Frustrated Currie skipper Mark Cairns admits that his side were second best in the 37-20 RBS Premiership defeat at the hands of Gala, attributing the loss to the greater desire of the Borderers.
Currie’s task was made all the more difficult by having three forwards yellow carded and, while that was undoubtedly a big contributor to the outcome, Cairns preferred to focus on the shortcomings of the hosts rather than the impact of the referee.
Nevertheless, the match official must have had better days in the middle. His apparent reluctance to engage with the two captains – repeatedly waving them away – appeared only to increase the tensions on the pitch and meant that the match failed to live up to its billing as a showcase for the club game between two sides capable of producing entertaining rugby.
“We didn’t have consistency in our scrum, partly because we only had 14 men most of the second half. We went in at half time quite pleased with how it was going,” said a despondent Cairns. “Due to the numbers, it’s also hard to get the consistency in your lineout. But we still have lineouts that should work in those situations. We didn’t get enough good set piece ball from both those sources. That then leads into not getting any rhythm into your game.”
And, attempting to pinpoint the failings, he added, “Our problem was that there was no urgency around the pitch. We were happy just to sit back and wait for the ball to come back to us. They were busier, and they wanted it more than us.”
Currie went into the match buoyed by successive bonus point wins over Boroughmuir and Dundee High that had yielded 12 tries for Ally Donaldson’s men. This game was never likely to be similarly touchdown-strewn, and it was no surprise that it was finely poised at the break with the Borderers holding a 14-12 advantage.
That was a fair reflection of a tense opening 40 minutes that had featured four penalties for the hosts from Jamie Forbes and three by Lee Millar, plus a try from George Graham who was on hand to take a scoring pass from Gerald Sibanda, the fleet-footed Zimbabwean sevens international whose Gala debut ended when he was helped from the pitch after 21 minutes.
Currie hooker Ross Merrilees had spent ten minutes in the sin bin after committing an offence following a general warning to the hosts.
Scoring in the third quarter was limited to three more penalties by Millar against one by Forbes. Mike Entwhistle spent ten minutes in the sin bin, and the home side had just been restored to full strength when Gala struck with the killer blow.
A massive shunt by the Maroons’ pack at a scrum in the shadow of the home posts forced replacement hooker Fergus Scott to stand up – the outcome being a penalty try and a somewhat harsh yellow card for Scott, who had little option given the intensity of the pressure against him.
The fury in the home ranks finally produced the response that Cairns had been demanding from his men and Graham joined the list of transgressors when he was next to see yellow. A minute later Ross Weston clawed Currie back into the match when he capped another fine performance with a try in the corner. However, Gala had the final word when Gary Graham powered through for a converted try to complete a win that keeps the Netherdale outfit second in the table.
Currie coach Ally Donaldson had no quibble with the result, saying: “I don’t think we played as well as we can play and I think Gala had a lot to do with that. When you play for 30 minutes with 14 men, it’s pretty tough.”
Scorers, Currie: Try: Weston. Pens: Forbes (5). Gala: Tries: George Graham, Penalty, Gary Graham. Cons: Millar (2). Pens: Millar (6).
Currie: J Forbes, A Hinds, J Johnstone, S James, A Whittingham, A Binikos, R Sneddon, A Hamilton, R Merrilees, F Watts, G Temple, S Marcell, M Cairns, M Peacock, R Weston. Subs Used: F Scott, J Cox, J Gray, M Entwhistle.
Gala: A McLean, G Sibanda, C Auld, C Borthwick, C Robertson, L Millar, George Graham, L Pettie, C MacIntosh, E McQuillin, O Palepoi, C Weir, Gary Graham, G Bryce, E Dods. Subs Used: R Anderson, C Keddie, J King, G Sommerville, S Cairns.
Referee: G Gordon.