Currie Chieftains v GHA RFC, 18 September 2021

This seven-try Chieftains’ romp did no justice to the performance of a young, lively and tenacious GHA team who made too many unforced errors. Unfortunately, an afternoon of inaccurate passes and knock-ons were the precursors to the visitors’ downfall and allowed the clinical Chieftains to clear their lines and pile on the pressure.

After a promising opening spell, the visitors’ mishaps started when they missed an easy shot at goal. A relieved Chieftains slowly made progress before Gregor Nelson burst through a mid-field gap and raced to within five metres of the goal line. Several forward drives were repelled, but finally the gallant defenders were overwhelmed and prop, Gregor Scougall, powered over for an unconverted try.

Then Chieftains began to take command with their fifteen-man style of play, but they were frequently hampered by a GHA defence who were quick to the breakdown and strong over the ball, inflicting several turnovers. Around the twenty-minute mark after a spell of good Chieftains’ handling, Cammy Gray scampered down the wing and was tackled deep in the opposition 22. In the resulting melee, Ryan Southern raced through a cluster of GHA players and pounced on the loose ball which had ricocheted over the try line; his try was converted by Gregor Hunter.

The visitors were still very much in the match, but a period of unrewarded goal-line pressure and continuing mistakes let Currie off the hook. A splendid Gregor Hunter kick cleared the danger, much to GHA’s frustration, which a few minutes later resulted in a yellow card for one of their more experienced forwards. Currie seized the opportunity and after Rhys Davies had secured the penalty lineout, DJ Innes rounded off some fine close quarter pressure; Gregor Hunter again converted.

Half-time Score: Currie Chieftains 19 pts v GHA 0 pts.

For the first ten minutes after the break, GHA played some fine adventurous rugby but with a continuing propensity to lose the ball. Currie’s textbook defensive work and counter-attacking, allowed the visitors little headway. The Chieftains pressed for their bonus point try which eventually came after an inter-passing surge down the stand touchline. Once again, the visitors did well to stop several forward drives, which culminated in an unconverted try for Rhys Davies.

GHA continued to battle for possession and territory but found it difficult to make much progress. The Chieftains’ set piece was well in control and the visitors were now finding it difficult to secure breakdown possession. Ryan Stewart, Graeme Carson and Hamish Ferguson carried strongly throughout the afternoon and whenever the opportunity arose, Paddy Boyer set the Currie backs in motion. Charlie Brett made a 40-metre break before passing inside to Cammy Gray for the next well-executed try; Gregor Hunter converted.

As GHA pressed for the score which had eluded them all afternoon, the Chieftains’ quick line speed and destructive tackling continued to force errors which they exploited. Cammy Gray had another storming run to set up a marvellous passage of play which was finished on the other wing. The attack stretched the visitors’ defence and Matt Bradshaw found space to race free and score. Gregor Hunter added the extras to conclude the scoring for what was an efficient afternoon’s work and a good team performance.

A concern for the coaches, was an injury to young scrumhalf, Cameron Lessels who was making his first Premiership after a long layoff. Chieftains travel to Selkirk next weekend and will need to have their wits about them for what has been a challenging venue in recent years.

Full-time Result: Currie Chieftains 45 pts (t 7, c 5) v GHA 0 pts

I.J.S. – 19.9.21.