Hawick v Currie Chieftains 4 September 2021

Despite some good pre-season workouts against testing opposition, Currie struggled to repeat their earlier performances and had to settle for second place against a young, energetic Hawick team who gave little away. The ‘Greens’ tackled like demons and punished Currie’s persistent mistakes which repeatedly let the home team off the hook when the visitors had them under pressure.

In the first few minutes the Chieftains hurtled into opposition territory and a score came tantalisingly close, but a combination of errors and a formidable Hawick defence gave their young team encouragement and confidence. Playing to a sensible simple game plan they quickly turned the tables on the visitors and scored at the other end. Currie lost the ball just inside their 22, it was picked-up by a quick-thinking Hawick forward who rampaged to the posts unopposed. Within minutes Currie had pulled 3 points back with a long-range Gregor Hunter penalty. The visitors were now playing with some flair, but it only came in patches as mistakes interrupted the flow. Eventually a strong attack finished with an unconverted Wallace Nelson try. When Ryan Daley made an exciting 40 metre dash down the touchline, the visitors looked to have the measure of the opposition, but once again it was not sustained.

On thirty minutes Hawick retook the lead with a midfield penalty goal. Currie immediately responded with a corner flag try; Gregor Hunter’s pinpoint cross-field kick was superbly collected by the sprinting Ryan Daley. As halftime approached a splendid passage of power-play from the Hawick pack, and some superb handling produced a try wideout; the converted score gave them a slender lead.

Halftime Score; Hawick 15 pts – Currie Chieftains 13 pts.

For a good twenty minutes of the second period, the game mainly occupied midfield, although the visitors occasionally showed flashes of team dominance. Several promising breaks from Charlie Brett, DJ Innes, Rhys Davies and Adam Hall unfortunately petered out through lack of support or mishandling, leaving the ‘Greens’ goal line unthreatened. Hawick were content to absorb all that Currie could throw at them, and when in possession they pumped the ball down field away from their goal line. The malfunctioning Chieftains lineout was another factor which added unnecessary pressure which the marauding home team exploited. From a midfield lineout breakdown, they worked their way into the Currie 22 with some quick handling which left the visitors exposed; a blindside pass saw the Hawick number 8 crashing through a couple of tackles to score in the corner.

As the ball sailed through the posts the Chieftains knew that an urgent response was required. The visitors pack worked hard and started to look dangerous, Gregor Nelson drove over for a try that Gregor Hunter narrowly failed to convert, although he did reduce the margin with another penalty to make it a 2-point game. Hawick re-established their points cushion with a penalty of their own, and from the restart Currie went all out for a winning try. The remaining few minutes had Hawick desperately defending as the Chieftains pummelled their goal line. When the ball was finally knocked-on, the resulting scrum was a formality and Mansfield Park went wild. The win was a just reward for their energy, grit and determination.

The Chieftains never really got going at this first Premiership outing of the season, and generally they lacked cohesion. Hawick are past masters at disrupting the most confident of visiting teams; and the location and atmosphere make Mansfield Park an intimidating place. It is some time since Currie Chieftains recorded a success there.

Full-time Result: Hawick 25 pts (t 3, c 2, pg. 2) v Currie Chieftains 20 pts (t 3, C 1, pg. 1)  

I.J.S. – 6.9.21