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A disappointing day at The Greenyards
Melrose 41 Currie Chieftains 10

Click here for the Melrose match highlights video

A View from the Touchline – BT Premier League: 30.9.17.

Melrose 41 pts (t 7, c 3,) v Currie Chieftains 10 pts (t 1, c 1, pg 1)

With the sun glistening on the wet trees, still dripping from a couple of heavy showers earlier in the day, the autumn colours were stunning. An optimistic band of Currie supporters agreed that there was no finer place than the Borders at this time of the year, but could their team reproduce the sparkle that was evident a few weeks ago? The answer was emphatically NO! The Chieftains were swept away on a tide of near-faultless rugby, by a Melrose team that outshone the visitors most of the time. Although Currie’s defensive work was of a high calibre, the relentless surging attacks that ‘Rose imposed on their hapless visitors, who gifted them possession with the grace of a benevolent Santa Claus, it was not surprising that the Greenyards crowd witnessed a seven try mauling.

For several seasons now, this small, pretty Borders town has assumed the mantle of the area’s top rugby club, attracting ambitious talent from near and far. There is no doubt that their professional approach appeals to many aspiring young players, enthusiastic to gain a lucrative professional contract with the SRU, et al. The Club’s current supremacy at this level of the pseudo-amateur game requires a lot of hard work and some deep financial pockets; something of which many clubs can only dream.

From the outset it was evident that the Chieftains were in for a tough afternoon as they were knocked backwards by a series of scrums and rolling mauls that was better organised than the Borders Railway. On five minutes they had set up camp in the Currie 22, and with the defending loose forwards committed to a close-quarter battering, the ball was released wide; nippy Ross McCann flew in at the corner flag for the first of his afternoon’s haul; the try was not converted. Even when Currie had an occasional opportunity, on their infrequent visits to the ‘Rose 22, the lineout or scrum malfunctioned, and the ball was hoofed down pitch to initiate another ‘Rose attack. It was almost a replay of their first try, with the forwards battling it out on the line, and the ball finally whizzing wide. This time Neil Irvine-Ness scored; again it was not converted.

Into the second quarter and the Chieftains were hanging on by their fingertips, but further setbacks were about to hit them. Robbie Nelson, captain and influential leader had to retire injured, and following a number of breakdown infringements, Luke Crosbie was given a yellow card. The visitors did well to prevent ‘Rose adding to their tally, and furthermore, Jamie Forbes kicked a penalty from 35 metres. Currie could have registered more points if their composure and execution was better controlled when near the ‘Rose goal line.

Halftime score – Melrose 10 pts, Currie Chieftains 3 pts.

It was another disastrous re-start for Currie; some indecision and the ball was knocked on deep in their 22. This time, with only two minutes gone, full back, Fraser Thomson raced in at the corner; Craig Jackson converted the try. When Vince Wright was sent to the bin, it was certain that the visitors would be in for a torrid ten minutes. At regular intervals ‘Rose rattled in tries from Ross McCann (2) and Richard Ferguson. Currie did their best to stem the flow with excellent tackling, particularly by Michael Vernel, Kris Burney, Callum Mackintosh, A.P. McWilliam and Scott McGinley; also Stephen Ainslie steadied the Currie lineout.

Melrose threatened to run riot with some sevens-style exuberance, and although Ross McCann bagged a converted try, the Chieftains managed to hold them, and show their agility behind the scrum as well. Playing out of position at centre, the strong versatile Thomas Gordon broke through and accelerated from halfway; his perfectly timed pass put Harvey Elms in for a try that Jamie Forbes converted; this helped to bring a small degree of respectability to the scoreline. When Currie can sort out their very high error count as scoring opportunities arise, and cut down the problems around their set-piece, they will be able to put teams under the same pressure as they were, by a well-drilled and confident Melrose squad. The Chieftains are at home to Glasgow Hawks next weekend, another well-coached team with professional ambition; KO time 3.00pm. There are no easy fixtures when you want to be the best. Remember that a first class lunch is available before this match; to order lunch go to the club’s new website before Thursday. IJS,1.10.17.

Updated 01/10/2017 by Ian Gidney