Premiership: GHA force Currie Chieftains to dig deep for 11th consecutive win

Home side show they have the potential to get one over any side in the Premiership but have to make do with a losing bonus-point

Currie Chieftains put GHA under pressure. Image: Colin Robinson
Currie Chieftains put GHA under pressure. Image: Colin Robinson

GHA 15

Currie Chieftains 20

IAIN HAY @ Braidholm

THE hosts came close to halting runaway league leaders Currie Chieftains’ winning streak, which now stretches to eleven matches, in a pulsating encounter featuring plenty of flair, physicality and contention.

“We started well but then got a bit loose, and it’s really hard to change when you start to play loose and not work as hard as you should,” said a relieved Mark Cairns.

“I don’t think we respected the opposition enough after that opening 15-minute spell and then they nearly made it count. What I admired about our performance is that we dug ourselves a hole, we’re a man down and in our own 22, but we worked really hard in defence to keep them out, and then at the end of the game we showed good control. I’m pleased with the way the boys responded towards the end but we should never have been in that position.”


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In the opening fifteen minutes Cairns is referring to, it looked like Currie would inflict a similar beating to the one they dished out the last time these two sides met in fixture round three, a 45-0 stomping at Malleny Park.

Paddy Boyer squeezed over from the base of a ruck inside the opening two minutes, and despite losing last week’s double try-scorer James McCaig to injury, the visitors doubled their advantage through another close-range drive thanks to Graeme Carson, captaining the side in the absence of Fergus Scott.

Between those two tries, GHA had shown flashes of their attacking threat, led from the back by Grant “The Mullet” Mollison, and it took a vital tackle by Gregor Hunter on the edge of the Currie 22 to stop Scott Plumridge.

When Hunter knocked over a penalty – to add to his two earlier conversions – it put the visitors into a seemingly commanding 17-point lead. However, perhaps lacking the leadership oft provided by Scott, as seen in last week’s comfortable victory over closest challengers Marr, the away side then seemed to lose their way a little, while GHA grew stronger.

The dashing Mollison’s cute offload allowed Christopher Hyde plenty of open prairie to hare down the right touchline, and he drew the last man before releasing Adam Kerr for a score under the sticks, converted by George Baird.

Chieftains inside-centre DJ Innes then knocked on in his own 22 to hand possession over to GHA and it looked for all the world like Baird had scored a wonderful sniping effort, only for referee David Young to rule that Charlie Brett and pals had done enough to prevent him from grounding.

Currie did have the chance to extend their lead as the half drew to a close, and against 14 men. Michael Fox was yellow-carded for leading with the shoulder, having just been spoken to by referee Young about the number of penalties he had been conceding at scrums. But not for the only time in the afternoon – and the same can also be said of the home side – the visitors’ arrow wasn’t accurate after they had kicked to touch.

 

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At the beginning of the second half, a huge tackle by Andrew Stirratt – who was giving up a fair amount of bulk to his opponent – on Ewan Stewart set the tone for what became a dominant second half for the home side.

An excellent run from Stirratt’s midfield partner Charlie Lonergan led to a penalty which Baird stroked over, and although Hunter soon cancelled that out, the tide had definitely turned.

Innes was yellow-carded for blocking Ruairi O’Keefe’s run after he had chipped ahead, then in the aftermath there was a bit of argy-bargy which saw Currie marched back a further 10 metres, and O’Keefe was incensed by a comment made by one of Currie’s non-playing staff on the sideline.

With the sin-binning period just started, Stirratt scored a superb solo try, carving through midfield and showing great pace to squeeze in at the left corner, and soon afterwards it looked like Hyde would sneak over in the opposite corner following on from great footwork by Plumridge, but Adam Hall did superbly well to get across and stop the danger.

As the clock ticked down, more penalties and pressure followed for GHA. Substitute Benoit Jouary went close following a tap-and-go, but was adjudged to have knocked-on when he could practically smell the try-line.

Then, after the otherwise excellent Plumridge was pinged for rolling on the floor whilst still in possession, Currie saw out the last couple of minutes until Boyer gleefully booted the ball into touch.

“I can’t fault the boys today, I’m proud of all of them”, said GHA head coach Trevor Carmichael. “First half Currie came out and scored the early tries, but we got back into it at 7-17. At half-time we just said to the boys: ‘We’ve got 40 minutes to just empty it’ and for nearly the whole 40 we were on top in the second half.

“I think on our day, when we play well, we can beat any team in this league – and there’s other that could say the same – but I think today we proved a point, and give ourselves a platform to work off for the next game against Marr.”

Teams –

GHA: G Mollison; C Hyde, C Lonergan, A Stirrat, R O’Keefe; A Goudie, G Baird; D Hunter, G Hiddleston, M Fox, J Campbell, J McCarthy©, A Kerr, S Plumridge, J Bruce. Subs: D Ewing, B Boum, W Graham, S Simpson, B Jouary

Currie Chieftains: C Brett; A Hall, R Southern, D Innes, J McCaig; G Hunter, P Boyer; G Carson©, S Fisher, AP McWilliam, E Stewart, H Ferguson, G Nelson, W Nelson, R Davies. Subs: R Stewart, C Ramsay, A McCallum, C Gray, E Cunningham.

Referee: David Young

 

Scorers –

GHA: Tries: Kerr, Stirrat; Cons: Baird; Pens: Baird.

Currie Chieftains: Tries: Boyer, Carson; Cons: Hunter 2;  Pens: Hunter 2.

Scoring sequence (GHA first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 0-14; 0-17; 5-17; 7-17 (h-t) 10-17; 10-20, 15-20.

 

Yellow Cards –

GHA: Fox

Currie Chieftains: Innes

 

Man-of-the-Match: Very nearly one of those rare occurrences where the MOTM comes from the losing side, with GHA’s Baird, Stirratt and Plumridge all coming into the reckoning. But, for a well-taken try, solid all-round performance, and calm under pressure in those last few minutes, Paddy Boyer takes the gong ahead of the GHA trio, and teammate Wallace Nelson.

Talking point: GHA coach Trevor Carmichael is entitled to feel encouraged by this performance and a bonus-point versus the league’s dominant side is not to be sniffed at, but he will be conscious that for all his side’s potential, they are still not clear of the dark shadow of relegation.


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About Iain Hay 42 Articles
New to the freelancing journalistic world as of August 2019, Iain has previously written for The Scottish Rugby Blog since 2017, covering matches for Glasgow Warriors, Scotland and opinion pieces. Can also often be heard on their podcast flapping his gums about the oval-ball (technically, it’s ellipsoidal) game and being pedantic. Is rumoured to believe that Finn Russell is The Messiah. Does the Twitter thing, but doesn’t like it.

2 Comments

  1. Loving that my boy is now known as “Grant the Mullet Mollison”.
    Always makes me proud – even though he’s been yellow carded 4/5 times this season !!
    GHA better than their record this season.

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    1
    • Neil, FFS, some of us spend a lot of time trying to calm young Hay down – and there you are encouraging him.

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