Currie Chieftains 18
ALAN LORIMER @ Mansfield Park
A TRY in the last seconds of a thrilling Premiership final by winger Ronan McKean, when Hawick were down to 13 men, gave the Greens victory in the final at the end of the the Premiership play-off Grand Final at Mansfield Park, to confirm the Borderers as outright champions and for the second successive season, Currie Chieftains, as runners-up.
This was a match worthy of a final, between two teams who set high standards in the Premiership this season. It had tension throughout and the added ingredient of an outcome uncertain until the very last second of the game.
Hawick’s victory was all about resilience, their ability to defend on their own line and their skill in containing a classy set of Currie backs who frequently threatened to break loose, and no more so than when their lively centre DJ Innes was in possession.
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The Greens were undoubtedly inspired by players like Fraser Renwick at hooker, Shawn Muir at prop and Jae Linton in the back-row, the latter frequently making telling inroads through the heart of the Currie defence, just when Hawick needed to make ground. Behind the scrum, Ethan Reilly was again an exemplar to those around him with his accurate tackling, but the Australian had little chance to show his skill with ball in hand, such was the limited supply of good possession afforded to the Hawick backs.
For much of the early part of the game Hawick looked a tad nervous as their coach Matty Douglas confirmed, saying: “I thought first half we were a bit edgy but then we got a score right on half time and had a really positive chat during the break. We started well in the second half but then Currie just built pressure on pressure.
“We got a red card and then a yellow card and you’re chasing your tail, but at the end we did what we’ve done all season. It took a bit of grit and fight to score in the last play of the game to win the Premiership.”
Chieftains may reflect on a game that got away from them in the last minutes of the match when, it seemed, they had built a winning platform after piling incessant pressure on Hawick. So, did the Malleny men, who finished second in the Premiership proper, lose the game when they had it won? Currie’s coach Mark Cairns believed his side was mentally atuned to winning.
He explained: “Our attitude was to go out and win the game right from the start. Hawick had it all to lose. So there was a different mentality at the start of the match. I felt that during the whole game Hawick were scrapping not to lose. And they’ve not lost that game, through some kind of belligerent defence and their togetherness.
“Winning is a habit and today they managed to do it. There were moments in that match when we failed to relieve pressure on ourselves and that will be ringing through the guys’ minds. There were times when we should have scored more points. Our backs attacked well because our forwards got over the gain-line.”
Currie’s dynamic start in which they went through a sizeable repertoire of moves brought its reward with a penalty goal by Jamie Forbes. But from the restart a barn-storming run by Jae Linton squeezed out a penalty for Hawick resulting in three points for Kirk Ford to level the scores. The collateral damage for Currie after this Hawick attack was a yellow-card for killing the ball at the breakdown shown to scrum-half Gregor Christie.
Despite being one man down, Chieftains hit back with a powerful run by Rhys Davies, resulting in yet another penalty award and a second goal for Forbes.
Currie came close to adding to their points tally when Forbes kicked intelligently into unguarded space at the back field but in the follow-up Chieftains knocked-on a metre from the line to deny themselves a try.
The Malleny Park side, however, were undeterred, and when their slick backs found space, DJ Innes slipped through a defensive gap to lay on a try for ex-Melrose man Iain Sim.
Hawick’s reply was a sustained period of pressure inside the Currie 22 but it took six penalty awards before they finally profited. From a kick to the corner, Hawick’s forward drove the ensuing line-out to create a try for Fraser Renwick to leave the home side trailing 8-11 at the break,
The slew of penalties continued early in the second half and, after replacement scrum-half Gareth Welsh was high-tackled, Ford kept his cool to achieve his second success at goal, levelling the scores at 11-11.
Hawick then suffered the temporary loss of second-row Dalton Redpath, yellow carded for a collar tackle that stopped a promising Currie move. But the Greens then forced their way into the Currie half and when the Chieftains were penalised at the breakdown Ford kicked his third goal to put Hawick into the lead for the first time in the game..
