw” about AG2, but with such constant asinine trolling, his presumably painfully-acquired “pail merks” are there for all to see. Horrible, truly horrible!

    A few short miles south down the A7 (and who knows where on the legal pecking order…) nippy wee Rory B’s unique mixture of thin skin, brass neck, vitriol and single functional eye provides equal fodder for the great chuckling unwashed.

    Better if we could see and hear less from both….

    Albert

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  10. Great Currie win and a great spectacle for the Premiership. Respect to the Hawick Players who came out and mingled with the Currie Crowd congratulating the player. Big Respect👏👏

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  11. There is a lot of chat online about the Currie support taking things too far, yes they got a little over exciter and it is something they need to learn from.

    It was not just the Currie support however, the Hawick Force lining the tunnel as the Currie team came in from their warm up, calling them every name under the sun and again as they came onto the pitch. It’s a learning experience for some of the support today but don’t just blame the Currie boys when some of the Hawick support were just as bad!

    Rugby was the real winner today, two great teams battling it out on the pitch.

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    • “the Hawick Force lining the tunnel as the Currie team came in from their warm up, calling them every name under the sun and again as they came onto the pitch”

      Pathetic is it not? Wonder what 18 years old like Ollie Blyth Lafferty are thinking when they get abuse hurled at them. Im all for friendly rivalry – That sounds like something different.

      Well done Currie.

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  12. Great performance by Currie. Mark Cairns got all the big calls right today. Selection. Substitutions. Tactics. Adjusting to 14 players. Great reward for a coach who has worked hard to develop himself and so many others.

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  13. Great result Currie & redemption for last year & Mr Bannerman, last yrs pitch invasion by Hawick supporters was exactly the same, so I don’t see yr point!?
    To Jamie a great way to draw to a close out a tremendous rugby career – proud family!!!😊👊

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  14. Angry Gala 2 is running amok on here .
    Plus he obviously has a few aliases .
    Because Can’t believe how many seem to agree with him with all the thumbs up
    He’s spoiling this forum for most people

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    • Says one of the people who consistently comments under Super 6/SRU articles with the same old tripe that has nothing to do with said articles.

      I will categorically say right now i have no aliases. Perhaps i’m a voice for the silent majority who, when they speak up, get called out for not using ‘a real name’ or on the end of random demeaning comments, simply because they see things from a different point of view.

      Guess what Daffy, your not going to bully me.

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    • Daffy, he’s no worse than anyone else and you and others like Mouse constantly bickering back and forth are just as bad. Don’t like what he says, give him a thumb down and move on. It’s boring having the comments clogged up.

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  15. Well done Currie
    Good things come to those who wait !
    As a Marr man I knew your time would come. Enjoy.

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  16. Angry gala ( there clearly is no other type) we all look forward to seeing gala back up in the top flight, changing coaches is neither here nor there, perhaps using your real name might be the making of you, who know?
    Currie’s start today was excellent.
    A fair number of mystifying decisions in the game.
    Hrfc remain the most decorated club in Scotland, and winning the league , the Scottish cup and the border league this year was excellent.
    Currie played well to win the League cup today.
    Unacceptable supporter conduct at the final whistle was a bit like football hooliganism but Ally Donaldson and his winning side deserve a big drink tonight.

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      • Rory Bannerman .
        Just ignore him …he’s just stirring it as usual .
        He’s on his last warning from Offside Line editorDavid Barnes for his past remarks .

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      • Angry Gala 2
        By your constant moaning and stirring
        You obviously hate anything to do with Hawick

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    • Unfortunately it’s the minority that spoil the crowd atmosphere.
      When we played Hawick at Murrayfield I was saddened to see a lot of the Hawick teenagers shouting and swearing at our supporters with a few hand gestures thrown in. No room for football nonsense in the rugby stands.

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      • Really Marr vin Haglar? Thats rather pathetic behaviour from Hawick if its true. Is it a culture issue or just a few bad apples?

        I’ve noticed many Hawick supporters complaining about the ref and moaning about the 1 bad apple in the Currie crowd – rather than just giving Currie their dues. Sad to see.

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      • Interesting, experienced exactly the same when down at Hawick for an u18 Cup Semi Final a couple of years ago (Hawick lost though, so that silenced them). In general I haven’t been particularly impressed by the Hawick support in the couple of time’s I’ve been supporting teams in opposition to them. All for a bit of banter, but not going way beyond that.

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    • Rory, no pseudonym required from me. As a neutral I thought Currie were by far the better team and thoroughly deserved their victory. Congratulations Currie and have a good night at Malleny Park.
      I agree with your sentiments about their supporters conduct after the whistle but was also appalled by the conduct of the Mansfield faithful whose booing and language throughout the match also totally unacceptable.

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      • Interesting Douglas – your not the first person to mention their is a culture issue at Hawick in regards to their supporters.

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  17. Congratulations Currie. To be so near the last couple of seasons this shows tremendous resilience to win with 14. Enjoy your night!

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  18. Well played Currie. Today you were the better team by far. Hawick looked sluggish whilst Currie were up for it with some great individual performances. There were a couple of puzzling ref decisions and at times I thought he lost control of the game.
    However, for Hawick to have the ignominy of losing to 14 ,men is going to hurt. Maybe no bad thing. We’ve reasonable backs who were devoid of ideas when they did try to attack but credit to Currie for great offensive defence. Away and lack your wounds Hawick. Enjoy the break and come back stronger.

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    • Well done Currie on your win but would like you to Name and shame your supporter that punched the Hawick player on the final whistle don’t need that in Rugby

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  19. Well done to Currie win from a Hawick supporter .
    Tremendous game .
    Playing with a man red carded .you did your homework .
    Maybe some redemption for last year .
    One game too far for Hawick I think

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  20. Well Done Currie!!

    Perhaps the loss of Hawick’s coach has resulted in a dip in performance?

    Eat Humble Pie.

    Again, Well done Currie.

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