Last gasp goal-kick hero Adam Hinds revealed how fear of finishing the day bottom of the Scottish Rugby Premiership propelled his Currie side to an astonishing 39-37 victory over stunned Aberdeen Grammar FPs in one of the most remarkable matches ever seen at Malleny Park.
It was only when Hinds slotted a penalty from 30 metres out and slightly to the right of the posts with the final kick in the fifth minute of injury time that Currie first took the lead and at half-time they had trailed 10-29.
That only tells part of the story, though; with time already up Aberdeen were awarded a scrum on halfway and simply required to heel the ball and clear to touch for victory.
However, a free kick was awarded against them for shoving too early and Currie grabbed the lifeline to move upfield where referee Lloyd Linton’s concluding act was controversial in that he over-ruled touch judge Graham Allen who felt what was to prove the winning penalty should have been reversed for a home player taking the law into his own hands.
It was at the interval that reality struck home for Currie according to Hinds, a 22-year-old Australian who joined the club only a few weeks ago after two years playing for Andorra in the French Leagues followed by a stint at Alicante-based La Vila who have represented Spanish rugby in Europe’s second tier Amlin Cup. Said Hinds: “We realised during the break that if we didn’t do something then there was a chance we could end up bottom of the league.”
In fact, had Currie not mounted their revival that is exactly what would have happened due to results elsewhere.
Hinds added: “There was a recognition our first half performance had been unacceptable and the comeback stemmed from there. In the case of the winning penalty I was nervous but managed to relax enough to get the ball over.
“The kick was infield from the conversion attempt with which I failed to give us the lead a few minutes earlier and a bit easier.
“But what really got us over the line was the boys coming together as mates playing for each other.”
It was little wonder that Aberdeen looked thunderstruck as rarely do teams score five tries away from home and come off second best.
On occasions they had been able to punch holes in the Currie defence at will, especially Fijian centre Peceli Nacamavuto and winger Ade Hales.
Four of the five Currie tries, including a penalty try for scrum disruption, came after the break and home coach Ally Donaldson was a relieved man.
Said Donaldson: “I’m going to have to look at the video to be sure but I thought we played some really great rugby when we had the ball but also made poor decisions at times.
“We were all over the place defensively and kept letting Aberdeen into the game with their big strong runners. Thankfully, the character shown to get back was absolutely immense and our game plan improved when chasing the contest.
“Some of the tempo and accuracy of our attacking play was good enough to make us the better team in my view.
“But we have to look at how we lost those tries. One was an interception and these things happen but other tries were soft.
“We said at half time that with ten minutes to go we wanted to be in with a shout of winning and it was pleasing we got ourselves into that situation which was another positive.”
This was a match which also launched the senior career of teenage back rower Rhys Davis, a local lad newly returned from a gap year in New Zealand where he attended a rugby school run by the legendary All Blacks back row, Murray Mexted. Davis came on as a second half substitute in the back row looking mature beyond his years and one of his first acts was a penetrating run to create the try with which John Cox hauled Currie right back into contention at 31-34 with 15 minutes remaining. Donaldson added: “Rhys only came into the squad at short notice when Ross Weston pulled out injured but he is definitely one for the future.”
Ironically Currie had been overhauled the previous week at Melrose so in a role reversal they allowed the Dons to forge ahead through a Mark Ryan penalty equalised by Hinds before Willie Wardlaw, Stuart Smith and Erland Oag all crossed for 3-22.
Hinds’ converted try kept Currie in touch but only until Ade Hales romped over at the other end. Turning round 10-29 adrift Currie roused themselves with a converted try from Dougie Fife only for Hales to strike again.
A penalty try and touchdown from John Cox took Currie to 31-34 but when Ryan landed another penalty they seemed down and out.
Up stepped Mark Cairns to score in the corner in 79 minutes and although Hinds missed the conversion the Queenslander retained composure at the death amidst silence so deafening you could hear a cork floating down the stream flowing past the far side of the ground. Eeriness before the Currie ecstasy.
Scorers: Currie: Tries: Cairns, Cox, Hinds, Fife, Penalty try. Conversions: Hinds (4). Penalties: Hinds (2). Aberdeen Grammar FPs: Tries: Hales (2), Wardlaw, Oag, Smith. Conversions: G Ryan (3). Penalties: G Ryan (2).
Currie: D Fife, A Hinds, J Johnstone, S James, A Whittingham, A Binikos, E Snedden, A Hamilton, R Merrileees, F Watts, S Marchell, S Burton, M Cairns (captain), M Peacock, M Entwhistle. Subs: W Elmslie, J Cox, A Adam, R Davis, M Johnstone.
Aberdeen Grammar FPs: W Wardlaw, E Oag, P Nacamavuto, J Knight (captain), A Hales, M Ryan, M Ward, M Dixon, S O’Connor, N Fraser, M Reid, M Douglas, C Eyre, G Ryan, Eyre. Subs: S Bingham, C McConnachie, J Lauder, A Hagart, A McGuinness.
Referee: L Linton (Aberdeen).