A View from the Touchline – Premier League, 21. 9. 19.

Currie Chieftains 40 pts(t 6, c 5) v Hawick 15 pts(t 2, c 1, p g 1)

Like the Chieftains, Hawick RFC were another club that was ill-advisedly overlooked when the League was rejigged; and like the Malleny cohort, they are also determined to keep their profile at the top of the Scottish rugby scene, no matter what they have to confront. Hawick’s playing record speaks for itself, and the ‘Green Machine’ continues to produce quality players that grace both Professional and International ranks. Although they had a mixture of experience and youth in their squad for today’s match, their locally produced talent was a little naive, and poor execution frequently let them down. The patient, well-organised Chieftains made the most of the visitors’ errors to record a healthy win.

The hot mid-September sunshine, and dry green pitch were more akin to a mid-summer day for cricket, and the good-sized crowd relished the conditions for an open attractive match. Within minutes Matt Poole had carried deep into Hawick territory, and Graeme Carson went close; it was a taste of what Currie had in store. The pressure and good handling continued, with Cammy Meager diving into the corner for a try that was not converted.

Hawick immediately hit back with some robust attacking play that saw them keep possession and gain territory. Surprisingly they missed a kickable penalty, and after another 60-metre charge, they dropped the ball with the line beckoning. The visitors’ scrum was also causing Currie some concern, and following an off-side infringement, Ali Weir kicked their first points.

For quite a long period Hawick prevented the home team from seeing much of the ball, although the Chieftains patiently defended, and pounced on the opposition’s frequent mistakes, that were mainly occurring in Currie’s 22. Finally, the immaculate boot of Gregor Hunter loosened their hold with a sixty-metre positional kick that set up possibilities at the other end. From the resulting lineout, a well drilled Currie pack menacingly rumbled forward with Mike Vernel breaking free to score; Gregor Hunter converted.

The Chieftains handled the re-start badly, allowing Hawick to stream through the gaps and cause mayhem; Charlie Brett was yellow-carded for an off the ball tackle, and once again the visitors threatened the Currie line, but their passes failed to connect. The Chieftains’ tackling was solid, particularly Graeme Carson, Fergus Scott and Josh O’Brien. When Mike Vernel picked up a loose ball, he took a straight passage for the Hawick goal line; his forty-metre dash was superbly supported by Wallace Nelson who took the try-scoring pass. In a space of three minutes, and still with only fourteen men in their ranks, Gregor Hunter’s deceptive acceleration caught the Hawick defence off guard; his perfect pass to Cammy Scott had the spritely back flying in for a try.

Gregor Hunter converted both these scores, leaving the visitors looking tired and rather disheartened. In the remaining ten minutes before the break, they did rally, and played to their forward strength. A rolling maul punched through the Currie defence for an unconverted try that gave the ‘Greens’ some encouragement for the second half.

Half time score – Currie Chieftains 26 pts, Hawick 8 pts.

Considering that the visitors had had more than a good share of possession in the first half, it was testament to the Chieftains’ finishing abilities that they had already bagged the four try bonus point; the Currie coaches would want this commitment to continue. As expected, Hawick made an impressive start and had Currie pinned down, but the unforced errors kept coming; another fine clearance took play into the opposite 22. Try number five was not far away as both forwards and backs went through the phases and impressively edged forward. This was a wonderful passage of play that finished with Charlie Brett popping the ball to Archie MacLean who dived over for the touchdown; Gregor Hunter converted.

The Chieftains are so fortunate to have the services of the experienced and skilful, Gregor Hunter to direct proceedings; only moments from the previous score he progressed another opportunity that had Hawick reeling. From his own goal line, he threw a long pass to Adam Hall who crashed through some ineffectual tackling and made ground. The confident centre motored forty metres before sending Steven Hamilton down theremaining length of the pitch for an exhilarating try that Gregor Hunter then converted; the move really did have that wow factor attached to it.

Hawick never gave up, and for the remaining ten minutes the mature heads in their team did add some respectability to the score line. Bruce McNeil was his usual boisterous self, tearing into space and piling pressure on the resilient Currie defence, that was slowly knocked backwards. A quickly taken tap penalty by their lively scrumhalf finally did the damage. The converted try was small consolation for an error-ridden afternoon’s work, but they will undoubtedly improve before these two teams meet for the return fixture.

During the past couple of seasons, the Chieftains have been so close to claiming silverware, but unfortunately the cruel twists of fate have denied them. This was not the case at the weekend, when, for the fourth time, they were defending the right to hold the Bill McLaren Shield. Currie Chieftains now become the fifth Club to have its name engraved on the trophy. A splendid achievement that is some consolation for all the traumas that Currie RFC have recently endured.                         I.J.S, 23.9.19.

 

Currie Chieftains Team v Hawick

15 Charlie Brett, 14 Cameron Meager, 13 Steven Hamilton, 12 Adam Hall, 11 Archie MacLean,

10 Gregor Hunter, 9 Gregor Christie, 8 Wallace Nelson, 7 Josh O’Brien, 6 Hamish Ferguson,

5 Mike Vernel, 4 Matt Poole, 3 Matias Argiro, 2 Fergus Scott, 1 Graeme Carson.

Bench– 16 Ross Merrilees, 17 Cairn Ramsey, 18 Euan Blair, 19 Cammy Scott, 20 Matt O’Neil.

 

Ref – Ben Blain, AR 1 – Michael Todd, AR 2 – Colin George.