AVFTT: Hawick v Currie Chieftains

March 14, 2023


Ivor Santer

Despite earlier weather worries, conditions were almost perfect for this play-off final at Mansfield Park. The pipe band played, the crowd chatted and cheered, and the atmosphere throbbed to a fantastic display of committed, exciting rugby that was a tremendous advert for the club game in Scotland. Let us hope that the SRU President, and his small entourage who attended the event, suggest to their Murrayfield colleagues, who control the purse strings at HQ, that club rugby is worth a lot more investment than the ‘peanuts’ that they currently throw at it. This is where the future lies, and development will bring reward.

For the first fifteen minutes, two well-drilled defences prevented any progress beyond midfield, and the only scoring came from minor mistakes and penalty infringements. A couple of adventurous Currie moves looked promising, but Hawick held firm until Chris Anderson romped clear to set up a sizzling passage of play which ended with Iain Sim’s dash to the corner. Although the try, on 25-minutes, was not converted, it justified the Chieftains’ industrious start; they certainly had more territory and possession than Hawick.

As halftime approached, an aggressive ‘Greens’ attack forged a pathway to within 5-metres of the Chieftains’ line. A strong scrum, followed by several penalty lineouts and some mighty rolling mauls were courageously repelled, but even after a couple of turnovers, Currie failed to clear the danger. Eventually the visitors were overpowered when Hawick secured another 5-metre lineout and rumbled over the line.

Halftime score – Hawick 8 pts, Currie Chieftains 11 pts.

A high tackle penalty at the start of the second half brought the teams level on points, and for the next 15-minutes the match settled into a battle of attrition until Hawick took the lead with a long-range penalty kick. The visitors varied their attacks with fine forward carries and silky back play which nearly delivered a score; Rhys Davies, Ryan Stewart, Jamie Drummond and Ewan Stewart gained ground after Jamie Forbes, Greg Cannie and DJ Innes found gaps. Hawick’s defence started to look a little shaky and they received a yellow card for a breakdown infringement deep in their 22. Currie battled hard for a considerable spell against desperate Hawick tackling, and when the same player infringed for a second time, his yellow card turned red. The visitors’ numerical advantage finally got the better of a stretched Hawick defence, and Kody McGovern raced in for a try which Jamie Forbes splendidly converted.

With ten minutes remaining, and Hawick reduced to 13 men for another cynical infringement, Currie appeared in command. Unfortunately, a couple of errors put the visitors in all sorts of bother, and they failed to make the required exit to safer territory. Hawick rallied for the kill, and in an astonishing finale, with possession changing hands at least three times, the now rampant home team shipped the ball wide. There were numbers and an overlap on the left, and in a flash, they were in. The touchline conversion sealed Hawick’s victory with this final play of the match.

Once again this was a huge disappointment for the Chieftains who overall looked the better team on the day, but they somehow lost the plot in the closing stages of the match. It was no disgrace, and the squad should be proud in reaching the play-off final for the second year running; no mean achievement. Things are never simple at Malleny Park, but we will be back - ‘it’s the Currie way.’

I.J.S. - 12. 3. 23.

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