Currie Chieftans coach Ben Cairns is backing the emerging talent in his squad to shrug off the disappointment of Saturday’s BT Premiership play-off semi-final defeat against Ayr at Malleny Park and progress to the next level of the game.
Cairns was naturally disappointed by the 24-21 reversal, which brings to a close a campaign that again saw Chieftains finish in the top four during the regular season before coming up just short of reaching the grand final.
The hosts had the better of the first half and led 21-3 through tries from Mike Vernel, Richie Vernon and Thomas Gordon, all converted by Jamie Forbes. That was a decent reflection on proceedings. An Ayr try for Steven Longwell just before the break was converted by Scott Lyle, who had earlier kicked a penalty.
That 11 point advantage was not sufficient for Chieftains as Ayr harnessed the elements to great effect in the second period to prevail, with Robin Hislop and Lewis Anderson touching down for a try apiece and Lyle adding both conversions.
The home side’s efforts were not helped when Vernon was sent off for a dangerous tackle with seven minutes to play and despite finishing strongly, Chieftains were unable to break down a solid Ayr defence.
“We were happy with the position at half time,” said Cairns. “A couple of things we prepared for and planned for came off really well, which was great. Second half we knew they were going to have territory because of the wind.
“We struggled to get a foothold in the second half just by coughing up the ball too many times when we did have an opportunity to create some phases and tempo. Ultimately that cost us.”
The coach conceded that the campaign had fallen short of expectations, adding: “The club’s in a good place, there’s no doubt about that. But it goes down as a disappointing season because we’ve not won anything. The group that we’ve got should be winning things.”
However, he pointed out that there were positive aspects, stating: “Two of those guys have gone pro straight out of Currie – Luke Crosbie and Charlie Shiel. I would expect another two, three or four to go pro in the next couple of years as well. That’s great for the club.
“We need to keep that conveyor belt going, we need to bring in the next group of young boys who are going to push on and go pro through Currie. We are doing a good job there in terms of bringing guys on and getting them ready to play pro rugby, so we will continue to do that.”
Ayr, the current title holders, will face Melrose in the grand final on April 7 after the Borderers ended the hopes of Watsonians at the Greenyards with a 37-8 win.
A slow start by the Myreside men allowed the hosts to reach half time with a 17-3 lead, Ali Harris kicking a penalty for the visitors. Melrose continued to dominate in the second half, with three further tries that secured a spot in a repeat of last year’s showdown for the silverware.
Sonians did manage a touchdown by James Miller, but that score proved to be no consolation for the Capital side, who will have learned much about the areas they need to work on before they host Melrose in the BT Cup semi final on Saturday.
Elsewhere, Edinburgh Accies remain locked in a battle with Jedforest at the top of BT National Division One after both sides posted substantial bonus point wins.
Accies bounced back from a loss against Jed the previous Saturday with 13 tries in an 85-0 romp against Kelso. With three matches to play, the Raeburn Place men still occupy top spot by virtue of a superior points difference.
Meanwhile, Stewart’s Melville were relegated to Division Two after going down 15-10 at home to Gala.