Oct. 7, 2018, 7:56 p.m.
Tennant’s National League Division 1
Saturday 6th October 2018
Musselburgh v Hamilton
Report by Ian Donaldson
After their impressive result at Netherdale last week Musselburgh were keen to consolidate it by winning their next home match against Hamilton Bulls, a team who have shared many exciting high scoring matches in the past with them.
The weather was bright but cool and dry as stand-off McLeish kicked off for the visitors and in the early exchanges, it was evident that Hamilton had come with the intention of playing a handling game. ‘Burgh replied to the Bulls early attacking flurries by bulldozing over the visitor’s line after only 2 minutes for an unconverted try, Declan Slaven appearing to be the scorer for an early 5-0 lead.
Hamilton, despite falling behind continued to have the better of the early exchanges and their half-backs Crush and McLeish were feeding centres and wingers who were only to willing to throw the ball about and “have a go”! Wingers, Skilling and Plant were using their pace to stretch ‘Burgh as the tackle count for the hosts rose, but they could not hold out indefinitely and Hamilton deservedly scored the equalising try after 18 minutes when following a good handling movement up the left wing, flanker Gregor Brodie went over before McLeish converted to give the visitors a 5-7 lead.
As would be expected the score stung ‘Burgh into redoubling their efforts and the visiting pack infringed on 21 minutes in attempting to keep them out, but Danny Owenson was unlucky with the penalty attempt. ‘Burgh appeared to have taken control up front as Maltman, Arthur and Fleming punched holes in the visiting defence and after 27 minutes they duly got rewarded as following a famous “Stoneyhill” heave James Ferguson picked up the pieces to score from close range before a fine Owenson conversion gave ‘Burgh a 12-7 lead.
Musselburgh continued in their attempts to press home their forward dominance and squeezed another penalty out of Hamilton, but again Owenson was out of luck off the tee. Hamilton’s handling skills were often in evidence, particularly their backs and back row, but ‘Burgh’s forward dominance ensured that they were unable to use them in threatening positions and as the interval approached ‘Burgh increased their lead, as on 39 minutes, another “Stoneyhill” heave saw Colin Arthur score ‘Burgh’s third try before a terrific conversion from Owenson made the halftime score MUSSELBURGH 19 HAMILTON 7.
While ‘Burgh remained in control up front, they had to always be wary of “breakaways” and interceptions from the fast handling visiting backs which almost caught them out on a few occasions until ironically ‘Burgh turned the tables to score a long range interception try of their own when Gregor Tait ran fully 80 yards with the Hamilton defence in his slipstream to score ‘Burgh’s fourth and “bonus point” try after 50 minutes, another fine conversion by Owenson put ‘Burgh 26-7 up.
In the next few minutes play swung from end to end with some vigour and both sides had good looking scores disallowed. This was definitely a day for the home pack to excel, all of whom played well, but following his efforts at Netherdale last week, Colin Arthur added a “man of the match” performance today. Musselburgh’s matches this season have been hugely entertaining with tries flying in at both ends, but today they appeared to be less likely to concede and after 64 minutes they increased their lead. A fine close-range handling movement sent Cammy Pryde over for 'Burgh’s fifth try before Owenson added the “extras” for 33-7.
As the game reached it’s closing stages Hamilton, to their credit, despite being well behind on the scoreboard continued to throw the ball about and showed some fine handling, but with two minutes remaining a penalty from McGhie set the seal on a convincing home win of MUSSELBURGH 36 HAMILTON 7.
With only one try conceded today ‘Burgh fans wondered if this was the influence of new backs coach David Officer. We hope so and wish him all the best in his new job.
Next week ‘Burgh head through the West and what is always a tough fixture against Cartha Queens Park, in this league where there are no easy fixtures.