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County well beaten by Chieftains

09/12/2018

Currie Chieftains 47 Stirling County 17
 
IAIN LEGGAT @ Malleny Park

Playing at Malleny on a blustery winter afternoon is a tough assignment for any Premiership side, but Stirling County will leave disappointed after Currie Chieftains put in a dominant and classy performance.  A masterful performance from Chieftains centre Joe Reynolds in a match that saw him score a hat-trick of tries and set up two was the cherry on top of the seven-try victory.

After seeing his team return to winning ways following last week’s sluggish defeat away to Hawick, Currie head coach Ben Cairns was full of praise for Reynolds. “He’s probably the most talented player I’ve coached,” Cairns said. “I’m pretty happy to say that. Joey’s been very good for us.

“It was a good performance from us. We got to playing the way we know we can play. That’s what we focused on all week, really: identifying our strengths, identifying why we didn’t show those strengths against Hawick last week and making sure we put them on show today, and that’s what we’ve done.”

First-half blitz
Despite the raucous weather, the bright sunshine bathed Malleny Park before kick-off. A couple of late changes to the Chieftains saw Glasgow Warriors lock Kiran McDonald come in at 5, and Scott McGinley replace Thomas Gordon at 7.

The Chieftains scrum looked in fine form early on and had soon established a commanding position over the County pack. That dominance helped to set up a break by Robbie Nelson, and the captain put No 6 Mike Vernel into space to get the opening score of the match with just a couple of minutes played.

With no desire to slow the tempo down, the Chieftains made the most of Stirling’s sloppy work-rate at the breakdown to make a darting break along the wing. Reynolds got the ball out to Ben Robbins, who showed a blistering turn of pace on the way to scoring his team’s second try. Nelson, who had been on target with the first conversion, missed his second attempt as the horrid winter rain began to fall.

County were held up on the Currie line after Andrew Goudie had kicked a penalty for the corner and the pack tried to drive over from the lineout, and then another strong scrum led to the home team’s third try.  A thumping drive from the pack set up a lovely pass from Gregor Hunter to allow Reynolds to dart through and eventually pop the ball up to put full-back Jamie Forbes on to the scoring sheet with a wonderful team try.

The tough conditions were proving tricky for virtually everyone, but Reynolds made easy work of things, linking up well with McDonald for a one-two pass back to gain his first score of the match. The centre then managed to grab another score just on the 40-minute mark, with an open passage of play ending in him making a cheeky cut inside to go over.

Too little, too late
With the game and the bonus point in the bag for Currie, the second half lost the fluid nature of the first as the visitors looked to claw themselves on to the scoreboard. It was the home team who got the first score after the restart, though, with a kick to touch allowing a strong drive over the line with MacDonald finishing things off. County bounced back immediately, mauling themselves into a good position on the try line, and eventually referee Mike Adamson awarded the penalty try after the defence had collapsed the maul on the line.

Reynolds then completed his hat-trick with another piercing run through from the 10- metre line, before scores from Ewan MacGarvie and Ali Mackie briefly raised County’s hopes of at least going home with a try bonus. The vital fourth touchdown did not come, however, as the Chieftains defence stood firm during a frantic final two minutes.
Stirling County coach Peter Jericevich, although pleased to see his side show resilience in the closing spell, was disappointed with their efforts in the first half. “The first half defined the game,” he said. “You can’t go into the half 33-0 down and then start playing from then.

“Something we’ve doing well all season is start well, so that’s very disappointing from us that we didn’t quite get that from that start. But there are little things we can take from the end: we scored three tries, we were chasing the bonus. We didn’t quite get the accuracy we needed to get over the line, but the first half is unacceptable from us.”

Teams –
Currie Chieftains: J Forbes; B Robbins, J Reynolds, R Nelson©, M Hooks; G Hunter, C Shiel; A McWilliam, F Scott, M Argiro, K MacDonald, V Wright, M Vernel, S McGinley, T Tameilau. Subs: G Carson, R Patterson,G Peterson, M Kelly, G Christie.

Stirling County: J Hope©; L Trotter, R Tagive, E Magarvie, C Dineen; A Goudie, P Jericevich; R Chies, A Orr, M Walker, J Pow, S Yarrow, R Bundy, H Burr, A Mackie. Subs: B Robertson, A Nicol, G Arnott, C Turnbull, C Robertson.

Referee: M Adamson.

 Scorers – 
Currie Chieftains: Tries: Vernel, Robbins, Forbes, Reynolds 3, MacDonald. Cons: Hunter 6.

Stirling County: Tries: penalty try, Macgarvie, Mackie.  

Scoring sequence (Currie first): 5-0, 7-0, 12-0, 17-0, 19-0, 24-0, 26-0, 31-0, 33-0 (h-t) 38-0, 40-0, 40-7, 45-7, 47-7, 47-12, 47-17.

 Man of the Match: Centre Joe Reynolds was an unstoppable force at centre, setting up two of Chieftains’ tries in the first half and scoring a well-earned hat-trick. He played with pace, aggression and class.

Talking point: Currie’s dominance at scrum time was enough to flatten any signs of a County fightback. From the first scrum to the last the Chieftains showed no signs of mercy and scored two tries off the back of the set piece.    


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