Sept. 30, 2018, 6:51 p.m.
Tennent’s National Division 1
Saturday 29th September 2018
Gala RFC v Musselburgh RFC
Musselburgh were on their travels again this week, with their second of four trips into Border country this season, to face Gala who, like Musselburgh were coming off the back of a loss last week, so both would be looking for the win, and most importantly a 5-point win! Last season saw Musselburgh come out slightly ahead after Danny Owenson won the game for ‘Burgh at Netherdale when he scored in last play for Gala 39 Musselburgh 41, then earlier this year the spoils were split after a 29-29 draw.
The sun was shining, but there was a stiff breeze when Musselburgh’s stand-off Danny Owenson got proceedings underway, for what would turn out to be a great game of rugby, with end to end play as both teams fought for supremacy. Like Musselburgh’s game against GHA last week the scoring was “tit-for-tat” as both teams cancelled each other out.
In the early stages Gala exerted the pressure on the visitors, forcing a couple of penalties which they were quick to exploit when Gala stand-off Dean Keddie kicked for touch, resulting in a home line-out deep in ‘Burgh’s 22. This resulted in the first points on the board when Daniel Nicholson scored an unconverted try and 5-0 on five minutes.
From the restart Musselburgh were right up in the mix and had the Gala players scrambling to defend as the visitors score was held up, but they were awarded a penalty which Danny Owenson duly scored to get the visitors on the board at 5-3. Both teams were battling in the forwards, with Colin Arthur, Neil McNairn, Conor Slaven, William Fleming and Michael Maltman especially prominent for ‘Burgh and Christie, Tod and Reavely for Gala. Musselburgh were then penalised at the breakdown and Keddie stepped up to split the posts and the scoreboard moved to 8-3.
As play “see sawed” back and forth it was ‘Burgh’s turn to add points to the board when William Fleming crashed through the home defence to go in in the corner, Danny Owenson kicking low to avoid the wind to add the extras and ‘Burgh take the lead at 8-10. However, this lead was short lived as the play was back up at the other end as Daniel Nicholson went over in the opposite corner for his second try for Gala, Dean Keddie adding the extras, with the help of the post for Gala to retain the lead at 15-10.
Now it was the visitors turn to press for advantage as Ross Gregor replaced Conor Slaven. Cameron Pryde and William Fleming were bursting through, ably assisted by Euan O’Brien and Declan Slaven, before the ball was passed out to the backs, in the shape of Craig Veitch, Gregor Tait, Ronan Stott and Rory Smith. The half backs of Danny Owenson and Kyle McGhie were working hard to link the Musselburgh play, before Cameron Pryde found a chink in the Gala defence to go over, Owenson converting and the lead went back to Musselburgh and 15-17.
As defence seemed to be optional for both sides, play swung back in Galas’ favour when Musselburgh infringed at the breakdown and Keddie kicked for touch. Fleming stole the line-out ball but Kyle McGhie’s clearance kick was charged down and Robbie Irvine scored the try, which Keddie converted to snatch the lead back, 22-17. Musselburgh were again penalised at the breakdown by Referee Ruaiidh Campbell in a kickable position, Dean Keddie adds the 3 points for 25-17.
The homsters were scrambling to keep ‘Burgh out and were penalised, as the Gala pack continued to be out-scrummed by the visitors. Owenson kicked for touch and from the resultant lineout, Gala were penalised for being off-side at the maul and Musselburgh capitalised as William Fleming went over for an unconverted try and a half time score of GALA 25 MUSSELBURGH 22.
With only 3 points separating the teams at half-time we knew we were going to be in for some more great rugby in the second half and it was any ones guess as to who would score first as Keddie got things underway and Michael Maltman gathered before running at Gala with props McNair and Arthur in support. Play was now regularly changing between the teams before Musselburgh were awarded a penalty at the breakdown. Owenson kicked for touch and Declan Slaven gathered before sending the Musselburgh maul on its way, Michael Maltman flopped down to score Musselburgh’s bonus point try, before Danny Owenson converted for ‘Burgh to take the lead back, 25-29.
