COLIN RENTON @ Malleny Park
CURRIE CHIEFTAINS underlined their title credentials when they emerged with a five-point haul against another in-form team, shrugging off the tricky conditions to win with relative comfort. The hosts managed the game better than an Accies side that remains a work in progress, but showed in glimpses the grit that had yielded four try bonuses in each of their previous matches.
Nevertheless, by the end of this encounter, Chieftains were well in charge and they finished off with a hint of a swagger, while Accies had retreated into defensive mode. It wasn’t the most dynamic of performances, but it was effective and home coach Mark Cairns was satisfied with the outcome.
“Accies are a good team, they’ve had some good results and I think they would have come here with lots of confidence,” he said. “I was really pleased with the way we started the game. I thought we were on top of them the whole match. I was a bit disappointed with our execution at times but overall I would have taken that score and five points.”
Of the ability to play winning rugby regardless of conditions, he added: “It’s not about making no errors, it’s about how you transition between attack and defence at this level. We will still be throwing the ball about, but it’s that risk and reward. I think we got the balance about right until we entered the 22 and guys made decisions, got themselves isolated, got ball turned over. But we are capable of playing all sorts of rugby.”
In the away camp, forwards coach Ross Young also had a mixed assessment. “Credit to Currie – it was a real workmanlike performance from them. I think they controlled the game well, and they played with a lot of territory and a lot of possession. if you give a team like Currie territory and possession like we did, they are going to make you pay for it. Ultimately they did”, he said.
And while Young saw weakness in the set-piece as a factor in the result, he remains positive about the squad’s direction of travel. “For 25 minutes we went toe to toe with them and we were in a really good place,” he continued. “It’s tough but there’s a lot of positive signs in there. We’re developing and the challenge is to get better every week.”
Chieftains opened with intent, but it was all a bit frantic and they failed to trouble the Accies defence. The visitors gradually gained the upper hand but squandered the first scoring opportunity of the match, opting for touch with a penalty that was in range and failing to capitalise on the lineout.
A spillage by Accies on their own 10-metre line allowed Ryan Southern to hack ahead and create a platform for the hosts to enjoy a spell in the ascendancy. Southern was again the catalyst as Chieftains gradually ratcheted up the pressure. A ball swept along the line to Cammy Meager almost manufactured a breakthrough, but the winger was tackled into touch just short of the whitewash.
Both sides continued to play at full tilt, and livewire Accies scrum-half Ben Afshar looked to get his backs going at every opportunity.
The deadlock was finally broken after 22 minutes when Gregor Hunter booted a penalty from 20 metres. Accies wasted no time in responding. A bobbling chip through created confusion in the Chieftains defence and the alert Robbie Kent pounced for an unconverted score.
Chieftains were next on the scoreboard. A rampaging run by Fergus Scott carried play back into opposition territory and the hosts opted for a scrum from a close-range penalty. A powerful drive saw Gregor Nelson over, and Hunter was on target with the conversion.
The referee warned Accies about the mounting penalty count and the next offender, Cole Imrie, was despatched to the sin bin. The ensuing penalty was booted into touch and the lineout drive ended with Wallace Nelson stretching over and Hunter adding the extras for a 17-5 interval lead.
Accies were quickly on the attack after the restart with a clever pass by Ben Appleson to Kent almost setting the centre free. However, it was the visitors’ defensive skills that were most in evidence as they repelled a series of Chieftains attacks. A try was only delayed briefly and it came when Southern was thwarted just short of the target, but Cammy Meager was on hand to force his way over. Hunter’s conversion created a meaningful lead that Accies never looked likely to bridge.
As the minutes ticked by, Chieftains, with an eye on the bonus point, began to enjoy an ever greater share of the possession. However, Accies continued to resist until the final play of the game when Graeme Carson emerged from a heap of bodies to claim the score. Hunter’s conversion concluded a satisfactory afternoon for the home side.
Currie Chieftains: Tries – G Nelson, W Nelson, Meager, Carson; Conversions – Hunter 4; Penalty – Hunter
Edinburgh Accies: Try – Kent
Scoring sequence (Chieftains first): 3-0, 3-5, 8-5, 10-5, 15-5, 17-5 half-time, 22-5, 24-5, 29-5, 31-5.
Currie Chieftains: C Brett; C Meagher, R Southern, DJ Innes, C Gray; G Hunter, C Lessels; AP McWilliam, G Carson, G Scougall, R Davies, H Ferguson, G Nelson, F Scott©, W Nelson. Subs: R Stewart, C Ramsay, S Edwards, J McCaig, A Hall.
Edinburgh Accies: V Hart; H Janes, R Kent, M Wallace, M Sinclair; B Appleson, B Afshar; C Imrie, A Scott, C Taylor, J Mills, S Whittaker, A Inwood, M Walker, R Campbell©. Subs: G Stevenson, J Sole, J Troup, J Loomes.
Referee: R Campbell.
Yellow card: Edinburgh Accies: Imrie.
Man of the match: Hamish Ferguson and the ever-consistent Fergus Scott were big contributors, but the key man was Ryan Southern, who posed a threat every time he had the ball, and showed his versatility when he moved to scrum half.
Talking point: Chieftains have shown already that they can run in tries for fun when conditions are favourable. This performance proves they are an all-weather team.