Currie coach Ally Donaldson has admitted that his side’s 39-21 defeat at the hands of Stirling County means the Malleny Park men are now embroiled in a battle for top flight survival.
Donaldson could not fault the application of his men in a contest that was considerably closer than the result suggests. The defeat, however, adds to the pressure they face in their two remaining fixtures.
While Currie still sit fourth in the RBS Premiership table and could yet secure a top four finish that will secure a place in next season’s British & Irish Cup, all of the sides below them have games in hand and could catch Donaldson’s team, such is the cutthroat nature of an engrossing league programme in which every match now has some significance.
“It’s incredibly tight. Any team apart from the top two could get relegated. We only have two games left – Ayr away and Heriot’s at home – and we will have to fight tooth and nail to get anything” he said.
And, of Saturday’s encounter, while crediting the opposition for their performance, he was adamant that the outcome was not a fair reflection of the proceedings that had been dominated for lengthy spells by the hosts. “I felt it was a smash and grab – not just the last five minutes but the two tries in the first half,” he stated. “I felt we played some great rugby and we were by far the better team. However, we gifted two tries in the first half. That obviously boosted Stirling because we were well on top.
“To lose it was pretty deflating, but the scoreline was pretty shattering. The boys have trained exceptionally well and worked really hard and put so much into that game. I don’t think we got what we deserved.”
Jamie Forbes nudged the home side in front with an early penalty, but that was cancelled out by Brian Archibald before Tim Clarke pounced after Forbes fumbled a pass from Chris Leck and raced in at the corner. It got worse for the hosts when a rampaging run from the impressive Ross Weston was halted inside the visitors’ 22 and turnover ball was moved wide to Robbie Boswell, who galloped in. Archibald converted, then traded penalties with Forbes to leave Currie 18-6 down at the break.
Forbes trimmed the deficit with another penalty and, after a series of fruitless phases, Currie eventually found a way through the resolute County defence when Edinburgh pro Leck dived over.
The momentum remained with the home side and Malcolm Peacock dodged his way over for a try, converted by Forbes to give them the lead with seven minutes to play.
However, having been confined to defensive chores for almost all of the second half, the visitors – who started the day second from bottom in the table – sprang to life and in five incredible minutes claimed three tries through winger Rory Hughes to snatch what had seemed an unlikely victory. Archibald was on target with all three conversions to give the scoreboard a lopsided appearance that bore little resemblance to the way the match had unfolded.
That was particularly galling for Donaldson, whose task now is to motivate his players ahead of their trip to face pacesetters Ayr on Saturday in an encounter that could have a potential impact at both ends of the table.
Currie: Tries: Leck, Peacock. Con: Forbes. Pens: Forbes (3)
Stirling County: Tries: Clarke, Boswell, Hughes (3). Cons: Archibald (4). Pens: Archibald (2)
Currie: S James, A Hinds, J Johnstone, J Houston, M Peacock, J Forbes, C Leck, A Hamilton, R Merrilees, F Watts, G Temple, S Marcel, M Cairns, M Entwhistle, R Weston. Subs Used: B Elmslie, M Erskine, J Broadley.
Stirling County: J Hope, M Lamb, B Addison, B Archibald, R Hughes, S Edwards, S Kennedy, M McDonald, A Moffat, G Mountford, R Leishman, C Deacons, T Clarke, R Boswell, S Swindall. Subs Used: C Hutton, S Robertson, B Barsanti.
Referee: L Linton.