After Musselburgh’s highly entertaining 32-38 home loss to Aberdeen Grammar, they found themselves on the road again, to play at one of the most picturesque grounds in Scottish rugby, namely Riverside Park, the home of Jedforest, a club also rightly renowned for its skilful back play and sevens prowess. That being the case we all looked forward to another entertaining match after enjoying the hosts hospitality pre-match.
The sun was shining on a very pleasant afternoon as ‘Burgh kicked off, but their immediate possession was turned over as Jed displayed their handling ability which is something of a club trademark, ‘Burgh on the back foot and being turned and attacked at pace. The opening score came after only 5 minutes, when scrum half Munro released his backs for full-back Lewis Young to go over before centre Yourston converted for 7-0.
On the restart the hosts continued to press, and ‘Burgh being penalised at the ruck, gave Yourston the opportunity to stretch Jed’s lead, which he duly did with a penalty on 10 minutes for 10-0.
The early lead had obviously given the hosts a confidence boost, which was duly converted into points a mere two minutes later on 12 minutes, following a period of pressure when Jed stand-off Mitchell went over from close range, before Yourstoun converted for 17-0.
The early points on the board had left ‘Burgh somewhat shell-shocked, but they then strung together a couple of good handling moves, before we had the curious situation of the referee ‘yellow carding’ Jed scrum-half Gary Munro for deliberately throwing the ball into touch in his in goal area as Gregor Tait approached. The home team, now a man short, had to defend for the first time in the match virtually, as ‘Burgh at last drove forward in numbers. They squeezed penalty after penalty from the home pack, all deep inside the Jed 22, so much so, that there were calls from those of a Stoneyhill persuasion for a penalty try, but none materialised, and then, just as it seemed that a chance had been lost, Luke Hutson eventually opened ‘Burgh’s account on 21 minutes from close range for an unconverted try and 17-5. ‘Burgh appeared to be growing in to the game and seeing more of the ball, particularly after such a devastating opening 15 minutes. They were again being given a stern test by a Premiership pack, but Owenson and Cunningham worked hard to make a little go a long way, and wingers Tait and Sandy Watt were both willing runners as they were last week. The props Bob Stott and Colin Arthur both held their own in the set-piece and Fleming, Haynes and McKinstry competed well in the line-outs, but as has happened a few times this season, the crucial breaks, in terms of scores, were not forthcoming.
Jed had weathered ‘Burgh’s attacking possession, then cruelly punished the visitors, with another close range try, this time by scrum -half Munro,who had just risen from the ‘bin’ as if to add insult to ‘Burgh’s injury, the try being unconverted but nonetheless moving the scoreboard on to 22-5 after 29 minutes.
‘Burgh then had another sustained period of pressure, penning the home side for long periods in their own 22. Charges by Arthur,Stott,Fleming and others all coming up agonisingly short, while Owenson and Cunningham kept the phases going, but sadly and most frustratingly, it was all to no avail as again the Jed line held firm.
Then with 38 minutes gone, and after having relieved the pressure, Jed twisted the knife in ‘Burgh with a fine handling move which saw Calum Young go in for the fourth and ‘bonus point’ try before Yourston converted for a half time score of
JEDFOREST 29 MUSSELBURGH 5
Musselburgh had been given a lesson in the first half in how to take your chances when in possession. ‘Burgh’s five first half points was a paltry reward for the possession they had. The second half started a little more brightly for ‘Burgh as on 50 minutes, a period of attacking pressure was concluded with Danny Owenson darting over from close range before converting his own try for 29-12.Musselburgh continued to mix it up front with the home pack, but Jed, as usual, always looked dangerous with ball in hand and on 59 minutes another slick handling move put Mitchell over for his second try of the day, which Yourston converted for 36-12.
Despite the 24-point margin on the scoreboard after an hour, ‘Burgh spent the remaining 20 minutes hammering away at the hosts defence, huge swathes of possession and territory was yielding very little, until Calum Champion went over with 76 minutes played, Cunningham converted for 36-19,leaving ‘Burgh to make a huge effort in the closing stages for a possible ‘bonus point’ try of their own. As before, ‘Burgh threw everything bar the kitchen sink at Jed, but unfortunately the bonus point try was not forthcoming, but it was not for the want of effort !
Full Time JEDFOREST 36 MUSSELBURGH 19
‘Burgh’s second XV exacted some sort of revenge by defeating Jed 66-10,so the bus journey home was not without some joy !
Saturday sees ‘Burgh return to the Borders to take on Selkirk, in what is sure to be yet another difficult fixture.