Rugby: Currie must play game of patience to continue climb

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Currie skipper Mark Cairns has pinpointed patience as the key to his team’s 37-27 victory over Dundee HSFP in a hotly contested RBS Premiership encounter at Malleny Park on Saturday.

Both sides went into the game on the back of strong recent results and the contest unfolded as expected with neither side ever able to assume complete control. It took the hosts until the last minute to bag the crucial fourth try and seal the win.

“They really pushed us and there were times when we had to dig deep,” admitted a delighted Cairns. “Our main thing in the second half was patience. When we got the ball, we seemed to cough it up and when they had the ball we seemed to get caught offside. We weren’t patient enough in defence.

“We were trying to do things off first and second phase and not be patient enough.” The Taysiders, who had been buoyed by an impressive win over current champions Melrose seven days earlier, made the breakthrough in four minutes when full back Jack Steele slotted a penalty. That was the first time Currie had been behind in any match since day three of the league campaign when they lost away to Aberdeen Grammar.

Cairns has attributed the subsequent turnaround in fortunes to several factors, not least the availability of key men and the return of some injury victims. However, there was another factor at play during the losing run over the opening weeks. 

“We had a slow start to the season because we didn’t have a great pre-season,” Cairns added. “We had one game and we won it by 80 points. We weren’t really up to speed when we got to the start. We now are and we are really looking strong. But we have given ourselves a mountain to climb. We are still looking up.

“The team sheet has changed a lot. I think we had about nine players missing for the Gala game. The new guys like Simon (Marcel), Barry (Mansfield) and Dave (Smith) are now starting to understand the whole Currie ethos.”

The extent to which the recent arrivals have integrated was evident on Saturday when they contributed three of Currie’s four tries.

Marcell opened the scoring for the home side and by the time the interval came with the scores tied at 17-17, Mansfield had also touched down, while Jamie Forbes contributed the other points from kicks, and the Taysiders had a try by Andy Mclean plus the boot of Jack Steele to thank for their points.

A similarly tight pattern emerged after the restart and Alan Brown scored from close range for Dundee before Ross Weston did likewise for Currie after a spell of sustained pressure. With Forbes ad Steele each making kicking contributions, the match was finely poised at 27-27 entering the final ten minutes.

However, Currie proved to be the hungrier and Forbes booted another penalty to re-establish a three-point gap before Mansfield pounced on a loose ball after a crunching tackle by Dougie Fife and sprinted over for the bonus-point score, converted by Forbes.

“Confidence is high,” added Cairns as his team moved closer to the title chasers. He is nevertheless cautious of upcoming matches against sides scrapping for survival. “In the first game of the season, we were put under pressure by Gala and we didn’t deal with it properly. We really dealt with the pressure situation in this game.”

Scorers:

Currie: Tries: Marcell, Mansfield (2), Weston. Cons: Forbes (4). Pens: Forbes (3)

Dundee High: Tries: McLean, A Brown. Cons: Steele. Pens: Steele (5)

Currie: J Forbes, B Mansfield, D Fife, A MacMahon, D Smith, A Binikos, R Snedden, J Cox, F Scott, C Phillips, S Marcell, G Temple, M Cairns, M Entwhistle, R Weston. Subs Used: R Merrilees, A Best, S Burton.

Dundee High: J Urquhart, A McLean, R Lavery, C Strachan, T Seabala, C Brown, A Dymock, N Dymock, S Forrest, A Brown, R Hawkins, A Linton, C Cumming, J Morrison, D Levison. Subs Used: D Russell, G Robertson, R McIver, J Steele, H Duthie

Referee: J van Der Merwe