Currie aiming for the BT Premiership top two

Hawick's Scott MacLeod tackles Stephen Ainslie. Picture: Gordon Fraser
Hawick's Scott MacLeod tackles Stephen Ainslie. Picture: Gordon Fraser
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Ben Cairns believes Currie are ready to achieve their objective of securing a place in the BT Premiership play-offs.

And the coach insists it is realistic to target the top-two finish which would yield a home draw when the title race reaches the knockout phase.

Currie impressed in patches as they saw off fellow top-four aspirants Hawick 17-15 to move third in the table, level on points with Heriot’s but with a game in hand. The Malleny Park side could still end up fifth, but their fate is within their control ahead of fixtures against Melrose and Gala.

“We are not quite there, but hopefully we will now push on and get to the play-offs. The mentality now has to be to win the next two games and get a home semi,” said Cairns. “We know we can beat every other team in the league. The only we’ve not beat this year is Heriot’s so we go into our last two games with confidence. It’s just about putting the performance together.”

Despite emerging on the right side of a tight result, he was not completely satisfied with the performance on Saturday believing that his men should have taken the honours by a more comfortable margin. That, he attributed in part to the extended lay off caused by recent postponements.

“We can put it down to not having played for a month. The important thing was that we got the win, which we just managed to do. Hopefully that now sets us up to push in for the last two league games. We will learn a lot from this performance. We got across the line but, even though we’ve won the game, we need to look at it and figure out why it became a scrap and what we can do better to make sure that we get a bit more shape and structure.”

The visitors had the better of the opening exchanges but it was Currie who opened the scoring when Mike Vernel crashed over and James Semple converted. Lee Armstrong and Semple exchanged penalties before Neil Renwick cut the deficit to two points at the interval with a well-executed try in the corner that was unconverted.

Currie enjoyed a sustained spell in the ascendancy but there were 65 minutes on the clock before Travis Brooke touched down following a close range lineout. Semple again added the extras. However, the hosts allowed Hawick to regain a foothold in the game and Bruce McNeil, who had just returned from a ten minute spell in the sin bin, claimed a try, converted by Armstrong, that left the gap at two points with ten minutes to play.

The home side managed to withstand a final effort by Hawick, whose narrow defeat bonus means they are not yet out of the running for a play-off spot.

Cairns was pleased to tick off another victory and look forward to another tough assignment at Melrose on Saturday. And while the coach is focused on the immediate future he is also enthused by the longer-term prospects for the club which is well-represented in the latest Scotland Under 20 squad.

“It’s great for the club to have those guys coming through”, he said. “It’s a really good group of young boys. I think they feed off each other as well, and we’ve seen a massive difference in all of them from the start of the season to now. For me, they are only going to continue to improve because of the attitude they have all shown.”

Scorers:

Currie: Tries: Vernel, Brooke. Cons: Semple (2). Pen: Semple.

Hawick: Tries: Renwick, McNeil. Con: Armstrong. Pen: Armstrong

Currie: H Elms; B Robbins, F Efthymiou, R Nelson, R Hughes; J Semple, C Shiel; R Grant, M Goodwin, M Cusack, M Vernel, S Ainslie, L Crosbie, T Brooke, R Weston. Subs: G Carson, A Hamilton, H Bain, M O’Neill, M McPhillips

Hawick: N Renwick; D Graham, W Griebenow, G Huggan, C Russell; S Goodfellow, S Muir; R Graham, G Douglas, S MacLeod, C Charters, B McNeil, Stuart, Graham, K Davies. Subs: F Renwick, F Simpson, R Gibson, A Weir, G Cottrell

Referee: N Paterson