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Currie :23 - Watsonians :22
A View from the Touchline – BT Premier League: 17.12.16

Currie 23 pts (t 2, c 2, pg 3) v Watsonians 22 pts (t 3, c 2, pg 1)

Following a hearty Christmas lunch in the clubhouse, there was much good-spirited banter amongst the sizable crowd for Currie’s last home match of 2016. Unfortunately, the main attraction, and it was not the jovial red-suited Santa, failed to add that extra sparkle to the pleasant seasonal afternoon. The match was almost a complete reversal of Currie’s recent performances, in which they had made poor starts, but recovered magnificently to record good wins. On this occasion they raced to a twenty point lead, which had many supporters thinking of a bonus point before the break. However, the burly Watsons pack showed their mettle in the second half and nearly took the Christmas goodies from Currie’s grasp.

The previous encounter, earlier in the season, had been quite a close affair, with Watsons keeping the ball for long periods and just about doing enough to grind out a victory. Although their recent form has slumped, the visitors showed no sign of this and they were soon battling away deep in the Currie red zone. A good five minutes had past before Rory Clegg cleared the danger and Currie got an attack underway. The ball zoomed across the pitch as the enterprising Currie backs looked for holes. An equally stout Watson defence was now tested, but in desperation they gave away penalties and Rory Clegg slotted two goals. Charlie Shiel saw space and delivered a cunning box-kick that rolled into touch in the opposition 22. Hamish Bain and Steven Ainslie were causing some problems for the Watsons’ lineout, and on this occasion the Currie pack exploited the turnover with a soften-up process that inched forward and sucked in ‘Sonians’ defence; Rory Clegg floated a miss-pass to Ben Robbins who had free passage to the line; Rory Clegg converted.

The visitors were competitive, but they failed to hold on to the ball at critical points, which allowed Currie to counter-attack with aplomb. On virtually every occasion that the home side visited the ‘Sonians’ 22 they came away with points. The Currie backs were full of running as phase after phase flowed forward. Harvey Elms picked up a pass from his bootlaces and sent Ratu Tagive off down the touchline. The big Glasgow Warriors wing out-sprinted the cover and ran in near the posts for a try that Rory Clegg converted.

After 30 minutes of play, things were looking grim for the visitors, but their situation was about to improve. Influential Currie forward Michael Vernel was forced to retire injured, and the unfortunate circumstances appeared to affect Currie’s play. The Watsons back row proved a nuisance throughout the afternoon; they helped to turn a defensive scrum, on their 10 metre line, into attack, and the nippy ‘Sonians backs made ground superbly. The ball was recycled quickly and went back across the pitch; Sean Crombie used his strength to twist over the goal line. The corner flag try was not converted, but with only minutes left before the break, the visitors set off on another attack from deep. The move looked to have faltered, but the referee was happy and Andrew Chalmers cruised in for a try which he then converted. Game on!
Halftime score – Currie 20 pts, Watsonians 12 pts.
As the weak winter sun faded, so did Currie’s glittering start. In five minutes ‘Sonians had reduced their hosts’ lead with a scrum infringement penalty. Andrew Chalmers kicked the goal and then converted Calum Eastwood’s try, after the buoyant Watsonians forwards kept possession and bullied their way to the line; this score gave the visitors a two point lead.

With 30 minutes remaining, Currie were finding it difficult to get out of their own half, and to get their hands on the ball; even when they did, there were more mistakes than in the previous couple of matches put together. The visitors were gaining confidence and becoming more ambitious. Thankfully the Currie defence was well-drilled with Ross Weston, Luke Crosbie, Fergus Scott and Robbie Nelson doing overtime. As time moved on, Currie started to realise the urgency of the situation, and a livelier turn of pace was apparent, but they were still not playing as a team; silly errors proved costly, and ‘Sonians were always prepared to counter. With five minutes remaining it looked as if the visitors’ small lead would be sufficient. Play was mostly concentrated in mid-field with an occasional advance beyond. A final Currie flurry saw ‘Sonians penalised 35 metres out; Rory Clegg’s kick agonisingly skimmed the post, but almost immediately he was given another chance; this time there was no mistake and Currie scraped the win. On the 14th January we travel to Goldenacre, KO 2.00pm. Currie RFC wish you all a happy Christmas. IJS, 18.12.16

Updated 18/12/2016 by Ian Gidney