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Currie :24 - Melrose :27
A View from the Touchline – BT Premier League: 3.12.16

Currie 24 pts (t 3, c 3, pg 1) v Melrose 27 pts (t 4, c 2, pg 1)

After a ridiculous four week break in Premier League fixtures, it was good to have some competitive rugby again; and what an action-packed affair it turned out to be at a damp and grey Malleny Park! Top of the League Melrose did just about enough to edge ahead of Currie, after the lead had changed hands three times.

Since their earlier exciting encounter back in September, Ben Cairns has instilled a degree of maturity in his talented young team, but there were still periods when wiser, more experienced heads would have opted for a safer course of action, but that would have most definitely reduced the spectacle to the calibre of mediocre; a label that is far from the aspirations of this Currie team. Melrose started in dominant determined fashion, and soon had Currie on the back foot; on five minutes, the big ‘Rose pack rolled to the Currie line where quick-witted Jason Baggot dived over near the corner flag for an unconverted try.

Even at this early stage, and still trying to contain the boisterous visitors, the adventurous Currie backs were keen to give the ball air and take the action into opposition territory; they went through the phases, retained possession and this momentum led to opposition infringements which Jamie Forbes finally punished with a fine penalty goal on fifteen minutes. Almost immediately ‘Rose reciprocated through the boot of Jason Baggot. With both teams playing attractive open rugby, the visitors squandered some clear opportunities, especially after stand-off Craig Jackson had cruised through the Currie defence only to see the ball fumbled by his colleagues just short of the line. With some textbook tackling, it was proving difficult to break two strong defences, but when the opportunity came, the visitors made it count. Fraser Thomson collected a high clearance kick and exploited space down the left touchline; his inter-passing with Ross McCann had the speedy fullback touching down in the corner for another unconverted try.

Currie continued with their adventurous attacks that certainly kept the visitors on their toes. Several assaults were repelled, but a powerful run by Harvey Elms could not be stopped; the fullback stretching for the line with three defenders on his back; Jamie Forbes converted from the touchline. As halftime approached, ‘Rose pressed, but the Currie defence stood firm; a tremendous Charlie Shiel box-kick was carried into touch just five metres from the ‘Rose corner flag. Steven Ainslie soared to secure the lineout ball, and the pack drove over. Ross Weston’s try was splendidly converted by Jamie Forbes, and Currie ended the half in front.

Halftime score – Currie 17 pts, Melrose 13 pts

Melrose started the second half full of vigour, and battered the Currie goal line. A series of close quarter set-pieces sucked in the home defence; the ball whizzed to Nyal Godsmark on the left wing, and he squeezed in at the corner. Craig Jackson landed a mammoth conversion from the touchline.

For twenty minutes the advantage swung like a pendulum, and again it was two well-drilled defences that held sway, but when a Currie penalty was directed to the corner, a similar lineout and reworking of their earlier try was performed; Jarrod Firth scored, and the cultured boot of Jamie Forbes added the conversion points. On the hour mark both teams refreshed their line-ups; it was good to see Mike Vernel back in a Currie shirt after a long lay-off, and the talented Ben Robins would add pace to the skills of Hutchison and Nelson

Although Currie had plenty of possession, they found it difficult to get out of their own half. A typical Ross Weston carry, from deep in his 22 should have eased the pressure, but as the promising Currie breakout accelerated down the touchline, the ball was dropped and ‘Rose counter attacked with vengeance. A well-organised maul rolled ominously toward the Currie goal line, and an outstretched arm crossed the white-wash; Ruaridh Knott’s try was converted by Craig Jackson to restore the slender Melrose lead. For the remaining ten minutes Currie played rugby in the right areas and pummelled the ‘Rose defence, but the visitors’ line remained intact. At times it looked as if Currie could not fail to score, but their pressure lacked composure as some panic passing flew wide of the mark, and Melrose held on to their hard-fought victory. Next Saturday, Currie travel to Stirling County for a 3.00pm KO. IJS, 3.12.16.


Updated 04/12/2016 by Ian Gidney