Reporter: Mark Greene
The 2nd XV welcomed Edinburgh Accies to the Meggetland main pitch this afternoon. While our injury ravaged 1st XV travelled to the north side for their fixture again the Accies 1st XV the team fielded was on paper weaker than the ideal 2nd XV team.
As to be expected with 'Muir, the team line-up was rocked by the loss of new boy Harry ‘Geordie’ Fenton to the 1st XV bench. This season’s regular 9 Murray Buchan had the misfortune to be struck down by a stomach bug on the eve of the game. Fortunately, with the Bears game cancelled, the 2nd XV coaches were fortunate to be able to call up the experienced Dale Gordon to fill the breach. With the absence of a number of the regular starters, the 2nd XV coaches were also fortunate to be in a position to recall Graham ‘Hammy’ Blackhall to the 10 shirt. The coaches wisely decided Bus’s axle needed a rest this week leaving Latta and Wilson to shore up the front row while Luke Tarry was immediately on his return given the 7 shirt in the absence of the injured Greg Jones.
In front of a small but vocal crowd led by his holiness King Arthur 1st (sitting at the Arthur Ross Window in the Arthur Ross suite), despite the earlier rain shower, the game kicked off on a dry and bright afternoon. The crowd were fearing a tough battle as the Accies squad appeared to be a big one, this impression reinforced by the sight of ex 'Muir man Nathan Pike. The opening exchanges consisted of a battle of the heavies as both sets of forwards squared up. It appeared that the Accies weight was to give them a significant advantage in the scrums, not helped by the referee being over officious however, Dale Gordon expertly marshalled the forwards in the loose play where 'Muir appeared to have the upper hand. The score after 30 minutes for 6 - 3 to 'Muir before Nathan Pike was yellow carded for using Jamie Scott’s ribs as a trampoline. 'Muir took advantage of the power play when Ross Bradford stole an interception inside the 'Muir 22 to race the length of the park for the first try of the game. Half Time 13 - 3
Accies got their first touchdown early in the second half. With their scrum back to full strength they steamrolled the 'Muir scrum. At the ensuing penalty a quick tap allowed Accies to attack the posts only to be held up. The ball was quickly recycled and passed out the line and an excellent inside pass allowed Accies to score untouched.
'Muir were back on the front foot not long after, after a lineout overthrow, Robbie Wilson gathered the ball and charged upfield with Jamie Scott in support, quick recycling out to the backs allowed Ross Bradford to touch down for his second try. Graham Blackhall kept the scoreline ticking over with 2 more penalties before Accies touched down under posts for their second try. Once again, Ross Bradford was to touch down for his hat-trick when he ended an attack that started on the 'Muir half-way line however Accies never give up. With 10 minutes to go they were once again able to touchdown unopposed as 'Muir failed to deal with their open running.
Despite mobilising the entire 'Muir bench, which also included Ross Young and Justin Tito’s debuts in the second row, 'Muir were to have the final say. A quick tap penalty inside the Accies 22 almost got Johnny Latta over the line but he was held up just short however, replacement Darren Miller was on hand to dive over the line.
The coaches will be pleased with this performance, the players are starting to use their coaching and address the weaknesses however, there is always room for improvement and with some more game time and squad consistency there is no reason why the 2nd XV cannot be in the mix to win this league at the end of the season.
Man of the Match: A number of contenders for this one, despite a tough day at the coalface, Robbie Wilson’s sprinting was not a sight for the faint hearted. Jamie Scott was chief air traffic controller in the lineout, outshining Pikey. Dale Gordon despite illness is rediscovering his form while Andy Grodynski’s breaks and jinks were up there with Jason Robinson. Berkery and Tarry played like their national counterparts yesterday, Tarry was everywhere. This week, for his second 2nd game running, Ross Bradford once again proved that his work over the summer has made a huge difference to his game. His silky running and wicked side steps have confused many defences over the years but his strength and conditioning work over the summer is starting to reap benefits and his defence has never been as good as it is now. It wont be long before he will be a regular 1st XV player. As Norrie Bryson has declared himself to be Ross Bradford’s number 1 fan, it wont be long before Norrie wins the race to be Brad’s player sponsor!
Referee Watch: This referee appeared to be reasonably consistent and fair however, he was a little too officious, most notably at scrum time. Maybe it’s a sign of today’s game but traditionally the referees earned respect based on the quality of their refereeing but nowadays they feel the need to vocalise their authority. Based on a spectators view of proceedings, this referee appeared to get most decisions right and it probably wont be too long before he moves up the ranks. it was also refreshing to see the other team get penalised for back chat. 'Muir have been noted for backchat and nipping referee’s heads in the past but finally I think we are coming across as the good guys.