Musselburgh followed up last week's win over Preston Lodge in The Jardine Cup with a magnificent performance in a hugely entertaining game against Jedforest which produced no less than twelve tries before a bigger than usual attendance which was swelled by a fair travelling support and a hospitality reception for Craneware.
On a sunny,but bitterly cold afternoon,Danny Owenson kicked off in an easterly direction,but the ball was barely fielded before Jed made their early intentions clear,dominating the early possession,and forcing 'Burgh onto the defensive.
The visitors were winning most of the loose balls and retaining them,mainly due to the astute recycling of half-backs McGough and Munro, and winger Rory Marshall was stopped just short by some last ditch 'Burgh tackling.The visiting pack had started strongly and 'Burgh were always aware of the threat posed by Jed's backline,including the fast and elusive Young brothers,Lewis and Calum,but as the tackles flew in from the home side,there was an air of inevitability about the Jed attack,and eventually after 8 minutes the Borderers flanker Don Grieve accepted a pass and ran in from thirty yards,before centre Yourston converted for 0-7.
Then as if to add to 'Burgh's early problems,Rhuaridh Young was taken off injured and replaced by Freddie Roddick with only ten minutes on the clock,but then,only two minutes later, 'Burgh hit back,a slick handling move through several sets of hands putting Tom Foley in at the corner,before Danny Owenson excelled himself with a magnificent touchline conversion to level the score at 7-7 after 12 minutes.
The score appeared to revitalise the home side and on 17 minutes they went ahead when Freddie Roddick,used great speed of thought and deed to wriggle through the Jed defence when no gap appeared to be obvious,before Owenson again did the honours with the conversion to give 'Burgh a 14-7 lead.We had seemingly,unknown to all present at the time,entered a period of the game when it appeared to be 'raining tries',as two minutes after 'Burgh had taken the lead,another great handling move by Jed ,at pace sent winger Rory Marshall over before Yourston converted again to tie up the score at 14-14.
If 'Burgh had felt miffed by losing their lead, it did not however,take long for them to regain it,three minutes,to be precise,as following an extensive attack which included both forwards and backs wee Danny Owenson went over 'like a scalded cat' as the great Bill McLaren would have described it,before converting his own try to give 'Burgh a 21-14 lead after 22 minutes.These 22 minutes had not only produced 5 tries ,but numerous attacking opportunities for both sides,which resulted also in a great deal of last ditch tackling,and it was impossible to watch this period of the match without thinking that every time each side crossed the half way line,that they were going to score.I trust those who watched the game via the relay in the clubhouse enjoyed the game as well,but I must admit it's much better watching your team score tries when you're frozen to the marrow,because it helps warm you up !
The home pack began to pin the visitors back now,and Neil McNairn,Craig Owenson and Colin Arthur began to batter the 'hard yards' through and Willie Fleming and Paddy Brown picked up the line-outs as the back row scavenged for all they were worth.Several penalties were conceded by the visitors in this period and Danny Owenson punted to touch on each occasion in the hope that a trademark 'Stoneyhill' heave would result in what would be a 'bonus point' try,and all before half time too !
'Burgh eventually made their pressure tell on 35 minutes and after looking several times, the referee gave the try to Colin Arthur,before Danny Owenson was very unlucky with the conversion attempt which came back off the post.
The larger than usual crowd had enjoyed a great 40 minutes of rugby,in which 40 points were scored as well as 6 tries,especially noteworthy in a game so vital to both clubs league fortunes,little did we know that more of the same awaited.
MUSSELBURGH 26 JEDFOREST 14
The positive end to a strong opening half for 'Burgh,quickly carried on into the second half as they now appeared to really have the bit between their teeth.the pack causing all sorts of mayhem and Jed's much vaunted running backs unable to get their hands on the ball.As had happened towards the latter stages of the first half,Jed were giving away penalties ,but on these occasions now, Danny Owenson was employing the 'tap' penalty and making plenty of inroads,and on one of these occasions Owenson wriggled his way clear before the ball was worked out to James Ferguson who went over before Owenson added the conversion for 33-14 after 43 minutes.
'Burgh continued in the ascendancy and after 51 minutes the forwards did the honours again as several drives for the line,watched by a very observant referee,before he was eventually satisfied with the 'grounding' awarded a pushover try to Calum Champion .Danny Owenson again converted and 'Burgh led by 40-14.
The 'Musselburgh faithful' were delighted at the way the game was progressing and even a few of the grizzled old cynics were trying to hold back a smile or two !
Then three minutes later, on 54 minutes, 'Burgh scored their seventh try of the day,when Freddie Roddick again used his blistering pace to go over in the corner for his second try of the day after coming on as a replacement,the try was unconverted ,but 'Burgh now led 45-14 .
A few people were wondering when Musselburgh last scored SEVEN tries against a Border team in a league match, if ever !
The temptation may have been to assume that the game was won,but that sort of attitude rarely surfaces in rugby,and Jedforest are a proud club who were not going to capitulate easily,and they continued to throw the ball about in an attempt to get back into the game.Their reward for their persistence was a score in the corner by Full back Lewis Young after smart handling put him in for an unconverted try and 45-19 on 61 minutes.
Jedforest now began to see much more of the ball than before,and were beginning to pen 'Burgh back again.Lewis Young ,as he has been in the past against 'Burgh,was again a thorn in their flesh with his pacy,elusive breaks.After several attacks were repelled full-back Young scored his second try of the day which was almost a carbon copy of his first one,the sprint nto the corner again being unconverted on 75 minutes for 45-24. Despite the disparity on the scoreboard,Jed showed a remarkable competitive spirit in the closing stages and were even penalised by 20 yards for disputing the referee's decision,proving that the will to win was still apparent,even if the ref did not approve of the way it was shown !
Lewis Young's second try had been Jed's 'bonus point' try,and was fully deserved given their stubborn refusal to submit to a scoreline which looked like running away from them.
Jed continued in the ascendancy until the final whistle and scored their fifth try of the game when Gary Young,their No. 8 went over for a pushover try in the dying embers of a memorable game of rugby,centre Rob Yourston converted for a final score of
MUSSELBURGH 45 JEDFOREST 31
What a terrific game of rugby this was, twelve tries and lots of honest endeavour from both sides.Should any of those sides be relegated,it will certainly not be for the want of trying.