The balance, however, quickly changed as Currie turned up the heat, camping on the Hawick line but thwarted when second-row Ewan Stewart was twice held up over the line. But, just when Hawick appeared to have kept Currie at bay, the Greens suffered a second yellow-card shown to Redpath for collapsing the maul, meaning the he was off for the remainder of the game,
To compound Hawick’s problems, Kyle Brunton was sent to the bin for a late tackle, reducing the Greens complement to 13 men. Inevitably the handicap told as Currie turned incessant attacking into points after pounding the Hawick line and then moving the ball wide for Kody McGovern to squeeze in at the corner, Forbes’ excellent conversion kick giving the Chieftains a 18-14 lead.
From the restart, however, Currie conceded a penalty that opened the door for Hawick to mount a late and desperate effort to rescue the game.
The Greens initially used their big men to mount repeated surges at the line and when referee Michael Todd signalled a penalty advantage, Hawick changed their focus of attack as Reilly, with a skilful cut-out pass, spun the ball to McKean for the wing to crash over in the corner and claim the winning try.
Ford then converted from the touchline to end the game on a triumphant note for his team and triggering a massive response from the Hawick crowd, who hailed their heroes after a sensational victory to confirm the Greens as the Premiership champions
Hawick: K Ford; C Welsh, A Mitchell, E Reilly, R McKean; K Brunton, H Patterson; S Muir©, F Renwick, N Little, C Sutherland, D Redpath, S Graham, C Renwick, J Linton. Subs: M Carryer, R Macleod, R Graham, S Fairbairn, G Welsh, G Huggan, L Ferguson.
Currie Chieftains: C Brett; K McGovern, DJ Innes, G Cannie, I Sim; J Forbes, G Christie; C Anderson, R Stewart, C Ramsay, W Inglis, E Stewart, A McCallum, G Nelson, R Davies©. Subs: J Drummond, J Ramsay, A Cameron, M Vernel, P Boyer, A Hall, J McCaig.
Referee: Michael Todd
Hawick: Tries: F Renwick, McKean; Con: Ford; Pens Ford 3.
Currie Chieftains: Tries Sim, McGovern; Con: Forbes; Pens: Forbes 2.
Scoring Sequence (Hawick first): 0-3; 3-3; 3-6; 3-11; 8-11 (h-t) 11-11; 14-11; 14-16; 14-18; 19-18; 21-18.
Yellow cards –
Hawick: Redpath (50 and 67mins), Brunton (76 mins)
Currie Chieftains: Christie (6mins)
Red cards –
Hawick: Redpath (67mins)
Man-of-the-Match: Hawick won this because of the willingness of their forwards in particular to scrap for every piece of possession and to defend to the last man. Among the forwards, Jae Linton caught the eye with surging runs but ultimately this victory was about the coolness of Kirk Ford who contributed more than half of Hawick’s points with his goal-kicking and who had several important touches before the consistently impressive Ethan Reilly laid on the miss-pass for McKean’s winning try.
Talking point: There are various views on play-offs and it’s certain the subject will be discussed before decisions are made about next season. Hawick deserved their overall title after an unbeaten Premiership season but they could so easily have been dealt the same fate as befell Currie last season.
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The amount of responses from grass roots supporters is heartening for those who love the ckub game. A huge crowd sent out the clear message that ckub rugby is not yet dead.
Alan Lorimer is also to be congratulated on his excellent report.
Congratulations to Hawick, by far the most impressive Premiership team throughout – a tribute to their players, coaches, officials and to the culture of the town, the area…
Tell that to those at S6.
Great season for Hawick, great to see them at the top again. The culture of rugby remains strong in many clubs in Scotland. A competition doesn’t define the culture of a club it’s those involved and it’s history that defines culture.
Exactly Iain. And that is exactly why Super Six is a non-entity.
