Currie Chieftains 42
GARY HEATLY @ Malleny Park
CURRIE CHIEFTAINS eventually found their stride in the second half to win this home clash against struggling Hawick, with winger Ben Robbins the talk of Malleny Park with five tries. Both teams went into this one on the back of losses to Ayr and Boroughmuir, respectively, in round two of the Tennent’s Premiership – and this round three meeting was a slow burner. Currie should have been ahead early on, but squandered chances, allowing the Greens to take the lead. It was 7-7 at the break but once the hosts’ outside backs got in sync after half-time there was only going to be one winner.
Scotland Sevens cap Robbins showed great awareness to bag an amazing handful of tries while up-front Mike Vernel carried well and replacement hooker Campbell Wilson brought energy to the party.
Hawick have now let in 153 points in three reverses this term, but this showing was a big improvement on the capitulation at Boroughmuir seven days previously and new back-row Drew Davison showed up well.
“Credit to Hawick, they came here and made it difficult for us and in the first half an hour or so we made silly errors which stopped us from scoring,” said home captain Robbie Nelson. “Last week at Ayr they scored just before and just after half-time and this week it was pleasing that we were the team doing that. Those scores gave us momentum and we finished off some good moves after that when our shape was better, Ben Robbins the man on the end of everything to leave us pretty happy with our day’s work.”
After seven minutes Currie thought they had taken the lead through a try by centre Joe Reynolds. A good team move saw full-back Jamie Forbes ghost through the defence and feed the Lie centre, but assistant referee Willie Anderson deemed that a foot had gone into touch before going in for the score.
Moments later another good break by Forbes saw him pass inside to scrum-half Charlie Shiel, but the ball had gone quite clearly forward and things remained at 0-0. As the 20 minute mark approached Hawick’s defence, which had been so poor against Boroughmuir seven days before, was standing up quite well, but the Greens could not get anything going in attack.
Just after first quarter of the match had come and gone scoreless, Currie had a number of phases of possession in the Hawick 22. Eventually they looked like they would create an overlap, but an overly enthusiastic pass by Shiel saw Vernel knock the ball on in midfield and the chance had gone.
That impressive defensive gave Hawick some confidence and in the 25th minute they had their best attacking phase of the game to date, captain Dom Buckley’s run earning his side a penalty. Stand-off Kyle Brunton kicked to touch and from the resultant line-out the visitors were awarded a scrum. They were then held up over the line before, after a couple more scrums, winger Frankie Robson went close before the ball was stripped from his possession.
Hawick did take the lead eight minutes before the break, a good forward drive seeing Edinburgh Rugby’s Italian prop Pietro Ceccarelli being the man credited with the score. Brunton converted and it was 7-0 to the visitors.
Chieftains reacted well to going behind and they levelled things up in the 39th minute. A break from their own half saw Forbes set-up Robbins for the try. Stand-off Gregor Hunter converted to make it 7-7 at the interval.
Chieftains then took the lead in the 43rd minute after they were awarded a penalty near to the Hawick line for a marginal high tackle on Reynolds. They kicked to the corner, took a neat line-out from the training ground, and back-row Thomas Gordon went over. Hunter converted and it was 14-7 to the hosts.
In the 54th minute Currie made a deadly break from their own line to score try number three. Reynolds motored away and when the defence caught up with him, 25 metres from the Hawick line, he weighed up his options well. The inside pass to the onrushing Robbins was a cracker and he scored his second try of the day.
Second-row Daniel Suddon thought he had got his team back into it just before the hour mark, but he knocked the ball on as he reached for the try line, and Currie made sure of the bonus point with 10 minutes to go thanks to another well-worked try from their own half when Robbins sprinted down the right and fed the ball to replacement scrum-half Roan Frostwick. He was stopped just short of the try line, but Robbins was still in the game and on his shoulder to go in under the posts to complete his hat-trick.
Two more scores came from the unstoppable Robbins in the 77th and 79th minutes as Chieftains made it two wins from the first three games.
“I am obviously not happy that we got beaten, but it was a much better performance than last week,” said Hawick head coach George Graham. “I always thought Currie’s dangerous runners would cut us open at some point and so it proved although at times we were not helped by the officials who I thought had a poor afternoon. We now need to target our next game with Glasgow Hawks at home, it is a big one.”
Currie Chieftains: J Forbes; B Robbins, J Reynolds, R Nelson, S Hamilton; G Hunter, C Shiel; R Patterson, G Carson, A McWilliam, R Davies, M Vernel, L Crosbie,T Gordon, S McGinley. Subs: C Wilson, F Watt, M Kelly, R Frostwick, A Hall.
Hawick: K Young; A Roberts, A Mitchell, D Buckley, F Robson; K Brunton, G Huggan; R Macleod, C Renwick, P Ceccarelli, D Suddon, D Redpath, S Graham, D Davison, B McNeil. Subs: A Grieve, T Hope, S Fairbairn, A Weir, K Davies.
Referee: M Todd.
Currie Chieftains: Tries: Robbins 5, Gordon. Cons: Hunter 6.
Hawick: Try: Ceccarelli. Con: Brunton.
Scoring sequence (Currie Chieftains first): 0-5, 0-7, 5-7, 7-7 (h-t), 7-12, 7-14, 7-19, 7-21, 7-26, 7-28, 7-33, 7-35, 7-40, 7-42
Man of the Match: No contest. Ben Robbins is the easy choice from this game. Not many players ever run in five tries during a senior match, but he was clinical when the chances came his way and showed that he is one of the best finishers in the league.
Talking Point: Can Hawick turn things around? They were better this week than in the defeat to Boroughmuir seven days ago, but they have already shipped 153 points in three outings. Their home clash with Glasgow Hawks is a big one next time out.