Ben Cairns earned the bragging rights over fellow Scotland internationalist Nikki Walker as Currie made a winning start to the BT Premiership campaign, squeezing past Hawick 18-16 at Malleny Park.
Cairns, who has assumed the head coach role at the club, had his newly-appointed skipper Ross Weston to thank, the ever-consistent back row man leading by example as he touched down twice for the hosts, while Joe Reynolds contributed the other points with two penalties and a conversion. His second three pointer clinched the narrow victory and dashed Walker’s hopes of launching his coaching career with a win.
While Currie savoured their success, there was disappointment for the Capital’s other top-flight representatives. Heriot’s succumbed 17-10 to Glasgow Hawks at Goldenacre. Phil Smith’s side paid the price for a slow start that saw Hawks carve out a 14-0 lead with two early converted tries. A touchdown by Max Learmonth left Heriot’s 17-5 in arrears at half-time and the only scoring in the second period was a try by Cammy Ferguson which gave Heriot’s the consolation of a bonus point.
Edinburgh Accies returned empty handed from their trip to face champions Melrose, but with a battling performance to their credit. Tries by Ed Stuart and Sam Pecqueur, both converted by Iain Chisholm, kept Accies in the game, but a late score for Melrose by Austin Lockington sealed a 27-14 win for the hosts and completed a disappointing return to the Borders for Accies coach Phil Leck.
Clubs in the lower tiers were engaged on knockout duty and the only real surprises in the opening round of the BT National Cup were the winning margins in some of the ties. Haddington were the biggest losers, conceding 102 points without reply away to Whitecraigs. Murrayfield Wanderers lost 70-5 at Aberdeen Grammar.
Stewart’s Melville welcomed RHC Cougars and the Inverleith side warmed up for what promises to be a highly competitive BT National League Division 1 campaign by despatching their Capital rivals 44-7. Nick McCashin and Matt Morrell each bagged two of StewMel’s seven tries and were joined on the score sheet by Angus Rennie, Ciaran Whyte and Matt Hannay. Anthony Reen dotted down for Cougars and Andy Fraser converted.
Across the city, another side with National League aspirations, Watsonians, made light work of Biggar. While it was the signing of Scotland and British & Irish Lions cap Simon Taylor that grabbed the headlines before the match, Rory Steele proved to be the star with four tries for ’Sonians in a 51-15 win.
Musselburgh also eased into the next round when they saw off Livingston 61-5 at Stoneyhill, and Lasswade posted a 37-5 win with East Kilbride at Hawthornden.
Meanwhile, a Preston Lodge side that enjoyed a host of successes last season, including silverware in the East Regional League and National Shield, launched the new campaign in style with a 23-16 victory over Ardrossan Accies at Meadowmill.