A View from the Touchline – Premier League: 2.11.19.

Currie Chieftains 57 pts (t 9, c 6) v Aberdeen Grammar Rugby 3 pts (p g 1)

The weather caused the postponement of this match a fortnight ago, and a deluge just before KO on an already sodden pitch, threatened to spoil an eagerly anticipated fixture between two high fliers in the Premier League. In the grey conditions, with more heavy rain in the circling clouds, a green Malleny pitch was in line to become a chocolate pudding. Thankfully, the playing surface, although treacherous, and the combative spirit of both teams, made this a thrilling, compelling spectacle. Although Aberdeen were soundly beaten, it takes two teams to make a match; the small margins and a little luck were not in the visitors’ kitbag, but they never stopped tackling or pushing for the Chieftains’ goal line.

From the kick-off, Currie ran the ball out of their 22 and down the stand-side touchline. A poor clearance kick from Grammar, was collected by Steven Hamilton who careered twenty metres; he drew the defence and put Archie MacLean into acres of space for an opening try in just two minutes. The visitors recovered, went through the phases and their burly pack edged deep into Currie territory. A Sam Knudson penalty in front of the Currie posts put Aberdeen on to the score board, but for the next twenty minutes all the action was at the other end.

Gregor Hunter’s penalty kick set up an attacking lineout, which, following patient groundwork, and impeccable handling eventually found the gap; Fergus Scott muscled his way over for a converted try, despite obstinate, heroic defence. In the greasy conditions both teams were handling and running exceptionally well. After a long period of ball retention, when it was the visitors’ turn to test the home defence, a knock-on and resulting scrum saw the Currie backs strut their stuff; the splendid Charlie Brett motored fifty metres to give his team a solid platform for another try-scoring opportunity. Matt Poole, who controlled the Chieftains’ boiler house in the absences of charismatic Mike Vernel, secured the lineout and the pack crabbed forward towards the posts. It was no surprise that the navigating skills of Fergus Scott found the goal line for a try that Gregor Hunter easily converted.

The much-vaunted Grammar pack kept possession and worked their way down the touchline with Currie giving away several casual penalties which only increased the pressure that they were under. The visitors’ deliberate, well organised progress was halted when their influential backrow, Robin Cessford had to retire injured. Gregor Hunter finally cleared the danger with a terrific clearance that frustrated the Aberdeen effort and put the Chieftains on course for the bonus point try by halftime. Considering the conditions, the home team appeared to have glue on their fingers as the ball whizzed to Charlie Brett who scooted into the corner. Gregor Hunter’s conversion topped his first half kicking performance.

Halftime score – Currie Chieftains 28 pts, Aberdeen Gramma 3 pts.

As the second half got underway, so did another torrential downpour, but despite the monsoon, Currie were soon into scoring mode again; although Aberdeen would cite the element of luck completely deserting them. It seemed that Grammar had controlled the slippery ball at the back of a maul, but as it popped out, Matt Poole swooped for the touchdown that was not converted. Keen to show that they were still in this match, and that they had the ability to notch up some scores of their own, the visitors camped deep in the Chieftains 22. For the next ten minutes they peppered the Currie line with waves of attacking rugby that were exciting and entertaining. Currie had their work cut out defending, and the job intensified when Wallace Nelson was sent to the sinbin for not rolling away.

Keeping out the rampant opposition took a tremendous defensive effort which involved forwards and backs; Hamish Ferguson, Josh O’Brien and Matias Argiro worked tirelessly, and when the ball went wide, Robbie Nelson and Adam Hall were there to disrupt progress. The Aberdeen frustration was palpable,

especially after the ball slipped from their grasp, and Gregor Hunter sent a huge kick into space fifty metres down field. Still with twenty minutes to go, it was the last time that the luckless visitors were given any further scoring chances.

The Chieftains pinned Grammar down and inflicted four more tries despite the visitors’ battling endeavours. The hard-working Graeme Carson slid in at the corner flag, and Steven Hamilton finished another blistering attack with flourish. Gregor Christie kept whipping the ball to his hungry backs, and both he, and the impressive Roy Vacago made the occasional break that had the opposition wondering where the next point of attack would be. With time running on, Currie emptied the bench, and Sam Edwards, Cameron Meager and the speedy Fraser Sayers all added spice to a cause that was becoming one-way traffic.

Following yet another Cairns Ramsay 30 metre charge, Gregor Christie threw out a quick ball that soon had Cameron Meager careering into the corner. Fraser Sayers certainly made a dynamic impression; his diagonal run nearly ended with a solo try, but as he was reeled in, a perfect pass sent Steven Hamilton under the posts. Gregor Hunter converted the try to crown a wonderful display in testing conditions. Well done to both teams, but particularly for the Chieftains’ display on a wet miserable autumn day.

League action continues next week with a visit to the Riverside ground at Jedburgh, a venue that Currie has not graced for several seasons. Like all Border fixtures, it will not be an easy assignment, and we should expect a tough encounter. I.J.S. – 3.11.19.

Currie Chieftains Team –

15 Charlie Brett, 14 Archie Maclean, 13 Adam Hall, 12 Robbie Nelson, 11 Steven Hamilton,

10 Gregor Hunter, 9 Gregor Christie, 8 Wallace Nelson, 7 Josh O’Brien, 6 Roy Vacago,

5 Hamish Ferguson, 4 Matt Poole, 3 Matias Argiro, 2 Fergus Scott, 1 Graeme Carson.

Bench – Cairn Ramsay, Jacob Ramsay, Sam Edwards, Cameron Meager, Fraser Sayers.

Match Officials –

Referee – Graeme Ormiston

AR 1 – Fergus Hollins

AR 2 – Digby Thomas

 

Photography (c) Fraser Gaffney