-A View from the Touchline – Premier League: 23.11.19.
Currie Chieftains 40 pts (t 6, c 5) v Glasgow Hutchesons’ Aloysians – GHA 6 pts (p g 2)
Thankfully, the weather for most of the preceding week had been cold and dry, and the initial mid-morning drizzle made little difference to the firm but greasy Malleny pitch. Unfortunately, as the clock ticked towards kick-off time, the chilly breeze increased, the sky darkened, and the damp atmosphere became a steady, soaking downpour; truly horrendous conditions for man and beast. In the first twenty minutes, both teams kept their feet well, but by the end of the game it was difficult for players and officials to avoid slipping in the squidgy surface mud.
From the outset, GHA looked like a team on a mission, they skilfully held on to the ball and slowly worked their way towards the Chieftains’ line; several neat little kicks through the Currie defensive wall looked dangerous and exerted a fair bit of pressure, that the home team did well to repel. It was no surprise when the visitors went ahead with a penalty goal, after Currie had infringed several times in their vain attempts to relieve the ball-carriers and gain some possession. When the hosts did get hold of the ball, it was not long before they registered points. Michael Vernel secured a lineout close to the opposition line, and the pack did the rest. Graeme Carson’s try near the corner flag was not converted, and the belligerent visitors quickly returned to the Currie end where Adam Scott doubled his team’s score with another well-struck penalty goal.
With the rain now descending in sheets, the GHA pack kept possession with their pick and drive approach that went tantalisingly close on several occasions and had the Malleny crowd biting their fingernails! The rain and raids continued, but the Chieftains finally broke the visitors’ strangle-hold, which in a few well-rehearsed manoeuvres saw them back on the GHA 5 metre line for a re-run for the first try; this time the dependable Michael Vernel crashed over and Gregor Hunter converted.
The Chieftains found it difficult to break the visitors’ resolve, and following a thrilling 80 metre dash, GHA’s scrum half Andrew Gillman was miraculously caught just short of the Currie line, but the ball was recycled, and in the excitement that followed, the referee reached for his yellow card as the Currie infringements count mounted. Hamish Ferguson was sent to the sinbin for his part in the misdemeanours but still GHA could not score. Fraser Sayers fielded a high ball and ran diagonally towards the stand touchline where he linked with his forwards to initiate the try of the match; it proved to be a big body blow for the plucky visitors. With very little space to move, Rhys Davies belted down the touchline and passed inside to Mike Vernel who continued the attack with a perfect pass to the accelerating Gregor Christy; as the defensive cover closed in, Wallace Nelson was on hand to take the ball over the line for a stunning try that Gregor Hunter converted. Considering the possession and territory that GHA had enjoyed in the first half, it must have been rather frustrating to concede three Chieftains tries from just the three visits that they made to the GHA end.
Halftime score – Currie Chieftains 19 pts, GHA 6 pts.
The relentless rain glistened on the now saturated grass, players and officials; the latter must have found it almost impossible to identify the touchline markings covered by expanding muddy puddles. Aware that the visitors were far from subdued by the scoreline and treacherous conditions, the Chieftains were soon into attacking mode. In only a few minutes and still down to 14 men, a spell of magical rugby cut through the GHA defence with both Adam Hall and Steven Hamilton making ground; the attack culminated when Reece Patterson took a short pass at speed to score the bonus point try; Gregor Hunter converted.
Although Currie had more possession and a better territorial share in the second half, GHA never stopped tackling or looking for gaps in the Chieftains’ defence. Into the final quarter and the pitch was becoming
a skating rink with the ball behaving like a piece of soap. Gregor Hunter’s positional kicking continued to keep the Chieftains on the front foot, which set up more of those scoring opportunities that win matches; Archie Maclean, Steven Hamilton, Gregor Christie and Rhys Davies all had their moments, but it was another catch-and drive that brought reward for Roy Vucago, and this was followed by a splendid finish from Sam Edwards as he ran in the final score to crown his afternoon’s effort. Gregor Hunter converted both tries to give the scoreline a very unexpected look considering the conditions and GHA’s creditable and robust performance.
An away trip to Selkirk next weekend. No doubt they will still be smarting after defeat in our recent Cup match and will be seeking revenge; it will not be an easy trip. The Kick-off at Philiphaugh is 3.00 pm.
I.J.S – 24.11.19.
Currie Chieftains Team v GHA
15 Fraser Sayers, 14 Cameron Meager, 13 Steven Hamilton, 12 Adam Hall, 11 Archie MacLean
10 Gregor Hunter, 9 Gregor Christie, 8 Rhys Davies. 7 Roy Vucago, 6 Hamish Ferguson, 5 Mike Vernel,
4 Sam Edwards, 3 Cairn Ramsay, 2 Graeme Carson, 1 Reece Patterson
Bench – Wallace Nelson, Josh O’Brien, Matias Argiro, Matt Currie, James McCaig
Match Officials –
Referee – Sam O’Neil
RA 1 – Stephen Greenhill
RA 2 – Colin George
Photography (c) Fraser Gaffney