Currie youngsters give survival chances a boost

Currie's Ruaridh Smith is surrounded by Hawick players. Pic: Jane Barlow
Currie's Ruaridh Smith is surrounded by Hawick players. Pic: Jane Barlow
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Currie skipper Mark Cairns has pointed to the growing maturity of the club’s rising stars as key to the progress achieved in the battle to remain in the RBS Premiership.

Cairns and his colleagues took another step towards winning that fight when they crushed fellow strugglers Hawick 45-17 at Malleny Park with a performance that featured some outstanding rugby.

And, while top-flight status is not yet assured, Cairns acknowledged that several factors have combined to make it increasingly likely that Currie will survive.

Top of that list is the development of youngsters George Horne, Ruaridh Smith and Harvey Elms.

While they found the going tough in the early days of the campaign which started with five consecutive defeats, the teenagers were significant contributors to Saturday’s win.

“The big difference is that these guys are getting the same opportunities but they are just much more clinical than they were,” said Cairns, whose early-season assessment of the youngsters had been stinging.

“I was maybe being critical of them because there was a learning curve and I could see the end of the season coming and we weren’t getting any better.

“But there has been a real switch up and I think the young boys have understood the level of commitment needed at this level. They are not looking too far ahead and just focusing on getting the job right on the pitch.”

Horne and Smith featured from the start while Elms came off the bench in a match that was vital for both sides. The trio played a vital part in the win that has moved Currie into sixth in the table, albeit not yet clear of the drop zone.

With the hosts leading 7-0 through a try from Ross Weston, converted by Horne, Hawick looked set to score when turnover ball inside the home ‘22’ was shipped wide to Smith who broke two tackles and raced into the opposition danger area where the ball was switched inside for John Cox to bag the second try.

Horne again converted although he was off target with the kick after Cairns had dotted down for try No.3.

Hawick clawed back seven points when Wullie Blacklock crossed and Neil Renwick converted to complete the first-half scoring. But Currie sealed the four-try bonus point early in the second half when Smith darted onto a cross-kick before the Borderers hauled themselves back into the contest with a try by James Johnstone – the former Currie man being part of Hawick’s pro allocation – converted by Renwick who also landed a penalty.

However, the home side had no intention of allowing the win to slip from their grasp and Smith’s second try of the afternoon, converted by Joe Reynolds, quelled any notion of a Hawick fight back before Joaquim Dominguez and Malcolm Peacock claimed converted scores to add gloss to the victory and send Currie into Saturday’s vital encounter with Aberdeen Grammar on a high.

Coach Ally Donaldson underlined the importance of that fixture, saying: “We are still fighting. We’ve got to beat Aberdeen next week.

“If we beat them, we definitely won’t be automatically relegated and that will give us a fair chance of avoiding the play-off. But there will be some funny results and there will be a few twists and turns.”

While, he has never lost faith in the ability of his players to bounce back from their poor start and beat the drop, Donaldson admitted that there had been a few dark moments.

“Three months ago, we were resigned to the fact that we were going down, now we’re back in it. But I must say the players have been brilliant and Ben Cairns and Sean Cox have done a fantastic job with the coaching. They are new to coaching and they have now got to grips with it although it has taken time for their message to get through.”

Hawick coach Phil Leck contrasted Currie’s progress with the fortunes of his side. “They have started to come back, they are doing everything right and we are not doing the same things,” he said. “We are in a dogfight now.”

Scorers:

Currie: Tries: Weston, J Cox, Cairns, Smith (2), Dominguez, Peacock. Cons: Horne (3), Reynolds (2).

Hawick: Tries: Blacklock, J Johnstone. Cons: Renwick (2). Pen: Renwick.

Currie: G Horne, R Smith, J Dominguez, J Reynolds, E Pollock, J Semple, R Snedden, J Cox, D Cherry, A Hamilton, S Cox, P Neascu, M Vernal, M Cairns, R Weston. Subs: F Watt, G Temple, H Elms, M Peacock.

Hawick: N Renwick, N Walker, J Johnstone, G Johnstone, S McLeod, R Hutton, G Cottrell, S Muir, L Gibson, W Blacklock, B McNeill, R McAlpine, S Graham, N McTaggart, K Davies. Subs: L Launders, M Landells, K Willison, L Armstrong, A Weir.

Referee: P Allan