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MATCH REPORT : Musselburgh vs Glasgow Hawks

After last weeks spirited draw away to Edinburgh Accies with a side depleted by injuries,'Burgh again started without Michael Maltman and Willie Fleming up front and with Craig Owenson in the unaccustomed position of hooker on a bitterly cold afternoon.

The visitors stand-off Liam Brims got proceedings under way at 2.00pm in the only early kick-off in the Premiership this weekend.The early exchanges appeared to favour Hawks as they enjoyed plenty of possession and territory,no doubt anxious to redress the balance between the sides after having lost to 'Burgh twice already this season,but the home rearguard held firm early on despite the probings of Hawks half-backs Holborn and Brims.

The early storm weathered,'Burgh began to enjoy a little more of the play and after forcing themselves into an offensive position took an early lead after 9 minutes after Danny Owenson fed his back line and a fine swerving run by Rory Watt took him past the cover defence for the opening try,which Owenson converted for a 7-0 lead.

This had the effect of rousing the visitors to even greater efforts and they duly put 'Burgh under more pressure,with their lineout jumpers Kirkland and Jackson ensuring ball which caused the hosts to defend deep in their own half as a consequence as the pressure continued to build.The onslaught eventually told,and Lyall Archer went over under the posts after several drives for the line,before Brims converted for 7-7 after 15minutes.

The cold was definitely affecting the fingers of both sides and the visitors appeared to be having slightly more difficulty than 'Burgh as they dropped a few passes in unfortunate positions to put pressure on themselves,which is not to say that 'Burgh did not have handling difficulties also,but they tended to be in positions where they were not directly punished.The home pack began to assert themselves and after 23 minutes produced the best move of the match when,after the ball was won Craig Owenson hit the ball at pace at a terrific angle to go over before his 'wee brother' Danny added the conversion for a lead of 14-7.

'Burgh then had to suffer another injury blow as Colin Arthur limped off to be replaced by Euan Bonthron,as the game began to flow from end to end.The Hawks centres Oag and Harrison ran with great intent,being fed constantly by their half backs when the situations arose.'Burgh meanwhile,were looking to the pace and trickery of Gregor Tait and Rory Watt,ably backed by James Doig from full-back.Then after 31 minutes,in a move from one side of the park,through all the hands from one side to the other Hawks  winger Max Priestly went over in the corner,before a magnificent conversion from Brims brought the score back level again at 14-14.

The respective league positions of both sides gave an almost 'must win' quality to the outcome of the game and after 38 minutes 'Burgh 'took the points' from an Owenson penalty rather than go for the corner,preferring the three point cushion as the interval approached.Having gained a slender interval lead,'Burgh then lost a man when Jack Haynes was yellow carded for an infringement.

HALF TIME Musselburgh 17 Glasgow Hawks 14

Musselburgh started the second half with fourteen men,but with Willie Fleming on as a replacement from the bench,hopefully to stiffen up the lineout,which was given a hard time in the first half.The visitors started the seconf half well and both Gossman and Oag run well into 'Burgh's half and Brims was kicking well as his pack responded. From another good forward position after the restart Hawks were awarded a penalty after the referee deemed 'Burgh had been guilty of not releasing and after 48 minutes,Hawks like 'Burgh at the end of the first half,chose the goal kicking option,and Brims again brought the scores level again at 17-17.

It was proving to be the tight game everyone had anticipated prior to kick -off and that being the case many were displeased that the game then had to use uncontested scrums due to several injuries,I'm unable to recall anyone who approves of them,but I suppose,rules are rules !

The Glasgow side,no doubt heartened by drawing level on the scoreboard, continued  to up the ante and their pack were now playing as if they were in the ascendancy,which was worrying to the 'Stoneyhill Faithful' as many saw this as a game they must not lose,given both clubs league positions.

'Burgh's worst fears appeared to be confirmed as another penalty by Brims put the visitors ahead for the first time at 17-20 after 51 minutes.

It was now time for  'Burgh had to dredge up the spirit of last weeks fighting performance in Edinburgh,to claw themselves out of the hole and grab the much needed win.The pack pummelled the visitors line for what appeared to be ages with Brown,Fleming,Hutson and Craig Owenson all driving for the line and being rebuffed,Danny Owenson and Cunningham recycled endlessly,and eventually Willie Fleming went over from close range.The try scorer being unclear at first as no-one appeared to know on the bench who had scored,but BBC Red Button gave it to Willie Fleming !  There may have been a claim by last weeks late try scorer Paddy Brown,but I suppose you can work it out for yourselves lads ! Danny Owenson missed the conversion leaving a slender lead of 22-20 after 58minutes.

The remainder of the game involved 'Burgh going 'hell for leather' for what would be a precious bonus point try against a visiting side who were far too close for comfort,knowing that any kind of score could turn the game on it's head again.

There was a period which seemed to last forever in which 'Burgh were so close to the line that hands were being raised in anticipation of the award of a try repeatedly,the referee awarding penalties and more uncontested scrums in dangerous areas before 'Burgh at long last went over in 78 minutes for their fourth and 'bonus point' try which was as good as Santa coming early,with his gift of lifting Burgh off the foot of the table,as the men with silly jumpers whooped with glee ! Luke Hutson being the try scoring hero and Danny Owenson adding the conversion for a final score of


Next week sees 'Burgh play host to league leaders Marr,in what goes without saying will not be a gentle introduction to Christmas


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