Scottish Cup: Musselburgh defeat GHA in an untidy contest

Currie Chieftains will visit Stoneyhill in the last eight next Saturday

Musselburgh defeated GHA at Stoneyhill. Image: John Durham
Musselburgh defeated GHA at Stoneyhill. Image: John Durham

Musselburgh 27

GHA 14

LEWIS STUART @ Stoneyhill

THERE are some games where the result is the only thing that matters. This was one of them as Musselburgh overcame a dodgy period in the middle of an untidy match to set up a home clash with Currie Chieftains in next week’s quarter-final round of the Scottish Cup.

The statistics say they won by four tries to two, which sounds emphatic enough but really fails to paint an accurate picture of the match where they’re under the cosh for a long spells on either side of half time and only a marginal foot-in-touch decision prevented them falling behind.

For all that, coach Derek O’Riordan, their coach, was reasonably satisfied, reasoning that after a stop-start end to the season – this was only their fourth match in 14 weeks, he said – the important thing was that they had found a path to victory, given a few fringe players a bit of a run out and knocked the rust off the rest.

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“Credit needs to go to GHA, they played really well after that first 20 minutes where it looked like we were on top and gonna run away with it,” he said. “They had the resolve and the resilience to really come at us on both sides of the ball. We hadn’t played in five weeks so we’re always going to be a little bit disjointed.

“I’m glad that we got the win. We could have made it a lot easier but we are through to the next round and now we’ve got Currie next week, which is going to be great fun. We’ve never beaten them before in any competition so it is a really nice opportunity for us to just attack the week with not a whole lot of pressure on us.

“We know that if we perform we could find ourselves deep into a competition which we have never been that deep into before so there’s all play for. So there’s every chance but, look, the form book is against us. We’ll go and have a crack and see see what the result turns out to be.”

After all, he pointed out, they have a good enough team to have pushed Hawick all the way at Mansfield Park and beaten Marr at Fullarton, so the club can now prepare for next week and try to drum up some real excitement.

They will, however, have to play a lot better than they did in this encounter after giving themselves a sprint start and opening a 19 point lead before surrendering the initiative and finding themselves the width of a blade of grass away from being overtaken.

Musselburgh had dominated the whole of the opening spell, kicking an early penalty to touch and driving the maul over the line for hooked Raymond Mackie to touch down. Ten they ran the ball back from the kick off with wing Sandy Watt involved twice as scrum-half Danny Owenson and flanker Matthew Crawford took play to the GHA line and wing Tom Foley finished off with the second try.

At this stage, the home side were running rampant with all their offloads sticking and threats all over the park. The reward was quick coming as Paul Cunningham created space for centre Rory Watt on the right and quick hands with the pack joining in the show of handing skill sent Mackie on a charge down the opposite touchline to crash through the final tackle and go over for his second try.



It was an ominous start but as soon as the celebrations died down, the momentum swung 180 degree. Suddenly it was GHA winning the collisions, whose passes were sticking and who were making ground. It took them a while to make it pay but with the half almost over they did get there with the forwards driving to the line and prop Cammy Stewart going over.

The pressure continued as GHA kept making half breaks but somehow the Musselburgh scramble defence managed to keep them out until wing Ruariri O’Keefe found space with full-back Gregor Drummond in support.He made the task of drawing the final defender and putting Luca Molinar, the replacement wing over for the second try.

At that stage a shock looked possible. Even more so when GHA collected a loose ball with O’Keefe putting Drummond away for a race down the touch line all the way to ground the ball under the posts for what he thought was the equalising try with the formality of a conversion to come only to look back and see the assistant referee had spotted a foot in touch.

It was a tight call – he couldn’t have more than brushed the line. “That could have completely changed the game,” suggested GHA coach Jamie McCarthy. “That would have put us in front and then it’s a completely different game. Marginal things, but that would have been a real real swing.”

Instead it seemed to suck the confidence from his team as Musselburgh wrestled control back with Cunningham putting them two scores ahead with a penalty before replacement prop Duncan Hodge added a bit of gloss to the margin when he finished a series of drives on the GHA line.

For all the disappointment of the result, there was still plenty for GHA to take confidence from and with most of the squad expected to stay for next season McCarthy felt they had shown enough to prove they could mount a real challenge for promotion next campaign.

“Th first 15 minutes were obviously very challenging but the guys stuck in,” he said. “The message at halftime to try and keep the speed of play up and keep the tempo up. And we managed to do that in the second half, so there are lots of positives to take from the game.

“We had a lot of players away for this so we had to blood some players from the second XV, which will help our strength in depth. We will have basically the same group of guys and will add to them. It’s been good to have this experience at the end of the season.”

For all his positivity, it is Musselburgh who are still in the Cup competition and they know that in the first 20 and final 15 minutes they showed enough to be a real threat to any team as their dream of a semi final and final lives on.


Scorers –

Musselburgh: O Craig; T Foley, B Heber, R Watt,. S Watt; P Cunningham, D Owenson; C Owenson, R Mackie, E Bonthron, J Longwell, J Haynes, J Lister, M Crawford, P Bogie. Subs: R Brown, D Hodge, M Badenhorst, R Condie, L Brook.

GHA: G Drummond; R O’Keefe, K Dixon, M Macfarlane, S Derrick; A Goudie, F McCoss; C Stewart, L Barron, L Henderson, A Kerr, S Callaghan, D Kilpatrick; D Ewing, O Lonergan-Black. Subs: D Sutton, L McCormick, F Faulds, J Peacock, L Molinaro.

Referee: F Hollingsworth


Teams –

Musselburgh: Tries: Mackie 2, Foley, Hodge; Cons: Ownenson 2; Pen: Owenson.

GHA: Tries: Stewart, Molinari; Cons: Drummond 2.

Scoring sequence (Musselburgh first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 19-0; 19-5; 19-7 (h-t) 19-12; 19-14; 22-14; 27-14.


Player-of-the-Match: A hard choice in a mistake-ridden match but Musselburgh hooker Raymond Mackie collected two tries, one out on the wing, and provided the moment of the match with a 40-metre charge through the centre so we’ll overlook his line-out issues and give it to him.

Talking point: Neither side was happy at the scheduling of the game with both teams missing players who had travelled to Rome, devaluing the whole experience. Add a cold wind leading to a scrappy encounter and it made for a rather quiet affair with supporters struggling to get involved.

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About Lewis Stuart 70 Articles
Lewis has been writing about rugby for almost 40 years, the last 18 as a freelance based in Scotland bringing his wealth fo experience to just about every publication in the country. These days you can hear him as well by tuning in to his Wednesday night show on Rocksport Radio.

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