Currie Chieftains v Musselburgh RFC, 30 October, 2021

Despite the torrential rain of the previous two days, the green, firm Malleny pitch, with a backdrop of autumn colours, looked a picture. As the clouds retreated and the sun peeped through, the Chieftains’ performance matched the conditions, and they produced a masterclass of open rugby which the seaside visitors found hard to live with.

For the first twenty minutes Musselburgh completed well, hoping for a morale-boosting upset, in this their centenary season. Even after the excellent Hamish Ferguson had powered his way over the line for Currie’s opening try on 12 minutes, the visitors’ defiant defence looked strong, and they confidently ran the ball at every opportunity. Unfortunately, on too many occasions they mishandled, and surrendered possession to the Chieftains’ relentless attacking play. Musselburgh did manage a couple of ventures into the Currie half, and perhaps a score at this juncture would have brought come composure to their game, but unfortunately a kickable penalty slipped past the mark as did some of their tackling.

The dynamic Rhys Davies flew through a gap and rampaged 30 metres; Charlie Brett joined the attack and cleverly chip-kicked a low ball beyond the advancing defence and into the Musselburgh 22; DJ Innis thought he had scored, but the try was disallowed. Minutes later, after Gregor Hunter had created space, Fergus Scott raced in near the posts; this opened the floodgates. In the remaining 10 minutes prior to the break, Currie ran in tries by Steven Hamilton, DJ Innis and Ryan Southern. Gregor Hunter added all five conversions to put the Chieftains in a commanding position.  Halftime score; Currie Chieftains 35 pts, Musselburgh 0 pts.

The second period told a similar story, with the visitors starting well, particularly in set scrums, which were very competitive throughout. However, for most of the remaining match, Musselburgh rarely got beyond the halfway line. Mark Cairns made several positional changes, rotating the excellent front row union and shuffling the backs; it was good to see Joe Reynolds in Currie colours again. After 10 minutes of better tackling and some Currie mishandling, the scoring resumed; Ryan Southern, who had moved to scrumhalf, picked up at the back of a ruck a few metres out and dived over for try number 6.

The ball was being given plenty of air as the visitors faced a constant barrage of carriers running at speed. Backs and forwards formed Currie’s line of attack and when spritely hooker, Ryan Stewart, on the left wing, perfectly timed his pass to Joe Reynolds, the fleet-footed centre cruised for the corner flag. This was the only try not to be converted. Between the final 2 tries, scored by Fergus Scott and Joe Reynolds, a little off-the-ball skirmish broke out. Following consultation with his assistants, the referee dispatched one player from each team to the sinbin, where they spent the remainder of the game.

Currie’s strength in depth was demonstrated by centre, Adam Hall moving to fullback from where he made several scintillating runs, and converted the final try. In the closing minutes a determined Musselburgh effort managed some fine passages of play, and they got within a metre of the Currie line. However, the Chieftains’ excellent defence, especially Gregor Hunter, relieved them of the ball. Sadly for them, this was the story of their frustrating afternoon and no doubt the return match at Stoneyhill later in the season will be a different affair.

Final Score: Currie 61 pts (t 9, c 8) v Musselburgh 0 pts

Next weekend is a high-octane home match against an in-form Hawick RFC, who will want to get this season’s double over Currie, who are the new Tennent’s Premiership table leaders. Come early, it will be a busy day; Kick-off 2.30pm.

I.J.S. – 31.10.21.