Late drama earns Currie a spot in the play-offs

An UNLIKELY late twist to the tale of this game sent Currie into the BT Premiership play-offs against top-of-the-table Heriot’s but they contrived to do it the hard way.

Currie's Travis Brooke is stopped in his tracks by Paddy Boyer. Picture: Greg Macvean
Currie's Travis Brooke is stopped in his tracks by Paddy Boyer. Picture: Greg Macvean
Currie's Travis Brooke is stopped in his tracks by Paddy Boyer. Picture: Greg Macvean

Time was up with the teams tied at two tries each when the home side earned a penalty directly in front of the posts.

A draw was not enough for Currie and it was the final play, but even then they hesitated because the blustery wind meant every place-kick in the match so far had been missed.

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However, this one was so ‘easy’ fly-half James Semple had little option but to line it up on the tee while his team-mates covered their eyes or turned their backs, unable to look.

Semple hooked it against the post. The rebound came straight back to him as other players stood rooted to the spot. He immediately passed to Scotland Under-20 winger Ruaridh Smith coming round behind who zigged a little, zagged some more and went over the line to touch down for his second, and the winning, try that triggered wild celebrations.

Coach Ben Cairns was delighted his first season in charge has culminated in a play-off place, although Heriot’s have already beaten Currie three times this season in league and cup.

“I was thinking, maybe, our chance had gone, but the boys kept pressing to win that late penalty,” he said. “Then they did really well at the end to cross the line. Mind you, I would have preferred it if he had just kicked the penalty.

“We’ll take it, though. It wasn’t pretty at times. In the first half, we created a lot, played well into the wind and created a lot of good opportunities, but just didn’t finish them off. In the second half, Hawks came back into it, but we still had a couple of close calls and the ending was special.”

Hawks were left forlorn in defeat, with only a losing bonus point to show for all their efforts. The reality is that, win or lose against Currie, they still have to beat Stirling County if they are to avoid a relegation play-off against GHA in National League 1.

Hawks started the more lively of the two teams while Currie were the more patient, retaining possession through a succession of phases and sizing up a well-marshalled Hawks defence.

Hawks went ahead from a lineout inside the Currie 22 won by Scotland Under-20 lock Andrew Davidson and transformed into a rolling maul that rumbled to the line where the former Warriors hooker, Finlay Gillies, flopped on the ball for the try. The conversion sailed wide on the wind.

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Currie remained patient, biding their time and holding on to possession. Blindside flanker Travis Brookes crashed over the gain line with a couple of carries to edge his team into the opposing half.

The packs battled for control, but neither really established an upper hand. A Hawks scrum 20 metres from their own line was disrupted by a Currie surge and for the rest of the half they chose scrums rather than kicks to make progress and gain territory. The Hawks defence weathered the storm, but eventually cracked when No. 8 Ross Weston lunged over just before half-time to level the scores at 5-5.

It took Currie only a couple of minutes after the restart to get their second try, with Smith on the end of a sweeping passing move to go over in the corner. But Hawks fought back with the wind in their faces and the referee warned Currie that any more offences at the breakdown would earn a yellow card.

Hawks got to within five metres and went for the pushover, but when the scrum stayed solid, No 8 Tommy Spinks picked up and went through a gaping hole for the try.

Currie rallied and an exchange of passes between Fidias Efthymiou and Ross Weston almost unlocked the Hawks defence, but the visitors came away with the ball and the threatened card saw Currie’s Robbie Nelson go into the bin.

He was back on the pitch with no change to the score as play became more frantic as the packs wearied and time ran out. A huge hit by Currie prop John Cox on Gillies dislodged the ball, but the hack ahead was blown dead by the wind.

Hawks then made a fatal error by kicking the drop out straight into touch and Currie used the scrum as a platform to run at them hard and straight and earn, after several phases, that final penalty in front of the posts.

Then came the rebound off the post, and the quickfire pass for Smith’s try. Not that it mattered, but Semple lined up the conversion and kicked the ball fly high and wide to end the game.