Wednesday 10 January 2018

Match Report NL1 14: Accies v Musselburgh


After a break of five weeks it was back to League duty on Saturday, with the return fixture against Musselburgh at Raeburn Place. The break had allowed most of those with various injuries and niggles to recover and we were almost at full strength. The two exceptions were James Pearse and Robin Snape, which allowed Finlay Richardson and Lawrie Seydak a return to the starting line-up.

After the inclement weather of the preceding few days, conditions were good with a soft-ish pitch, sunshine and a gentle wind, unusually blowing from the pond.

‘Burgh kicked off and Lawrie Seydak took the ball and set the scene for the afternoon, bouncing a number of ‘Burgh defenders off as he made his way to the half way line. Within 90 seconds we took a quick lineout on our 10m line. Slick handling between Luther Hirini, Neil Armstrong, Robbie Chalmers and Luther Hirini again, saw Callum Ramm get the ball on their 10m line and out-sprint the defence to score in the corner. Richard Mill converted: 7-0, 3 minutes gone.

Three minutes later Ramm was taken into touch 5m out. Musselburgh found it hard to clear their line, making touch only 20m out. We won the line and drove the ball, with little resistance, towards the line for ‘The Seagull’ to swoop and dive over unopposed, with most of the ‘Burgh pack looking bemused. Mill added the extras: 14-0.

Another poor restart put us back in control again and, following a clever ‘dab’ through by Mill, Luther Hirini won the race and touched down with his fingertips. Mill converted: 21-0.

From the restart Matt Coupar made good ground and gave the ball to Luther Hirini on the half way line. Luther then left the defenders in his wake, securing our bonus point try after only 16 minutes. Mill once more did the honours: 28-0.

A poor clearance kick, straight into touch, allowed ‘Burgh to camp in our 22. Perhaps with four tries in the bag we relaxed, but following some good pressure and a couple of ’untimely’ penalties, ‘Burgh put Cory Vela over in the corner, following an audacious ‘blind' pass through his legs by Danny Owenson: 28-5, 23 minutes gone.

During the following five minutes ‘Burgh had more possession and, following a fine break by Vela down the right wing, play moved into our half. ‘Burgh won the ball at the breakdown, moved it left and then it went to ground. They then dribbled it to under our posts, where two quick passes saw our former full back, Ru Young, score: 28-10, 30 minutes gone.

'Normal service’ then resumed with a number of drives by the forwards making ground to the ‘Burgh line. Following a knock on and a clearance 15m out, we had a line-out and replicated our second try, but this time it was Jack Mann taking the ball over the line, for his first try for the Club. Mill made it five from five: 35-0, 35 minutes gone.

‘Burgh then came back into the game again. From a penalty they kicked into the corner, caught their lineout and gave us some of our medicine, driving over our line for Cammy Pryde to score. Owenson converted and the half time whistle went: 35-17.

Who knows what was said by the coaches at half time but if we thought the first half started well, then the second half started at lightning speed with us scoring five tries in a dozen minutes.

At the restart Shaun Gunn, Alistair Wood and Max Love replaced Lacour, Lawrie Seydak and Sam Johnson and within 90 seconds Armstrong went over. Two minutes later Mill followed Armstrong, after some good all round attacking play and a couple of big carries by Gunn.

We came straight back into ‘Burgh’s half and, after Finlay Richardson had made a 40m break, Armstrong went under the posts for his second with seven minutes gone.

Conor Hirini and Rory Simpson then came on to replace Ramm and Jamie Sole. Within seconds they showed their value when ‘Burgh dropped the ball on our 10m line. Mann picked it up and off-loaded to Simpson, on to Wood and then to Conor Hirini who ran in from 40m.

Things did not improve for ‘Burgh. After they lost a ball against the head in a scrum, Love broke down the narrow side and carried to the half way line where he passed to Mann, on his shoulder, who outpaced everyone and scored a good try. Only 14 minutes gone and 31 points to zero added, taking the score to 66-17.

Things then calmed down a bit and ‘Burgh kept us in our half with a number of attacks. However, this came to an end when they lost the ball in a tackle in our 22. Mann picked up, Love continued the move, passing to Mill, who passed inside to the speeding Conor Hirini who made it to the ‘Burgh 22, passed back to Mill and then onto Love, who went over to score a well worked try: 71-17, 20 minutes gone.

Both sides were now throwing the ball around and, with ‘Burgh looking to salvage a point with a four try bonus, there were a number of mistakes. From a knock-on, we won the scrum on the half way line, Wood picked out of the scrum and passed to Armstrong who made 15m. Love gave a long pass to Mill who also threw a long pass to Conor Hirini. A slight show of the ball took out two defenders and he went through the gap, stepped round Young and scored a great solo try: 78-17 and 15 minutes to go.

With time running out, Luther Hirini got away down the right wing and put in a well-measured cross kick when he reached their 22. It was brilliantly caught by Mill on the 5m line, who was immediately flattened, but Mann was there to pick up and dive over for his hat-trick and our 13th and final try. Mill converted, his 10th successful kick of the afternoon. The whistle went shortly after with the final score 85-17 in our favour.

Although the score says we were well on top, Musselburgh did not give up. They came back to score three tries after being 24-0 down after less than 15 minutes and did endeavour to score a fourth try in the second half, though our defence quickly snuffed out any such threats.

Man of the Match: many players stood up and were worth considering for this accolade: the appropriately named Jack Mann, who scored a hat-trick; Richard Mill who converted 10, scored a try and had a number of ‘assists’; or even Callum Black, who raised the biggest cheer of the game when he received the ball on our 10m line, dummied and left the speedy ‘Burgh winger Vela for ‘dead' on the half way. With only Ru Young to beat, Black grubber kicked the ball towards the corner, then (accidentally?) tripped up the chasing back Vela. In the end the coaches’ choice was teenage prop, Finlay Richardson, for his fine all-round performance in the set piece and open play.

Our bonus point win keeps us at the top of the table and still five points ahead of Jed-Forest, who beat GHA in a close game. With Dundee beating Selkirk and Kelso beating Aberdeen, the table has closed up in the middle, putting us between 19 and 23 points ahead of the ‘chasing pack’ of Selkirk, Gala, Dundee, Aberdeen and GHA.

Next week we face the long trip to Rubislaw to play an Aberdeen side that, until last Saturday, had only lost one game since we played them at RP in September, and that loss was a close one at Jed. There is no doubt they will be after our scalp and looking to halt our so far unbeaten run but we will have something to say about that.

Tries: Ramm; Lacour; L Hirini (2); Mann (3); Armstrong (2); Mill; C Hirini (2); Love
Conversions: Mill (10)


The Twaes’ game was moved from Hamilton’s waterlogged pitch to a 3G pitch down the road and they came away with a bonus point 27-27 draw, both teams getting three league points.

The game ended in some confusion. We were awarded a penalty, which we kicked for touch, rather than going for goal, because the referee said we were winning, when in fact we were drawing. It looks as if we had no mathematicians in the team, or on the touch line, to keep a proper count. Maybe, like your correspondent, they have been confused ever since a try moved from three points to five!

Tries: Connor Weetman, Johnny McSorley, James Gordon, Jack Bruce
Conversions: James Gordon (2)
Penalties: James Gordon

Onwards and upwards!



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