Rugby: Currie throw title race wide open with victory over Ayr

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Currie scrum half Richard Snedden believes that the intensity of the RBS Premiership is at unprecedented levels, insisting that there are no easy games and that every point is hard earned.

Reflecting on a fiercely contested encounter that saw Currie end Ayr’s unbeaten run with a vital 32-13 win that yielded all five league points, Snedden stated that the high quality of the top flight means that, even at this stage of the season, anything less than victory would have signalled the end of Currie’s bid for the league title.

“We had to win, no doubt about that, but you have to win every week, it’s just the nature of this league,” he said. “Everyone can beat everyone home or away. It’s the toughest league I’ve played in. Everyone is so close. So to pick up a win was a very good result for us.”

And assessing the success that has hauled Ayr back towards a three-strong bunch featuring Gala, Currie and Melrose, he added: “It was a real tough one. It’s good to get a win. Even though they were down to 14 men, they are still a good team. They stuck in the whole time, they are big, they didn’t give up and they just kept coming at us.”

Currie had a difficult start to the match, spending the first 15 minutes on defensive duties, and they were fortunate to be only three points in arrears – Ayr stand off Finn Russell landing one penalty from three attempts. However, the pace the hosts have behind the scrum was exemplified by James Johnstone who carried the ball to the edge of the Ayr 22 where he was halted by a dangerous tackle from Ayr centre Ross Curle. The former pro was red carded, having suffered a similar punishment for an almost identical misdemeanour against Boroughmuir earlier in the season.

Jamie Forbes banged over the resultant penalty and, although a try from Denford Mutamangira, converted by Russell, eased Ayr in front, Mike Entwhistle responded in kind for Currie and Forbes converted to restore parity.

Silvain Diez nudged Ayr ahead at the break with a penalty, but that was the last time the visitors would trouble the scoreboard operator. Currie restarted strongly and Gary Temple bagged a converted try before Forbes notched another penalty. And, with the home side dictating the game, Simeon James took a scoring pass from Johnstone then the referee awarded a penalty try as Currie applied incessant pressure – Forbes clipping over the conversion to complete the scoring.

While delighted with the outcome, Snedden concedes that Currie must kick on in the tough assignments that lie ahead. The 27-year-old, an age group cap and club international, featured in the Malleny Park club’s two previous league triumphs. And he knows his colleagues will commit themselves to ironing out the wrinkles as they attempt to step up the challenge for win number three.

“We weren’t at our best – lots of handling errors and basic mistakes – stuff we can work on and improve on,” he pointed out. “We didn’t capitalise on our pressure and made basic errors in their 22. It was our mistakes that kept them in the game when they were down to 14.”

Scorers: Currie: Tries: Entwhistle, Temple, James, Penalty. Conversions: Forbes (3). Penalties: Forbes (2). Ayr: Try: Mutamangira. Con: Russell. Pen: Russell, Diez.

Currie: J Forbes, A Hinds, S James, A Binikos, J Johnstone, G Hunter, R Snedden, J Cox, F Scott, A Hamilton, G Temple, J Gray, M Cairns, M Entwhistle, R Weston. Subs used: F Watts, M Vernel, M Peacock, A Whittingham.

Ayr: G Anderson, C Gossman, R Curle, R Dalgleish, C Taylor, F Russell, S Diez, D Mutamangira, S Fenwick, D Rae, N Campbell, S Sutherland, R Doneghan, A Dunlop, C Forrester. Subs Used: H Wisnewski, B Schmidt, C White, G Fisken.

Referee: R Kelly (RFU)