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Currie :38 - Heriots :15
A View from the Touchline – BT Premier League: 1.10.16

Currie 38 pts (t 4, c 3, pg 4) v Heriots 15 pts (t 2, c 1, pg 1)

Heriots are renowned for their beefy pack and a physical approach, and this severely tested Currie’s defence in the opening stages of the match. A good ten minutes had elapsed before the home team managed to gain any useful possession and venture into the visitors’ half; but from that point forward, they energetically matched their opponents with an eighty minute display of flowing rugby that garnered four excellent running tries to leave Heriots somewhat bewildered and looking rather second best.

The beautiful sunny autumn afternoon, and perfect ground conditions brought out the crowd for what in recent seasons has been a close-fought affair that Heriots have generally edged. Like the home team, the visitors have had a sluggish start to the new campaign and their intentions were clear from the outset. Were it not for some outstanding early defence, Currie could have been playing catch-up rugby. With Hamish Bain and Steven Ainslie securing Currie lineout ball, Richard Snedden and Jamie Forbes orchestrating back play, Cammy Gray and Robbie Nelson finding the gaps, the only area that was to cause some problems for the Malleny team during the afternoon was the heavier Heriots pack and their set scrum.

Following the early Heriots onslaught, Hamish Bain soared in the lineout and gave Richard Snedden a perfect ball to make ground from 35 metres out; he drew the defence and passed to Cammy
Gray who accelerated through a half-gap, he despatched the strong-running Robbie Nelson for the line. Jamie Forbes converted the try but Heriots immediately hit back with a penalty goal from Alex Hagart. There was a lot of positive play and good teamwork coming from Currie ranks; John Cox punched a hole and started a rampaging stampede. The ball was recycled and quickly moved the width of the pitch; Robbie Nelson’s final pass to Lee Jones (Glasgow Warriors) gave the speedy wing sufficient room to outstrip the covering defence for a classy touchdown.

The try was not converted but Heriots stepped up their game and put the squeeze on Currie at the other end. Their solid scrum had looked dangerous throughout, the extra push gained momentum and eased them towards the line. Scrum-half Andrew Simmers looked to have scored but the referee was already on his way to the post for a penalty try; Alex Hagart converted. Just on halftime Jamie Forbes extended Currie’s lead.

Halftime score – Currie 18 pts, Heriots 10 pts.

Jamie Forbes’ penalty kicks kept accumulating points for the home team, but when a shot on goal drifted wide only two minutes from the restart, and a try was also disallowed a short while later, a little anxiety could be detected in the Currie crowd. They need not have been concerned as a masterly move by Richard Snedden hit Malleny Park like a thunderclap. Steven Ainslie’s carry had extended the gain-line when the wizard scrum-half picked up at the back of the ruck; he went down the blind side, sold an outrageous dummy and motored 45 metres for the line, wrong-footing the fullback on the way. Jamie Forbes converted, and when he popped over another penalty goal, for an infringement that also cost Heriots a yellow card, it put three scores between the teams with time running out.

The visitors were becoming desperate to salvage something from the game and they reverted to their familiar strong-arm tactics muscling their way into the Currie 22. Some tremendous tackling kept them out, but not for long. Charlie Shiel had broken from his own line into open space; his chip-and-chase finally went to touch on the 10 metre line. Heriots regrouped and once again their big men pounded the Currie line; weight and numbers finally told for a touchdown by replacement Martin Bouab; the try was not converted.

The home team continued to play with pace and style in their pursuit of the bonus point try. When Heriots were penalised just outside of their 22, the crowd thought that Currie would go for a 5 metre penalty lineout, but Jamie Forbes kicked the goal. There was barely time for one last assault, but from a lineout on halfway, Hamish Bain plucked the throw to start a move that sweetly sailed through five pairs of hands to Lee Jones who used all of his skill and speed to cross in the corner; Jamie Forbes kicked an outstanding conversion which concluded a memorable victory. Currie are away at Hawick next weekend, KO 300pm.

IJS, 2.10.16.

Updated 02/10/2016 by Ian Gidney