Currie Chieftains 29
COLIN RENTON @ Myreside
CURRIE CHIEFTAINS ground out another impressive win that has edged them closer to their objective of securing a home play-off, and in the process all but ended the top-four aspirations of Watsonians. It was an highly competitive affair, played at a high intensity and another great advert for the Tennent’s Premiership.
Chieftains raced from the blocks and an early spell of pressure yielded a penalty in front of the posts that presented Gregor Hunter with a simple three points. The hosts responded immediately and Jose Argiro was penalised for playing the ball on the ground. Lee Millar banged over the kick to restore parity.
The visitors were quickly back on the attack and earned another penalty. This time, Hunter booted the ball into touch. From the lineout, a powerful drive allowed Chieftains to find a way over, with Kiran McDonald applying the final touch.
Hunter was on target with the conversion and he again added the extras after Chieftains bagged their second try with 15 minutes on the clock. Home hooker Ross Graham carried play into the Chieftains 22 and Millar threw out a long pass in an attempt to free Rory Steele out wide. However, Joe Reynolds latched on to it and raced away. Millar looked to be closing on the Chieftains centre who had support from Ben Robbins. However, Millar and Robbins collided and both hit the deck, allowing Reynolds to complete the job.
The hosts were clearly miffed by the circumstances of that score and stepped up a gear, dominating territory for the remainder of the first period. The pressure paid off in 35 minutes when Watsonians stretched the defence to breaking point and Rory Hutton dived over. Millar added the conversion while Graham of Watsonians and Thomas Gordon of Chieftains were yellow-carded for a flare-up during the lead up to that score.
The momentum was now firmly with Watsonians and a string of penalties ended with Mike Vernel joining Gordon in the sin bin. Then, with the final play of the half, Hutton darted through and Andrew Chalmers continued the move then flipped the ball to Angus Guthrie who dotted down. Millar’s conversion squared matters at the break.
This weekend’s Tennent’s Premiership match reports –
The hosts took the lead for the first time when Millar banged over another penalty five minutes after the restart. The home stand-off then recorded a rare miss when he was just short with an audacious effort from just inside the Chieftains half.
Watsonians then switched to defensive mode as Chieftains enjoyed a spell in the ascendancy. And after being held out by a determined effort, the visitors eventually found a way through when Hunter sent out a long floated pass to Robbins, who touched down in the corner to hand Chieftains a two-point advantage with 17 minutes to play.
And they secured the crucial bonus-point try when Fergus Scott capped another spell of pressure by charging over. Hunter’s conversion extended the lead to nine points, but the hosts ensured they took something from the game when Millar booted a last-minute penalty.
“I think we did really well to survive that period when we were 13 men. Then seven minutes into the second half we got our full complement back and we just went forward from that point on. Full credit Watsonians – they are missing a few key men and they made it a really difficult time for us”, said Chieftains coach Mark Cairns, whose men have virtually secured a play-off spot. However, he sees that as only the first step towards achieving his objective of having a home tie in the knock-out phase.
“You could call it base camp. We’ve still got a lot of climbing to do. We just want to put out a better performance each week. We got that here although our performance against Heriot’s was good. Melrose next week away from home we’ll have to be better than this performance again. If we keep doing that and keep climbing, we’ll be in with a shout at the end of the season.”
His Watsonians counterpart Steve Lawrie was magnanimous in defeat and admitted that his men had fallen just short of what was needed for a top-four finish. “We gifted them a couple of soft scores in the first half. But we got ourselves back in the game and put ourselves in a position to win it. They just upped the tempo and took their try well at the end”, said Lawrie.
“It will need a bit of a miracle for us to get into the top four now. We’ve not quite been good enough in that respect. It’s disappointing but the better team won today.”
Watsonians: J Rowland; A Chalmers, R Hutton, A Guthrie, R Steele; L Millar©, M Scott; G Jackson, R Graham, D Ferguson, C McKill, F Simpson, G Nelson, C Boyle, M Fedo. Subs: F Renwick, F Hobbis, H Fisher, E Fox, P Cunningham.
Currie Chieftains: J Forbes; B Robbins, J Reynolds, R Nelson©, S Hamilton; G Hunter, R Frostwick; M Argiro, F Scott©, F Watt, V Wright, K McDonald, M Vernel, T Gordon, S McGinley. Subs: G Carson, R Patterson, M Kelly, R Davies, M Hooks.
Referee: I Kenny.
Watsonians: Tries: Hutton, Guthrie. Cons: Millar 2. Pens: Millar 3.
Currie Chieftains: Tries: McDonald, Reynolds, Robbins, Scott. Cons: Hunter 3. Pen: Hunter.
Scoring sequence (Watsonians first): 0-3, 3-3, 3-8, 3-10, 3-15, 3-17, 8-17, 10-17, 15-17, 17-17 half-time, 20-17, 20-22, 20-27, 20-29, 23-29.
Yellow cards –
Currie Chieftains: Gordon, Vernel
Man of the match: It was a good all-round team effort from Currie, but co-captain Fergus Scott earns the nod for his contribution – accuracy at the lineout, leading a pack that formed the foundation for the win, then bagging the bonus-point try.
Talking point: The transition from Ben Cairns to his brother Mark has been seamless and with confidence among the Chieftains players growing by the week, they look to be real title contenders.