DAVID BARNES @ Malleny Park
It was a hell of a contest. With a furious wind howling through the trees around Malleny, the autumnal gray sky casting long shadows across the grass and two sides throwing all they have at each other, it looked more like a scene from battle of “Game of Thrones” than a rugby match on time.
The result is probably a true reflection of how the match went, but it could very well have gone the other way around, and the visitors absolutely deserved the two bonus points they earn on the road to Hawick. . Questions have been asked as to whether the Borderers can recreate their Mansfield form on the road in order to become serious contenders to finish at the top of the table, and this performance has categorically answered that question.
However, the Chieftains are at the top of the table for good reason, having recovered from their upset opening weekend against those same opponents to conquer everyone who has since crossed their path. They are tough, well trained and full of confidence. This is the team to beat in this league.
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“What a game!” exclaimed the victorious head coach Marc Cairns after. “I was disappointed with how easily we let them score when they were playing against the wind in the first half – we let them in with a few pauses that really shouldn’t – but the try that we scored just before half-time really lifted the boys.
âI thought our defense, overall, was good, but we had a few moments where we got caught by them doing something unexpected, like picking up and going back when they didn’t have to. been held up in the tackle. So there are always things to work on, âhe added.
âIt was an important victory because it keeps our noses ahead and it is now a question of continuing until the end of the season. We still have about six boys to come back before the end of the year so the selections are going to be tough, but it’s great to have that strength in depth.
For Hawick’s head coach Matty douglasit was a mixture of pride and frustration. “I thought we stayed pretty well upwind in the first half and scored a few good tries, but their try just before half-time – which was a soft try to give – killed us a bit,” said he declared. reflexive.
âWe played the zones well in the second half, but sometimes a strong wind like this doesn’t benefit you much because it’s difficult to control the ball. We were the best team in the second half, but a few inaccuracies cost us dearly. The boys are emptied and I am emptied.
âAt the end of the day, Currie is the best team in the league, and Mark has coached them well, so the good news is we took six points from the top two teams in the league last week, so we have to get one. some satisfaction.
Hawick took a fourth-minute lead when the Chieftains dabbled just outside the Hawick 22 and Andrew Mitchell so Ronan McKean both hacked before, before Jae Linton galloped across the stage to put the finishing touches, setting up an easy conversion for Kirk Ford.
Hawick’s hits were coming fast and loud – and late, if you listened to some of Malleny’s sideline vocals – with Linton leading with two thunderous tackles in a single pass of play. The No.8 had his SatNav internally zoned to influential Gregor Hunter all afternoon, and the Chieftains clash will no doubt cure a few aches and pains tomorrow morning.
Penalties started stacking up against the Borderers, but their approach seemed to have the desired effect as the Chieftains dominated possession in that first period but lacked their usual composure, and Hunter widened an opportunity to penalty that he would normally have swallowed to the left of the posts.
However, he was on the right track a few minutes later, to get the Chieftains off the ground, before DJ Innes got away and sent Cammy gray at home for the test that put the hosts in the lead.
The momentum was now firmly with the hosts and they went further when Rhys davies muscular after a long time of pressure, and Hunter added the extras.
But Hawick retaliated around half an hour when the quick Gareth Welsh escaped off the side of a ruck then brilliantly timed his pass for McKean to score.
Hawick second row Rudi brown did well to get back on his feet when he wasn’t held up in a tackle in the middle of the park, then went wild in the Chieftains 22, but was penalized after being brought in a second time for himself be hooked.
Then came that moment which both coaches said had been crucial just before the break. Hawick’s scrum had the Chieftains under serious pressure in their own half, but Wallace nelson successfully picked up and retrieved the recycled possession, allowing the captain Fergus scott to launch a breakthrough that was led by James McCague, then finished by Scott, who had managed to keep pace with the flying winger.
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Aided by the wind, Hawick dominated the opening 10 minutes of the second half, and the pressure finally paid off for the Borderers when Ford rushed in and converted to make it a five-point game.
This elicited an almost immediate response from Currie, and Cairns remained enraged when a penalty try was not awarded for a roster maul that collapsed as it swept towards the Hawick line, but the players have kept an eye on the prize, with Greame Carson picked up and dived, although there was no conversion.
In a few minutes, Shawn muir fired back in a similar style, meaning that, at the very least, both teams now knew they would get a try-out bonus from the match.
It was tight, but Currie’s defense seemed the most resolute, absorbing wave after wave of green attacks, and winning penalties and turnovers on the tackle at crucial moments.
As the game neared added time, Hawick had one last shot at glory. They went for a penalty scrum 15 yards from the Chieftains line and almost directly in front of the posts, then battled through a dozen phases. But there had been no slack in the home defense, and eventually a loose pass rebounded as Mitchell tried to rally at ankle level, opening the curtain on this epic encounter.
Celebrations from Currie’s players on the pitch at the end, and their supporters in the stands, spoke of how hard-won and important this victory was to the leaders of the league.
Heads of Currie: C Brett (A Hall 50); J McCaig, R Southern, D Innes, C Gray; G Hunter, P Boyer; G Carson, R Stewart (S Fisher 41-69), G Scougall (C Ramsay 31-50), R Davies, H Ferguson, G Nelson, F Scott, W Nelson.
Hawick: B Donaldson; M Tait, L Gordon-Woolley, A Mitchell, R McKean; K Ford, G Welsh; S Muir, M Carryer (R Graham 50), R Macleod (D Gamble 29), R Brown (R Smith 55), S Fairbairn, C Renwick, S Graham (C Sutherland 4), J Linton.
Score barrels –
Heads of Currie: Try: Gray Davies, Scott, Carson; Against: Hunter 3; Pen: gray.
Hawick: Essays: Linton, McKean, Ford, Muir; Against: Ford 2.
Scoring Sequence (Currie Chieftains First): 0-5; 0-7; 3-7; 8-7; 10-7; 15-7; 17-7; 17-12; 22-12; 24-12 (high) 44-17; 24-19 29-19; 29-24.
Man of the match: Lots of contestants on both sides, but a loose home prop Graeme carson played the full 80 minutes, most against the much-loved Dan Gamble who played for Edinburgh, and although the scrum did crack, it didn’t. He also scored the try to secure bonus points for the Chieftains.
Subject of discussion: We heard a lot about how Ross Thomson continued to play professional and international rugby after his stint in Super6. Can we assume that the precious playing time the Premiership now gives youngsters like Dan Gamble and Rudi Brown will also deserve congratulatory tweets from Murrayfield if they hit the jackpot at some point in the future?
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