GHA 52 Musselburgh 31
Braidholm was a hive of activity on Saturday as club members prepared for the visit of the Musselburgh club and prepared the clubhouse for the later showing of the All Blacks International. Craig Faulds provided some superb ingenuity to enlarge the size of the screen. The previous meeting at Braidholm between these two sides had been a close run affair and the home side were well aware that they would have to be at their best to overcome the East coast side. A beautiful autumnal day greeted the players with a chill factor that suggested handling could be difficult. Despite the vagaries of the weather the senior pitch remains in very good condition and whilst soft underfoot it would hold a stud. Both sides prepared thoroughly in the autumnal sun and as kick off time approached the setting sun was at an angle to cause difficulties for all the players.
GHA kicked off and immediately David Corbenici gathered the ball and drove towards the Musselburgh midfield defence. From a scrum there were forward thrusts by messrs Corbenici and Ross Angus a further supportive drive by Jamie Mccarthy came to nought as the ball was knocked on. In these early minutes GHA were intent on looking to expose any weakness in the visiting defence and play spread back and forth across the pitch with repeated incursions by the home side being stopped by effective tackling from the visitors.After five minutes Musselburgh, in their first venture into the GHA half moved the ball through hands. Following a penalty award ,Iain Martin put the ball into touch on the GHA twenty two metre line.Musselburgh won the lineout and another penalty which was quickly taken by the alert Donald Kennedy who caught the home defence flat footed and went over to score. Gareth Pritchard converted and the score after six minutes was GHA 0 MUSSELBURGH 7.
The home side seemed stung into an instant response and from the restart put pressure on the visitors by catching and driving the ball.Max MacFarlane made a huge break which took him into the Musselburgh twenty two metre line before being stopped. Further incursions from messrs Usuda,McCarthy and David Corbenici took the ball almost to the visiting team’s try line. In the resulting maul MIchael Scott burst over the line to score. Ross Findlay from a tight angle made an excellent conversion and the score after ten minutes was: GHA 7 MUSSELBURGH 7.
Unperturbed by this set back the visitors attacked from the restart and slick handling forced the home side back on to defence inside their own half. However a penalty awarded to GHA for crossing was sent down to the visiting twenty two metre line by Ross Findlay and established a good attacking position for the home side. In a concentrated forward attack once again David Corbenici with Michael Scott offering great support saw Michael go over in the corner to score. Ross Findlay with a superb kick which went in off the post converted to make the score after fifteen minutes: GHA 14 MUSSELBURGH 7.
GHA had clearly recovered their poise and were establishing some control of the proceedings.However Musselburgh were determined to question GHA control and a superb break by Cory Vella was just stopped by an all consuming tackle from James Edgar. Musselburgh with slick hands and good forward momentum tried to find a way through the home defence and it took big tackles to prevent Graeme McKinstry and William Fleming reducing the deficit. In the twentieth minute the home side were awarded a penalty for a lineout infringement and a good touch clearance allowed GHA to move up to their ten metre line. Musselburgh stole the line out ball and began to move the ball wide. An over anxious pass was fumbled and in an instant Andrew Spowart hacked the ball forward and outpacing every player on the pitch controlled the ball over the line to score to a great reception from the home support. Ross Findlay yet again from a difficult angle converted to make the score after twenty two minutes:GHA 21 MUSSELBURGH 7.
Despite this setback, Musselburgh gathered themselves and took the match straight back to the home side. With a mixture of short crisp passing between half backs and forwards, recycling as they went, the visitors were making progress into the GHA half. As we moved towards the half hour mark, Musselburgh began to have some success disrupting the home side’s line out ball.. Their momentum was checked however when after a turn over in midfield, the visitors were penalised for a high tackle and Max MacFarlane took play up to the visitors ten metre line.Several promising moves by both sides came to naught as passes fell to ground or were knocked on. This tended to create a stop start effect for several minutes as we moved towards half time. The visitors visibly upped their efforts as they fought to reduce the lee way before the interval. Musselburgh were rewarded for their endeavour when William Fleming finished off a fine move by forwards and backs to score in the corner. The conversion just missed and the score after thirty seven minutes was: GHA 21 MUSSELBURGH 12.
This was the score at half time in what had been a hectic first half. Both sides had produced flashes of good rugby but neither side had managed to establish dominance in a hard fought encounter.
