Musselburgh 24 GHA 57
Both sides approached this match at Stoneyhill determined to put the disappointment of last Saturday’s defeats behind them. There was an added belief amongst the home support that their heroes had been unlucky to lose at Braidholm earlier in the season. An initially overcast day began to brighten up as both sides went through their preparations on a soft pitch which had been recently rolled. This report was compiled from the grassy knoll which looks down on to the pitch. Both sides were running passing drills at a fast pace and these drills suggested that both sides intended to run the ball as much as possible. A cold cross wind could make passing difficult and demanded accurate passing.
GHA kicked off and the ball was gathered by the home side.Immediately Musselburgh ran the ball at their visitors, their forwards and backs working in harness to attempt to exploit any weakness in the GHA defence.Cameron Pryde, Luke Hutson and Colin Arthur were prominent in the early stages as they took the ball into contact for the home side. GHA gave away several penalties in quick succession as Musselburgh began to edge into the visitors ten metre area. The referee warned the visitors of a greater punishment if the GHA forwards did not adhere to contact rules in the loose. Danny Owenson kicked the penalties into touch as the home side moved into the GHA twenty metre area. The visitors were being forced on to the back foot and only sound tackling and several over eager attempted passes from the homes side prevented the Musselburgh side from scoring in these early stages. GHA managed to clear the danger up to half way. However the home side won the lineout and after frantic recycling of the ball looked to pass the ball through the backs to explore space on the visitors flank. Just as the home support rose to applaud what looked like a scoring opportunity, James Edgar intercepted a long pass and used his pace from half way to score under the posts to the consternation of the home side. Andrew Goudie converted to make the score after nine minutes : MUSSELBURGH 0 GHA 7.
This opportunist try allowed GHA to begin to settle into the match. THey had survived a difficult opening period. Musselburgh seemed momentarily to lose their focus and GHA seized the initiative to drive play deep into the home ten metre area. It was now the home side’s turn to attempt to stem a series of attacks from the visitors. Michael Scott hacked the ball through space to win a lineout just outside the home twenty metre line. Lovely combined work by Max MacFarlane and Andrew Goudie set the visiting forwards up to attack the centre of the home defence. In desperation the home side gave away a penalty to GHA on the five metre area. The visitors took the ball into contact and as the ball was recycled an excellent crisp pass from Jack Preston was taken by David Corbenici to score. Andrew Goudie missed narrowly with the conversion and the score after just over fifteen minutes was : MUSSELBURGH 0 GHA 12.
From the restart GHA gathered and Seitaro Usuda drove forward eagerly supported by messrs Brogan and Mavunga. There were intrusions by Cameron King and Andrew Goudie which made ground before the ball was lost and kicked into the GHA half. Ruairidih Young was the first to react to the bouncing ball inside the GHA half and cleverly caught the ball without breaking stride to crash over the line to score. Danny Owenson missed the conversion to make the score after twenty minutes: MUSSELBURGH 5 GHA 12.
GHA quickly repaired to their opponents half and in an excellent piece of guile messrs Goudie and Plumridge tore through the home defence to make huge ground. The upper body strength of Scott Plumridge allowed him to retain the ball despite the presence of several tacklers and he drove all the way to the try line to score. Andrew Goudie converted to make the score after twenty three minutes: MUSSELBURGH 5 GHA 19.
At the restart Ben Hibbard was able to run from his half to collect the ball and sprint for the line. Only desperate defence held the home side out. However a collective effort by the home side saw the forwards go over and score. Danny Owenson converted to make the score after twenty three minutes: MUSSELBURGH 12 GHA 19.
Both sides had now exploited a lack of concentration to score points. Musselburgh were clearly lifted by their score and they tried hard to find a way through the visiting defence. Colin Arthur repeatedly used his power to make inroads into GHA territory.As we approached the half hour GHA were penalised for a high tackle just outside the twenty metre area. From the resulting catch and drive at the lineout the ball was speedily moved to Donald Kennedy who shipped a fine crisp pass into the path of Brad Graham who went through the visiting defence to score under the posts to the delight of the home support. With the conversion the score was now at thirty minutes: MUSSELBURGH 19 GHA 19.
GHA took the match straight back to Musselburgh and a marvellous linked passing movement between messrs Goudie, King and Angus took play deep into the home half who were caught flat footed by the speed of the passing interchange. This allowed Dario Ewing who was up in support to crash over the line to cheering from the visiting support. With Andrew Goudie converting the score in the thirty second minute was: MUSSELBURGH 19 GHA 26 .
