Hawick YM 17
RBS SHIELD SEMI-FINAL
STUART CAMERON reports
from Mansfield Haugh
RIGHT off the bat, you have to give full credit to Musselburgh in this National Shield semi-final clash.
The odds were stacked against them to pull off a win which would take them to Murrayfield for the first time. They were playing the Redskins on their home patch, and no team had beaten them here in the past two seasons.
YM won the toss and played with the wind and within two minutes they were 7-0 in front following a break-out from their own 22, which led to Glyn Desport gliding in for his 15th try this season, expertly converted by captain Ali Weir.
Back came Musselburgh, who tore into the opposition, turning down kicks at goal and preferring to run everything. The tactic worked, with centre Paul Davis running in under the posts despite an heroic few minutes of defending.
David O’Hagan converted then put his team in front with a penalty before Weir equalised with one of his own. This was followed by another YM try made by Ryan Hogg with support from Rory Scott, who touched down. Weir converted to restore the seven-point advantage, but right on half-time, O’Hagan made it 17-13 with a penalty.
Things were looking good for YM with the wind dying down in the next 40 minutes, but to the surprise of the large crowd which must have been close to four figures, there was not another YM score in the game.
Things were incredibly tense and when Musselburgh’s winger James Murray found a gap in the defence to run over for his team’s second try it gave the visitors the lead by 18-17.
There was still plenty of time left, but Musselburgh slowed the game down and stifled their opponents. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective, and at the whistle the celebrations showed exactly what it meant to Musselburgh.
For YM, it was a huge disappointment for all involved but on April 14, they visit RHC to try to become National League champions.
Coach Jammy McFarlane said: “I feel like I’ve fallen off a cliff. It’ll take us a few days to bounce back but we will bounce back.”
You can see exclusive match highlights from this match on Borders Rugby TV at www.BordersRugby.net
Hawick YM: Chris Ritson; Michael Graham, Scott McLeod, Dean McCracken, Glyn Desport, Ali Weir, Bruce Campbell, Billy Lilly, Garry Douglas, Wullie Blacklock, Gavin Petrie, Keith Millar, Craig Robson, Rory Scott, Ryan Hogg. Subs: Alistair Turnbull, Steven Mabon, Matthew Douglas.