The second half began as the drop in temperature became more marked. From an early scrum, Andrew Spowart spotted a gap and superbly weaved his way through despairing tackles to score under the posts. Ross Findlay converted and the score after five minutes of the half was: GHA 28 MUSSELBURGH 12.
The visitors showed considerable resilience and took the game back to the home side. Gareth Pritchard was given a yellow card just as Musselburgh moved into a good attacking position in the GHA half.For the next few minutes play became scrappy as both sides exchanged kicks and a number of spilled passes. However Musselburgh in the twelth minute retained possession and with Bob Stott and Graeme McKinstray ably supported by William Fleming making yardage deep inside GHA territory the ball was quickly released by Donald Kennedy who fed Andrew Cook who went over in the corner. The conversion was narrowly missed and the score was now: GHA 28 MUSSELBURGH 17.
Both sides began to make changes and in the fifteenth minute a beautifully weighted kick from half way into the path of the onrushing Jack Preston allowed him to gather and totally wrongfoot the visiting defence before good support play allowed James Edgar to go over to score in the corner. The conversion failed and the score was now: GHA 33 MUSSELBURGH 17.
GHA began to run at Musselburgh from all over the pitch, the home forwards causing the visitors constant difficulties by taking the ball in in ones and twos before recycling the ball to allow George Baird to move the ball swiftly to the backs. In one such incident George Baird took a quick penalty after good work in the loose from the forwards and took play up to half way. The ball was passed out to Clément Tucoulet who put in a crafted angular lob towards Jack Preston. Jack gathered the ball, rounded the startled defence and scored. The try was converted and the score after twenty five minutes was: GHA 40 MUSSELBURGH 17.
Once again Musselburgh showed their mettle by coming straight back at the home side driving the ball deep into home territory. A superb break by Gareth Pritchard allowed him to ghost through the home defence to score. The conversion was added and the score was now after twenty eight minutes: GHA 40 MUSSELBURGH 24.
The game was now opening up and an incisive break through visiting ranks by Clément Tucoulet was finished off by the ever present David Corbenici . The conversion failed and the score was now: GHA 45 MUSSELBURGH 24.
Play swung from end to end as both sides ran the ball at every opportunity. Both teams had put in a lot of tackles and the inevitable tiredness began to open gaps to be exploited. Messrs Cook and Pritchard continued to lead the assault on the home line and after several minutes of pressure Obed Moffit scored in the corner. An outstanding conversion made the score after thirty five minutes: GHA 45 MUSSELBURGH 31.
With time running out GHA made one more determined foray into the visitors half and the home forwards forced the visitors on to the back foot inside their half. The ball was swiftly released and an excellent break by Michael Hughes allowed him to draw in the defender before releasing James Edgar to score between the posts. With they try converted the final score was GHA 52 MUSSELBURGH 31.
Both sides left the field to deserved acclaim for producing some good rugby, great inventiveness and a determination to refuse to capitulate.
GHA: G. MOLLINSON, J. EDGAR, M. HUGHES, M. MACFARLANE, A. SPOWART, R. FINDLAY, G. BAIRD, T. BROGAN, S. USUDA, M. SCOTT, A. BARNETT, J. MCCARTY, A. KERR, R. ANGUS, D. CORBENICI – REPLACEMENTS: S. CARSON, M. FOX, D. EWING, J. PRESTON, C. TUCOULET
SCORERS: T – EDGAR (2), SCOTT (2), SPOWART (2), CORBENICI, PRESTON C – FINDLAY (6)
MUSSELBURGH: J. DOIG, O. MOFFIT, A. COOK, G. PRITCHARD, C. VELLA, I. MARTIN, D. KENNEDY, D. GRANT, R. GREGOR, B. STOTT, W. FLEMING, G. MCKINSTRY, B. GRAHAM, J. CRAIN, L. HUTSON – REPLACEMENTS: C. OWENSON, C. PRYDE, E. MILTON, D. OWENSON, C. VEITCH
SCORERS: T – KENNEDY (2), FLEMING, MOFFIT, PRITCHARD C – PRITCHARD (3)
REFEREE: MR D SUTHERLAND
ASSISTANT REFEREES: MR T FRENCH & Mr D McKERVAIL