Musselburgh coach Grant Talac backed up his pre-season comments with concrete results as he saw his men start life in BT National Division 1 with a dramatic 26-25 victory over Edinburgh Accies at Stoneyhill in a fiercely contested encounter.
Talac had warned that his men would not be intimidated by reputations of more fancied sides, and that attitude was evident as ’Burgh took the honours from a match in which the lead changed hands five times.
Argentine full back Facundo Beltramino marked his competitive debut for Accies with a penalty that nudged Accies into an early lead. However, Sandy Watt opened ’Burgh’s account for the season and Danny Owenson converted before trading penalties with Beltramino to leave the hosts 10-6 ahead at the break.
The momentum swung from one team to the other in an intense second half and a self-converted try from Beltramino handed Accies a 25-21 lead which they still held entering the final minute. But ’Burgh displayed their battling qualities and James Doig snatched the win for the home side when he dotted down with the final play, leaving Accies with a narrow-defeat bonus point.
There was also a tense finish at Inverleith, where Stewart’s Melville had to come from behind to see off Howe of Fife.
The hosts reached the interval 12-3 in arrears with Nick McCashin booting a penalty in response to two tries from Howe. Angus Rennie touched down for StewMel’s first try of the season but the Edinburgh side still trailed 22-10 entering the final quarter. However, Jamie Berrisford and Neil Bowie bagged a try apiece and McCashin’s conversion of the latter gave new coach Bruce Ruthven a 24-22 win in his first league match at the helm.
Capital rivals Watsonians are the early pacesetters after easing to a 33-10 win over Peebles at Myreside on Friday night. Ewan Miller led the way with a hat-trick of tries and there were debut scores summer signings Scott McLeod and James King whose fellow former pro David Blair was on target with four of the conversions. As the only side to claim a four-try bonus, ’Sonians top the table after the opening weekend.
Elsewhere, Lasswade kicked off life in Division Two with all five points from a 36-6 win at home to Biggar. Preston Lodge, who also made the step up at the end of last season, took a bonus point from a 30-25 win over Falkirk at Pennypit.
In Division Three, Livingston launched their bid to bounce back from relegation when beat RHC Cougars 33-28 in Edinburgh.
Meanwhile, Haddington, who accompanied Livingston in taking the drop, also kicked off the campaign on a positive note. Centre Kyle Hamilton marked his debut for the Neilson Park men with the opening try and the Scarlets built on that early breakthrough to chalk up a 22-5 win at home to Berwick.