n the absence of league fixtures this weekend, Musselburgh took the opportunity to play Preston Lodge, enabling them to renew old rivalries and friendships whilst competing for The Jardine Cup,kindly donated by Tom and Brian Jardine.
The match was preceeded by a minutes applause for the late Scott Glynn MBE , who himself was a former Preston Lodge player, before a career in after-dinner speaking and a huge amount of charity work,much of it in rugby clubs all over Scotland,took over.
Preston Lodge kicked off and took the early initiative, forcing 'Burgh back and sparked by their half-backs Gordon and Clark,they went through the phases as they got closer to the line,Burgh were forced to make more tackles than they would have liked this early in the game,and after several drives for the line were repelled the Pans men opened the scoring when prop Paul Dickson went over from close range,before full back Paul Glynn converted to leave 'Burgh trailing 0-7 after four minutes.
The 'local derby' nature of this fixture produced a larger attendance than usual and those of a 'Burgh persuasion may have thought that the early score would have spurred 'Burgh on to greater efforts,but the visitors continued in the ascendancy,with their pack,and in particular,Hillhouse,Gordon and Horne giving every bit as good as they got. Michael Maltman led 'Burgh's resistance with several trademark heavy carries into PL territory setting up ball for Danny Owenson and the returning Brian Walls at stand-off as 'Burgh tried to find a way to get their pace runners like Watt and Tait into the action. Then,after 14 minutes, a passing movement through the hands after some 'Burgh forward possession, put Rory Smith in to sprint over for 'Burgh's opening try,which was converted by Danny Owenson to level the score at 7-7.
The equalising try however, did not subdue the visitors ,who continued to play well,their forwards winning plenty of ball and Riley at centre in particular,causing all sorts of havoc in the 'Burgh defence.
Had more PL passes gone to hand in this period of play,'Burgh could well have conceded ,as wingers Steele and Ross often stretched the home defence and centres Riley and Robertson also ran to good effect,but the hosts weathered the storm and after 30 minutes, James Ferguson went over after some good close range passing with Owenson again converting for a 14-7 lead.
Play swung from end to end and Fleming and Haynes had their hands full in the lineouts with Chris Dickson and Pollard,but with 34 minutes gone,'Burgh increased their lead when speed of thought and deed put James Ferguson over for his second try of the day,which was unconverted,leaving the score at the interval
Musselburgh 19 Preston Lodge 7
The second half started as the first had ended with both sides contesting possession and territory,the visitors giving a very good account of themselves . 'Burgh had introduced Colin Arthur from the bench to add his ball carrying and experience up front,as they started to wear down the visiting pack.Preston Lodge for the first real time in the match,found themselves of the back foot for sustained periods as Arthur,Maltman and Hutson began to punch holes in the visiting defence.The visitors tackled well and Chris and Paul Dickson stopped several 'Burgh movements,before the pressure eventually told.The scorer of the try was fittingly Colin Arthur,scoring,for him,yet another pushover try in a fine season,before Danny Owenson converted for 26-7 after an hour.
The Musselburgh faithful,cheered no doubt by the New Year celebrations,quite reasonably thought it may have been all over five minutes later when Rory Watt went over for 'Burgh's fifth try,Owenson's conversion taking the score up to 33-7,but the visitors to their credit were not to be denied and centre Riley capped a fine personal performance with the last try of a very entertaining afternoon,before full back Glynn converted for a full time score of
MUSSELBURGH 33 PRESTON LODGE 14
The Jardine Cup was later presented to Musselburgh skipper Michael Maltman,by Tom and Brian Jardine as both sets of players enjoyed a few New Year beers together.
Next week sees 'Burgh back on league duty as The Granite City beckons and what will certainly be a very tough fixture away to Aberdeen Grammar.