Currie Chieftains 24 pts (t 4, c 2) v Ayr RFC 23 pts (t 3, c 1, p g 2)
As the Currie pack drove towards the Ayr goal line for their match-winning bonus point try, a chorus of voices rang out – ‘this one is for Big Cam.’ It was a fitting response for what has been an emotional time at Malleny Park. In the clear afternoon sunshine, before the match got under way, supporters, committee, players and officials joined in an appreciation for a Currie stalwart; the memory of Campbell Reynolds and his ethos on the sport of rugby football will remain at the club for a long time.
The Chieftains did not make a good start; from the kick-off, the ball was fumbled, and this was followed by a penalty from the resulting scrum; Ayr secured their lineout and trundled for the Currie line. The try was not converted, but with only three minutes on the clock, and a little niggle already creeping into the contest, it looked like the home forwards were in for a difficult afternoon. When both teams settled down, Currie managed to utilise some possession which they used to fine effect. Steven Hamilton had a good run down the left touchline, but at scrum time, the visiting pack were exerting control; the penalty count mounted and the ball was again thumped deep into the Currie 22. Some desperate defending saved any further catastrophe, with Roan Frostwick executing a series of splendid box-kicks to ease the pressure.
Eventually, with territory and possession quite evenly balanced, the home team moved forward instigating some fine running and passing that kept the visitors’ defence busy. Unfortunately, several minor errors interrupted momentum, but Ayr did appear slow to reorganise their defence, and Joe Reynolds exploited this deficiency; the astute centre made space for Jamie Forbes to accelerate beyond his marker, and he gave a perfect pass for Matthew Hooks to run in behind the breached fortifications. Gregor Hunter had no problem with the conversion.
Rhys Davies intercepted a pass in some close quarter exchanges and careered into the Ayr 22, but as things started to look promising the attack faltered, and Frazier Climo made a fine clearance kick to set up an attacking position in the other 22, where Jamie Forbes did the same for the home team a few minutes later. The visitors appeared rattled by Currie’s slick handling and they were caught off-side when attempting to disrupt the flow. A terrific 20 metre charge from Thomas Gordon was halted just 5 metres out as Ayr cleared and started to put themselves about in the Currie red zone. The visitors now kept hold of the ball and went through multiple phases; the Chieftains’ resources were stretched to breaking point. The pressure culminated with an overlap on the left that had Blair Macpherson slipping into the corner for an unconverted try, but a precious halftime lead.
Halftime score – Currie Chieftains 7 pts, Ayr 10 pts.
After a somewhat lengthy break, as the light and temperature dropped away, the match resumed. Currie made the best of starts this time, with Joe Reynolds and Scott McGinley slicing through the Ayr defence to cause panic as they threatened the visitors’ goal line; the quick hands of Roan Frostwick, Gregor Hunter and a long accurate pass from Jamie Forbes, had Matthew Hooks sprinting for the try-line and his second score; Gregor Hunter’s difficult conversion kick fell just short of the target. The home team continued to attack but they made little impression against some excellent defending, and Frazier Climo thumped the ball deep into Currie territory whenever required. A 20-minute period of intensive rugby stalemate now ensued, but when the visitors were awarded a penalty for a high tackle, Frazier Climo kicked the goal to restore a slender lead. Heading into the final quarter Ayr got their engine into gear with a devastating rolling maul that clattered in from 20 metres. Pete McCallum was credited with the try that Frazier Climo converted to establish a two-score gap between the teams.
Ayr now appeared to be in the driving seat, but Currie still had plenty in their tank and they played the visitors at their own game – the driving maul. Although the Currie scrum now looked stronger than in the first half, the splendid and varied lineout work of Vince Wright, Michael Vernel and Marc Kelly was never in question, as they secured their own ball without fail; the immaculate throwing of Fergus Scott aided success. It is good to have Fergus Scott and Vince Wright fit again following their long-term injuries, they are both playing exceptionally well, and the coaches must be delighted to have them back. From a lineout, the Currie pack started to drive forward; the steaming mass inched over the Ayr line and Gregor Hunter converted the Fergus Scott score.
With barely 10 minutes remaining, Ayr had no hesitation when awarded a kickable penalty. As the clock ticked down their 4-point lead looked enough, but when the Chieftains were awarded a penalty for an off-side offence, they courageously went for the lineout; the ball was secured and the coaching of ‘Big Cam’ proved unstoppable. Although Graeme Carson’s try was not converted, it proved sufficient to see out a memorable victory, despite a dramatic last gasp effort from the visitors. In the closing minutes, the home team’s defence held out magnificently, AP McWilliam, Matias Agiro, Fergus Scott, Thomas Gordon, Robbie Nelson and Gregor Hunter chopped down the advancing ball carriers until the final whistle. The match may not have been a classic, but it will be remembered for all the right reasons for quite a while.
Currie Chieftains Team v Ayr – 17.11.18.
15 Jamie Forbes. 14 Matthew Hooks. 13 joe Reynolds. 12 Robbie Nelson. 11 Steven Hamilton.
10 Gregor Hunter. 9 Roan Frostwick. 8 Rhys Davies. 7 Thomas Gordon. 6 Marc Kelly. 5 Michael Vernel.
4 Vince Wright. 3 Matias Agiro. 2 Fergus Scott. 1 AP McWilliam.
16 Graeme Carson. 17 Reece Patterson. 18 Scott McGinley. 19 Charlie Shiel. 20 Adam Hall.
Photography (c) Fraser Gaffney
Match Highlights HERE