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Currie v Heriots, RBS Premiership, 30th March 2013

Heriots travelled across the capital to Malleny Park in Balerno to play Currie in the final match of the regular league season for both clubs. Heriots were playing their 600th consecutive Senior League match as a member of the current Premiership division – and all it’s previous incarnations – making them the only side in the division who have never been relegated. A remarkable feat indeed. They were also playing to secure their position in third to ensure British and Irish Cup involvement next season. Currie, on the other hand, were lying ninth in the table and they were trying to avoid the play-off to decide which club would accompany Boroughmuir into the National League, although it’s now not quite as clear cut as all that.

Currie started well and played better than their relative league positions would suggest and were quickly on the scoreboard with an early penalty. Heriots soon wiped the three point margin out with one of their own just over a minute later. With the muddy pitch ruling out fast, open rugby, the match see-sawed back and forth until Currie got a foothold in the visitors half and were soon on the scoreboard again with another successful penalty. 20 minutes gone and with Currie 6-3 ahead, the home side started to play Heriots off the park. Pinning the visitors back into their own half for long periods, Currie encamped themselves on the Heriots line.

The forwards hammered away with pick-and-drive after pick-and-drive, but just couldn’t get the ball over the line. Heriots regained possession and played the match downfield for a time, but the home side were soon back on the Heriots line. Regaining the ball from a missed penalty restart, this time the hammering succeeded and the ball was forced over the line for the opening try (pictured). The conversion was scored and Currie were into a 13-3 lead, which they took into the break, having dominated territory and possession, despite losing a player to a controversial yellow card.

The second half started well for Currie and although Heriots kept the ball, it was in their own half and another penalty took the score to 16-3 for the home side. At this point, Heriots turned on the class and broke through for their first try, which they unfortunately failed to convert. The next 15 or so minutes were all Heriots, with the Goldenacre side attacking from all angles and coming close to crossing the line on a couple of occasions. Only desperate tackling or the slippery ball coming to Currie’s aid. Currie did, however manage to convert another penalty to go three points further ahead, but the writing looked on the wall. Coming back strongly, Heriots scored their second try, which, this time, was converted, to lie four points in arrears at 19-15.

 
The final quarter of the match was again dominated by the visitors, but, again, they failed to break through the defence. The final play was a Heriot’s line-out ten metres out, but they lost the ball in the ensuing maul and the grateful Currie full back punted the ball into the trees to bring the game to a close, 19-15 in favour of the home side.

This was a match which looked, on paper, to be a foregone conclusion in that Heriots would win to secure third and Currie would be consigned to the relegation play-offs. However, Currie came out to play and in spite of almost overwhelming pressure for the majority of the second half, they held their opponents at bay in, what turned out to be, a very entertaining match. Both team’s final division positions now rely on the results from the final two games to be played next weekend. Heriots, having landed in fourth place, can still lose out on a B and I Cup place to Aberdeen (5th), Stirling (6th) or Melrose (8th). And Currie (7th) can end up in ninth and play-off bound if Melrose and Dundee (9th) both win. The permutations are endless and much breath will remain bated until 4:30-ish next Saturday!
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