Currie Chieftains 24
COLIN RENTON @ Malleny Park
A DIFFICULT few weeks for Chieftains ended on a positive note when they overturned an eight point deficit entering the final quarter to garner five valuable league points and displace Watsonians in the top four. It was no classic in terms of the quality of rugby on show, but it was as tense and gritty as they come.
A sombre note prevailed from the outset with a minute’s applause before kick-off in memory of Campbell Reynolds, whose status at the club was much more than the Chairman of the Rugby Board title he held. And on a day of high emotion, the drive to post a win in memory of a great Currie man was key.
“We can play a lot better than that, they can play a lot better than that. There were lots of mistakes. The trouble we were having with the mistakes we were making was that it gave them the scrum – they were dominant in the scrum and that led to penalties that they could kick to touch and get the maul – they were dominant in the maul at times as well,” said Chieftains head coach Ben Cairns. “We were trying to limit that as much as we could. But that win is down to guts, not really that much down to execution.”
In the away camp, his counterpart agreed with the assertion that both sides produced below par performances. And, he was particularly critical of the ease with which his men had conceded points.
“We led for large parts of the game. It’s fine margins, but we’ve given them an avenue to get a couple of tries and the tries they did score they haven’t really had to work very hard for them. That’s pretty disappointing. When we held onto the ball, we looked like we could cause them some problems, but we didn’t do that enough,” said Peter Murchie, who is now looking to recover from a dip in results that has seen Ayr lose twice in their past three outings.
“It’s what we do from here. We’ll bounce back. It’s a tough one to take but we’ve got some really good games coming up before Christmas, so it’s about keeping focused. We can play an awful lot better.”
Murchie’s side made a perfect start. Chieftains knocked on from the kick off, Ayr earned a penalty at the scrum, the ball was booted into touch and they powered over with Steven Longwell the man who bagged the five pointer. Frazier Climo struck the post with the conversion then hit the other upright with a scrum penalty.
It took some time for Chieftains to bounce back, but they did so in style when Joe Reynolds offloaded to Jamie Forbes who stepped on the gas then released Matt Hooks for a try in the corner. Gregor Hunter converted to edge the hosts ahead but by half-time Ayr were back in front after Kyle Rowe blazed down the left flank and sent Blair Macpherson in at the corner.
Reynolds was at the heart of the move that saw Chieftains regain the initiative a minute after the restart, making the break then setting Scott McGinley free. The back-rower was collared just short but the recycled ball was flung wide to Forbes, who fed Hooks for his second touchdown.
Back came Ayr and Climo found his range to slot a penalty, then he added the extras after Pete McCallum, on his comeback from a knee injury which he’s wrecked the first half oh his season, applied the final touch to another drive following a line-out.
Although the tide was firmly in Ayr’s favour, Chieftains were not yet ready to surrender and they cut the gap to a point when Hunter converted a try that mirrored McCallum’s effort. The man who was last to rise was Fergus Scott, whose outstanding 80 minute contribution on his return from injury was key to the final outcome.
Climo clipped over another penalty for a four point cushion, but the hosts snatched the winning score as the clock ticked into injury time. Another line-out catch and drive ended with Graeme Carson dotting down.
Ayr rallied once more but Chieftains tackled themselves to a standstill, driven perhaps by the desire to win for ‘Big Cam’. Cairns paid his own tribute, also referring to another club great, Graham ‘Greco Hogg’, who died last year.
“Although we struggled in the maul at times, we scored a couple of tries with mauls. There’s a couple of people upstairs who would be proud of those efforts especially. It’s been a tough week for the club,” he concluded.
Currie Chieftains: J Forbes; M Hooks, J Reynolds, R Nelson, S Hamilton; G Hunter, R Frostwick; A McWilliam, F Scott, M Argiro, V Wright, M Vernel, M Kelly, T Gordon, R Davies. Subs: G Carson, R Patterson, S McGinley, C Shiel, A Hall.
Ayr: G Anderson; P Dewhirst, O Smith, D McCluskey, K Rowe; F Climo, H Warr; R Sayce, R Smith, S Longwell, D Corbenici, A North, T Spinks, G Henry, B Macpherson©. Subs: A McGuire, C Miller, P McCallum, S Lyle, J Bova.
Referee: D Sutherland
Currie Chieftains: Tries: Hooks 2, Scott, Carson; Cons Hunter 2.
Ayr: Tries: Longwell, Macpherson, McCallum; Con: Climo, Pens: Climo 2.
Scoring sequence (Chieftains first): 0-5; 5-5; 7-5; 7-10 (h-t) 12-10; 12-13; 12-18; 12-20; 17-20; 19-20; 19-23; 24-23.
Man-of-the-Match: On his return from injury, Fergus Scott made a massive contribution – leading the side, delivering some big tackles and nabbing a try for good measure.
Talking point: There was a decent attendance for a match that traditionally attracts a large crowd, but it’s a shame that such a big game fell on an international day.