Reds 2s Shine Against High Level Opposition
Linlithgow 2s 17 – 24 Musselburgh 2s
Musselburgh Rugby Club sit three divisions above Linlithgow in the Scottish leagues, so this bounce second team match appeared a complete mis-match on paper. Don’t tell that to the young Reds team who bounced back from a 24-0 deficit to pull within a score of their opponents, finishing the match strongly as they sought an equalising score.
Saturday was the first league game of the season for the Linlithgow First team and we had been very lucky to secure a game at the last minute against Musselburgh Seconds for our Twos. There were lots of players available for this game as it was a pleasant day, the game was at home and some players would be anticipating there first real slice of action. As usual before the KO there were some tweaks and injuries and here Andy Birrell and Mike Walker departed to the changing room even before the first whistle. Fortunately there were players to cover as replacements and Ken Richardson, standing in as a replacement referee, started the game.
Musselburgh started the game at a furious pace as we expected them to and our young team took time to settle into the game. The heavier and more experienced players from the visitors carried and off loaded the ball well and our new forwards of Sam, Matthew, Kieran and Callum all found this a different experience from school rugby. It was more intense and robust, but as the management agreed all of the ex school players who were starting their first official senior game played well and show promise for the future. This includes Ross Tulloch, the Club’s new Modern Apprentice, who had to take over in centre for Fergus Baird who sustained an “eye injury” and ended up out of his comfort zone facing a fairly robust attack from the large Musselburgh centres. Ross and Ali Walker formed a useful partnership as the game progressed with good tackling and positional play.
The referee and the teams had agreed to play two 30 minute periods and a third session of 20 minutes at the end to allow some flexibility as the Reds had a young team and the day was very hot.
After the first thirty minutes, Musselburgh had 24 points on the board and the Reds had none, but we all felt positive that this could be changed in the next thirty minutes and so it proved. Guy Sutherland, new on the wing after the first session, showed by example how to tackle stopping one of the Musselburgh wingers in his tracks and sending him back 5 metres with the result that he lost the ball.
This helped the teams belief and after good driving play and carries by Stu Young, Ali McLean and Hassan Ilker, our scrum half Peter Miller dummied and scored a nice try which was converted by John Strachan. (24-7 for the visitors). The Reds were working hard now, had more parity in the scrum, were carrying the ball well which allowed John Strachan to kick the ball intelligently. From a line out on the Musselburgh line, Ally McLean reacted quickest and pounced on a loose ball to score again.
The score now was 24-12 and the Reds had belief that they could do more. The last twenty resulted in Musselburgh hanging on to their lead with the Reds scoring again through the forwards – Stu Young coming up with the ball after a fine driving maul. (24-17 and the Reds creeping towards a draw). Unfortunately, despite the gallant work in the last 30 minutes by all the players, Gus McNab and his team came off second best this time. We all agreed, that with other players to appear for the 2s and the opportunity for the young chaps to gain confidence, we will have a good 2nd team – roll on the league season!
Thanks to Ken for refereeing and apologies by the manager to all for arriving late, a mix up in communication and his inability to manage all modern forms of technology, as a free bus pass holder more used to verbal or more traditional forms of message!!!!!