Rugby: Burton reckons team has turned corner

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Currie talisman Steve Burton is refusing to take credit for a remarkable turnaround which has seen the former champions consign early losses to history as they continue to climb the Scottish rugby Premiership.

Three successive wins by margins of 30 points and two 50+ points wins have coincided with a late start to the season for one-time Scottish under-20 cap Burton, whose colleagues in the age-group side included eventual World Cup players Ruaridh Jackson and Richie Gray.

However, playing down his contributions after Currie had dispatched Heriot’s to set up another intriguing derby on Saturday at Meggetland, where fourth-placed Boroughmuir could be leapfrogged by their near neighbours, second row Burton, whose entry to the season was delayed by a university work experience project in South Africa, said: “I can’t claim credit for the turnaround as the boys have been training hard. I just came into a good team that was ready to turn for the better and against Heriot’s we basically just stuck in for a grinding victory.

“We stuck in hard and concentrated because we didn’t want to concede any tries and two late tries at the other end made the scoreline flattering towards us. There’s still a mountain to climb to get to where we want to be having put ourselves in a hard position.”

While it was Burton’s line-out deflection that set-up the second Currie try for Mike Entwhistle, the fourth touchdown which earned a vital bonus point came from Malcolm Peacock. A 19-year-old flanker in his first season at the club having joined from Watson’s College, Peacock represented Scotland under-17s. According to Currie coach Ally Donaldson, more international honours could be in the pipeline if Peacock maintains current form.

Says Donaldson: “Malcolm is still eligible for the under-20’s and the Scotland selectors should be having a look at him not least because he has a great attitude.

“Although he went to Watson’s, Malcolm is a Currie boy with family connections to the club as his uncle, Davie Peacock, played in our back row a few years ago.

“Hopefully both Malcolm and [hooker] Fergus Scott can push on to bigger things, representatively, this year.”

Peacock was not the only newcomer to catch the eye, with winger David Smith showing plenty of aptitude for getting across the gain-line. Donaldson added: “Davie Smith has moved up to Edinburgh from Newcastle University where his coach Fraser Kennedy, a former Currie player, sent him up to us. He was in the England under-19 set-up so he has good pace and has settled really well.

“Davie is going to be good for a team in the midst of evolving but with some familiar names due back soon. Among those missing against Heriot’s were four players who are club internationalists – Alastair Hamilton, Finlay Gillies, Mark Cairns and Andy Adam, plus sevens internationalist James Johnstone.

“So, there’s a lot of quality to come back but some of the young guys including Jamie Forbes and Malcolm Peacock are really stepping up.”

At Meggetland, Currie will encounter a Boroughmuir team who have failed to win at home in two outings this season with their three victories achieved on the road. And, while Boroughmuir surrendered their unbeaten away record in losing 22-24 at Melrose on Saturday they did come within a goal-kick of defeating the champions.

That has left flanker Andy Rose convinced they can draw on returning from the Greenyards with a bonus point for finishing within a single score.

“For some reason we have been doing very well away from home but at home we are struggling,” he told the club website.

“With the confidence carried forward from this game we can do some wonders next week.”

Coach Phil Smith adds: “We hope we are back in the hunt. If we can repeat the last 40 minutes Currie will do well to beat us.”