Currie in pole position to claim home play-off

Hawick scrum-half Shaun Goodfellow escapes the clutches of Curries Luke Crosbie. Picture: Gordon FraserHawick scrum-half Shaun Goodfellow escapes the clutches of Curries Luke Crosbie. Picture: Gordon Fraser
Hawick scrum-half Shaun Goodfellow escapes the clutches of Curries Luke Crosbie. Picture: Gordon Fraser
Currie survived a determined and spirited Hawick assault to put themselves in perfect position to claim home advantage for the Premiership play-offs.

With Ayr the runaway winners, Currie now sit alongside defending champions Heriot’s on 51 points but hold their fate in their own hands as they have two games left to play and Heriot’s only one.

But Currie did it the hard way against a Borders club who were desperately unlucky not to take something more than a losing bonus from the game that effectively ended their challenge.

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The home team can blame a month of weather-enforced idleness for the string of errors but know they will have to tighten up and improve to make the most of this season.

Coach Ben Cairns said: “I think we can put the performance down to having had a month off because our standards are miles better than that.

“I guess in a lot of ways today was about winning in any way we could and we managed to do that just, although we did our best to lose it. Now that we have that game under our belts we are set up for our last two games. The aim all along has been to reach the play-offs and we are now in perfect position. Win our next two and get into the top two has to be our mentality.”

Currie reinforced their pack with two Glasgow Warriors props, Ryan Grant and Mike Cusack, and had another professional, Rory Hughes, on the left wing.

Hawick’s home-grown forward pack responded by playing out of their skins, especially the front row of Shaun Muir, Ross Graham, and Gary Douglas, who gave as good as they got, backed up by their combative captain Bruce McNeil and ex-scottish international Scott MacLeod.

At one stage in the second half, Currie, rather than take an easy three points, called a succession of scrums in front of the posts to try to batter the visitors into submission. But Hawick resistance was heroic and, even with Bruce McNeil dispatched to the sin bin, they eventually managed to clear with the tryline intact.

Currie opened the scoring after 16 minutes with their first concerted attack, lock Mike Vernal getting the touchdown from close range. James Semple converted.

Hawick put points on the board when Currie did not roll away at a ruck and Lee Armstrong kicked the penalty.

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But a disastrous lapse in concentration at the restart allowed the ball to bounce into the arms of Currie hooker Matt Goodwin, who barrelled his way to the line and set up an easy penalty for Semple.

Hawick then produced the best move of the match, passing back and forwards across the pitch to run defenders ragged and create the space for full-back Neil Renwick to score in the corner. Armstrong’s conversion attempt from the touchline was just short and wide, a miss that was critical in deciding the outcome. In the second half, Hawick were lively and Currie struggled to build any momentum. Hughes almost broke free as he evaded a couple of tackles before being hauled down. Then a lineout in the Hawick 22 was exploited in textbook fashion, openside flanker Travis Brooke lifted high to take the catch and holding on to the ball to claim the try as the maul rolled irresistibly over the line. Semple converted.

Hawick’s second try came from the forwards, who set themselves up on the Currie line and refused to go away until McNeil, straight out of the sin bin, got the try.

Armstrong converted to make it a two-point game with ten minutes remaining but it was a bridge too far for an exhausted Hawick team.

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