A View from the Touchline – Premier League: 18.1.20.

Currie Chieftains 47 pts (t 7, c 6) v Glasgow Hawks 7 pts (t 1, c 1)

It soon became clear that the Chieftains had cast the disappointments of a miserable December into the dustbin of yesterday, as they dished up a fine display of rugby against an athletic Hawks team that looked good in patches, but could not match the all-round ability of their opponents. Unlike the conditions of the past month, the weather and pitch were almost perfect for this first outing of the New Year, and the good-sized crowd had plenty to cheer about.

The Hawks backs made a lively start, moving the ball and gaining ground, but a turnover shunted play in the other direction, and a few phases later the precision pass from Gregor Hunter put Mike Vernel into space. His exciting 20-metre gallop for the opening try was easily converted by Gregor Hunter, who was on target for all but one of his conversion kicks during the afternoon. Within the next 20 minutes two more tries were added. The splendid determined running of Fraser Sayers, Cameron Meager and Steven Hamilton, plus some magnificent carries by Rhys Davies and Wallace Nelson provided the foundations for well-worked close quarter scores from Matias Argiro and Graeme Carson; both props were ably assisted by the weighty bulk of Roy Vucago.

The visitors were finding it difficult to cope with Currie’s fast accurate passing and the intensity of their play, but they kept to their task and profited when the Chieftains became a little casual just outside of their 22; Hawks then showed that they had the ammunition to cause damage. For a good period, Hawks kept possession with robust quick recycling that finally brought reward. Kerr Gossman’s lightning speed and elusive footwork saw him dance in for a try that Liam Brims converted. The euphoria in the Hawks camp was soon extinguished as Currie opened them up for the bonus point score just before halftime. A long looping Gregor Hunter pass found Adam Hall in space on halfway; the spritely Chieftains centre successfully accelerated for the line with the Hawks cover in his wake. The try crowned a solid entertaining first half performance from the Chieftains, and it added a bit of warmth for local spectators as the air temperature dropped and the light faded.

Halftime score – Currie Chieftains 28 pts, Glasgow Hawks 7 pts.

During the break, chatter amongst the home crowd was about the number of present and ex-Currie players who have been selected for the various International training squads, from the full Scotland team, through the age-grade divisions to the Scottish Club fifteen who will play their Irish counterparts in this year’s 2-match fixture. Graeme Carson, Fergus Scott and Gregor Christie have all been outstanding in Currie colours and justified their call-up with second half scores that were created by the magical touch of Gregor Hunter, who is also in the squad for his tremendous skills set.

Once again, Hawks started the second period with determinations and sparkle, but they did not maintain their early momentum, and when the ball was recaptured by the Chieftains, the Malleny team went to town with some cracking fifteen man rugby that culminated in three worthy tries; this was despite some ferocious tackling from the Hawks defence, but they could not stop the onslaught. Mike Vernel, Rhys Davies and Wallace Nelson all contributed to a superb second half performance, and along with Steven Hamilton they too are in the International Club squad. Matt Poole, Reece Patterson and debutant centre, Ryan Southern, all put in a solid reliable shift, as did all the bench replacements. The same attitude and drive will be required as we progress to the sharp end of the season.

In the final quarter of the match, Hawks certainly had plenty of possession and were perhaps unfortunate not to get something from their exciting runs and excellent support play, but a resolute Currie defence held firm, even when a score looked likely. The visitors were now playing for pride, and it was excellent stuff to watch, but rather frustrating for a team playing with plenty of vigour and enthusiasm but lacking that final touch for success. Unfortunately, the excellent Gregor Hunter took a knock when making a try-saving tackle in the latter stages of the match and had to be helped from the pitch. It is this competitive edge that defines a team’s success, and we hope that Gregor’s injury is not too serious.

Glasgow Hawks have had a rough time recently, but there were periods during this match which should give them some encouragement for the future, although the bottom of the Premier League is now getting a little congested and very interesting. No wonder healthy-sized crowds are being attracted to these meaningful exciting League matches; the bread and butter of Scottish club rugby.

Next Saturday, January 25th, the Chieftains are again at home for a quarter final National Cup match against a vastly improved Hawick team, which caused Currie all sorts of trouble in the mud at Mansfield Park in early December. This match has all the makings of a classic cup encounter; please note the EARLY kick-off at 1.30 pm.                                                                                                I.J.S – 19.1.20.

Currie Chieftains Team –

15 Fraser Sayers, 14 Steven Hamilton, 13 Adam Hall, 12 Ryan Southern 11 Cameron Meager,

10 Gregor Hunter, 9 Gregor Christy, 8 Rhys Davies, 7 Wallace Nelson, 6 Roy Vucago, 5 Mike Vernel,

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

Bench –

16 Reece Patterson, 17 Sam Edwards, 18 Josh O’Brien, 19 Archie MacLean, 20n James McCaig.

Match Officials –

Referee – David Young

AR 1 – Gregor McIntosh

AR 2 – Dean Lythgoe