CURRIE coach Ally Donaldson has urged his young side to display greater urgency as their scrap for top flight survival increases in intensity.
The Malleny Park side suffered a hefty 48-16 loss at home to Gala in their latest RBS Premiership outing, adding to the plight of the bottom-placed club who are now seven points adrift.
And, while there were glimpses of the potential of Donaldson’s squad – particularly during a first half in which they twice held the lead – the man who has twice led Currie to the league title admits that his players must now exhibit their battling qualities.
“We need to show a bit more desperation,” said Donaldson. “Training is going well, everyone is working hard, but when it comes to a Saturday we just don’t seem to be able to get enough right. It seems to be something different every week.”
There were positive aspects to the performance, but the coach conceded that a poor second half effort had offset the benefits of the solid opening 40 minutes, although in fairness to Currie, serious injuries to Jack Broadley and Fraser Watts exacerbated the downbeat mood.
“The second half was unbelievably flat and obviously the injuries add to the flatness. There was some promise in the first half obviously, but we are leaking too many tries. Even though it was 20-16 at half-time, we had conceded four tries,” he added. “We’ve just got to resolve to keep working hard and maybe get a bit of luck.
“We had a decent first half. We could have capitulated at the end. We lost three tries in 12 minutes either side of half-time when they were down to 14 men. That shouldn’t happen and they were soft, soft tries.”
There was always a risk that Gala, who had been on the wrong end of British & Irish Cup drubbing the previous weekend, would take out their frustration on Currie. And the Borderers started with intent.
However, they had only a try from Opeta Palepoi to show for their early pressure. George Horne booted a penalty for the hosts before Craig Robertson raced in for Gala and a try from John Cox, converted by Horne, squared matters.
That swung the momentum in Currie’s favour and Gala benefited from a refereeing decision that might have influenced the game. With the ball dead while Currie prepared to take a penalty, Edinburgh pro Grayson Hart strode up to Richard Snedden and punched the home number nine in the face. After consulting his assistant, referee Charles Samson showed yellow rather than red – one of several puzzling decisions by the team of officials whose performance caused much head-scratching in both camps.
Horne booted a second penalty to give Currie the lead, then responded to a try from Euan Scott by landing a third kick for a single point advantage with injury time being played. However, there was just time for Grant Somerville to race over to secure the bonus point try for Gala.
And it was all over within two minutes of the restart when Craig Borthwick cut through a gaping hole in the home defence. A penalty try plus touchdowns from Craig Dods and Robertson completed an impressive return to league action for Gala after a two-week British & Irish Cup interlude.
Their coach, George Graham, has urged Donaldson not to lose faith, saying, “I understand where Ally is. He has to be patient. I hope they don’t go down this season, but I think they’ve got a fight on their hands.
“I think they are in the situation we were in four years ago. They have a really young team, they are building well and they are learning. If you can keep that group of players together for three or four years you can get to where we have got to.”
In response, the Currie coach stated: “If we can be where Gala are in four years time, I will be quite happy. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We have a core of players who have been here a while, but we have a lot of guys who have come in who are going to be good players.”
Scorers: Currie: Try: Cox. Conversion: Horne. Penalties: Horne (3). Gala: Tries: Palepoi, Robertson (2), Scott, Somerville, Borthwick, Penalty, Dods. Cons: Scott (2),Dods
Currie: R Smith, H Elms, E Pollock, A Alexander, C Kerr, G Horne, R Snedden, J Cox, G Carson, A Hamilton, C MacLean, P Neacsu, M Vernal, M Cairns, R Weston. Subs: R Patterson, F Watt, G Temple, J Broadley, A Penman
Gala: A McLean, G Somerville, C Auld, E Scott, C Robertson, G Mein, G Hart, R Sutherland, R Anderson, E McQuillin, C Borthwick, O Palepoi, C Weir, Gary Graham, S Cairns. Subs used: C Mackintosh, J Hilterbrand, R Tod, A Emond, C Dods
Referee: C Samson