As in the first half, we were just catching our breath when ‘Burgh found themselves defending their lines as Gala came back at the visitors, finding a gap that saw Dean Keddie sneak through for an unconverted try in the corner, 30-29. This game was certainly holding everyone’s attention as the lead changed hands once again.
‘Burgh once again put Gala under pressure but lost the ball in the breakdown before Gala knocked it on. Danny Owenson took the pass from the back of the scrum and burst through the Gala line before off-loading to Colin Arthur who made some hard-fought yards before passing to Michael Maltman who went over for his second try of the game, Danny Owenson made the conversion look easy as Musselburgh once more took control at 30-36.
The pattern of the game was now well established and no sooner had the scoreboard ticked over it was on the move again as Gala flanker Alan Emond added a further five points to the Gala score for an unconverted try, 35-36 and the visitors continued to hold a very tenuous lead. It was now Musselburgh’s turn to exert the pressure, which saw Gala scrambling to prevent another score, before James Ferguson, returning from injury burst through and Gala was penalised once more at the breakdown. Danny Owenson kicked for touch deep in the home 22, Fleming gathered and set the maul on the move, but the Gala defence held firm as the visiting forwards battled on through several phases, before Kyle McGhie passed out wide and Martin Cimprich went over the white wash and Danny Owenson added the extras for 35-43.
The “tweets” had just been sent for the previous score when Musselburgh’s James Ferguson went over for an unconverted try to extend the visitors lead to 35-48. Gala saw this game slipping away from them so redoubled their efforts and put the visiting side under some pressure as the clock rapidly ticked down. The pressure paid off as Musselburgh were penalised, which gave Gala the advantage allowing John Frew to close the gap once more, 40-48.
The penalty count was rising for both sides as ‘Burgh were penalised for a high tackle, Keddie kicked for touch and ‘Burgh spoiled at the resultant set piece, scrum half Kyle McGhie, working in tandem with Danny Owenson set the forwards lose, but play was stopped for an injury to Gala’s second row Chris Weir. Musselburgh had the scrum at the re-start, Gala were penalised, and a re-scrum was chosen. Gala were on the back foot and were penalised several times more before Declan Slaven was awarded the try, although there was some confusion with both sides supporters as it wasn’t clear if it was a penalty try or not, however Danny Owenson stepped up and converted to extend the lead to 40-55.
The large Musselburgh contingent that had travelled down for the game could sense the win, as the home support were becoming more vocal as they realised the outcome might not be in their favour. Michael Maltman made a break up the wing, offloading to William Fleming who had a clear run in, but was brought back for a pass that was deemed to be forward, thus taking the momentum away from the visitors. Gala took advantage of this and were coming back at Musselburgh before William Fleming stole the ball at the breakdown and Gala were penalised on the half way. Kyle McGhie stepped up to attempt the kick to much heckling of the home support, the kick falling just short.
As the clock went past 80 minutes ‘Burgh knocked on and Gala had the scrum but were again penalised. Danny Owenson attempted the kick to extend the lead, but it fell short and Gala gathered and charged at the visitors before fullback Ross Cooke goes in under the posts, making the conversion all the easier for Dean Keddie and a full-time score of GALA 47 MUSSELBURGH 55.
All supporters certainly got their monies worth with play swinging from end to end as the defence from both sides seemed to be posted missing at times. 15 tries, 9 conversions and 3 penalties, with a total of 105 points scored. The coaches certainly have some things to work on at training this week in preparation for the visit of Hamilton to Stoneyhill next Saturday.
Neil McNairn, Conor Slaven, Colin Arthur, William Fleming, Euan O’Brien, Cameron Pryde, Michael Maltman, Declan Slaven, Kyle McGhie, Danny Owenson, Gregor Tait, Craig Veitch, Rory Smith, Ronan Stott, Martin Cimprich
Ross Gregor, Donald Grant, Jonathan Crain, James Ferguson