Posted on: September 17th, 2017
BT National League Division 1
Saturday 16th September 2017
Musselburgh RFC V Edinburgh Academical FC
Report by Ian Donaldson
As a follow-up to last week’s valiant last-ditch defeat at Poynder Park, ‘Burgh appeared in their brand-new strips, courtesy of the manufacturer Kukri. For the fashion conscious amongst you, I would say that the dark blue is maybe a shade darker and that there is a slight alteration to the badge.
To off-set the modern newness of it all, Musselburgh welcomed, what is widely thought to be Scotland’s oldest club, Edinburgh Academical FC, as visitors.
Musselburgh’s injury woes continued as again they took to the field without regulars, Craig and Danny Owenson, Declan Slaven and Graeme Bowman. Making his home debut, however, was ‘Burgh’s new scrum half Cory Vela, fresh from his fine performance at Kelso last week via sunny Australia, and no doubt wondering where all that fresh Scottish water was coming from!
The clouds closed in as Gareth Pritchard kicked off for the homesters as ‘Burgh applied some early pressure. The settling in period for both teams produced a penalty, scored by Pritchard after 5 minutes and an equalising penalty by Accies stand-off Richard Mill on 8 minutes, making the score 3-3, before the heavens opened. Torrential rain began to buffet all concerned, players and supporters alike, some of whom were forced to take refuge in the bar, poor souls!
‘Burgh at this stage were building up a wee head of steam, with three or four consecutive penalties played into the corner, before the usual application of “the Stoneyhill heave”, this tactic continued until it eventually bore fruit and Luke Hutson went over in 14 minutes, for an unconverted try and 8-3 to ‘Burgh.
The wet conditions made handling difficult with the ball akin to a bar of soap and players, despite their studs, slipping and sliding all over the place. The ‘Burgh try had stung Accies into retaliation, as they begun to apply some pressure, with halfbacks Max Love and Richard Mill directing operations. Their backrow of Mann, Sole and Snape were also useful with ball in hand and at cutting down ‘Burgh’s avenues of escape from defence. The two props were also prominent in the forward drives, the Frenchman Clement Lacour and his fellow prop Shaun Gunn.
The pressure finally told in the bottom left corner as prop Gunn was pushed over for an unconverted try to level the score at 8-8 after 20 minutes. It took only another five minutes for the visitors to rubber stamp their superiority as a break from halfway and a short pass put scrumhalf Love in at the posts before Mill added the “extras” for 8-15. ‘Burgh briefly thought that Sandy Watt had scored, but the referee, Mr Mabon had spotted an infringement and their hopes were dashed.
'’Burgh were still in the fight at this stage with Pritchard and Vela combining well. Willie Fleming, as usual was outstanding on the touchlines and the Watt brothers attempting to bring their collective pace to bear on a wet surface. However, despite their efforts the visitors took control in the second quarter and prolonged pressure led to a pushover try virtually on the halftime whistle by Accies captain Jamie Sole, the conversion attempt unsuccessful for a halftime score of Musselburgh 8 Edinburgh Academical 20.
‘Burgh braced themselves for a tough second half against a tough second half against a well organised side holding a twelve point advantage, mind you, ‘Burgh were playing against the tide in the first half! The second half commenced with a few tit for tat squabbles and niggles in the middle of the park before referee Ross Mabon put his foot down and awarded a penalty to Accies after 51 minutes, which Mill converted for 8-23. ‘Burgh then replaced Sandy Watt with James Doig and an injured Willie Fleming was replaced by Thomas Hamilton.
Accies continued to look dangerous when in possession, wingers Forrester and Coupar looked nippy and fullback Robbie Chalmers always ready to break the line, and at centre the aptly named Neil Armstrong was adept at finding space. The pressure told eventually on 58 minutes as Accies scored their third pushover try of the day and their fourth and “bonus point” try when No. 8 Robin Snape was pushed over, Mill converted and the scoreboard moved on to 8-30.
In the final quarter, the rain had thankfully subsided as ‘Burgh tried any number of changes and tactics in order to get back into the game, one involving fullback Leitch and scrumhalf Vela swapping positions, then James Doig when he came on alternating between wing and fullback. But by that time and with a comfortable lead it was probably not going to make any difference, but ‘Burgh must be credited with attempting to claw their way back.
In 63 minutes, sadly for ‘Burgh, Accies increased their lead as the ever enterprising Accies fullback Chalmers finished off a fine handling move (especially notable with wet ball) to go over near the corner, stand-off Richard Mill made a fine job of what could not have been an easy kick given the conditions, moving the score up to 8-37.
For the remainder of the game ‘Burgh tried valiantly to get back into it, but the visitors looked assured and a late yellow card to Ben Hibberd only added to ‘Burgh’s frustration. The ref blew for time at 37-8 when both home and visiting support, looking like “drookit rats” headed for the bar. We can only hope that the celebrated new strips, having taken a spectacular drenching on their debut dinny shrink!
All joking aside, Accies fully deserved their win and another home defeat is not ideal preparation for a difficult away fixture next week in Glasgow against GHA.
© 2017 MRFC.