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Melrose :42 - Currie :15
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A View from the Touchline – BT Premier League, Semi-Final Play-off: 1.4.17

Melrose 42 pts (t 5, c 4, pg 3) v Currie 15 pts (t 2, c 1, pg 1)

A confident Currie team and their ardent supporters ventured into Border country with an air of expectation for this play-off match, despite yet another 3 week gap without any competitive rugby in preparation for the League title encounter. A show-down with the team that had been riding high all season, and had already beaten Currie on three previous occasions was always going to be a tough call.

The ominous black clouds that eventually disgorged their copious contents on the Greenyards pitch minutes before the start were not a good omen, and the soggy, greasy conditions were not what the visitors wanted. True to form, the big Melrose pack dominated set play and provided a solid platform for a feast of scoring whenever ‘Rose were in the Currie 22. Gamely the visitors tried to stem the unidirectional flow, but nothing went right for them; mistakes, penalties and a relentless juggernaut pack had Currie slithering and sliding all over the place with the inevitable consequences.

As with previous matches, the visitors got off to a bright start taking the game to the opposition with spirited handling that tested the ‘Rose defence. On five minutes, Jamie Forbes popped over a long range penalty goal which was just reward for Currie’s efforts considering the amount of possession that they had. Almost immediately circumstances changed, and ‘Rose started to dominate possession and dictate play. Stand-off Jason Baggott, whose cultured boot was near perfection throughout the afternoon, found touch for a penalty throw-in only10 metres from the Currie line; the catch and drive to the corner flag was a formality, although Baggott missed converting Ruaridh Knott’s try.

With only fifteen minutes on the clock, ‘Rose had repeated this successful formula with two more well-organised forward drives before centre Nyle Godsmark was released from close quarters for the touchdowns. Baggott was on target with his conversions and also a penalty goal before the break. Although Currie tried things, nothing was going for them, and when Reece Patterson was harshly yellow-carded in the slippery conditions, the despondent Malleny men appeared to be looking down the barrel of a gun!

Halftime score – Melrose 22 pts, Currie 3 pts

When play resumed Currie still had to see out 7 or 8 minutes with only fourteen men, and they made a good fist of it. This had the travelling support talking of another miraculous comeback; the scrum looked a little steadier and their ball retention was better, but they had difficulty getting out of the mid-field area to cause any concern and threaten the ‘Rose line. Unfortunately the mistakes kept occurring, thanks to the relentless pressure that the opposition were exerting. Fifteen minutes had passed without any further score, but the home team were clearly planning from a well-positioned attacking scrum. Currie held the set-scrum and the ball was swiftly moved wide to Baggott who neatly popped an inside pass to Austin Lockington; the nifty wing danced through and brushed off tackles on his 25 metre dash for a try that Baggott converted; the Currie defence was in tatters!

This score looked to have sealed the match for the hosts, but Currie did not give up and with their best passage of play for the afternoon they went deep into the ‘Rose 22. A penalty lineout was secured by Stephen Ainslie and Currie then displayed their skills with the driving maul; Ross Weston’s try was converted by Jamie Forbes. The Melrose onslaught was far from finished and with the aid of further uncharacteristic Currie mistakes, they added a penalty and an Ally Grieve try, both converted by Baggott. The splendid Robbie Nelson did score an unconverted try for Currie, after a fine strong break from Scott McGinley, but the Greenyards crowd had the last cheer on the stroke of no-side; Baggott banged over another penalty goal, which added to the visitors’ misery. It had been a bad day at the office and a sad end to the final season of long-standing Currie hero’s Ross Weston and Richard Snedden – haste ye back. IJS, 2.4.17.

Many thanks Ivor for all the work you put in preparing the match reports for this past season and many before.

Updated 02/04/2017 by Ian Gidney