1st XV V Garnock, match report
National League Div 1
Musselburgh V Garnock
Saturday 7th April 2012
Report by Ian Donaldson
Musselburgh concluded their league fixtures for the season against lowly Garnock, with the East Regional shield already in the bag, and the promise of a Murrayfield appearance on Saturday week, in the national Shield Final to look forward too. The current batch of players, have contributed superbly to Musselburgh’s most memorable season in recent years, having been promoted several weeks ago.
The visitors got proceedings underway as stand-off Rory Walker kicked off uphill only for ‘Burgh to recycle immediately and get on the front foot with O’Hagan pulling the strings in his usual fashion with some astute touch kicks and perceptive passing. It became clear even at this early stage, the ‘burgh’s tactics were to run and pass their opponents off the park. The first try duly arrived as O’Hagan set his backs in motion and James Murray continued his scoring run before O’Hagan converted for 7-0.
The home forwards gained an early stranglehold and Robert Lovett had several barnstorming runs, bursting tackle after tackle, before Garnock infringed and O’Hagan made it 10-0 via a successful penalty. Garnock were finding it difficult to cope with ‘Burgh’s pace and quick accurate passing and following a move up the left wing skipper James Doig was unlucky to be thwarted close in. The Captain’s try was, however, merely delayed as he combined with Draycott and Murray for ‘Burgh’s second try before the conversion attempt was charged down and the score remained 15-0.
The pressure continued and following a powerful surge by the pack at scrum time, the ball was again shipped through the hands for Doig to score his second try of the day leaving O’Hagan to add the extras for 22-0. The pain continued for the visitors and following some fine play in midfield Andrew Cook went over for the fourth and ‘bonus point’ try with less than half an hour on the clock, O’Hagan converting for 29-0.
Garnock’s pack was being totally outgunned despite the sterling efforts of Robbie Glen and Harry Wallace in particular with centre Waterson also performing creditably against seemingly insurmountable odds. Their efforts were again deemed insufficient by 'Burgh‘s next try, a superb 50 yard solo try by Robert Lovett using surprising pace for a No8, after bursting several tackles before going in under the posts and making the conversion easy for O’Hagan to make it 36-0. The incessant nature of ‘Burgh’s play continued as following a short period of Garnock possession O’Hagan intercepted and fed Andrew Cook for his second try of the day, which was unconverted to leave a half time score of Musselburgh 41 Garnock 0.
O’Hagan restarted by kicking uphill amidst a feel good factor which is currently running throughout the club, ‘Burgh having scored six unanswered tries in the first half with the not unreasonable presumption that more was to follow. The forwards were providing a superb platform for their backs with, Allen, Kirkland and Chesham constantly to the fore with Willie Fleming ruling the line-out. The Garnock front row of McKinnon, Thomson and Shiells were having a torrid afternoon, as indeed were the rest of their pack as the home eight thundered on with ominous ease which suggested further scores were imminent.
The inevitable duly occurred as a fine handling move involving both backs and forwards produced a try for Paddy Brown which was converted by O’Hagan for 48-0. The general feeling of satisfaction amongst the Musselburgh crowd was further heightened by a glimpse into the future as young Rory Watt scored his first try at senior level after making his debut at Ellon two weeks ago, following a breakthrough from the Colts, his try being converted by O’Hagan for 55-0. Great credit must be given to all ‘Burgh’s age grade coaches whose work ensures the production of players for first team duties.
A fine touch by Ritchie provided an attacking line-out which produced a fine training ground move to put Rory Chesham in for an unconverted try and 60-0. The visitors defence was being cruelly exposed by a ‘Burgh side which is full of confidence which bodes well for the Shield final at Murrayfield, as Lovett scored his second try which O’Hagan converted for 67-0.
As the game drew to a close several ‘Burgh fans were wondering why a performance which had yielded 10 tries had not included on from top try scorer Liam Draycott, yet! James Murray took pity on ‘Burgh’s full-back and put him in for the 11th and last try of the game and of the League season before Dave O’Hagan made the final score Musselburgh 74 Garnock 0.
All roads now lead to Murrayfield, were Dunfermline lie in wait, having beaten ‘Burgh earlier in the season at Pinkie, they will ensure a difficult game for ‘Burgh in what will hopefully be a game worthy of the occasion. Finals day could turn out to be a glorious finale to the season for East Lothian rugby, as Musselburgh will be joined by Dunbar at murrayfield, who take on Helensburgh in the Bowl Final.
Needless to say, all at Stoneyhill wish Dunbar all the best and all fingers are crossed for an East Lothian double.