A View from the Touchline – Premier League: 16.11.19.
Currie Chieftains 57 pts (t 9, c 6) v Musselburgh 7 pts (t 1, c)
The evening was drawing on, but the club house banter and socialising was still in full swing, as Currie members, their guests and visiting supporters enjoyed that after-match day experience. A number of people were agreeing, that a good competitive open game, followed by chat with like-minded friends, is what club rugby is all about. Yes, the restructured Premier League is certainly generating interest and attracting supporters who have not visited Malleny Park with their club side for many seasons.
Musselburgh have always been a leading light in Scottish rugby, and like the Chieftains, they relish a challenge, particularly when it’s a local Derby. Although the scoreline would suggest a pretty one-sided contest, this is somewhat deceptive, as many in the good-sized crowd would confirm. Currie may have racked up a formidable total, but the gallant visitors made them fight for every point, and Musselburgh were unlucky not to have gleaned a few more scores for their efforts.
The grey damp miserable afternoon did not prevent some sparkling rugby; in only two minutes the Chieftains had their first points on the scoreboard. A stunning Steven Hamilton tackle relieved the ball carrier of possession, and following some quick recycling, with crisp pacey handling, Roy Vucago was on hand to crash over; Gregor Hunter converted. The beefy visitors had looked confident, but they appeared somewhat bewildered with Currie’s speed and organisation. It was not long before Archie MacLean and Mike Vernel were sniffing at the goal line with try number two looking ominous. A penalty lineout was secured, and Fergus Scott steered the forward drive for a try that Gregor Hunter converted.
Musselburgh were not seeing much of the ball, and even when they were in possession, it was not for long. Although they had a number of good exciting individual runs into the Currie red zone, their support play was rather disjointed, and the Chieftains had little problem snuffing out these dangerous-looking attacks. The Chieftains were now in full cry, and by the end of the first quarter they had scored two more ties; alert Gregor Hunter provided a pin-point chip kick for Archie MacLean to run on to. His corner flag touchdown was not converted, but Gregor Hunter had no problem with the next. Mike Vernel stormed in for the bonus point score after the Musselburgh defence had been cut to ribbons.
The visitors would have exerted more pressure were it not for the home team’s superb tackling, and defensive work, particularly from Wallace Nelson, Hamish Ferguson, Scott King and Cameron Meager, but the defensive lock was finally undone with a classy combination of speed and neat footwork from Danny Owenson; he cruised majestically 35 metres to the Currie goal line, and then converted his superb individual effort. Unfortunately for his luckless team, it was their only reward for a tough afternoon’s work.
Before the break the Chieftains piled further agony on to the battling visitors with two more tries. Gregor Christie was alongside Mike Vernel to take the scoring pass, after the rugged forward had race 20 metres into open space. This try was converted but not the next, a more difficult kick, following Scott King’s terrific touchdown, after he and Steven Hamilton had carved a path to the visitors’ goal line with determined running.
Halftime score – Currie Chieftains 38 pts, Musselburgh 7 pts.
It was clear that the visitors were intent on making a better showing in the second half, and they started well by putting Currie under considerable pressure as they battled close to the goal line for quite a time. The Chieftains patiently and methodically weathered the onslaught, and a fantastic Gregor Hunter clearance moved play back into the visitors’ half. Currie had freshened their ranks with bench
replacements; both Reece Patterson and Rhys Davies were returning from long term injury layoffs. Now well into the third quarter, the Chieftains’ rugby went up a notch, with deceptive running angles and deft touches that the visitors found difficult to cope with. To add to their problems, hardworking lock forward, Paddy Brown was shown a yellow card following a number of team warnings, and Currie soon took advantage to get the scoreboard rolling again; Rhys Davies executed a fine turnover and the ball flew, via a long, Roy Vucago pass to Archie MacLean for his second try wide out.
The score was not converted, but Gregor Hunter would show his kicking prowess with two more fine conversions before the game was over. At no stage did the visitors slacken off, and there were a few prickly moments as they battled at the breakdown to deny the home team possession; especially prominent was their experienced Captain, Michael Maltman. The still understrength Musselburgh pack was having difficulty holding any Currie forward drive, and after Cameron Meager inflicted a tremendous turnover, the forwards took control. Reece Patterson careered off the back of a rolling maul to clock up fifty points on the scoreboard, and there was time for the fizzing Chieftains backs to finish in style. A solid display from Fraser Sayers was capped with his splendid converted try.
Without doubt this was a complete team performance that should put the Malleny squad in the right frame of mind for the tricky fixtures that lead up to the Christmas break. Next weekend the Chieftains are at home to a much improved GHA team; they will provide a stiff test before the challenge of Hawick at Mansfield Park and then a vital match against the League leaders, Marr at Malleny; a mouth-watering prospect on the day of the club’s annual Christmas lunch, December 14th. I.J.S – 17.11.19.
Currie Chieftains Team v Musselburgh
15 Fraser Sayers, 14 Cameron Meager, 13 Steven Hamilton, 12 Scott King, 11 Archie MacLean,
10 Gregor Hunter, 9 Gregor Christie, 8 Roy Vucago, 7 Wallace Nelson, 6 Hamish Ferguson,
5 Mike Vernel, 4 Matt Poole, 3 Matias Argiro, 2 Fergus Scott, 1 Graeme Carson.
Bench – Reece Patterson, Cairn Ramsay, Sam Edwards, Rhys Davies, Adam Hall.
Match Officials –
Referee – David Young
RA 1 – Calum Lazenby
RA 2 – Willie Anderson
Photography (c) Fraser Gaffney Photography