Currie Chieftains 19
Edinburgh Accies 5
COLIN RENTON @ Malleny Park
CURRIE CHIEFTAINS will continue their record of featuring in the play-offs every season since they were introduced. But there was disappointment for the Malleny Park side after they failed to secure the bonus point win they needed to set up a home match in the knock-out phase.
Chieftains went into the game with their fate within their own control and knowing that a five point haul would see them host Heriot’s or Melrose. Their anxiety was evident throughout a tense afternoon and they also paid the price for failing to adapt their open style to the difficult conditions.
Accies deserve credit for the way they nullified the home attack and there were lengthy spells when the visitors looked as if they might win the game.
Both sides showed their commitment to open rugby in a frantic opening ten minutes. Chieftains had the first scoring opportunity with a penalty following a neatly angled run by Ben Robbins. They opted for the scrum ten metres out and that decision paid off when Scott McGinley picked up and raced through a gap to dot down, Gregor Hunter added the conversion.
Accies didn’t look like a side languishing at the foot of the table. Robbie Kent was particularly lively. And it was the centre who made the break that allowed the visitors to claim a try in 26 minutes. He dodged past two tacklers and, although he was isolated, a fumble in the home defence allowed Scotland 7s squad member Mungo Mason to pounce and hack ahead then get the better of Jamie Forbes in the race for the line. Richard Mill’s conversion attempt drifted wide.
Another who caught the eye was teenage full-back Harry Paterson. However, an elusive run by the youngster ended with a Chieftains penalty after he was left with no support from his team mates.
That allowed the hosts to end the first half in the ascendancy and by the break they had extended their lead when Hunter dummied his way over then booted the conversion.
The hosts dominated the possession in the third quarter but were unable to unable to unlock a solid Accies defence. Chieftains were becoming increasingly desperate and several scoring opportunities foundered on errors at key moments.
A lengthy break for an injury to Accies substitute Mark Sinclair meant that there was a substantial amount of added time. With 88 minutes on the clock, Chieftains finally made the breakthrough when a powerful surge took them over the line and Robbie Nelson was credited with the score.
There was still just enough time to secure the bonus point score, but it was not to be and Chieftains will now face Heriot’s at Goldenacre.
Premiership match reports:
Close but no cigar
“It was frustrating to be honest,” admitted Chieftains coach Mark Cairns. “I know we’ve won but our task today was to get another game at Malleny. You never know, Melrose might go to Ayr and win and if we can beat Heriot’s, we could have another game here. But that’s not in our hands. What is in our hands is a massive match against Heriot’s. The pressure is now on Heriot’s because they are at home, but we’ve beaten them there already this season.”
“It was a tough day for us to score tries because we don’t play a game where you go from scrum to maul to scoring,” he added. “We needed to adapt a bit more and we needed to have more success with our mauls and line-outs and less errors when we got opportunities.
“It feels a bit like a loss. But we did win and we still go into our semi-final with bags of confidence – not bad for a bunch of guys that aren’t good enough for Super 6.”
Accies coach Derek O’Riordan was happy with the way his young side had handled the challenge of a team that was focused on chasing all five league points.
“It was a good performance. We went toe to toe with them and the boys stood up. I’m really proud of the shift the boys put in today,” he said.
Despite the uncertainty over whether there would be relegation, O’Riordan has followed his aim of building a squad for next season.
“We Have played 53 guys in the first XV this year,” he explained. “We have stuck to our guns, we’ve blooded young guys like Harry Paterson, we had two 2nd XV wingers today who we think could do a job for us next year, and we had Ruari Jackson at hooker at 17 years of age. So we are staying true to what we are about.”
Currie Chieftains: J Forbes; B Robbins, J Reynolds, R Nelson, S Hamilton; G Hunter, C Davies; A McWilliam, G Carson, M Argiro, V Wright, M Vernel, M Kelly, R Davies S McGinley. Subs: R Patterson, F Watt, C Hope, R Smith, A Hall.
Edinburgh Accies: H Paterson; C McCrimmon, R Kent, N Armstrong, L Evans; R Mill, M Love; C Imrie, C Black, M McGinley, R Seydak, M Badenhorst, M Mason, R Simpson, J Sole. Subs: R Jackson, S Gunn, A Inwood, M Sinclair, J Loomes.
Referee: C Clark
Currie Chieftains: Tries: McGinley, Hunter, Nelson; Cons: Hunter 2.
Edinburgh Accies: Try: Mason
Scoring sequence: (Chieftains first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-5; 12-5; 14-5 (h-t) 19-5.
Man-of-the-Match: Chieftains No 8 Scott McGinley’s contribution has often been underrated through the season but he is a solid, consistent performer. He was again a reliable contributor and it was his try that set the ball rolling for the home team.
Talking point: Chieftains will face Heriot’s knowing that they have beaten the Goldenacre side twice this season. And although this was not the result they wanted, they are still unbeaten in the league since Mark Cairns took over as coach.