Musselburgh,after garnering eight points from their last two league games against Edinburgh Accies and Glasgow Hawks,welcomed table topping Marr to Stoneyhill in a rescheduled fixture after a previous postponement,which promised to be a very difficult match given our visitors present league form.
'Burgh were again affected by injuries to key players and were hoping that the team spirit which served them so admirably would enable them to rise to the occasion against what may well be currently the best team in Scotland,outwith the professional ranks or the 'Super Six'.
Stand -off Colin Sturgeon got proceedings under way after a minute's silence in memory of Simon Curran,coach of 'Burgh's Minis.'Burgh took the early initiative winning plenty of ball and forcing the league leaders to defend their line with some desperation at times as Willie Fleming and Graeme McKinstry won plenty lineout ball and Danny Owenson and Paul Cunningham recycled and attempted to use the pace of Tait and Foley on the wings as much as possible.The visitors were forced to concede penalties and scrum half Owenson used his boot to find good position ,enabling the pack to drive on. Rory Watt and Gregor Tait were both held up when they threatened the Marr line and the home pack were in the ascendancy ,but were unable to put the necessary points on the board,as Marr were displaying just why they top the league,they are a difficult side to score against and for all that they have an impressive attacking armoury,it was their stubborn defence in the early stages that kept 'Burgh at bay.Their forwards tackled non-stop and their front row of Sweet,Rossi and Henderson really grafted and when they broke they had the astute Sturgeon at half back and the pacy Bickerstaff brothers behind the scrum.
Then,after seeing out the early 'Burgh siege,Marr found themselves threatening at the other end of the field,as several drives by their pack were rebuffed by the home ranks,before the pressure eventually told and hooker Ollie Rossi went over from close range,Sturgeon then added the conversion for 0-7 after twenty minutes,which seemed somewhat harsh on 'Burgh after such a bright start,but much worse was to follow only two minutes later when Scott Bickerstaff found a gap in the home defence to double the visitors lead,Sturgeon again converting for 0-14.
To be fourteen points down after 22 minutes after playing reasonably well,must have been galling to the 'Burgh players,but it must be said that Marr play the game with real pace and constantly look dangerous and likely to score.The 'Burgh pack continued to hammer on with Colin Arthur and Paddy Brown showing great hands as well as carrying the ball well and following a period of pressure Marr lock Josh Harvey was yellow carded for an infringement on 29 minutes,but again 'Burgh were unable to put points on the board.
And just as half time drew near,'Burgh were hit by a double whammy in first-half injury time as Marr hooker Ollie Rossi again went over from close range for an unconverted try and 'Burgh full-back Ferguson was yellow carded,leaving the score at the interval.
Musselburgh 0 Marr 19
In the first half Marr had ably demonstrated their clinical ability to take chances when they arrive,and despite having not played badly by any manner of means,'Burgh found themselves with a mountain to climb in the second half with a 19 point deficit against the league leaders.The visitors restarted as they had ended the first half,which was on the offensive against a 14 man 'Burgh and duly increased their lead on 43 minutes with another close range try as their forwards pushed flanker Mackenzie Pearce over for their fourth and 'bonus point' try,the conversion being missed,but 'Burgh were now 0-24 down
The depressing notion that 'Burgh could be 'nilled' or 'grannied ' may have begun to seep into the minds of some of 'Burgh's more fatalistic supporters,and it was to the hosts credit that they kept plugging away,Pryde,Outram and Brown never stopped tackling as did Luke Hutson when he came on,Fleming and Arthur carried well and Tait and Foley were always looking for that chink in the visitors defence.
Then at last,after 55 minutes a 'Burgh passing movement along the line eventually bore fruit as Tait's pass put Foley in at the corner before Danny Owenson produced the kick of the day with a peach of a conversion from out on the touchline to bring the score back to 7-24. Musselburgh were still having their share of possession despite the deficit on the scoreboard and the battle at the lineout was fierce between Fleming and McKinstry and Bulger and Harvey,but Marr appeared to execute their moves with greater accuracy and pace and as a result,'Burgh ,like many teams in this league this season,suffered. The visitors increased their lead in 61 minutes when a break from midfield by Conor Bickerstaff saw him straight through the middle of 'Burgh's defence and between the posts before Sturgeon converted for 7-31.
Although the game was well beyond them by this time'Burgh continued to take the game to Marr and forced another infringement from which Marr No.8 Grant was yellow carded as the home pack continued to drive on,but again the Ayrshiremen displayed their stubborn defence to keep 'Burgh out.
Then as if to put 'the tin lid' on it for 'Burgh the visitors concluded the scoring in 73 minutes with another close range forwards try,this time by replacement hooker Curran McMillan,the conversion being unsuccessful for a final score of
MUSSELBURGH 7 MARR 36.
The league season now heads into a temporary recess until 11th January when 'Burgh travel to The Granite City to take on Aberdeen Grammar.
But for those with rugby withdrawal symptoms over the festive period,'Burgh will entertain Preston Lodge at Stoneyhill on the 4th January 2020 in The Jardine Cup.