Currie Chieftains 32
COLIN RENTON @ Malleny Park
IT was a top-notch start to the last ever Tennent’s Premiership campaign as Currie Chieftains ran in four tries against a Boroughmuir side that suffered a recurrence of the problem that troubled them last season – not quite delivering on their potential. The hosts deserved their success after coming from behind and for any neutrals in the crowd, it was a good value-for-money encounter.
As a club whose proven youth model, university links, facilities and successful branding – not to mention a reputation as a finishing school for players with pro aspirations – was rewarded by a Super 6 snub, Chieftains evidently feel they have a point to prove. And they went about their task in workmanlike fashion.
“We would have taken that score line before the game”, said Chieftains coach Ben Cairns.”We had about 10 handling errors in the first half and when you do that you let a quality team like Boroughmuir into the game. We were much better second half in terms of the way we controlled the ball.”
There are some at the club who feel that Chieftains have had a raw deal from Scottish Rugby – a piece in the match programme written by a supporter eloquently voiced the wider displeasure – but Cairns is focusing on the job in hand.
“As it is for all of the teams, our aim is to win the last Premiership. Everyone will have different motivations”, he added. “Are we aggrieved that we are not a Super 6 club? Of course we are – we were second in the league last season. So, yes there is a bit of motivation there to prove a point.”
Easy on the eye
Although they struggled for wins, Boroughmuir were a joy to watch last season and some astute transfer activity over the summer has added a little steel that should make the Meggetland men a more complete unit for this campaign. But once again, they didn’t click.
“You can’t make the sort of errors we made and expect to beat a team like Currie. We were in the game for 60 minutes and playing pretty well. Our errors seemed to cost us points all the time. That’s frustrating”, said Boroughmuir coach Peter Wright. “In the last 20 minutes we became too individual. It was all about guys trying to do it themselves.”
However, there was enough in the Boroughmuir performance to suggest that they could prove a handful if they do iron out the errors and the defensive frailty. That weakness was apparent after five minutes when a Chieftains lineout provided the foundation for a swift ball to Robbie Nelson. He raced through a gap then offloaded to Ben Robbins who completed the job and left Gregor Hunter a straightforward conversion.
The other Tennent’s Premiership match reports this week –
New kid on the block
Rory Drummond was looking lively on his competitive debut for the visitors and a recycled ball after his charge was transferred along the line to Ronan Kerr whose pass to release Greg Cannie into space was judged forward.
Both sides were guilty of a handling-error tally that neither coach would have been happy with, but that could be attributed to the relentless pace of the game. A break by Kerr Gossman gave Boroughmuir their first scoring opportunity. Several phases later, Chris Laidlaw was alert to the support of Calum Atkinson and a deft feed by the stand-off sent the giant lock over the whitewash. Laidlaw booted the conversion to square matters.
Two minutes later the hosts regained the lead when Luke Crosbie picked up at the breakdown inside the away 22 and blasted over. Hunter was again on target with the conversion.
Chieftains continued to press, but were undone when an ambitious high pass from Charlie Shiel was plucked from the air by alert Boroughmuir winger Jordan Edmunds who sprinted in at the corner. Laidlaw hammered over the conversion from wide on the right and once again the sides were level.
Hunter missed with a long-range penalty effort as the end-to-end entertainment continued unabated. However, neither side managed to add to their tally and they reached the break tied at 14 points apiece.
After the break
Chieftains restarted well, but five minutes of incessant pressure yielded nothing and allowed the away side to seize the initiative and take the lead for the first time when Jonny Matthews plunged over in the corner for an unconverted try. They held that advantage until the hour mark when Joe Reynolds pounced on a loose ball on the Boroughmuir 10-metre line and took off then threw an inside pass to Crosbie, who crossed for his second try of the afternoon. Hunter landed the conversion then extended the lead to five points with a penalty two minutes later.
And the gap grew to more than two scores entering the closing 10 minutes when Chieftains dragged the defence one way then the other before the ball was thrown wide to Jamie Forbes, who cut inside to bag the bonus point score. The win was tied up a couple of minutes from the end when Hunter stroked over his second penalty of the match.
Currie Chieftains: J Forbes; B Robbins, J Reynolds, R Nelson, S Hamilton; G Hunter, C Shiel; G Carson, F Scott, F Watt, G Peterson, M Vernel, L Crosbie, T Gordon, S McGinley. Subs: R Patterson, A McWilliam, S Ainslie, R Frostwick, A Hall.
Boroughmuir: G Cannie; K Gossman, W Wardlaw, R Kerr, J Edmunds; C Laidlaw, J Hamilton; R Dunbar, J Matthews, D Robertson, S Smith, C Atkinson, A Mncube, M Walker, R Drummond. Subs: T Gracie, D Marfo, C Keddie, J Steele, M Johnstone.
Currie Chieftains: Tries; Robbins, Crosbie 2, Forbes. Conversions: Hunter 3. Penalties: Hunter 2.
Boroughmuir: Tries: Atkinson, Edmunds, Matthews. Conversions: Laidlaw 2.
Scoring sequence (Chieftains first): 5-0; 7-0, 7-5; 7-7; 12-7; 14-7; 14-12; 14-14 (h-t) 14-19; 19-19; 21-19; 24-19; 29-19; 32-19.
Referee: S Grove-White.
Man of the match: The opening try of the afternoon and an admirable appetite for work, together with a series of powerful runs, earned Ben Robbins the nod.
Talking point: After a summer when off-field shenanigans at Murrayfield and discussions over the transparency of the Super 6 selection process hogged the headlines, it was a relief to get back to good, honest competitive rugby.