BT National League Division 1
Aberdeen Grammar V Musselburgh
Saturday 10th March 2018
With Musselburgh not having played a match since their narrow home defeat by Cartha Queens Park on 17th February and then last weeks cancelled match against Aberdeen Grammar due to snow, they were keen to get back to winning ways to secure their place in BT National League Division 1 for a further season. Last weeks match had been rescheduled to Saturday, despite the Scotland V Ireland international kicking off at 2:15, so Musselburgh were on the road bright and early to arrive at Rubislaw in time for a 12:15 kick-off.
On a dreich, wet lunchtime, with the weather and conditions underfoot dictating that this would be a forward’s dominated match.
Danny Owenson got proceedings underway as Grammar set up the attack, but the visitors repelled their attempts to gain ground. Scrumhalf, Tommy Morrison kicked deep into the Musselburgh half to gain territory, but the ball was caught by Luke Hutson who took the ball back into the Grammar half, he was aided and abetted by centres Andrew Cook and Rory Watt who also made ground, before Rory hacked on deep into the Aberdeen 22. The ball being cleared for a Musselburgh line-out and Ross Gregor found his target of Brad Graham and ‘Burgh went through the phases with sniping attacks by Sandy Watt, Cameron McMillan, Donald Kennedy, Ruairidh Young and Brad Graham, which saw the home defence stretched. The ball was turned over and props Ross Anderson, Colin Neilson and ex-Portobello youth player Ewan Stewart made yards into the ‘Burgh half before the ball was lost.
Donald Kennedy and Danny Owenson were doing an excellent job of marshalling the troops, in the shape of Cammy Pryde, Michael Fleming and Andrew Cook who were prominent in the loose. Young, once again made valuable yards deep into Aberdeen territory before the homesters were penalised, Owenson kicked for touch and ‘Burgh had a lineout on the 5-meter line. The ball was gathered by Graham before being shipped through the hands. Several attempts were made to breach the home defence but finally on the 9th minute Conor Slaven opened the scoring by going over in the corner. The difficult conversion was missed, and it was Aberdeen Grammar 0 Musselburgh 5.
Aberdeen came back at the visitors with Alex Ratcliffe and Doug Ruddell gaining some ground before Musselburgh were penalised for not rolling away. Stand-off Bryn Perrott kicked for touch, thus setting up a platform for the home forwards to attack, before they knocked on. Luke Hutson peeled off the back of the resultant scrum, which sent the home defence scurrying to set their lines. They held strong and turned the ball over before Danny Owenson intercepted a pass and ‘Burgh were once again on the attack, which saw Colin Arthur, Ewan Milton, Jonathan Crain, Luke Hutson and Cammy Pryde to the fore. However, the rain and mud were making things difficult for both sides as handling errors meant play was going back and forth. Aberdeen were penalised for an infringement in front of the posts and Danny Owenson duly stepped up and added a further 3 points to the Musselburgh score on 26 minutes, 0-8.
The remainder of the first half saw the forwards of both sides cancelling each other out with heavy carries as both sides strived to overcome the conditions, which were deteriorating as time went on, before Musselburgh’s winger, Sandy Watt thought he was in for the second ‘Burgh try on 36 minutes only to have stepped out just short of the line. Then just on half time Arthur went over, but Mr Pounder deemed the try had been held up and the score remained at Aberdeen Grammar 0 Musselburgh 8 at halftime.
Perrott kicked off the second half for Aberdeen, Hutson caught the ball and took it forward, before Arthur crashed through only to get injured in the process, necessitating his removal from the field of play. Musselburgh were in the hunt for a further score and took the game to Grammar via Cook, Rory Watt, Graham, replacement tighthead Bob Stott before the ball came back to Owenson who kicked for territory. Musselburgh won the wayward Aberdeen lineout and found themselves deep in the home 22. With Kennedy, Thomas Hamilton, Crain and Milton working hard to inch ever nearer to the try line. McMillan, out on the wing got in on the act before play moved back infield, where the visitors were awarded a penalty for Aberdeen being off-side at the breakdown. Owenson kicked for touch and the resultant line-out on the 5 meter, Aberdeen stole but lost the ball over the line. The visitors retained possession at the scrum, Hutson picked from the back, passed to Sandy Watt who crashed through before the ball was knocked on.
Then against the run of play, Aberdeen won the ball and winger Doug Russell ran the length of the park to score an unconverted try in the corner to close the gap on 52 minutes to 5-8.
The re-start was knocked on, giving ‘Burgh the scrum in the home 22. As the third quarter was drawing to a close, the ‘Burgh forwards were working hard to pin the home defence down, then the ball was turned over and Aberdeen were able to clear their lines. From the resultant line-out Kennedy and Owenson orchestrated the forward play, Fleming, Crain, Slaven and Stott showing up well as the battle raged. Aberdeen snaffled the ball and Greig Ryan, their No 8 had ‘Burgh scrambling to get back to defend before their attack was finally halted when McMillan bundled the advancing player into touch.
As there had been no let-up in the persistent downpour it was becoming increasingly more difficult to tell who was who, as the ground underfoot was becoming muddier and muddier. The conditions were not helping the ball handling as it became like a bar of soap.
Play was going back and forth between the sides before Aberdeen knocked on, from the scrum Kennedy passed back to Owenson who kicked for territory and again Grammar cleared their lines. Gregor’s throw was gathered by Fleming, then from the bottom of a ruck Kennedy passed to Stott who broke through a couple of tackles before going over in the corner on 63 minutes. Owenson adding the extras to stretch ‘Burgh’s lead to 5 – 15.
Aberdeen threw everything at the visitors as the final twenty was ticking down, but the ‘Burgh line held strong. Aberdeen went through the phases deep in the 22 before being bundled into touch. ‘Burgh won the line out and Kennedy was able to clear the visitor’s lines. There then followed a period or aerial “ping pong” before Slaven charged forward aided and abetted by Fleming, Crain and Hamilton. This gave ‘Burgh the confidence to go for their third try, with Stott, Fleming and Crain making the hard yards before the ball was lost and Aberdeen knocked on, giving ‘Burgh a scrum deep in the home 22 and Graham, Young and Gregor inched nearer to the line.
‘Burgh were awarded a penalty and Owenson kicked for touch as players from both sides were feeling the effects of the cold wet conditions. Then on the 78th minute ‘Burgh put the win in no doubt when Graham, from the back of a ruck scored, Owenson converting for 5 – 22.
For the remaining minutes of the game, ‘Burgh were camped on the Aberdeen line looking for their fourth and bonus point try, however Mr Pounder blew for no-side before they were able to achieve this, and the final score remained at ABERDEEN GRAMMAR 5 MUSSELBURGH 22.
This win takes ‘Burgh a step further away from the danger zone, but one more win would see the club remaining in this league next season.
Musselburgh’s next match is the rescheduled home game against Kelso, which will be played at Stoneyhill on Friday night at 7:30 allowing the players and support the freedom to watch the final 6 Nations games on Saturday, all of which can be seen in the clubhouse.