1st XV - Report
Murrayfield recorded a dramatic away win at Musselburgh on Saturday, twice coming from behind to seal a well deserved 20-16 victory.
Musselburgh got the game underway with a kick off high in the afternoon sun, the ball taken securely by Adam Gillies which allowed Chris Beattie to kick for territory early on. The box kick from the base of the ruck failed to find touch however and was collected by Musselburgh full back, Lance Gahan, who trundled up the centre of the park sucking up defenders where he roamed. Some quick burst from the onrushing attack saw the ball spun wide where the man who started the move collect the ball on the touch line to cross for an early converted try 7-0.
Rather than further compound the poor warm up and the slow start, Murrayfield suddenly burst in to life and took their game to Musselburgh with the forwards crashing in to the defensive line and the backs running lines from the resultant quick ball. A penalty awarded on the half way line was dispatched into touch by Welshman, Liam Thomas where the line out was collected by Adam Gillies. The resultant maul was solid and when Johnny Lyons, with ball in hand, looked up to see no one at home in front of him, it was a simple 5 metre gallop to cross the whitewash. Chris Beattie missed with the extras 7-5.
The man in the middle was at risk of incurring repetative strain injury with his whistle seeing a lot of action during this fixture. With David O'Hagan on the pitch, a simple penalty at the breakdown was dispatched for 3 to increase the home lead to 10-5. From the restart, Murrayfield enjoyed some territorial advantage preventing Musselburgh from making any gains down the field. Another Musselburgh error at the breakdown allowed another kick at touch for a line out on the five metre line. This line out failed to work out as planned however Adam McFarlane plucked the ball from the air and with the support of Chris Hill and Johnny Lyons, bulldozed through the defence for a try to even up the scores at 10-10.
Half Time 10-10
The second half played out much like the latter stages of the first with good end to end rugby being played out in front of the passionate Musselburgh crowd. Musselburgh started to turn up the heat on their visitors and managed to camp in the Murrayfield half for a sustained period. The excellent work in defence though prevented any breaches and frustrated Musselburgh in their attack. This defence however came at a price and the ref's yellow card, already shown to Chris Hill in the first half, was dished out to captain Nick Hart after repeated warnings from the man in the middle. Two penalties during this period of pressure saw David O'Hagan extend the Musselburgh lead further to 16-10.
Moving in to the final quarter of the match with only 14 men on the field, Murrayfield knuckled down and played their own brand of rugby which saw them make regular forays in to the Musselburgh 22. Numerous chances however went begging, a penalty line out on the five metre line destined for Adam Gillies was snapped up by the Musselburgh 2nd rower allowing the home team to clear the danger. Pressure on David O'Hagan then forced an uncharacteristic knock-on which from the resulting scrum, Murrayfield were penalised for breaking the bind in the front row, again allowing Musselburgh to clear the danger. Both Murrayfield and Musselburgh were unlucky with a series of missed penalty kicks keeping the score board at 16-10. With Musselburgh on the attack and trying to move Murrayfield out of losing bonus point territory, replacement Jason Riley intercepted a wayward pass in the Musselburgh back line and raced for the try line. With Alex Cox running in support, the ball was shipped to Coxy where he avoided the attention of the Musselburgh 15 to cross for a converted try under the posts to retake the lead 16-17.
For those who travelled to Musselburgh this time last year for the first meeting between these two outfits, this was playing out a similar story where Murrayfield took the lead with only minutes to go, only to be undone by a long range penalty by the reliable boot of Musselburgh's David O'Hagan. Determined not to sink to a last minute defeat, Murrayfield hit back hard and took the ball out of their own half in to relative safety defending excellently and snuffed out any probing runs by the Musselburgh back three. With a turnover in the mid field, possession fell back into Murrayfield hands where the ball found Jason Riley who sliced through a gap barely 15 metres from the line. Bundled in to touch only metres from the line, Musselburgh kicked clear the danger only for the ball to fall in to the arms of Andy Baikie. The retiring forwards came on to the quick ball at pace and pounded their opponents gaining yards with every run. With merely seconds on the clock and 22 metres out, Musselburgh were penalised at the ruck which effectively ended the game. Chris Beattie added the extras to close out the game.
Full Time 16-20
MOTM - Chris Hill
An outstanding performance from Murrayfield on a day where a slow start gave way to fire in the belly and loads of grit in defence which only leaked one try, despite having only 14 men on the field for a quarter of the game.
As if one trip to Musselburgh wasn't enough, Murrayfield once again travel to Stoneyhill next Saturday to fight out Round 1 of the RBS Edinburgh Regional Cup. Once again, please make every effort to travel to Musselburgh to cheer on the Wandies.