Currie captain Ross Weston summed up his side’s gripping and nail-biting 18-15 Scottish rugby premiership win at Boroughmuir in a single word – “relief”.
The two-time champions were never behind and scored the game’s only two tries through Jamie Forbes – his first for the club he joined from Watsonians over the summer – and winger Barry Mansfield.
But how Currie had to work for what was a fourth straight win which Weston acknowledged puts them back in the title race especially with leaders Melrose losing for the first time this season, at Dundee.
“We are just so relieved to come through especially as Boroughmuir had opportunities including an attempted pushover when they lost the ball over our line,” said Scottish clubs’ international No. 8 Weston.
“In some ways we had to grind it out and credit Boroughmuir for ensuring we didn’t play particularly well. Still, we took the chance to climb the table again although with Dundee coming to us on Saturday fresh from beating Melrose that will keep everybody focused.”
This was undoubtedly one of the games of the season; nobody was leaving Meggetland early and for the neutral the five minutes of additional time simply wasn’t long enough given the intensity and excitement.
After going toe-to-toe with no quarter asked or given both teams were out on their feet at full time and Muir coach Fergus Pringle also found a particularly appropriate adjective to describe proceedings when he remarked: “That was a compelling game with both packs really going at it.” In the Boroughmuir side there were monumental performances from the back row of Jamie Swanson, Iain Moody and particularly Andy Rose who never failed to cross the gain-line and, typically, managed to get out wide to link between Ally Warnock and Sep Visser during one of several late home forays in a desperate bid to snatch more than a losing bonus point for the second successive week.
For Currie, Forbes was the match-winner with his try, two penalties and a conversion but the outcome almost certainly hinged on the awareness of winger Mansfield following up to grab a touchdown after Muir knocked the ball back over their line, referee McMenemy reaching his decision after consulting a touch judge.
That was one of several high profile calls from the official whose view that Mansfield had knocked on at the other end as he sought to round off a slick break-out move wasn’t shared by many and certainly not Currie coach, Ally Donaldson, or even the Boroughmuir website for that matter!
“We were unlucky to have Barry’s second try disallowed and Mark Cairns was convinced he had a score disallowed on another occasion,” said Donaldson.
“These things happen, though, and this was the second consecutive match in which we didn’t concede a try. To get a win away from home was satisfying and the team showed an enormous amount of character to hang in especially during the last five minutes.”
Elementary errors occured at times and that was understandable in conditions so wet a 2nd team game was called off on an adjacent pitch.
But late on Boroughmuir’s handling, particularly from Sep Visser, was breathtaking in the circumstances as they probed for openings behind a pack who had harried and hustled their near neighbours, Ally Davidson taking a significant amount of line-out ball while prop Nick Fraser was named the club’s man of the match.
Little wonder coach Pringle looked as if he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Pringle said: “Our guys really stood up and the way our forwards played in the second half we could have won.
“This was a game that turned on small things like when we were probably over their line from a driving scrum and knocked out.
“That came when we had started to get a bit of dominance and we had momentum. At least we take comfort from the fact sometimes more can be learned from a match like that than you do when the sun is shining.”
If Rose was this observer’s star man, with one barnstorming run up the far touchline almost single handedly breaching the Currie defence, not far behind was opposite open-side flanker Mike Entwhistle who worked superbly in tandem with stand off Andy Binikos.
Binikos it was who put Forbes over his converted try in five minutes and despite Warnock kicking the first of five penalties out of five soon after, Currie looked set for a fourth consecutive runaway win when Mansfield capitalised on good work by Dougie Fife and Andy MacMahon at the end of the opening quarter. Warnock and Forbes then kept exchanging penalties including when both sides suffered yellow cards – Cairns of Currie and Harry Leonard of Muir – until the key moment came ten minutes out.
Forbes now has nine penalties for his new club but none more vital for it is on knife-edged occasions like this that titles are eventually won.
Boroughmuir: Penalties: Warnock (5).
Currie: Tries: Forbes, Mansfield. Conversion: Forbes. Penalties: Forbes (2).
Boroughmuir: S Visser, R Bradford, H Leonard, S Wilson, J Webster, A Warnock, S Johnson, N Fraser, S Crombie, captain, B Blair, A Davidson, M Harvey, J Swanson, I Moody, A Rose. Subs: J Latta, C Mackintosh, G Scott, N Rodger, G Blackhall.
Currie: J Forbes, B Mansfield, D Fife, A MacMahon, A Whittingham, A Binikos, R Snedden, J Coxm, F Scott, C Phillips, A Best, G Temple, S Burton, R Weston, M Entwhistle. Subs: B Elmslie, R Merrilees, S Marcell, M Cairns, I Downie.
Referee: A McMenemy (Galashiels).