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MATCH REPORT: Musselburgh vs Currie

And so,the final match of the season arrived with Musselburgh still having the opportunity to remain in the elite of Scottish rugby, but in order to gain the requisite points they could hardly have wished for a more difficult last league game against title chasing Currie Chieftains.The attendance was swelled by a busload of French supporters, over for the big match at Murrayfield,who made their presence felt by the flying of the Tricolor at various stages of the game and joyously enjoying themselves.'Burgh looked to be at full strength for a match of such importance and all concerned awaited the kick-off with baited breath.

Image: John Durham Photography

Danny Owenson kicked off with the wind and the early stages were somehat even as both sides attempted to settle into the game and master the wind,but the visitors were looking keen to run the ball at the earliest opportunity and the half-backs, the two Gregors, Christie and Hunter were usually to the fore offering quick service.The Chieftains back row of Ferguson,Scott and Nelson also made their presence felt with some thumping tackles and heavy carries,which is not to say the early stages were one way traffic,as 'Burgh also had their moments from the Owenson brothers and Michael Maltman,once again leading 'Burgh from the front,and the trickery of Roddick and Tait.These early exchanges produced plenty of open,fluid rugby and it was somewhat of a surprise that it took until 14 minutes before any points were scored.These points were scored by the visitors,when after a prolonged period of pressure on the 'Burgh line,and after drives and mauls galore Currie prop Reece Patterson forced himself over before Gregor Hunter converted to leave 'Burgh 0-7 in arrears.

'Burgh's recent matches against Selkirk and GHA have proved beyond all doubt that this is a group of players who never give up and are adept at coming back at opponents once they have gone behind and only three minutes after conceding the opening try,they were back on level terms.After a period of pressure and penalties conceded by Currie,we were treated to a signature piece of Danny Owenson cheek to take a tap penalty to himself and dive over for the try,before he put the icing on the cake by converting his own try for 7-7 after 17minutes.

Then after a further three minutes,'Burgh found themselves in the lead after scoring a superb try,James Ferguson made a great break in the middle of the park,slicing through the Currie rearguard,before exchanging passes with Freddie Roddick and releasing his stand -off to go over for 'Burgh's second try,before Owenson kicked a superb conversion giving the home side a 14-7 after 20minutes.After 14 minutes without points,the game had sparked to life with 21 points in 6 minutes as the spectators and our French guests whooped it up !

Musselburgh were now playing with a lot more confidence now,and the heavy defeat they suffered at Currie,s hands earlier in the season appeared to have been forgotten,as they were very unfortunate not to go further ahead on 25 minutes,when the ball was dislodged from James Ferguson's hands just short of the line,which was a pity,because 'Burgh had realised that against a team as good as Currie,they'd need as big a half-time lead as possible before the visitors had the wind advantage.The men from Edinburgh,on the other hand were desperate to draw level before the interval and produced an extended period of pressure on the home line.Gregor Hunter was placing some fine kicks for his pack to rumble on and his backs Hamilton,Hall and Southern were getting hands on the ball too.'Burgh however slipped back into the great tackling display they put on against Selkirk and tackled everything in sight,Maltman,Hutson and Brown,scavenging for possession,as the front row of Craig Owenson,Stott and Arthur aet up a blue wall on the home line as the rest of the pack tacled themselves to a standstill,but it still looked as though the visitors would score,but then after what seemed ages under the cosh Danny Owenson made a superb clearance kick which drew a huge roar of applause.

Then as they were energised by keeping Currie at bay,'Burgh increased their lead on the very stroke of half-time,when after several heavy rumbles by Fleming,Owenson and Maltman Paddy Brown went over before Owenson converted for a half-time score of MUSSELBURGH 21 CURRIE 7

The visitors returned to the pitch after the interval and appeared to take the early initiative  and after a scrum 'Burgh were penalised,but had an early let off as Hunter missed the relatively simple penalty attempt,but if anything that only made Currie more determined and soon Hunter had his backs moving again and McCaig,Southern and Sayers were all prominent and the flankers Ferguson and Scott continued to show menace and the hosts had to be at their best to hold them off.

Burgh themselves were using the tried and trusted method when playing into the wind namely 'stick it up the jumper' and hammer on ! Perfect tactics for Owenson,Stott and Arthur and Euan Bonthron when he came on .Musselburgh were valiantly trying to keep Currie out,and considering the visitors league position,they were making a very good job of it,but eventually after 57 minutes Currie centre Ryan Southern went over before Hunter converted for 21-14,but again 'Burgh bounced back and on a rare foray into their opponents half the pack forced a penalty as Currie were penalised and after 59 minutes Danny Owenson slotted the penalty for 24-14 .

The last quarter of the match was dominated by the visitors and in the main they were again rebuffed by tremendous 'Burgh defending,but after 65 minutes Fergus Scott the Currie flanker,who had played really well,went over before Hunter again converted for 24-21 after 65 minutes.

From then on it was real 'backs to the wall' stuff from Musselburgh as they strove to hang on to what would be a much needed and heroic victory as they were still in a three way dogfight with Glasgow Hawks and Edinburgh Accies to avoid the one dreaded relegation place on offer at the end of the season,and this being 'Burgh's last match any points would indeed be extra valuable.

Just as it was beginning to look like 'Burgh had weathered the storm and we crept into the 80th minute Fergus Scott forced himself over for his second try of the day and Currie's fourth and 'bonus point' try, to break local hearts,before Hunter converted for 24-28 as the final whistle blew.

This gave 'Burgh a losing bonus point giving them a total of 34 points for the season,and it remains to be seen if our fellow relegation strugglers can beat that as they have games in hand,but a very satisfactory season all told for 'Burgh culminating in our invite to the Melrose Sevens.

And after such a heavy season our President did his bit to cement The Auld Alliance with some superb singing with his French guests while while standing on a seat in the bar ! Phone calls are awaited by Simon Cowell from the Eurovision Song Contest !!!!   Well done Drew !

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