ATHOLL INNES @ Mansfield Park
PREMIERSHIP leaders Marr travelled to Mansfield Park with a record of four wins out of four and coach Craig Redpath was cautious on such a tricky trip. He did not have to be, as his players out-gunned the hosts, who were reduced to 13 men at one time with two players in the sin-bin.
Marr scored six tries to prove that Mansfield Park is no fortress, and a late rally by the hosts was too late to salvage any real positives from a pretty miserable afternoon for George Graham‘s side.
“To beat Hawick 43-15 is an outstanding result,” said Redpath. “Hawick came strong in the end, but the game was done by then. We did the simple things right in the first half, took our chances and played most of the rugby, and we are coming together a lot more.
“We need to keep focused, and if we don’t, any team can beat us in this league,” he added, as a cautionary note to his own players.
Graham had a lengthy talk with his fellow-coaches at the end. “It was an absolutely woeful performance,” he said. “We couldn’t hold on to the ball for any length of time. Our discipline was poor and we had two guys in the sin-bin at one time. And they shipped in three tries in that time. It is a massive concern for us.”
It was Hawick who struck first when Ali Weir banged over a penalty in two minutes. However, the lead was short-lived as Colin Sturgeon kicked the equaliser when the hosts were caught offside.
The Hawick scrum dug in deep to force Marr onto the back foot, but Andrew Mitchell was penalised for intrusion and Marr worked their way back into the game with a series of penalties. Stuart Graham was shown a yellow as Marr, led by Benedict Grant, powered close to the line.
Deaglan Lightfoot followed into the sin-bin for interference, referee Keith Allen awarded a penalty try in 22 minutes and the Greens were soon even further behind when Iosefo Turanga took advantage of a Hawick slip-up to touch down two minutes later.
Marr took even more advantage of the extra men when Richard Dalgleish powered through open space for a third try.
Hawick at last put pressure on the Marr defence, but when Bruce McNeil knocked on close to goal, the visitors quickly took play to the other end and Gregor Paxton scored with ease for the bonus-point in the third minute of injury time, while Sturgeon converted for a comfortable 3-31 half-time lead.
It was one-way traffic after the break as Marr piled on the pressure and Turaga was at the end of a crossfield move to score in the left-hand corner, but to Hawick’s relief, Sturgeon missed the conversion this time
The relief was only delayed as Hawick were exposed again as Conor Bickerstaff ran in unchallenged and Sturgeon kicked the goal points.
Mitchell eased the pain slightly when he went over on the overlap, and, although Weir could not convert from the left touchline, the try lifted home spirits.
After Marr’s Robert Brown was yellow-carded, Kyle Brunton found space to cut the deficit and Weir converted, which at least ensured the second half was tied at 15-all, although that was of little consolation to the home support.
Hawick: A Weir; R McKean, A Mitchell, G Huggan, L Gordon Wooley; K Brunton. D Lightfoot; D Johnston, C Renwick, C Geer, S Fairbairn, D Suddon; S Graham, J Linton, Bruce McNeil. Subs: M Carryer, R Toogood, M Renwick, K Ford, G Welsh.
Marr: G Montgomery; R Dalgleish, G Paxton, C Bickerstaff, I Turaga; C Sturgeon, J Preston; B Sweet, O Rossi, C Henderson, E Hamilton-Bulger, F Grant, M Pearce, R Brown, B Grant. Subs: J Drummond, W Farquhar, C Cunningham, J Harvey, G Ness.
Referee: K Allen.
Scorers: Hawick: Tries: Mitchell, Brunton; Con: Weir; Pen Weir.
Marr: Tries: penalty try, Turaga 2, Dalgleish, Paxton, Bickerstaff; Cons Sturgeon 4; Pens Sturgeon.
Scoring sequence (Hawick first): 3-0, 3-3, 3-10, 3-15, 3-17, 3-22, 3-24, 3-29, 3-31 half-time, 3-36, 3-41, 3-43, 8-43, 13-43, 15-43.
Yellow cards: Hawick: Graham, Lightfoot
Man of the Match: It was a team effort and difficult to pinpoint anyone, but Colin Sturgeon’s kicking gave Marr the platform on which to keep the side ahead in the Premiership.
Talking point: Marr’s ability to cash in on Hawick’s lack of discipline which saw two Greens in the sin-bin at the same time.