A View from the Touchline – Scottish Premier League, September 7th, 2019

GHA, (Glasgow, Hutchesons’, Aloysians) 14 pts (t 2, c 2) v Currie Chieftains 38 pts (t 6, c 4)

The Chieftains were last at Braidholm for a Scottish Cup match in late November 2018. The big feisty south Glasgow team proved tough opposition on that occasion, and the visitors were expecting a similar reception for this early season League encounter. In the warm sunshine the lush green pitch sparkled, and so did Currie’s first half performance, as they completely outplayed the newcomers to topflight club rugby. The second half was a different story, with GHA showing their competitive edge, and disrupting the visitors’ increasingly complacent approach.

Currie supporters are still struggling to recognise the new personalities in their team, and with a few more changes to the successful Chieftains side of the previous weekend, it was very pleasing to see how soon they jelled into an efficient, smooth-running unit. In three minutes, the backs had cruised through the opposition, with Alex Harley sending Chris Brett into the corner for the opening score. Clearly, GHA were not familiar with this intensity and speed; the Chieftains’ pattern of play flourished. Gregor Hunter orchestrated proceedings behind the scrum, which established field position that the forwards thrived on. To their credit, the GHA tackling was heroic, but the ball had gone by the time that their cavalry arrived at the breakdown, and they then feverishly scurried to plug other defensive gaps.

In the next ten minutes Currie strangled the life out of any GHA ambition with some delightful fifteen-man rugby. The successful lineout formula of the previous week was employed, with Fergus Scott and Mike Vernel combining to secure the throw-in, and the pack driving for the line. It appeared that Matais Argiro scored the first of two tries from the forwards; this was quickly followed by an identical re-run, when loose-head prop, Graeme Carson touched down; both tries were converted by Gregor Hunter.

Nearly twenty minutes had passed before GHA managed to gain any decent ball, and this edged them into the Chieftains’ 22. A promising move ended with a knock-on, allowing Steven Hamilton and Chris Brett to counter-attack down the length of the pitch; the exciting move was stopped by a classic tackle from full-back Grant Mollison; it saved an almost certain try. On nearly every occasion that GHA got into the Currie 22, they dropped the ball, and the visitors made the most of the mistakes.  Diarmaid Dee burst from the back of a lineout, and headed into space, his inside pass found the splendid Steven Hamilton, which set a glorious passage of play in motion. The speedy wing and Fergus Scott exchanged passes down the left touchline for a scintillating score. Gregor Hunter converted Steven Hamilton’s memorable, bonus point try.

As the break approached, there was still time for more excitement from the jet-propulsion of Steven Hamilton. This time his zigzag running took him 60 metres into the opposition 22; a couple of phases followed and setup another string of chances. Steven Hamilton was unlucky not to connect with a corner flag kick from Gregor Hunter, but a penalty put pressure on the GHA goal line; grafting Rhys Davies crashed over, and Gregor Hunter had a simple conversion.

Halftime score, GHA 0 pts – Currie Chieftains 33 pts.

The halftime talk by a disgruntled GHA coaching team did inspire a marked change in attitude and execution; their charges were more aggressive at the breakdown and certainly put the visitors under pressure with their line-speed and rucking. The home team’s handling was now much crisper, with some determined running that took them deep into Chieftains’ territory; all factors that had been previously missing. A vigorous spell of committed driving rugby was not going to be stopped, and before the crowd had settled back into position for the second half, GHA were on the score board. Ruairi O’Keefe’s well worked try was superbly converted from the touchline.

Currie took a while to get going again, but their play did not have that zing factor that dominated the first forty minutes. Although they still held territorial advantage, and went close on a number of occasions, mistakes and some poor decisions allowed GHA to intervene and counter-attack. Although Rhys Davies made a trademark break that was cut down only metres from the line, it was some time before the visitors got the score board ticking over again. Josh O’Brien, Hamish Ferguson and Cairns Ramsay did their best to keep the momentum going forward, and Cameron Lessels kept his back line well supplied before Fergus Scott eventually broke through for an unconverted score, wideout.

Whenever Currie appeared to be in a threatening and strong position near the goal line, GHA had the annoying knack of spoiling any scoring intentions. On several occasions the Chieftains’ lineout went disastrously wrong, and a positive chance went begging. If it were not for some outstanding tackling from Steven Hamilton, Adam Hall, Alex Harley and Chris Brett, the lively GHA backs, particularly Aaron Purewal and Charlie Lonergan could have been away for a try.

It may have been a combination of ‘job done’ and a certain amount of complacency that led to a slackening of the Chieftains’ second half performance, but they were definitely not matching their earlier achievements. Undoubtedly, GHA had stepped up a gear and were more determined in all aspects of their game. It was no surprise when a concentrated effort, and some wonderful handling resulted in an outstanding try for scrumhalf, Andrew Gillman. Cameron King converted the score that added a touch of respectability and pride to his team’s second half endeavours.

IJS, 8.9.19.

Currie Chieftains Team –

15 Charlie Brett, 14 Steven Hamilton, 13 Adam Hall, 12 Alex Harley, 11 Archie MacLean,

10 Gregor Hunter, 9 Cameron Lassels, 8 Ryhs Davies, 7 Diarmaid Dee, 6 Josh O’Brien, 5 Mike Vernel,

4 Matt Poole, 3 Matais Sonzogni Argiro 2 Fergus Scott, 1 Graeme Carson.

Bench – 16 Grant Williamson, 17 Cairns Ramsay, 18 Hamish Ferguson, 19 Wallace Nelson,

20 Jack Patterson.

Ref Mr I. Kenny, AR1 Mr C. Samson, RA2 Mr A. Watt.