Currie thrash Melrose after snow is cleared

Breathing Space: Fidias  Efthymiou scores the third try for Currie.  Picture: 'www.neilhannaphotography.co.uk
Breathing Space: Fidias Efthymiou scores the third try for Currie. Picture: 'www.neilhannaphotography.co.uk
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Currie coach Ben Cairns declared a 24-0 home BT Premiership win over champions Melrose the most satisfying performance by his side since taking up the coaching reins at the start of the season.

Not only did fired-up Currie dominate to the extent that Melrose were not afforded a single kick at goal but Cairns also felt the display vindicated the efforts of club members who had earlier toiled for three hours clearing the Malleny Park pitch of snow.

Said former Scotland centre Cairns, who was forced to retire due to injury last year: “I pointed out to the players before the game we had 30 odd guys putting in hard graft to get the game on. I said ‘it is up to you now to do the same’.

“Taking everything into account ... the amount of work put in during training, having to bounce back from narrow defeats recently by Heriot’s in Cup and League and those efforts by the members under our hard-working groundsman, Ivor Santer, yes, that was a highlight of my time coaching Currie.

“Melrose do not get nilled very often [it hasn’t happened for at least three seasons] which makes it all the more massive.

“We have actually been promising a performance like that for a while and the fact our defence was so outstanding was down to [assistant coach] Fergus Pringle who has a lead role in that aspect. Now our boys will gain belief that will enable them to keep that performance level up.

“We had a really strong back row performance within a strong pack performance which turned things our way. Add in the fact our other back row, Travis Brooke, was man-of-the-match here [and it] shows how well we did in that department.

“We knew they would be tough in scrum and driving line-out areas. The fact is we fronted up and got parity there, maybe more.”

Not only did Currie negate the much vaunted Melrose pack but their backs ran some exquisite lines and nobody better than winger Ruaridh Smith who is expected to figure in the national under-20s shortly as a member of that squad.

Smith cut infield to take a pass and then swerve outside a defender for the opening try and Cairns added: “Ruaridh always breaks the tackle which is huge for a winger. He’s definitely developing, especially the way he looks after the ball in contact better.”

Vying for any man-of-the-match honour was livewire Currie scrum half Richard Snedden who frequently sparked the high tempo approach that had Melrose struggling to cope while the way inexperienced centre Robbie Nelson bustled through in the opening moments handing off defenders set the tone.

The win moves Currie up two places to sixth and eight points away from a top four play-off spot albeit with a game in hand.

“We have three games left, two at home and if we win them all we’ll give ourselves a good chance of making the play-offs,” said Cairns, whose side could be back in action on Saturday at home to Ayr depending on representative calls by the Clubs XV and the under-20s. Getting to the play-offs will be the hard bit but if Currie succeed then they will be a match for anyone.

Cairns, however, exercised caution when noting how tight this Premiership is.

“A big thing was to get a win that takes pressure off at the other end of the table. We are not having to look over our shoulder quite as much.”

In gaining their biggest win of the season in a match that was always utterly absorbing for the neutral, Currie had to wait until the 31st minute and just after space had been created by the sin-binning of rival No.8 Ross Weston and Graham Dodds on the intervention of touch judge Andrew McMenemy for what seemed little more than handbags.

Smith’s first try of the season was the difference between the sides until second row Mike Vernel was driven over following one of several penalties conceded by Melrose near their own line – how fortunate were they to avoid yellow cards here? – and Joe Reynolds converted.

A further penalty while the visitors’ Nick Beavon was in the bin for a late tackle left Melrose requiring three scores and Currie’s victory was sealed when Cypriot international threequarter Fidias Efthymiou sliced through in the final play, Reynolds converting to take his points tally for the campaign to 122.

Afterwards chat centred on whether Melrose had been affected by the absence of Hugh Blake who had been loaned from Edinburgh over the previous fortnight to gain match practice ahead of joining up with the Scotland squad.

Since so little has been seen of Blake since his arrival from New Zealand it is impossible to say. Perhaps having to accommodate centrally contracted pros does have a disruptive effect at times, not least in terms of continuity?

However, such was Currie’s dynamism that the suspicion was Melrose could have included Blake’s majestic kiwi compatriot Richie McCaw, former world player of the year, and it wouldn’t have made a difference to the outcome.

Scorers:

Currie: Tries: Smith, Vernel, Efthymiou. Conversions: Reynolds (3). Penalty: Reynolds.

Currie: M McPhillips, F Efthymiou, J Reynolds, R Nelson, R Smith, J Semple, R Snedden, J Cox, K Bryce, G Carson, J Gray, M Vernel, T Brooke, R Weston (c), M Peacock. Subs: M Goodwin, A Hamilton, R Denonain, M Mladenovic, C Logan.

Melrose: F Thomson (c), T Mua, T Galbraith, J Helps, C Anderson, R Mill, B Colvine, N Beavon, R Ferguson, E McQuillan, J Head, R Miller, A Nagel, G Dodds, G Runciman. Subs: C Mackay, N Little. P Eccles, M McAndrew, T Wilson.

Referee: L Linton.