GREENOCK Wanderers suffered another demoralising defeat in the BT National League Second Division on Saturday when they were thrashed 72-0 by Musselburgh at Stoneyhill.

The game was always likely to be an extremely testing one for the Fort Matilda men and so it proved as the hosts produced another exhilarating display, full of fast-flowing attacking rugby that left the locals chasing shadows for much of the game.

Once more there is little that can be said by way of criticism of Wanderers’ effort as they did their best against a superior side that overpowered them up front and outplayed them in every facet of the contest.

The 12-try romp was just reward for the East Lothian men, who looked every inch promotion challengers.

The gulf in class between teams at the top and bottom of the table has been well documented throughout the season and Saturday’s performance by Burgh simply amplified the accuracy of that analysis as they gave the locals a lesson in simple direct rugby.

It was another under strength Wanderers side that took to the field with no recognised prop forwards and minus top performers this season Ally Abernethy and Leigh Tyley.

Skipper Murray MacDonald was forced to play in the front row but an early facial injury meant that he had to retire and his withdrawal further hampered Wanderers’ chances.

For Greenock Matt Gray, Andy McDougall and Stuart Alexander battled throughout and posted first-rate performances but it was insufficient to save the ‘hoops’ from another humbling defeat.

The hosts started the game strongly and the procession towards the Wanderers try line began as early as the first minute.

From the kick-off Wanderers failed to secure possession and turnover ball was put to good use by scrum half Danny Owenson. He ghosted through ineffective tackling and touched down under the posts to start the rout.

He converted his own try and was instrumental moments later when he spread the play and created the space for winger Rory Watt to breeze in at the corner. Owenson converted again to give Burgh an early 14-0 lead.

Wanderers rallied briefly through a Gray break but poor handling by the back line meant that a rare try scoring opportunity was squandered.

Thereafter it was all Musselburgh as they piled on the pressure, the points and the agony for Wanderers.

On 20 minutes wing forward Connor Slaven was the spare man as Wanderers ran out of defenders and his try was converted by Owenson to extend the lead to 21-0.

On the half-hour mark Wanderers’ Andy Love was sin-binned for a lineout infringement and the hosts took full advantage of their numerical superiority.

Firstly second row Neil McNairn crashed over in the corner and moments later a well-rehearsed backs move created the space for centre Tom Armstrong to cross the whitewash. Owenson’s conversion extended the advantage to 33-0 at the interval.

The second half was more of the same as the hosts ran riot, aided and abetted it has to be said by some exceptionally sloppy Wanderers defending.

An early pushover try from a scrummage close to Wanderers’ line was accredited to number eight Luke Hutson and another crisp handling move across the backline led to captain Andy Cook scoring. Owenson converted on both occasions to move the ever growing tally to 47-0.

Five further tries followed as the Wanderers defence disintegrated under the sheer weight and volume of pressure that the Musselburgh attack applied.

For the record winger Rory Watt scored twice more to secure his hat-trick, Connor Slaven helped himself to a second try and lock forward William Fleming and winger Sandy Watt both notched a try apiece to bring the final tally to 72-0.

Thankfully from a Wanderers perspective Owenson missed all the conversion efforts or a bigger final total would have resulted.

An interesting footnote to this fixture was that Burgh fielded four sets of brothers in the match and they all got game time during the 80 minutes in what was a highly efficient performance from the east coast outfit.

Vice-president Stevie Anderson said: “It is a disappointing scoreline and there was a lot of poor decision making and sloppy defending out there by an inexperienced Wanderers team.

“It was not a target game for us so we were prepared to take risks and give some youngsters a run out.

“We are focused on ensuring we remain in this league and that means beating Haddington at Fort Matilda next month.

“They were hammered by Hamilton on Saturday 103-5 so that again emphasises the chasm in terms of quality between the top four in the league and the other teams.” Wanderers have another difficult game next Saturday when they continue their league programme with a short trip to Newton Mearns to play Whitecraigs.

l Wanderers are sponsored by Texas Instruments.