GHA sensed that the home side were stunned by events and immediately drove back into the attack with forwards and backs supporting each other as they cut swathes through the home defence.An excellent break by James Edgar was just halted at the home side five metre line. GHA were awarded a penalty for twisting in the scrum and a quickly taken penalty by Jack Preston saw Cameron King flip the ball on to Ben Addison who went over to score. The conversion was missed and the score at thirty four minutes was MUSSELBURGH 19 GHA 31.
As we moved towards the interval the visiting side growing in confidence found themselves camped deep in the Musselburgh half. The half time whistle blew with GHA pressing on the home side’s try line. It had been a curious first half. Musselburgh had started brightly but failed to put points on the board. GHA had struck quickly and had grown in confidence in the half. Yet both sides had demonstrated an unfortunate tendency to lose concentration which had been duly punished.
The home side began the second half as they had begun the first using a combination of driving mauls and quick recycled ball to release an eager back line. However there was a tendency to force the pass by the home side which led to several knock ons and the loss of momentum. Both sides attempted to throw the ball wide but the respective defences in the first five minutes of the half negated any progress with the result that play tended to swing across the half way line with little penetration. As we moved towards the tenth minute, GHA began to put together some composed moves forcing the home side back into their twenty metre line. The visitors were managing to hem the home side in their twenty metre area. Michael Fox made some yardage with a determined drive and the ball was released to James Edgar who weaved his way through the faltering home defence to score. The try was converted and the score after eleven minutes was : MUSSELBURGH 19 GHA 38.
Musselburgh attempted to regroup from the restart but a pass went astray and Seitaro Usuda was on it in a flash, beating the home defence to the touch down under the posts to the acclaim of his team mates. The try was converted. Thus after fifteen minutes the score was: MUSSELBURGH 19 GHA 45.
Despite this set back Musselburgh continued to look for ways to reduce the deficit. They forced play back to the GHA five metre line and desperate but coordinated defence by GHA held the ball up over the line. However Musselburgh reworked the ball and Danny Owenson exploited a gap to go over to score. The conversion was narrowly missed and the score after twenty minutes of the half was: MUSSELBURGH 24 GHA 45.
GHA came back strongly at the home side and began to put together some accurate and penetrating passing movements. Clement Tucoulet and his colleagues were beginning to exploit gaps in the home defence and made a lot of yardage. Scott Plumridge used his upper body strength to drive through the loose area and Ben Addison managed to rip the ball out of the hands of a home player who had intercepted a pass and go over and score. Andy Goudie added the conversion to make the score after twenty five minutes MUSSELBURGH 24 GHA 52.
The next ten minutes saw both sides attempt to move the ball with the visiting side having the greater accuracy of pass, superior alignment and the ability to penetrate behind the home side.Just on the half hour a clever kick over the heads of the opposition by Andrew Goudie was very well taken by Grant Mollinson who scampered for the line and was unfortunate to see the ball go forward in a tackle. As we reached the end of the half the back division of GHA orchestrated an excellent move which saw Clement Tucoulet expertly set up Grant Mollinson who went over to score. This was the final score of the match. The conversion failed and the final score was: MUSSELBURGH 24 GHA 57.
It had been an entertaining match with sides fully committed to the task in hand. The visitors put together some excellent phases of play and showed an ability to take opportunities. Both sides will also reflect on the curious moments of lost concentration which gave away points.
MUSSELBURGH: R.YOUNG, B. HIBBERD, A. COOK, R. WATT, J. DOIG, D. OWENSON, D. KENNEDY, C. OWENSON, R. GREGOR, C. ARTHUR, W. FLEMING, G. McKINSTRY, C. PRYDE B. GRAHAM, L. HUTSON – REPLACEMENTS: B. STOTT, C. SLAVEN, M. FLEMING, G. PRITCHARD, R. SMITH
SCORERS: T – GRAHAM, D. OWENSON, YOUNG, TBC C – D. OWENDON (2)
GHA: C. KING, J. EDGAR, C. TUCOULET, M. MACFARLANE, B. ADDISON, A. GOUDIE, j. PRESTON, T. BROGAN, S. USUDA, M. SCOTT, D. CORBENICI L. MAVUNGA, S. PLUMRIDGE, D. EWING R. ANGUS – REPLACEMENTS: M. FOX, M. RYAN, A. GILLMAN, G. MOLLINSON, C. BINNIE
SCORERS: T – ADDISON (2), EDGAR (2), CORBENICI, EWING, MOLLISON, PLUMRDIGE, USUDA C – GOUDIE (6)
REFEREE: MR G POUNDER
ASSISTANT REFEREES: MR G MARSHALL & MR J HAWRYLUK-BEATON
Photo Credit: Shona Stott