Rugby: Currie defiant

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Currie have defended a decision to stage their British and Irish Cup tie against Ulster Ravens on Friday night at Malleny Park just a few miles from where Edinburgh will be tackling Racing Metro at Murrayfield.

The scheduling has caused consternation among rugby followers who had hoped to take in both matches this weekend, but Currie coach Ally Donaldson said today it was never the intention to go head-to-head.

“Our match was arranged before we knew what weekend slot Edinburgh would be allocated by the Heineken Cup organisers and when we tried to change it was pointed out by Ulster that they already had flights booked.

“With ex-Currie players Matt Scott and Tom Brown part of the Edinburgh squad who won at London Irish last weekend, there will be some split loyalties among our fans, so we are as disappointed as anybody with the clash.

“Part of the reason for our Friday night kick off as opposed to a Saturday afternoon was to allow followers of other clubs to attend.”

Maintaining that Currie were committed to making the most of the occasion, Donaldson added: “We are very conscious of the big Ulster student community in Edinburgh and students will be admitted to Malleny Park for £5 with the offer of a free beer in the clubhouse afterwards.”

Ulstermen Mike Entwhistle and Adam Best are regulars in the Currie team and Donaldson said both were particularly keen to be involved on Friday.

The return of sevens cap Mark Cairns and under-20 international Colin Phillips from injury will boost a Currie team who lost 31-16 to Leeds at the weekend, but Donaldson admitted they face no let-up in their quest for a first competition win againsty a side that defeated Doncaster Knights 39-7 last time out and have Irish international Ian Whitton to call upon.

“It’ll be a tough ask but we are hoping for a big turnout to see us with a point to prove after being the only one of five Scottish teams on cross-border duty to lose last weekend, albeit against a very good Leeds team who were only a dozen points ahead of us with 25 minutes remaining.”

One doubt for Currie is top premiership try-scorer Barry Mansfield, the Zimbabwean sevens cap, who was stretchered off injury at Leeds.