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Melrose :52 - Currie :22
A View from the Touchline – BT Premier League: 10.9.16

Melrose 52 pts (t 7, c 7, pg 1) v Currie 22 pts (t 3, c 2, pg 1)

For almost 50 minutes, on this sunny afternoon that was perfect for open rugby, there was not a lot in it. The young uncompromising visitors played with fearless gusto, but eventually they were worn down by the power, experience and team-work of a high-flying Melrose unit who ran in three late tries which gave the scoreline a rather unbalanced look. If the splendid goal-kicking of Jason Baggott had also not been as clinical, the scores would have been a little closer.

Despite several forced team changes, just before and during the match, Currie gave an exceptional account of themselves, particularly AP McWilliam, Fergus Scott and the front five, who were confronted by a big formidable ‘Rose pack which contained several professionals with growing reputations. In early exchanges, Currie did well in both territory and possession. When they were awarded a penalty try, and Austin Lockington was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on, it was fair reward for their excellent efforts.

Almost twenty minutes had elapsed before Melrose ventured into the Currie 22, and then they did it with power and speed. Richard Taylor, the ‘Rose centre literally smashed through Currie’s defence, and a few phases later the pack muscled its way to the line. Murdo McAndrew scored and Jason Baggott’s conversion added to the penalty goal points which he had kicked a few minutes before. The Currie stand-off, Graeme Clow was setting up some fine attacks especially with his precise positional kicking. On the half hour Cammy Gray raced in at the corner; this followed some terrific interplay between Harvey Elms, Matthew Hooks, Charlie Shiel and Robbie Nelson; Graeme Clow converted from the touchline. Unfortunately for the visitors this spurred Melrose into action, and their armoury was displayed in the remaining minutes to halftime. Powerful running and scintillating passing ripped the visitors’ defence apart. This resulted in tries for Russell Anderson and an electric solo effort from Fraser Thomson; Baggott converted both tries. Graeme Clow kept Currie in touch with a penalty goal.

Halftime score – Melrose 24 pts, Currie 17 pts

Just before halftime, Harvey Elms had been shown a yellow card for preventing release. It was certain that ‘Rose would exploit the visitors’ situation which also included some injury changes. Within five minutes the lead had been extended by a flowing move that involved quick recycling and wonderful handling. Influential forward, Iain Moody took the final pass at speed; Baggott converted from a difficult angle.

Although the hosts had stretched their lead, Currie’s character shone through and they continued to play their excellent brand of attacking rugby which never really let ‘Rose take complete control. As the match entered its final quarter, Currie peppered the efficient ‘Rose defence with a series of spritely attacks that edged towards the try line. A number of set scrums and driving mauls had Melrose on toast; the referee had to have a word with the opposition regarding some illegal tactics. After a good period of Currie pressure, John Cox crossed the line; Chris Davies just missed the difficult conversion.

As the game progressed, the visitors were finding it increasingly difficult to retain possession; the opposition were breaking tackles and gaining ground. The speedy Melrose backs were now finding gaps which stretched the tiring Currie defence, and their well-drilled forward support, cleaned up at the breakdown and recycled prodigiously. In a final ten exhausting minutes, Melrose played with a style that Currie did well to contain. Nevertheless three tries resulted; Lewis Carmichael, Austin Lockington and Ross McCann all scored wide out. The difficult conversion kicks appeared to be no problem for the immaculate boot of Jason Baggott.

Despite the scoreline, this was a creditable Currie performance against an experienced team with professional attitudes and intentions; the Borders club also has the finances to match these ambitions. Next weekend, 17th September, Currie are at home to Stirling County, KO 3.00pm. IJS, 11.9.16.

Updated 12/09/2016 by Ian Gidney