2016/2017: National League One



G. Mollison15L. Clark
J. Edgar14R. Watt
B. Addison13B. Hibberd
R. Findlay12A. Cook
A. Spowart11S. Watt
A. Goudie10D. Owenson
P. Jericevich9D. Ritchie
T. Brogan1C. Slaven
G. Campbell2R. Gregor
S. Fisher3J. Walker
J. Auld4E. O’Brien
A. Barnett5B. Graham
S. Plumridge6G. Bowman
M. Ryan7M. Fleming
R. Angus8L. Hutson
M. Scott16C. Owenson
A. Cornwell17J. Crane
P. Harkins18E. Milton
A. Gillman19C. Livingstone
N. Kelly20I. Martin
Spowart (3), Angus (2), Auld, Goudie, Ryan, ScottTryFleming, Hutson
Goudie (2), Jericevich (2)ConD. Owenson (2)
PenD. Owenson
Mr L. Fish


Conditions were good for this pre-Christmas encounter. It was a dry day with a slight cross wind which grew colder as the day progressed. Braidholm was extremely busy with a special lunch and the very welcome presence of the excellent SRU Youtube cameras to televise the match.

A large expectant crowd began to gather as both sides went through their preparations. Interestingly both sides compartmentalised early drills before uniting forwards and backs to complete final preparations. Physically both sides appeared well matched.Just five points separated the sides before the match and the focussed countenances of the players reflected the importance of this match.

A very young group of players from the GHA Junior section despite being dwarfed by club flags welcomed both sets of players to the arena. Musselburgh kicked off and immediately gave the initiative to the home side by failing to reach the ten metre line which resulted in a scrum on half way.This would provide an early examination of the durability of recent improvement in the set piece for the home side. GHA were rock solid and the ball was moved quickly. A kick through was hurriedly cleared by L Clark. GHA moved the ball forward into contact before recycling to allow Andy Spowart to go over after only two minutes. The conversion was narrowly missed and the score was: GHA 5 MUSSELBURGH 0.

The visitors gave the ball away to the home side who broke with menace through the Musselburgh defence. A kick through was cleverly collected by Andrew Spowart who went over to score. After four minutes with Peter Jericevich converting the score was: GHA 12 MUSSELBURGH 0.

The visitors were struggling to cope with the coordinated onslaught from the home side. Messrs Jericevich and Goudie involved forwards and backs in a blistering array of mismoves and quick recycled ball. Despite this Musselburgh drove into the home half and after seven minutes Owenson converted a penalty to make the score GHA 12 MUSSELBURGH 3.

The home side seemed to shrug this setback aside and took the game to the visitors. Several penalties were awarded to GHA as the visitors struggled to stem the attacks from the home side. From one of these quickly taken penalties Mike Ryan scored to make the score after seven minutes: GHA 17 MUSSELBURGH 3.

The conversion was missed as GHA continued to pressurise the visitors who were having difficulty getting out of their own half. The home side were playing with confidence and pace which was greatly appreciated by the large crowd. After eighteen minutes a howitzer kick by Peter Jericevich drove the visitors back to their own five metre line. Such was the pressure exerted on Musselburgh that their back line knocked the ball on. From the scrum the visitors were caught offside and GHA elected to go for the scrum and drove the hapless visitors over the line to allow Ross Angus to score. Peter Jericevich converted to make the score as we reached the twentieth minute of the first half: GHA 24 MUsselburgh 3.

Musselburgh, to their credit refused to buckle and came back strongly at the home side. B Hibberd made a number of breaks which took several tackles to stop. The visitors forced the home side to give away several penalties which Musselburgh elected to run. In a lovely move M Fleming scored to bring some hope to the visitors. After twenty six minutes as Owenson converted the try the score was: GHA 24 MUSSELBURGH 10.

A very long restart kick by Peter Jericevich took Musselburgh by surprise and took the home side up to the five metre line as the visitors knocked the ball forward whilst attempting to field the kick. Momentarily at least it seemed Musselburgh had lost direction and from a quick heel at the scrum Ross Angus went over to score. Whilst the conversion was missed the score after half an hour was : GHA 29 MUSSELBURGH 10.

As we headed towards the interval there was a concerted effort by the visitors to break back into this match. An effort that was matched by the determination of GHA personified by breaks from Ross Angus,Peter Jericevich and Grant Mollison to maintain control of the match. Musselburgh were having to cope with sniping by Peter Jericevich, and breaks and feints by Andrew Goudie supported by forwards and backs interchanging at pace. Andrew Spowart who caused panic in visitor ranks when in possession flew down the wing and despite despairing efforts to haul him down scored in the corner to huge cheers from the home crowd. The conversion attempt failed and the score was now: GHA 34 MUSSELBURGH 10. This was the half time score.

The first half had been an explosive display in loose and set piece by the home forwards who gave quality ball to a talented back line then quickly regrouped amongst their colleagues to ask questions about the solidity of the Musselburgh defence.This first half demonstrated the growing belief and ability of a young First fifteen who have come through a number of testing matches and have not been found wanting. The crucial building blocks of a solid scrum and effective line out had clearly sapped a great deal of confidence from the visitors. Musselburgh restarted and immediately showed that they were not going to disintegrate however difficult the risk may be. To that end the visitors aligned their backs in a very steep formation which suggested they would run the ball at every opportunity.In the early moments of the half an incisive break by James Edgar was just stopped at the five metre line. The electric breaks from messrs Spowart and Edgar troubled the visitors throughout the match. A number of stoppages forced a myriad of changes. After ten minutes of the half play became somewhat disjointed by knock ons and forward passes which was perhaps an indication of the pressure being felt by the players. GHA on the fourteenth minute mark had, with a combination of take and recycle worked their way deep into the Musselburgh half. Super combination work at the lineout by Gordon Campbell and jamie Auld set the home side up for a catch and drive and from a break off by forwards Michael Scott went over to score and with Andrew Goudie converting, the score was now: GHA 41 MUSSELBURGH 10.

Further injuries saw the home side reorganise their back line with Andrew Gilman entering the fray at scrum half. His speed off the front foot and clever link play with Peter Jericevich now occupying the stand off berth added to the worries of the visitors. However Musselburgh refused to capitulate and continued to try and drive GHA in the loose and set piece but failed to do so. In fact it clearly depressed the visitors that the home side were winning a number of key turn overs where superior technique overcame physical strength. Musselburgh doggedly attacked yet from spilled ball well inside the home half James Edgar ran the length of the pitch deftly avoiding despairing tackles to release Andrew Goudie as the winger was finally tackled to score to a huge appreciative cheer from the home crowd. Despite narrowly missing his own conversion, the score now stood at: GHA 46 MUSSELBURGH 10.

Despite the situation Musselburgh continued to try to play attacking rugby and came straight back at the home side. This attitude was exemplified by S Watt and J Walker who continually threw themselves at the GHA defence. As we entered the last few minutes of the match MUsselburgh who had enjoyed their best period in the match from the half hour scored a deserved try through forward pressure and the try was converted. With little time left the score was : GHA 46 MUSSELBURGH 17.

With the crowd checking watches the home side drove deep into the visitors half on the restart and after a series of drives and recycles Jamie Auld went over and Andrew Goudie converted to make the final score: GHA 53 MUSSELBURGH 17.

This was an outstanding performance by GHA. They have continued to work hard and improve and are developing into a very capable squad. The strength and depth of the squad is greatly enhanced by an excellent second fifteen which suggests that the two senior sides at GHA are entering the New Year with justified optimism. I have no doubt all the players would enjoy their night out on Saturday. A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

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