Currie coach Ben Cairns has hailed the contribution of teenage scrum-half Charlie Shiel to the Malleny Park side’s impressive BT Premiership opening day win at home to Stirling County.
The 58-15 result yielded nine tries and showcased some sparkling rugby, particularly in the second half when Currie began to move the ball wide and carve open the opposition defence.
Prominent throughout was Shiel, a new arrival this season from RHC Cougars. His slick service, ability to break at pace, and his alertness at the scrum where he gave Stirling’s Luke Earle-Wright a tough time, were features of a match which underlined Cairns’ assertion that his side has improved since last season when they reached the play-offs.
The coach praised the youngster for a mature showing on his competitive debut for the club, but also underlined the steadying influences of the men around him in a team that marries youth and experience to potent effect.
“Charlie has come in and done a very good job, obviously aided by having Ross (Weston) at 8 and James Semple at 10. They are good guys to have around you. He was nervous in the warm up but I thought he settled down and had a good game,” said Cairns, who is anticipating tough competition for the No.9 shirt, with Richard Snedden vying with Shiel for the starting spot.
It is clear Cairns has prepared a side capable of playing a variety of styles as they showed in the second half when the speed and angles of attack produced expansive and entertaining rugby after a first half in which the graft came largely from the pack.
The forwards created the platform for Shiel to send Ruaraidh Smith in for the opening try after four minutes. Joe Reynolds converted and did so again after Mike Vernel had forced his way over following a lineout.
A break from defence ended with Matt Lamb claiming a try for the visitors, converted by Shaun Treweek and, although Weston and John Cox bagged a try apiece – Reynolds converting the latter – Treweek added a penalty and Stirling had the final word in the first half when Nick Grigg pounced a on loose ball and raced the length of the field for a solo score that left his side 26-15 in arrears at the break.
Stirling battered at the home defence in the opening minutes of the second half but failed to add to their points tally and the Currie line subsequently never came under serious threat. Reynolds kept the scoreboard ticking over with a self-converted try and a penalty before Alistair Hamilton, Vernel, Semple and Travis Brooke notched a try apiece and Reynolds rounded off an impressive start to the campaign by Currie with the final two points of the afternoon.
“I didn’t enjoy the two tries we gifted them in the first half – that was disappointing. But I thought the reaction after both tries, the way we came back into the game solidified everything and then built again from there was really good. It’s a sign of a quality team I suppose to be able to do that, to wipe it and then get on with the next job,” said Cairns who was also happy with way the game evolved as his players took control. “Early on, especially at the start of the league, you’ve got to play tight, limit the mistakes and build into the game. We did that well. We used our forwards well and our backs looked sharp.”
Currie: Tries: Smith, Vernel (2), Weston, Cox, Reynolds, Hamilton, Semple, Brooke. Cons: Reynolds (5). Pen: Reynolds
Stirling County: Tries: Lamb, Grigg. Con: Treweek. Pen: Treweek.
Currie: R Young, R Smith, F Efthymiou, J Reynolds, B Robbins, J Semple, C Shiel, J Cox, M Goodwin, A Hamilton, M Vernel, S Ainslie, T Brooke, T Gordon, R Weston. Subs used: P Mundell, L Crosbie, R Nelson, M McPhillips
Stirling County: D Taikato-Simpson, M Lamb, D Gilmour, N Grigg, C Robertson, S Treweek, L Earl-Wright, B Dineen, B Gilchrist, C Hutton, E Howgate, R Leishman, S Robertson, S McDonald, V Manu. Subs used: R Kennedy, G Mountford, C Hunter-Hill, L Wynee, A Black
Referee: G Ormiston.