Currie Chieftains 38
Edinburgh Accies 26
ALAN LORIMER @ Malleny Park
CURRIE CHIEFTAINS will return to their home ground at Malleny Park next Saturday to contest the Tennent’s Premiership Play-off Final after securing their place in the last two with a deserved victory over an Edinburgh Accies side that pushed the home team hard for much of the match but were ultimately undone by their own flaws.
While it would be tempting to characterise Currie’s win as the result of Accies’ mistakes, for the most part, the Chieftains made their own fortune with clever backline moves in which centres DJ Innes and Joe Reynolds were particularly effective. When Currie clicked, their flat passing, run-around moves and, at times, sheer strength, in midfield, required Accies defence to be on high alert.
The visitors will certainly rue their shortcomings in the line-out where they lost a total of seven of their own throws, costing them dear against a Currie team that was always quick to exploit opposition errors. Accies were also faulty at the breakdown where they gave away too many penalties. “We were ultimately inaccurate when we lost three line-outs when we had pressure on them, and we gave away a soft score in the first half,” admitted Iain Berthinussen, the Accies coach.
“That was our first semi final, so we’ve got to be proud of where we’ve reached,” he added. “We’ve got to learn lessons and be a bit more accurate like they were at the right teams and then we can push these teams even harder. We knew that if we went hard at Currie for the first few phases they would struggle. But at times we were a bit inaccurate and let them get over the gain line on the third phase.”
All the same, Currie had to show resolve before subduing an Accies team who were kept in the game points-wise by the kicking off the tee by Jamie Loomes, the stand-off landing four penalty goals in addition to posting two conversions that had Currie looking a tad nervous at times. And little wonder. Twice in the match Accies moved into the lead and only a soft score towards the end allowed Currie to open a substantial gap.
Not that Accies’ challenge was unanticipated. “We expected a hard game from Accies. It was, after all, a semi final. They came here with nothing to lose, whereas we, in top spot, had everything to lose. They’ve come here with a great game-plan, they’ve kicked well, they put us under real pressure in scrum and maul. We’ve got quite a few things now to work on before next weekend,” conceded Mark Cairns the Currie coach.
Accies’ weakness at times was their kick tennis accuacy. And the danger of kicking the ball to the opposition was amply demonstrated when, after just nine minutes of play, Currie full-back Charlie Brett fielded an aimless kick before triggering a a multi phase attack featuring breaks by Paddy Boyer and Rhys Davies. The surge forward did not produce a try but Currie were happy to win a penalty, which Jamie Forbes converted into points.
Currie had certainly shown their polished attacking play and when the Malleny men used off-the-top line-out ball their skilful back play play put Reynolds through a gap. The centre was tackled short of the line but when the ball was released from the contact area, Wallace Nelson was on hand to cross for his side’s first try.
At this stage Accies looked like they were holding on desperately but two penalties in quick succession by Loomes brought the visitors back into the game. However, after the second of these kicks, Accies presented Currie with easy points from an interception of Ben Appleson’s ambitious pass inside Accies’ own 22, allowing Forbes to skip over for a simple try, which he duly converted.
A third Loomes penalty not only narrowed the points gap but inspired Acccies into scoring a try. It came from the restart kick and was the result first of Accies dispossessing their opponents of the ball and then attacking at pace with clever inter-passing involving Vincent Hart and Ruairi Campbell, ending with Jamie Sole touching down in the corner for what was ultimately the try of the match, pink-iced by Loomes’ touchline conversion that gave Accies the lead for the first time in the contest.
But not for long as Forbes with a less difficult kick restored Currie’s advantage to give the home side a 18-16 half time lead only for Loomes to regain the lead for Accies with his fourth penalty goal early in the second period.
Loomes was then the mainspring of an attacking move which should have brought a score but instead ended with a penalty award. But this time the Accies stand-off was just wide of the posts with his kick. Not so at the other end for Forbes who knocked over two penalty kicks to give Currie a 24-19 lead.
Accies were now chasing the game and when they were pinned down in their own 22 they lost possession, allowing Currie second-row Hamish Ferguson to scoop up the ball and dive over for his side’s third try, successfully converted by Forbes, stretching Chieftains’ lead to 31-19.
The visitors, however, still had fight left in them and from a quickly taken tap penalty, following a dominant scrum, Campbell, darted between the posts leaving Loomes with an easy conversion kick. But that was to be the final points for Accies, who saw Currie pull away for a final time when full-back Brett danced through a tired defence for Chieftains’ fourth try, once more converted by the reliable Forbes to seal victory.
Currie Chieftains: C Brett; R Daley, J Reynolds, DJ Innes, C Meager; J Forbes, P Boyer; G Carson, R Stewart, AP McWilliam, H Ferguson, C Roman, W Nelson, F Scott©, R Davies. Subs: S Fisher, G Scougall, C Ramsay, G Nelson, C Lessels, J McCaig, F Sayers.
Edinburgh Accies: V Hart; M Sinclair, R Kent, N Armstrong, B Appleson; J Loomes, B Grainger; C Imrie, C Black©, C Lacour, J Mills, F Simpson, J Sole, M Walker, R Campbell. Subs: F McAslan, A Winnington-Ingram, R Montgomery, S Whittaker, S Hegarty, M Love, M Wallace.
Referee: R Campbell
Currie Chieftains: Tries Nelson, Forbes, Ferguson, Brett; Cons Forbes 3; Pens Forbes 4.
Edinburgh Accies: Tries Sole, Campbell; Cons Loomes 2; Pens: Loomes 4.
Scoring Sequence (Currie first): 3-0; 8-0; 8-3; 8-6; 13-6; 15-6; 15-9; 15-14; 15-16; 18-16 (h-t) 18-19; 21-19; 24-19; 29-19; 31-19; 31-24; 31-26; 36-26; 38-26.
Man-of-the-Match: Some very good performers in both teams, but ultimately the accolade goes to Currie’s outside centre Joe Reynolds who always looked threatening in attack but who steadied the Currie performance with his excellent kicking from hand.
Talking point: Accies can rightly be proud of reaching the semi-final and then giving Currie a good run for their money, not bad for a team that was staring down the relegation barrel when the Covid curtain descended almost exactly two years ago. For Currie, their performance was confirmation of the dominance they have established over recent seasons. Overall, and despite the lack of any publicity from Murrayfield, this was a showcase for the top end of the amateur game, helped very much by the wonderful spring sunshine that forcibly jacked up the argument for playing in better weather.