Smith and Weston fire Currie to a vital victory

It was tight, tense and at times tortuous but Currie are running into a fine vein of form as the BT Premiership season reaches its climax and the winning habit may yet see them snatch the last available play-off place.

Currie stand-off James Semple, centre, breaks through the Ayr defence. Picture: Gordon Fraser
Currie stand-off James Semple, centre, breaks through the Ayr defence. Picture: Gordon Fraser

Gala, a point ahead, are 
favourites and masters of their own destiny while Hawick, a point behind, can yet beat the odds.

It all depends on results this weekend as Gala go to league leaders Heriot’s, Hawick visit Boroughmuir, and Currie 
welcome Hawks.

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The fact that, with Edinburgh Accies already relegated, Boroughmuir and Hawks are equal on points and vying to avoid the relegation play-off spot adds an extra edge.

Currie had to beat Ayr to have any chance at all of joining the three-cornered fight for the play-off place and they did so convincingly in a commanding first-half performance that brought two tries and 
threatened more.

Ultimately, the half-time score was the final score as players fought themselves to a standstill on a heavy pitch in a wicked wind that played constant havoc with possession and the 
simplest of passes.

Currie coach Ben Cairns, enjoying his first season in charge, said: “It was a very impressive first-half performance.

“I thought we dominated into the wind, which was really good to see.

“In the second half we didn’t make too much of the wind and almost relied on it to do the job for us. We didn’t really get into the positions we should have and got away from the game that had been so effective in the first half, trying to move it wider too early and make too many mistakes.

“It keeps us in alive for the play-offs. We are hitting form at the right stage of the season. Our performances since the turn of the year have been good and we need to continue that into our next game. I just wish we had been in this kind of form earlier and there were more games for us to catch the opposition.”

On Saturday, the first try came after ten minutes once the players had acclimatised to the testing conditions. Scotland Under-20 winger Ruaridh Smith came off his wing as the backs swept forward into the teeth of the gale and entered the line at an angle that caused the space to open up in front of him as he homed in on the line.

On the half hour the Currie pack took charge, winning a five metre lineout and setting up a maul that Ayr could only watch as it trundled over the line for Number 8 Ross Weston, back in the team after captaining the Scotland international club side, to claim the try.

Joe Reynolds missed both conversions on an afternoon when the wind tended to make fools of the kickers.

For Ayr, full-back Grant Anderson missed two penalty attempts from outside the 22 – one flying high and wide, the other dipping under the bar. He finally got some points at the third time of asking when lock Robert McAlpine charged down a lazy drop out and the Ayr pack got a shove on to march Currie backwards before the scrum collapsed just ten metres from the posts.

The second half was a grind for both teams as the surface deteriorated and the wind 
intensified. Currie’s ambition of a try bonus point was blown away while Ayr, mindful they were only a converted try behind, almost scored after their only sustained spell of pressure when Reynolds suddenly tore through the middle leaving defenders stumbling in his wake, but when the ball went out to the right wing, it was quickly bundled into touch and the 
danger passed.

The game ended with 
Currie in control and on the attack, Ayr hooker Stuart Fenwick in the bin for killing the ball at the breakdown, the wind howling even harder than it had been at kick off, and the players close to exhaustion as the cloying mud sapped the last of the 
energy from legs and bodies.

Ayr, who are now two points behind second-placed Melrose and face them in their next game, were relatively content with their losing bonus point that may prove critical in 
producing home advantage for the play-offs.

Coach Calum Forrester said: “Currie played the conditions very well and we didn’t get out of the blocks in the first half at all. Currie were down in our 22 twice and scored twice, we were in their 22 umpteen times and didn’t come away with the goods.

“I thought our second half defensive display was worthy of the bonus point. We had two 19-year-olds come on into the scrum for their debuts and to hold their own in those 
conditions is a massive part of our season.”

Scorers: Currie - Tries Smith, Weston. Ayr - Pen: Anderson.

Currie: M McPhillips, R Smith, F Efthymiou, J Reynolds, C Logan, J Semple, M O’Neil, J Cox, M Goodwin, G Carson, R Dononian, J Gray, T Brooke, M Peacock. Subs: M Mladenovic. A Hamilton, C McLean, P Mundell, W Martin.

Ayr: G Anderson, R Dalgleish, R Fergusson, D Kelbrick, C Gossman, D McCluskey, D Armstrong, G Sykes, S Fenwick, F Watt, R McAlpine, S Sutherland, B Macpherson, A Dunlop, G Fisken. Subs: W Black, B Paterson, B Johnston, M McConnell, C Taylor.

Referee: A McMenemy.