January 17, 2023
A View from the Touchline – Premier League: 14.1.23.
Hawick 43 pts (t 6, c 5, p g 1) v Currie Chieftains 7 pts (t 1, c 1)
There was a stiff cold breeze, but the sun was shining, and after several days of rain the Mansfield Park pitch looked remarkably firm and green. The good playing surface, plus a certain degree of confidence in Currie ranks were perhaps a little too optimistic, although for at least the first eight minutes of this top of the table clash, there was no indication of a rout.
The initial sparing ended abruptly when the visitors mishandled, and the ball was hacked from one 22 to the other. With the wind in Hawick’s favour, this was clearly the thing to do when clearing a threat near to the goal line. The resulting lineout was messy, and the home pack came away with the ball sucking in Currie’s defence. A succession of astonishingly long accurate passes traversed the width of the pitch creating space for the Hawick wing to cruise in for a converted try.
Seemingly unperturbed by this opening score, the Chieftains went through the phases, and were soon testing the ‘greens’ defence with a strong passage of play which was matched by sound tackling and good organisational skills. As the attack gained momentum the ball was again dropped, and another mighty clearance took the visitors back to their 22 where Hawick applied the pressure. A familiar scenario was developing with the confident Hawick backs moving the ball with alacrity before their burly centre barged his way over. The reliable boot of Kirk Ford added the extras for a comfortable Hawick lead.
After 20 minutes the situation was beginning to look grim for the visitors, who were not seeing much of the ball, and had also lost the services of Gregor Hunter for an illegal no-arms tackle. It was developing into a match where nothing was going Currie’s way, and the ruthless opposition made the most of their opportunities. The destructive running of Hawick’s impressive centre pairing was causing problems and creating space for their loose forwards and wings. By the break, the wind, a couple of minor altercations resulting in yellow cards for both teams, and a dominant Hawick performance had throttled any ambitions the Chieftains may have nurtured. The visitors remained pinned to their 22 as 3 more tries and a penalty goal piled on the agony. It would be a damage limitation exercise for Currie in the second half.
Halftime score – Hawick 38 pts, Currie Chieftains 0 pts.
The wind-chill factor did not appear to affect local supporters, who were bathing in the warmth of their team’s unexpected superiority. On the other hand, the shivering Currie faithful were praying for a heroic Chieftains display in the second half. With pride and the right attitude, a bonus point of some description would not be impossible, and after 5 minutes the indomitable Ryan Stewart had forced his way over the line; Gregor Hunter converted. The good start soon evaporated when in the next few minutes Hawick ventured into Chieftains territory and came away with an unconverted try.
This was the only time that the ‘green machine’ got into Currie’s 22 in the second half, however, although the visitors were hardly out of the other 22, they could not penetrate a tremendous, well-organised Hawick defence. When Currie worked as a team, they looked good, and went close, but too many minor errors and poor decisions let them down. Hawick’s well-drilled fifteen are focused on gaining honours this season, something the Chieftains must work on. The Malleny team have had several disruptive injuries this season, while the ‘greens’ are a settled outfit; perhaps this below par performance was a kick up the pants which Currie needed to consolidate second place for the play-offs. Ryan Stewart, Rhys Davies and Adam Hall had their usual busy games, but it’s the team effort which wins matches.
Another big test next Saturday against Selkirk, a Borders club making an impression this season, and fighting for a play-off spot. Kick-off 2.00pm; it will be an interesting afternoon.
I.J.S - 16.1.23.