COLIN RENTON @ Meggetland
CURRIE CHIEFTAINS proved here that they can win games without relying exclusively on the ability to run in tries from all over the pitch. On this occasion, they had to come from behind and grind out the victory against a Boroughmuir side that had battled into the lead then allowed the visitors to regain control in the final ten minutes.
It may not have been a showcase of flowing rugby but in terms of intensity, it was as good as they come. On this evidence, Boroughmuir clearly have the ability to compete at the top end of the BT Premiership. However, before they can contemplate that, they must start winning tight matches.
“We are really disappointed, I thought at 15-13 we were in the ascendancy. We worked really hard at the start of the second half to get in the game,” said Boroughmuir coach Peter Wright. “And then when we went in the lead, we just decided to play a completely different game.”
“With 20 minutes to go, they looked out of it. Fair dues to them, they showed their quality and their class and they came back.”
In the Chieftains camp, Ben Cairns was unhappy with the overall performance but nevertheless saw the positive aspects as evidence of his side’s ability to win while not playing well.
“In a lot of ways it’s good that we came through that challenge – wet conditions, slippery ball, it’s not something we have faced so far,” he said. ”All our plaudits so far have been about playing with width and tempo which is harder obviously when it’s a slippy ball. There are certainly big parts we need to improve.”
Chieftains took the lead in eight minutes when Mike Vernel picked up 25 metres out and with the home defence drifting wide to cover the other attackers, the flanker raced through a gap and darted over for a try which Jamie Forbes converted.
While Chieftains have deservedly earned praise for the speed at which they seek to play the game, Boroughmuir are no slouches either and, with Chris Laidlaw back and orchestrating affairs after missing the game at Melrose through injury, they countered at pace then enjoyed a spell in the ascendancy without opening their account.
Ciaran Whyte was off target with a penalty attempt before Forbes banged over a 40 metre effort at the other end to take the visitors’ into double figures.
Neither side managed to establish control of proceedings and the whitewash didn’t come under threat again before half-time. However, the visitors had an opportunity to add to their tally three minutes before the break, and Forbes was again on target with a well struck penalty that completed the first half scoring.
Boroughmuir raced onto the attack from the restart and earned a penalty which Laidlaw steered between the sticks despite slipping as he made contact with the ball.
The momentum was with the hosts and they earned another penalty and Campbell Wilson – the replacement hooker for Chieftains – was yellow carded for the offence. The penalty was despatched into touch and a catch and drive ended with Johnny Mathews and Craig Keddie coming up just short before Lewis Carmichael plunged over. Laidlaw sent over the conversion to trim the deficit to three points.
And the fightback was completed seven minutes later when Laidlaw chipped through and Greig Cannie gathered before racing in for the try.
Chieftains responded with an attack that yielded a penalty and saw Matthews yellow carded for killing the ball. However, the home defence held firm and it was the hosts who almost added to their score, but Laidlaw slightly overcooked a kick ahead and the ball ran dead.
The visitors had spent most of the second period on defensive duties but their next attack produced a penalty in front of the posts. Forbes had no problem with the kick and the visitors went into the final ten minutes with a single point advantage.
A breakout and kick ahead by Ben Robbins was just too long, and Charlie Shiel showed his pace to race into the opposition 22 and set up an attack that Boroughmuir repelled.
However, the momentum had clearly swung and with five minutes to play Chieftains struck the killer blow. Vince Wright charged down a clearance by Laidlaw and dived onto the loose ball just before it crossed the dead ball line. Forbes again added the extra two points meaning there was no losing bonus for Boroughmuir.
Boroughmuir: G Cannie; B Renton, C Whyte, M Hare, J Mills; C Laidlaw©, J Adams; R Dunbar, J Matthews, D Winning, A Erskine, C Atkinson, D Marek, C Keddie, T Drennan. Subs: C Davies, D Robertson, L Carmichael, J Hamilton, H Gardiner.
Currie Chieftains: B Robbins; R Smith, H Elms, R Nelson©, C Gray; J Forbes, C Shiel; J Cox, C Mackintosh, A McWilliam, H Bain, V Wright, M Vernel, T Gordon, R Davies. Subs: C Wilson, K Burney, S Ainslie, M O’Neill, G Faulds.
Boroughmuir: Try: Carmichael, Cannie; Con: Laidlaw; Pen: Laidlaw.
Currie Chieftains: Try: Vernel, Wright; Con: Forbes 2; Pen: Forbes 3.
Scoring sequence (Boroughmuir first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-10; 0-13 (h-t) 3-13; 8-13; 10-13; 15-13; 15-16; 15-21; 15-23.
Yellow Cards –
Referee: L Linton
Man-of-the-match: There was less chance for the Chieftains backs to unleash their pace against battling opponents, but for the second week in a row, Jamie Forbes was on target with all of his kicks, a crucial factor in tight games.
Talking point: Another one that got away for Boroughmuir. The talent is clearly there and, if they do finally click, someone could be in for a hammering.