October 3, 2023
Premier League Match 5 – 30.9.23.
A View from the Touchline
Hawick 35 pts (t 4, c 3, p g 3) v Currie Chieftains 13 pts (t 1, c 1, p g 1)
Although the Chieftains have made a cracking start to the new season, and travelled to Mansfield Park with a high degree of optimism, they had not yet encountered any of the ‘big beasts’ who would be vying for honours at the sharp end of the League campaign. A match against Hawick is always a challenge, usually cantankerous, and in recent times has frequently ended with disappointment for Currie.
The overcast Borders sky was accompanied by drops of rain, which was not a good omen; thankfully, the weather held until the contest was all but over. Intent on making an early impact, in this their 150th Anniversary season, the Greens rampaged deep into Chieftains’ territory, and had penalty points on the board in 3 minutes. Hawick’s lively adventurous play was soon matched by the Chieftains, who settled into their usual flowing style and forced a penalty which Jamie Forbes kicked. For the next 10 minutes action moved up and down the pitch with both defences looking sound. Rhys Davies executed a superb turnover as the home team exerted a period of pressure deep in the visitors’ 22. The relief, however, was only short lived, and from a well-worked lineout on the visitors’ 22, the Hawick pack positioned to drive forward. The deception worked as their hooker quickly peeled away and passed to his fast-running centre who careered for goal line like an unstoppable express train; the converted try was top quality stuff.
Apart from a touchline breakout, which was only stopped by a desperate Ali McCallum tackle, the next 20 minutes were controlled by the visitors who pinned Hawick to their 22. The continuing pressure brought Currie no reward. Strong tackling, turnovers, a well-organised defence, and a string of opposition penalties frustrated the attackers. With halftime rapidly approaching the ball sped through Chieftains’ backline; DJ Innes created a gap, and Sam Cardosi provided the link; his back-of-the-hand pass sent Jamie Forbes in for a converted try. A few minutes later, the on-form standoff kicked another penalty goal to give the Chieftains a deserved, but unexpected halftime lead.
Halftime score – Hawick 10 pts, Currie Chieftains 13 pts.
Currie’s first half comeback and lead was quickly put under scrutiny by a determined Hawick attack. From a fine lineout drive, the Greens’ dynamic hooker again peeled away and crashed through several tackles for a converted try only 2 minutes from the restart. The writing was on the wall, and the visitors had to get a grip! A poor Hawick clearance kick drifted into midfield without a Currie player claiming it. The loose ball was hacked into Chieftains territory, and in the confusion another penalty goal was conceded. As the weather deteriorated the greasy surface brought handling problems which the hosts used to perfection. Kicking for position and varying their tactics, they again put their visitors under pressure, and another penalty goal was added to their score.
As play entered the last quarter, Currie had limited possession, and were on the back foot for extended periods. A neat chip-and-chase led to an unconverted try as the Mansfield outfit turned the screw. There were a few bright moments for the visitors, whose game plan was being undone by the weather and very hungry opponents. With the rain now falling, and the final whistle imminent, Currie infringed deep in their red zone. It was clear that Hawick were focused on a try bonus point which had looked a distant possibility 40 minutes earlier. A quick tap penalty was taken by their burly prop who propelled himself over for the final converted score. Local jubilation was palpable, and confirmed Hawick’s ambition to emulate last season’s achievements. Individually the Chieftains worked hard, but as a team they were left wanting, whereas Hawick were always a fifteen-man unit. This was a disappointing day for the Chieftains, but there is still a long way to go, and the squad now knows the task in front of them. Back to Malleny Park next weekend, and a match against Glasgow Hawks; kick-off 3.00pm.
I.J.S. - 3.10.23.