Nov. 19, 2017, 9:15 p.m.
Musselburgh V GHA
BT National League Cup Second Round
Saturday 18th November 2017
Match report by S Stott
With a high percentage of traffic on the roads heading towards BT Murrayfield, Musselburgh found themselves on a bus heading West to Braidholm, Giffnock for the second time this season to take on GHA in the second round of the BT National League Cup. The first round having been played way back in August when GHA beat Murrayfield Wanderers 33-12 and ‘Burgh beat Glasgow Accies 39–27. This encounter with GHA would be a tougher match than that in round one given the tight game we had against them on 23rd September when we were just pipped at the post in the last play when GHA scored to win 24-19. ‘Burgh were looking to reverse this, but with injuries and unavailability of key players it was always going to be a big ask.
To allow players and supporters time to watch Scotland take on the world leaders New Zealand at BT Murrayfield the kick-off had been brought forward to 1:30pm. Ross Findlay, the GHA stand-off got proceedings underway on a cold but bright afternoon. GHA dominated the early play with several darting runs into Musselburgh territory before they knocked on and Donald Kennedy had the put in at the scrum for the visitors. The ball found its way out to Cory Vela on the wing, but he took a big hit and GHA found themselves penalised. Iain Martin kicked for touch and Brad Graham collected the Ross Gregor throw for ‘Burgh on the GHA five metre line. ‘Burgh exerted the pressure and Donald Kennedy, under the posts put the first points on the board for the visitors, with Gareth Pritchard adding the extras for 0-7 and just 5 minutes on the clock. This lead was short lived as just 4 minutes later the GHA captain Michael Scott went over and Ross Findlay made it 7-7.
Musselburgh won the re-start but were then penalised for crossing and GHA kicked for touch, they won their line-out and the visitors were caught napping and found themselves having to scramble to defend, but GHA’s Scott managed to sneak over in the corner before Findlay converted the difficult kick for 14-7 and 13 mins played. GHA won the kick-off and kicked for territory, but Bob Stott charged down the kick and ‘Burgh had the ball, which passed through the hands of James Doig, Iain Martin, Obed Moffitt and Andrew Cook before it reached Cory Vela on the wing, unfortunately he’s bundled into touch just a few metres short.
GHA were again coming at the visitors but Musselburgh stole the ball at the breakdown and Fleming took it on, with Jonathan Crain in support as the forwards pressed on and were duly awarded a penalty for a GHA infringement. Martin kicked for touch, but ‘Burgh were pinged for obstruction at the line-out. Findlay kicked for touch, but Fleming, the line-out specialist, stole the GHA ball only for the pass to go loose allowing GHA to pounce on it and in the blink of an eye Andrew Spowart went over for GHA’s third try, which Findlay converted for 21-7.
‘Burgh won the ball via Vela who passed to Cook before the forwards of Graham, Fleming, Stott and Hutson made some ground, only for Gregor to be tackled into touch. Seitaro Usuda, the GHA hooker was penalised for a squint throw at the line-out and Musselburgh had the scrum in the opponents 22, again the homesters were penalised and Kennedy darted forward only for the ball to go loose and GHA stole. Fleming was then penalised for a high tackle, and Mr Sutherland had a word with both captains as the penalty count was rising. A few minutes later Musselburgh were awarded a further penalty and Pritchard kicked for touch but GHA stole the throw only for it to be spilt and Hutson gathered before Donald Grant, Hutson and Doig surged forward into the GHA danger area. The ball came out to Fleming who went over in the corner for an unconverted try and Musselburgh now seemed to have the bit between their teeth with Graeme McKinstrey, Gregor and Stott going forward, but the score remained GHA 21 Musselburgh 12 at half-time.
