A View from the Touchline – Premier League: 15.2.20.
Aberdeen Grammar 17 pts (t 2, c 2, p g 1) v Currie Chieftains 26 pts (t 4, c 3)
The journey north was wet and windy, but Storm Dennis only sank its teeth into Aberdeenshire an hour before the Rubislaw kick-off. As the teams lined up to remember the passing of Katie MacDonald, a stalwart of the local club, the rain was lashing down and the gusting wind soon had both groups of intrepid supporters packed under the stand’s limited protective cover. Considering the atrocious conditions, both teams managed to provide an astonishingly good game of rugby, although by the second half areas of the pitch resembled a bog. This was far from an easy outing for the Malleny team, who were made to contest throughout by a belligerent, physical Grammar fifteen who deserved more than just praise for their substantial efforts.
Undoubtedly the conditions would play a part in the outcome to this match, and the Currie travelling support were mindful of those disappointing mud-fights back in December, when opposition physicality caused frustration and defeat. Within 5 minutes, two big kicks from stand-off Knudson had the Chieftains on the back foot deep in their 22. The inevitable errors came thick and fast as players and ball slithered about. From 35 metres out, beefy centre Tom Aplin slotted a penalty goal, and with Grammar handling the conditions and the ball much better than the visitors, they added to their promising start with a fine forward drive over to line; Matthias Schosser touched down and Tom Aplin converted.
Currie had put together some good pieces of play, but they generally faltered near to the opposition goal line, and Grammar walloped the ball back into the Currie half. Gregor Christie, continuing his excellent spell of form with the Chieftains and the International Club team, kept probing with intelligent runs, passes and box-kicks; one of his high kicks into the Aberdeen 22 caused mayhem. The ball was not gathered cleanly, and the chasing Ryan Southern got his toe to it; he just outpaced the defensive cover for Currie’s first try. Adam Hall kicked the difficult conversion.
The visitors were now playing with confidence and guile, keeping the pressure on Aberdeen by constantly nudging the ball into their red zone. Following some excellent work by the pack, in which Matias Argiro, Graeme Carson and Fergus Scott were prominent, the ball was slipped to Adam Hall, who danced through a couple of tackles and powered for the line with two opposition players tugging at his shirt. The stand-off converted his own try, which, after 30 minutes of play, gave Currie the lead. The vociferous Rubislaw crowd were willing their team forward, and the Grammar pack responded with a robust display just before the break. They methodically edged into the Currie 22 with a series of pick and drives, the ball was then moved crisply along the back line; considering the wet, cold conditions and numb fingers, they did well, and the visitors had to be at their defensive best to keep their line intact.
Halftime score – Aberdeen 10 pts, Currie Chieftains 14 pts.
If anything, the rain had now become heavier, and the wet cold match officials, quite rightly wanted a quick turnaround; even the sheltered supporters were talking of hypothermia. The Chieftains got off to a flying start which definitely warmed the Malleny section of the crowd; within 2 minutes Steven Hamilton and Cameron Meager had combined down the left wing to put the visitors in a strong position. Following a little softening up by the Currie pack, Ryan Southern shot through the melee to score. The try was not converted, but the visitors were soon back applying pressure once again. This time it was the side-stepping prop, Reece Patterson who broke for the goal line and galloped 10 metres for a try that Adam Hall converted. 10 minutes into the second half and there was now a reasonable gap between the scores.
Aberdeen could not shake free of the Currie grip, despite some very physical forward drives that the Chieftains managed to stem before any real damage was done. With the constant pressure continuing, it looked as if the visitors were about to over-run their beleaguered hosts. On a couple of occasions, a score looked imminent, but a tremendous defensive effort prevented the expected outcome; even after the Chieftains had gone over the line, the ball was ripped from the carrier’s grasp.
As the sky darkened, the wind and rain intensified, but so did Grammar’s resolve. Slowly they worked their way into promising attacking positions and were it not for some clinical tackling by James McCaig and Rhys Davies, the home backs would have got away. With 20 minutes remaining, Sam Knudson and Tom Aplin set off on an ambitious run from their own 22. The big centre certainly motored over the slippery surface to score a magnificent try which he proceeded to convert. It was clear that Aberdeen had no intention of giving the Chieftains an easy ride for the remainder of the match. The heavy Aberdeen pack wrestled and drove into the Currie half, retaining possession and then releasing their backs, with some magnificent passing in the horrendous conditions. Despite their best endeavours the Currie line held, and occasionally made attacking flurries of their own. It was all tremendous stuff, and just a pity that the weather was always the controlling factor; but it did add to the tension and excitement. When the final whistle came, both players and supporters made a speedy dash for a warm shower or a cosy seat in the clubhouse.
The Chieftains’ next match is a home fixture against Jed Forest on Saturday 29th February, kick-off 3.00pm. Jed are a team with aspirations for a play-off place, especially after their recent large win over GHA. Lunches will be served in the clubhouse prior to this match; please book early with the clubhouse manager.
Currie Chieftains Team v Aberdeen Grammar
15 Fraser Sayers, 14 James McCaig, 13 Steven Hamilton, 12 Ryan Southern, 11 Cameron Meager,
10 Adan Hall, 9 Gregor Christie, 8 Rhys Davies, 7 Wallace Nelson, 6 Michael Vernel, 5 Matt Poole,
4 Sam Edwards, 3 Matias Argiro, 2 Fergus Scott, 1 Graeme Carson.
Bench – Reece Patterson, Grant Williamson, Jos O’Brien, Hamish Ferguson, Sam Leto.
Referee – Ian Kenny
Photography (c) Aberdeen Grammar Website