Skipper Mark Cairns enjoyed his home comforts as he led Currie to an impressive 23-10 win over Melrose that keeps the Malleny Park side in the RBS Premiership title race.
The benefit of familiar surroundings and a focus on performing the basic tasks well paid off handsomely for Cairns and his team-mates as they dominated for lengthy spells of a match that carried a hefty amount of significance for both sides after losses the previous Saturday.
“It was good to get back home, we get a bit of a buzz being here and we know we’ve got a lot of guys who have worn the jersey watching us, so it puts a bit of extra pressure on us,” said the 29-year-old. “I don’t think this is a place people like coming to and I want to keep it that way.”
And assessing the performance which saw the hosts back at their best, with a dominant pack producing prime possession for a pacey back division, he added: “The boys were just busier. We’ve done a lot of technical work over the last couple of weeks. This win was down to determination, hard work and attitude – things you just expect at Currie. We’ve been lacking that over the last few weeks.”
The victory tightens Currie’s grip on third spot in the table going into a four-week break from league duty and although they trail pacesetters Ayr by 11 points the victory was, Cairns conceded, vital to prolong their interest in the title race.
“No one said it because if we did lose where would we go? But we were all thinking it and deep down I think we all knew that if we lost this game we weren’t going to win the league. It was probably the same for them so we had two sides really going at it. For spectators that kind of game is good to watch.”
And with an eye on the consolation prize of finishing in the leading quartet to secure a return to British & Irish Cup duty next season, Cairns added: “The league is so tight but there is now a gap opening between the top four and the rest.”
The hosts started the match with intent and opened the scoring through a Jamie Forbes penalty before Alex Fisken – a late call-up after injury to Adam Hinds forced a last-minute reshuffle – marked his first start with a well-finished try.
Andrew Skeen traded penalties with Forbes, who then made the initial burst that created a try for James Johnstone and added the conversion to give the hosts a well-deserved 18-3 lead at half-time.
Having spent most of the opening 40 minutes on the back foot, Melrose made a livelier start to the second period and it took a determined effort by the home defence to keep their line intact until the 50th minute when Gary Holborn forced his way over from close range, with Skeen converting.
The Borderers failed to add to their tally and Currie regained control although they did not finally shake off their opponents until 15 minutes from the end when Ross Weston picked up at the back of a ruck and charged over for an unconverted score.
That try by the impressively consistent No. 8 was reward for an outstanding contribution and surely reinforced his claims for a place in the Scotland Club international side and a chance to add to his ten caps at that level.
He is taking nothing for granted, however. “I am quite happy with my form at the moment. I will just keep playing my best every week and hopefully I will get picked.”
Like his captain, Weston was more concerned with the outcome than the way in which it was achieved.
“It was just good to get back to winning ways after the disappointment last week. Any win in this league is good because it is so competitive.”
The absence of a four-try bonus means that Currie have slipped a further point behind second-placed Gala, who have two games in hand. However, Weston was not too despondent, preferring to focus on the damage inflicted on the title challenge of the Greenyards men.
“Melrose are a quality side and they will be in the mix right to the end so although we are a wee bit disappointed that we didn’t get the bonus point, it was probably more important that they didn’t get anything from the game,” he added.
Currie: Tries: Fisken, Johnstone, Weston. Conversion: Forbes. Pens: Forbes (2)
Melrose: Try: Holborn. Conversion: Skeen. Pen: Skeen.
Currie: L Draycott, A Fisken, J Johnstone, S James, A Whittingham, J Forbes, R Snedden, J Cox, F Scott, F Watts, S Marcell, J Gray, M Cairns, M Entwhistle, R Weston. Subs Used: M Erskine, G Temple, M Peacock
Melrose: S Chalmers, B Colvine, B Dick, J Helps, U Kalamafoni, A Skeen, S McCormick, N Little, W Mitchell, G Holborn, R Ovens, R Miller, A Walker, G Runciman, A Nagle. Subs Used: I Robertson, C Arthur, P Eccles A Jessop, R Mill
Referee: D Changleng