GHA caught the Musselburgh re-start and once again applied the pressure as Andrew Sprowat side steps the visiting defence to score under the post, making the conversion easy for Findlay and 28-12. There then followed a period of aerial “ping-pong” as both sides looked for the territorial advantage. Musselburgh took a quick throw-in when one of the GHA kicks went into touch. Doig making valuable yards before the ball was lost at the breakdown. Musselburgh found themselves on the backfoot and had to defend their line, only to go down to 14 when Pritchard was penalised for coming in from side at the ruck. Being a man down seemed to spur the visitors on and GHA found themselves scrambling to defend their lines. With some great linking between the “oldies”, Doig and Cook Musselburgh were within sight of the line. Cook taking the scoring pass to go over the white wash in the corner. Danny Owenson having just come onto the field taking the kick which unfortunately came off the post, 28-17.
‘Burgh then brought on some fresh legs to the pack when Craig Owenson, Cammy Pryde and Euan Milton replaced Donald Grant, Ross Gregor and Graeme McKinstry with Crain then moving from flanker to hooker. From a lineout Hutson sprinted up the field, but his pass to Pryde was deemed to be forward. From the resultant penalty GHA made ground with winger James Edgar sprinting for the line and an unconverted try and GHA extended their lead to 33 – 17.
The Glasgow outfit now had the bit firmly between their teeth and were again on the attack before Doig intercepted and play moved to the other end of the park as Milton, Fleming, Graham and Pryde all made yards. Pritchard returned to the frae after his spell in “the bin” and ‘Burgh were back up to full compliment. Loose play and mishandling of the ball on the part of ‘Burgh saw the GHA replacement Jack Preston dance over the line for their sixth try, which Findlay converted for 40-17 on the 64th minute.
Not only had the sky grown dark overhead, but things were also looking rather gloomy for the visitors at this point. However, Graham stole the ball and passed to Cook who was pounced on by four of the opposition players. He managed to get the ball away and Fleming, Stott, Pryde, Graham and Craig Owenson took ‘Burgh nearer the line before sending the ball out to Pritchard who broke through and scored under the posts, making the conversion easier for Owenson, 40-24.
Clement Tucoulet had come on for GHA and was causing the ‘Burgh defence problems with his darting runs deep in to Musselburgh territory ably supported by the ever present No8 David Corbenici who took the scoring pass to go in in the corner for an unconverted try and 45-24.
With full time ticking nearer both sides threw everything into the game as play swung back and forth. Bodies were beginning to tire as the big hits and the game tempo took their toll, opening gaps in the defence. Musselburgh were quick to take advantage of this and went on the attack and with the ball passing through the hands of both backs and forwards, Moffitt went in for Musselburgh, followed by a superb conversion from a difficult angle by Owenson, 45-31. The visitors were determined to close the gap as Craig Veitch sprinted up the line, only to be tackled into touch. Jamie McCarthy, ex-Musselburgh Grammar PE teacher gathered the ball at the line-out and sent GHA on the attack, they kicked for territory but ‘Burgh knocked on at the resultant line-out and as no-side got closer James Edgar scored under the posts for GHA’s eighth try which was duly converted by Findlay as Mr Sutherland blew up for the end of the game and a final score of GHA 52 Musselburgh 31 as ‘Burgh’s cup run came to an end.
‘Burgh never gave up and there was some great rugby played by both sides, GHA just had the edge which paid off in their favour.
Musselburgh now have a couple of weeks to rest the tired bodies before they travel into the Borders for the first of three Border encounters before the end of the year, to take on 5th place Gala at Netherdale on Saturday 2nd December.
15 James Doig 14 Obed Moffitt 13 Andrew Cook 12 Gareth Pritchard 11 Cory Vela 10 Iain Martin 9 Donald Kennedy
1 Donald Grant 2 Ross Gregor 3 Bob Stott 4 William Fleming (Cap) 5 Graeme McKinstry 6 Brad Graham 7 Jonathan Crain 8 Luke Hutson
16 Craig Owenson 17 Cammy Pryde 18 Euan Milton 19 Danny Owenson 20 Craig Veitch
Man of the Match - William Fleming
Photos from the game can be seen on the Flickr account link below.