COLIN RENTON @ Stoneyhill
MUSSELBURGH grabbed a Tennent’s Premiership lifeline when they produced a performance brimming with character that yielded seven tries and five vital league points. Jed failed to reproduce the gutsy effort that saw them chalk up a hard fought win over Selkirk the week before. However, they did battle to the end and took a bonus point that could prove vital come the end of the season.
In chilly but bright conditions that were conducive to open rugby, the day belonged to Musselburgh, whose coach Graeme Paterson was delighted to see the efforts of his players finally bear fruit.
“I think there’s no doubt that the best team won,” he beamed. “We put into place what we’ve been looking for. The front foot ball was the key to it and we got that. We had some really hard carries that gave us the chance to play rugby, and we kept hold of the ball well.
“That’s what we’ve been striving for all season and it came together. That’s what we ned to replicate in the last three games.”
There was no argument from his Jed counterpart Gavin Kerr, who said: “I’m disappointed with the performance as a whole, but especially with the attitude. We scored early and maybe that wasn’t a good thing for us. There’s no excuse for that. In all fairness, Musselburgh wanted it more than we did. We need to pull the finger out over the next couple of weeks.”
Musselburgh had looked the livelier of the two sides in the opening minutes, but a couple of interventions by Lewis Young offered a glimpse of the pace lurking in the Jed back division. And it was the visitors who struck first when Rory Marshall broke from deep and drew the final defender before releasing Garry Young for an untroubled run to the line. Robbie Yourston added the extras.
The hosts were soon back on level terms when Paul Cunningham did well to gather Rory Smith’s pass before freeing Tom Foley who raced in at the corner. Danny Owenson’s trusty boot banged over the conversion.
Freddie Roddick then edged Musselburgh into the lead when he stepped out then cut back inside to slide through the Jed defence, leaving Owenson a straightforward conversion.
Jed restored parity in 21 minutes with another long-range effort. Finlay Campbell made the initial break and Garry Young was the link man as Marshall sprinted over, with Yourston again slotting the conversion.
Premiership match reports:
Musselburgh’s direct approach was paying dividends and another attack through the middle saw Smith carry the ball into contact. Owenson picked up at the breakdown and as the Jed defence fanned out, he darted through the gap and dived over then clipped over the conversion.
The bonus point score came just before the break. A penalty was booted into touch and the ensuing surge ended with Colin Arthur applying the final touch.
The scores kept coming for Musselburgh after the restart and James Ferguson showed his pace for try number five. Owenson converted then did so again after Callum Champion emerged last from a heap of bodies after another close range effort. And it got even better for the hosts when Roddick showed his pace to claim his second of the afternoon.
Jed looked a beaten side, but Lewis Young offered hope of taking something from the game when he cut through for his side’s third try. And the full-back ensured the Borderers did not leave empty handed with a repeat effort a couple of minutes from full time. Then Jed had the final word when Garry Young claimed his second try and Yourston converted.
Musselburgh: J Ferguson; S Watt, R Watt, R Young, T Foley; P Cunningham, D Owenson; N McNairn, C Owenson, C Arthur, W Fleming, P Brown, C Champion, M Outram, L Hutson. Subs: J Crain, J Haynes, C Pryde, F Roddick, J Doig.
Jed-Forest: L Young; C Young, R Yourston, M Mitchell, R Marshall; G Munro, N Stingl; P Ferreira, F Campbell, H Meadows, B Saxton, G Law, D Grieve, M Weekley, G Young. Subs: G Paxton, E Lauder, J McGough, J Laing.
Referee: J Shaw
Musselburgh: Tries: Foley, Roddick 2, D Owenson, Arthur, Ferguson, Champion; Cons: D Owenson 5.
Jed-Forest: Tries; G Young 2, Marshall, L Young 2; Cons: Yourston 3.
Scoring sequence (Musselburgh first): 0-5; 0-7; 5-7; 7-7; 12-7; 14-7; 14-12; 14-14; 19-14; 21-14; 26-14 (h-t) 31-14; 33-14; 38-14; 40-14; 45-14; 45-19; 45-24; 45-29; 45-31.
Man-of-the-Match: Several contenders in the home ranks, with impressive Freddie Roddick just pipped by Paul Cunningham whose running, distribution and defensive effort earn him the nod.
Talking point: Musselburgh finally clicked and although they have left it late, repeat performances in the coming weeks could see them battle beat the drop.