Bulls go down fighting
By JIm Browning
Musselburgh 36 – Hamilton 7
Hamilton Bulls visited Musselburgh who had an impressive result at Netherdale against Gala last week. This is a fixture which has produced some high scoring encounters in previous seasons and the attacking intent of both teams suggested more of the same.
The weather was bright but cool and dry as stand-off McLeish kicked off for the visitors and in the early exchanges, it was evident that Hamilton had come with the intention of playing their usual handling game. However, ‘Burgh countered using their heavy forwards to turn the early tide replied to the Bulls early attacking flurries leading to Declan Slaven bulldozing over the visitor’s line after only 2 minutes for an unconverted try.
Hamilton, despite falling behind continued to have the better of the early exchanges and their half-backs Crush and McLeish were feeding centres and wingers who were only to willing to throw the ball about and “have a go”! Wingers, Skilling and Plant were using their pace to stretch ‘Burgh as the tackle count for the hosts rose, but they could not hold out indefinitely and Hamilton deservedly scored the equalising try after 18 minutes when following a good handling movement up the left wing, flanker Gregor Brodie went over before McLeish converted to give the visitors a 5-7 lead.
Hamilton’s indiscipline at the breakdown proved costly again this week conceding territory to the Heavy Musselburgh pack which began to exert its influence. Their pack punched holes in the Bulls’ defence and after a series of forward drives Ferguson scored from close range for a converted try on 27 minutes.
Musselburgh continued in their attempts to press home their forward dominance and squeezed another penalty out of Hamilton, but Owenson was out of luck off the tee. Hamilton’s handling skills were often in evidence, particularly their backs and back row, but ‘Burgh’s forward dominance ensured that they were unable to use them in threatening positions and as the interval approached ‘Burgh increased their lead, as on 39 minutes, another forwards heave saw Colin Arthur score ‘Burgh’s third try before a terrific conversion from Owenson made the halftime score MUSSELBURGH 19 HAMILTON 7.
While ‘Burgh remained in control up front, they had to always be wary of “breakaways” from the fast handling visiting backs which almost caught them out on a few occasions until ironically ‘Burgh turned the tables to score a long range interception try of their own. Hamilton, believing they were playing under penalty advantage, threw a risky pass which Gregor Tait caught to run fully 80 yards to score ‘Burgh’s fourth and “bonus point” try after 50 minutes. Owenson added the extras to put ‘Burgh 26-7 up.
In the next few minutes play swung from end to end. Bulls had what appeared to be a good score disallowed to the bemusement of the travelling support, when the AR indicated a forward pass in the middle of the move. However it was Musselburgh who broke the deadlock in 64 minutes. A fine close-range handling movement sent Cammy Pryde over for 'Burgh’s fifth try before Owenson added the “extras” for 33-7. As the game reached its closing stages Hamilton, to their credit, stuck to their game plan and continued to throw the ball about and showed some fine handling, but with two minutes remaining a penalty from McGhie set the seal on a convincing home win: MUSSELBURGH 36 HAMILTON 7.
Next up for the Bulls it’s Kirkaldy at home on 13th October. Captain Mark Wallace looks forward to entertaining, and beating his brother, the visiting captain.