View from the Touchline – BT Premier League: 2.9.17.
Hawick 28 pts (t 3, pt 1, c 3) v Currie Chieftains 39 pts (t 4, pt 1, c 3, pg 2)
During the close season there have been turbulent and changing times at Currie RFC; the rebranding and launch of Currie Chieftains, the retirement of long-serving influential players Ross Weston, Alistair Hamilton and Richard Snedden, and the much lamented passing of Graham ‘Greco’ Hogg – Currie’s Director of Rugby and the man who took this ambitious suburban rugby club into the top flight of Scottish rugby and kept it there; all these factors would contribute to an unknown brave new future..
Even after an eleven try warm-up romp against Blaydon RFC, the previous weekend, and the introduction of enthusiastic new blood to their playing ranks, it was questionable if the Chieftains could get off to a winning start deep in the heartland of Border rugby at Mansfield Park. Hawick RFC is no place for the timid, and although it is not the colossus it once was, on a sunny late summer afternoon for the season’s opening league fixture, it would be no picnic. Currie had established a good lead by the break, and they did well to hang on to it in the closing minutes as the ‘Greens’ finished strongly with their inimitable battling style.
As was to be expected, the opening few minutes were ‘harum-scarum’ stuff as the ball whizzed around at breath-taking speed particularly in the visitors’ 22. Hawick missed an early shot at goal and when Ruaridh Smith intercepted a looping pass, the direction of play was thankfully reversed. From inside his half, a splendid mazy run by Cammy Gray caused panic in the Mansfield ranks which culminated in a penalty try; the new laws do not require such a try to be converted. Hawick looked on the misdemeanour as a blip in their strategy and soon had the visitors pinned down again. Ali Weir missed another penalty shot, and were it not for a tremendous Jamie Forbes tackle on the Greens’ danger-man, Darcy Graham, Ali Weir would have certainly had another chance with his kicking duties. From this point forward Currie stated to exert control, and most of the play was now in Hawick territory. Inter-passing between Robbie Nelson, Harvey Elms and Ben Robbins opened the Greens’ defence for the ever-sharp Charlie Shiel to dart over from 20 metres; Jamie Forbes converted. It was all going so well until Hawick caught the visitors napping. A quick line-out throw went to Darcy Graham; the professional wing’s strong running brushed aside tacklers as he cruised down the touchline for a try that Ali Weir easily converted; a soft but well-taken score to which Currie should have been alert!
On thirty minutes normal service was resumed, Stephen Ainslie stretched for the line following some terrific forward work in which Michael Vernel and Vince Wright were prominent; Jamie Forbes converted. Before the break the versatile stand-off added two penalty goals to his tally which gave Currie a formidable lead.
Halftime score – Hawick 7 pts, Currie Chieftains 27 pts.
Both teams made a nervous start to the second half with mistakes a-plenty. Hawick were pinged on numerous occasions for ill discipline in their endeavour to stem the visitors’ constant attacks. The Chieftains’ flowing rugby threatened to run riot, but some over elaborate moves resulted in turnovers when scoring looked more likely. The flamboyant style did see Ruaridh Smith latching on to a fine Charlie Shiel break; his sprint for the line was converted by Jamie Forbes. When Harvey Elms did virtually the same thing after Jamie Forbes had dissected the Greens’ defence, the Chieftains appeared on song for a cricket score. Although Jamie Forbes could not convert the try or a penalty kick a little later, there appeared no threat to the visitors’ dominance, even after Kyle Brunton had crossed for Hawick with 15 minutes remaining.
The score obviously provided encouragement and, out of the blue, the ‘Green machine’ got into gear; they pounced on any Currie mistake. Speedy Ross Combe gathered a neat chip kick and raced the length of the pitch for Hawick’s third try. When a penalty try was awarded for a deliberate knock-on, the Mansfield crowd went wild. With a yellow card and Currie now down to fourteen men, Hawick had their tails up. The final few minutes were rather torrid. Currie weathered the storm to record their first victory at Mansfield Park for a number of seasons. Chieftains are at home to Watsonians next weekend; KO 3.00pm. IJS, 3.9.17.