Marr v Jed-Forest: league leaders make light work of spirited Borderers

Jed backs live off scraps as home pack prevail in entertaining nine-try contest

Marr second-row Fraser Grant charges for the line. Image: Kenneth Ferguson
Marr second-row Fraser Grant charges for the line. Image: Kenneth Ferguson

Marr 43

Jed-Forest 12

MATT VALLANCE @ Fullarton Park

MARR became only the sixth club to have their name engraved on the Bill McLaren Shield after this emphatic seven-tries-to-two win over Jed, their fourth successful defence of the challenge trophy. It was a cracking game, with the beaten side contributing in full to the entertainment. The trouble for them was that the dominant Marr pack refused to let them have the ball, as they continued to lead the Tennent’s Premiership.

Marr went off at a cracking pace, forcing Jed to defend, and it was no surprise when skipper Conor Bickerstaff ran a great line for the opening try, converted by Colin Sturgeon. They continued in this vein and five minutes later after Fraser Grant was held up over the Jed line, off the Marr advance from the scrum five, Benedict Grant touched down, with Sturgeon again converting.

It took Jed more than 20 minutes to enter the Marr 22, but, when they did, Gary Munro’s well-judged grubber allowed Lewis Young to touch down for an unconverted try. However, this score was imediately cancelled out as good continuity rugby from Marr was rewarded by Mackenzie Pearce forcing his way over at the sticks to leave Sturgeon with a simple conversion.

The bonus-point try came in 33 minutes. Again Marr pressed, and eventually scrum-half Jack Preston nipped in from close range to complete the first-half scoring.

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As has become their wont, Marr took a wee while to get going again after the turn round, but, in 48 minutes, from an attacking lineout, Pearce again bulldozed over at the posts, with Sturgeon again converting. However, from the re-start, Sturgeon’s attempted clearance was charged down by Jed hooker Finlay Campbell – a last-minute selection after Gregor Law took ill. The youngster, freshly up from Jed Thistle, regathered and fed Gregor Young, who charged over, Robbie Yourston converting.

Marr reasserted themselves to take control in the final quarter, with Fraser Grant scoringtheir sixth try in 64 minutes. They were now totally in charge and with seven minutes left, more good continuity rugby left Scott Bickerstaff with a walk-in for the final, unconverted try. To their credit, Jed kept attacking on starvation rations and in the final minute Lewis Young sprinted over, but lost control of the ball as he dived to touch down.

“Frustrated,” was the view of Jed’s assistant coach Fraser Harkness. “We played some very good rugby, when Marr would allow us to. Their pack controlled things, but we saw enough today to convince me, if we can get a bit more ball – we can hurt teams. However, our injuries, particularly up front, are hurting us.”

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Marr assistant Kenny Diffenthal said: “Getting our name on the Shield was a big bonus for us. The challenge now is holding on to it as we take it on the road.

“I was pleased that we were able to rotate our props without losing go-forward ball. Our back row were again crucial, with Mackenzie Pearce giving his usual display in the grunt department. Our error count was a bit lower this week, which was another pleasing thing.”

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Teams –

Marr: G Montgomery; S Bickerstaff, Gregor Paxton, C Bickerstaff (captain), R Dalgleish; C Sturgeon, J Preston; W Farquhar, O Rossi, C Henderson, E Hamilton-Bulger, F Grant, M Pearce, R Brown, B Grant. Subs: A Muir, B Sweet, C Cunningham, G Ness, J Scott.

Jed-Forest: L Young; C Young, Gregor Young, R Marshall, G Munro; R Yourston, N Stingl; Grant Paxton, F Campbell, T Jeffrey, D Tjombie, B Saxton, Garry Young, F Scott, J McGough. Subs: A Keeler, H Meadows, E Lauder, M Mitchell.

Referee: J Perriam



Marr: Tries: C Bickerstaff, B Grant, M Pearce 2, J Preston, F Grant, S Bickerstaff. Cons: C Sturgeon 4.

Jed-Forest: Tries: L Young, Gregor Young. Con: R Yourston.

Scoring sequence (Marr first): 5-0, 7-0, 12-0, 14-0, 14-5, 19-5, 21-5, 26-5 half-time, 31-5, 33-5, 33-10, 33-12, 38-12, 43-12.


Man of the Match: With two tries and his general work rate about the park, it has to go to Marr flanker Mackenzie Pearce.

Talking Point: They may have lost heavily here, but there is no doubt that if Jed could get anything like forward parity, on front-foot ball, they have the backs to hurt every other side in the Premiership.

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About Matt Vallance 38 Articles
Matt is a former member of Cumnock Rugby Club's 'Mean Machine' - motto: "Well, we won the fight". He has written about some 60 sports in a long career, mainly spent freelancing for, amongst others: The Herald, The Scotsman, The Sunday Times, Scotland on Sunday, the late-lamented Sunday Standard and just about every national paper. He survived a spell at the Paisley Daily Express, covering St Mirren and the Paisley Pirates every week. He now writes a lot of sporting obituaries, since he saw many of his subjects play. Opinionated, passionate and, as one Bill McMurtire once said: "The only Cumnock member (other than Mark Bennett) who can be let out without an escort". In his 70th year, Matt, known to many as: 'Snuff', still has a few noses to get up. Unfulfilled ambition - to live long enough to see Scotland beat the All Blacks.