By Harry Geatly
Photos by Dave Patterson
Vince Lombardi, famed NFL coach and often quoted sports philosopher once said;
"The Dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success."
And it was hard work that epitomised the Magic 2s performance on Saturday, along with a sprinkling of blood, guts and snotters.
Their opponents, Melrose Storm, are a young team, who play with a passion for their town and jersey. The Muir players and management team were under no illusions that this was going to be a hard fought contest.
The game kicked off with Melrose benefitting from the hurricane strength wind at their backs, playing towards the flats. Clearly looking to grind down the Muir defence they launched attack after attack, but some excellent defence repelled them time and again. With the returning Craig Marshall to the fore, relishing the physical challenge with some key early tackles. Whilst enjoying slight dominance in the scrum, Melrose failed to use this as a useful attacking weapon, in no small part to the tenacity of Jack Hamilton at 9, who time and again harried and hustled the Melrose 8 into error after error.
On 20 minutes Melrose threatened the Muir line and some desperate scramble defence stopped them 7 metres out. Stu Clark, making his first start of the season, put his head and hands into the tackle to force a penalty against 'Rose for holding on. A quick tap and breakout from James Armstrong, with support from Robinson and Keddie saw a territory swing of 80 metres with the final pass just falling short for what would have been a certain score.
This work rate at the breakdown was a critical factor in how Muir approached the match and this was to bear fruit on 35 minutes. Ally McLeod forced a steal at the tackle, 30 metres from the Melrose line. A strong carry from Will Kay and a quick ruck saw the ball moved left where Craig Keddie picked out a flat pass to the oncoming Stu Clark, who ran in from the 22 to dot down. Iain Martin narrowly missed the extras. The half ended shortly after, with Muir very much in the ascendency.
HT - Magic 2s 5 - 0 Melrose Storm
With a gale at their backs and bags of confidence, Muir turned round focused on achieving the win. Playing with confidence, a series of attacks took Muir close several times, but some committed defence from the Melrose youngsters kept the tide at bay. The coaches began to ring the changes with Tarry, Young, Wildgoose, Welsh and Summers entering the fray, all to make telling contributions.
The Melrose pack had started to tire and Muir began to assert some dominance at the scrum. Captain McLeod launched an attack from the base that saw James Armstrong enter the line at pace and line break. He powered forward and made a simple draw and pass to Gav Welsh to run in from 20 metres. Both players are growing in stature and this try highlighted their willingness to have a go at the opposition.
Shortly after this Iain Martin added a further 3 points with a penalty from 35 metres out.
This spurred Melrose into action who managed to work their way up to the Muir line and scramble over for an unconverted try.
This wakeup call pushed the Magic 2s to find a bit extra and they began to see the game out in the 'Rose half. With 5 minutes to go there was a flashpoint at a ruck, where Ross Young took offence to some reckless footwork by a Melrose player. A fracas ensued and when calmed down, the ref opted to yellow a player from each team to calm the situation. Muir were awarded a penalty which was used to peg the visitors back into their 22 and see the game out to the whistle.
FT - Magic 2s 13 - 5 Melrose Storm
Melrose have a talented group of young players coming through that will serve them well in years to come. They have improved as the season has progressed and we wish them well for the rest of the year.
Whilst low scoring, this was an exciting, entertaining game of rugby. Every Muir player played a real part in this win, which was hard earned. Players are growing in ability and confidence, showing great spirit and commitment.
In Jack Hamilton and Jamie Summers, we have two 18 year olds who show no fear playing against larger, more experienced opponents. Kevin Schwarz is fast becoming key player in the 2nd row and Matt Walker is back at his industrious best.
This was a huge squad effort, but the coaches conversations turned to Man of the Match with 3 players in contention. Craig Marshall made a huge return to playing, with a commanding performance at 12. He kicked well for touch and revelled in his defensive role. Craig Keddie pummelled the 'Rose players, both with ball in hand and in defence. Craig Keddie is an asset to the club and his work rate today showed he is desperate to get back into 1s mix.
Both were edged, just, by Skipper McLeod who ran himself to a standstill. Ally epitomises what this team is about......hard work. He allows the team to be successful by putting in the dirty, nasty, unglamorous work. Next week, the Magic take this philosophy on the road to Aberdeen......who wants to join us!?