Having now lost in both play off finals, it is easy to call for the removal of play offs. I agree Hawick thoroughly deserved to win the championship on the basis of their outstanding season but if there were no play offs, we would have missed a humdinger of a match in which both sides gave everything and Hawick won in a fairytale finish. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Congratulations Hawick
I live in Hawick but don’t do rugby, I can’t understand how Hawick were unbeaten all season and clearly the best team in the league but could have lost that title on one game. That does not make any sense and is totally unfair.Is there a clever person out there that can explain it to me!!!!!
Great win for Hawick. Players officials staff everyone at the club.
Special thanks to all who gave up there time to ensure this game went ahead. Mon the Robbie dyes.
I’m a bit divided on the play-off debate. In an ideal world seed 1 vs seed 2 in the final resulting in top seeds winning is the ideal or just outcome. That’s what happened this year but is of course far from certain. When it works, it works well – Is there a happier man in Scotland this morning than the Hawick RFC treasurer. Some of the comments posted, which are unique to a ‘one-off’ game, queuing at turnstiles, banter with opposition supporters are music to the ears of any rugby fan. Well having started this post divided, I’m now converted, I’m a fan of the play-offs. Might be a different answer next year…
Great game .big crowd ..great atmosphere .( opposite from super 6 rubbish )
this is what supporters want to see in a rugby match .
SRU take note
2well matched teams giving their all for their jerseys .
You could say Hawick were lucky to win this game but fair play to them they stuck in when down to 13 men and somehow got over line for winning try.
I would like congratulate both teams for serving up a feast of competitive rugby not a classic but very exciting and also the way both clubs contributed to the atmosphere the currie support was fantastic and I think managed to repel the young Hawick support in the snowball fight all serious and full of fun thanks for your contribution
Hawick left it a little bit late to get over the Currie line, reminded me of the days of G D Stevenson who used to give everybody heart attacks with some of his antics, still better than watching the Super 6 one man and a dog rugby this made that look like a Sunday School picnic.
Congratulations to Hawick, well deserved.
The playoffs are a total nonsense. Hawick were unbeaten in the regular season and thus should have already won the league title without having to put it all on the line against a team they had already beaten twice. Currie were deserved winners last season having dominated the league all year but lost a one off game. Unbelievably stupid set up as it stands.
I listened on the radio and it sounded like a high intensity match with a great atmosphere. Currie really took it to Hawick and must have thought they’d done enough but Hawick’s never say die attitude got them over the line. It sounded like bedlam at the end and the noise from the fans was unbelievable. Both teams did themselves proud yesterday and over the whole season and they’re a credit to their towns and communities.
Hi Alan, Great article , but sorry I have one correction. Kirk Ford played a fantastic match as did all the Hawick players who showed great character to snatch victory, however it was Ethan Reilly who spotted currie winger had created an opportunity for a miss pass across two currie defenders to pick up Ronan McKeans for a try in the corner. We could see that from Australia !
Thanks Brad, corrected now.
Hail to the champions winning ugly in the last seconds despite being two men down.
A great crowd queuing at the turnstiles to get in with Currie supporters adding tremendous vocal support.This is what club rugby is all about !
Currie played expansive rugby but were thwarted by a concrete Hawick defense.
Nice to see the SRU president at Mansfield Park and hopefully he can report back as to how important and popular the club game is compared to stupid six.
Let’s do away with play offs, make the premiership three leagues of 12 teams and have the top team the league winner at the completion of the fixture list with a simple system of bottom relegated and top promoted played Sept 1st to March ? to allow for weather disruption.
Remember simple can be most efficient.
The playoffs make a few quid for the clubs involved but devalue the cup and can make a mockery of all the hard work put in over the season (like Currie’s efforts last season). Imagine Hibs finishing 50 points behind Celtic but winning the Scottish premiership via 2 play off games.
Colin Rigby is a committed supporter of club rugby. I saw him at Broughton v Haddington last season.