Whatever else you say about the new-look RBS National Cup, it has yet to capture the public’s imagination. Dundee won this quarter-final in front of a few hundred determined souls dotted about Malleny Park basking in the spring sunshine.
Scorers: Currie: Tries: Weston, Forbes, penalty, Hinds. Cons: Forbes 3. Pen: Forbes. Dundee: Tries: McIvor, McLean, Bowie, Levison. Cons: Steele 2. Pens: Steele 2.
In truth the match was not the best advert for the club game although you could forgive almost anything given a final 20 that included four tries and a nail-biting finale.
The first half especially was dreadfully scrappy, with neither side able to hold on to the ball and build pressure through the phases. Sooner or later, and usually sooner, someone would knock the ball on or cough it up in a turnover. The ambition and willingness to use near-perfect conditions were both present, the execution left something to be desired.
At least the home team had the excuse that they are caught in the middle of a horrendous injury crisis that was only compounded by yesterday’s action.
The former league-winning skipper Andy Adam was dusted down and sent into the action and looked like he’d never been away. Coach Ally Donaldson was even threatening to join in too if needs be, such were the numbers out of action.
It didn’t quite come to that but Currie were plagued by injuries throughout this match, losing five of their starting XV in the first half alone including stalwart No.8 Ross Weston and both hookers, Billy Elmslie and Denis Pech. The scrums were uncontested from the 25th minute onwards and Dundee’s coach Ian Rankin was not amused.
“I knew it was going to happen and it spoilt the game,” he claimed afterwards. “It’s unacceptable at this level. The team that causes it should lose a back because their big men were still rumbling around late in the game.”
Currie showed great spirit and determination to compete with Dundee for as long as they did because this match was only decided inside the final quarter. Even then the home side’s fullback Jamie Forbes had to make several telling interventions to keep his team in the hunt.
Dundee had three early points on the score board thanks to stand-off Jack Steele but Ross Weston grabbed the first try for Currie from a simple pick and drive. His opposite number Richard McIvor replied in kind a little later before winger Andy McLean, a threat throughout, latched on to a chip kick from Jamie Urquhart and cut an angle across the field to the left-hand corner.
With two tries inside the space of a few short minutes it looked like the flood gates might open for Dundee but instead the final try of the half went to the home team after their forwards grabbed temporary control of proceedings. Amazingly Dundee left a hole big enough for even the formidable figure of Mike Erskine to trundle through and the replacement prop found Forbes in support for the score.
Jack Steele hit the bar with a penalty at the death of the first 40 leaving Dundee with a slender 15-12 advantage at the break.
The second half started poorly for the home team who lost Johno Swalek to the sin bin but that didn’t prevent the home forwards from building up a decent head of steam despite being short-handed, and, after good approach work by flanker Michael Entwhistle, the big men were held up over the Dundee try line.
Instead the Malleny faithful had to be content with a penalty from the boot of Jamie Forbes, who had also converted his own try in the first half. That penalty left the scores level pegging at 15-15 going into the final quarter of the match which is when Dundee finally hit their stride, scoring 15 points in the last 20 minutes thanks to tries from twin centres Callum Bowie and Robbie Lavery, one conversion and one penalty from Steele.
Even then Currie fought back, urged on by the crowd and their coach, launching two more assaults on the Dundee line which brought them agonisingly close on the score board. First up Forbes was caught around the head when he was going for the right corner and the home team were awarded a penalty try. Then centre Adam Hinds touched down in the exact same place to give Dundee a scare but Forbes’ well struck conversion was the last kick of the game and the visitors squeezed through.
Currie: Forbes, Whittingham, Hinds, James, Peacock, Van Der Westerlo, Sneddon; Hamilton, Emslie, Watts, Temple, Adam, Cairns, Entwhistle, Weston. Subs: Pech, Erskine, Burton, Johnstone, Swalek.
Dundee : Urquhart, McLean, Duthie, Lavery, Bowie; Steele, A Dymock, N Dymock, Rusell, Brown, Cumming, Linton, Levison, Wilson, McIvor. Subs: Longwell, Robertson, Morrison, Rutnagur, Lemon.
Referee: James Mathew.