MATT VALLANCE @ Fullarton Park
MARR maintained their place at the top of the Tennent’s Premiership with this bonus-point victory over a dogged Jed. It definitely goes down as a case of winning ugly, but that’s what championship campaigns are made of.
The Ayrshire side made a great start, scoring two cracking first half tries, but, in a 20 minute spell around the break, they lost their discipline and allowed Jed to come back from 3-14 down to 12-14, before finding a semblance of control again to see out the win and grab the bonus point.
It took the home team a mere two minutes to open the scoring, skipper Conor Bickerstaff breaking the line and orthodox handling putting winger Jack Scott over wide out, with Calum Inglis converting.
This weekend’s other Premiership match reports:
Gary Munro reduced the deficit with a tenth minute penalty, before, on 25 minutes, the Marr backs again cut loose for Jamie Shedden to touch down behind the sticks, leaving Inglis with a simple conversion.
But Marr then began to concede penalties like Maro Itoje on a bad day. Munro made it 14-6 just before the break from one such gift, then kicked two more in the opening seven minutes of the second half to make it a two point game.
In response, Marr deployed the heavy brigade, with Gordie Reid arriving to drag Mackenzie Pearce across the try line, Inglis converted and 14-12 had become a more-comfortable 21-12.
Still, Jed would not lie down, roaring back with the try of the game, running the ball from their own 22, with full-back Lewis Young twice involved before he took the try-scoring pass from Robbie Shirra-Gibb to touch down. Munro converted and, with 14 minutes left, we again had a two-point game.
But, Marr spurned a couple of kickable penalties to go for the bonus-point try, which came with the clock in the red, with Stephen Adair scrambling over, before Cody Cunningham, with his last act as a Marr player, adding the extras to polish off the win.
Kenny Diffenthal, holding the coaching reins while Craig Redpath was off on holiday, said: “We had a good start and a good finish, but the bit in between was disappointing. I was disappointed at the way our discipline fell away, but pleased with the performances of our youngsters such as Calum Inglis.”
Jed coach Scott Tomlinson said: “Devastated, we went toe-to-toe with Marr at Fullarton and emerged with nothing, which is disappointing. We showed a lot of ‘dog’ today, but made too-many mistakes which cost us dearly.”
Marr: G Montgomery; S Bickerstaff, J Shedden, C Bickerstaff , J Scott; C Inglis, S Broad; B Sweet, C McMillan, W Farquhar, F Grant, H Murray, M Pearce, C Cunningham, B Johnston. Replacements: S Adair, G Reid, C Miller, D Andrew, I Turaga.
Jed-Forest: L Young; M Cullen, G Young, R Marshall, R Shirra-Gibb; G Munro, N Stingl; G Paxton, F Campbell, H Meadows, A Sweenie, B Howe, G Young, B McNeil, D Buckley. Replacements: E Lauder, D Wardrop, A Bambrick.
Referee: Neil Muir.
Marr: Tries: Scott, Shedden, Pearce, Adair; Cons: Inglis 3, Cunningham.
Jed-Forest: Try: L Young; Con: Munro; Pens: Munro 4.
Scoring sequence (Marr first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-3; 12-3; 14-3; 14-6 (h-t); 14-9; 14-12; 19-12; 21-12; 21-17; 21-19; 26-19; 28-19.
Yellow cards –
Man-of-the-Match: With three conversions and an assured display of linking rugby, young Calum Inglis at stand-off for the home side got the vote.
Talking Point: When you see the referee spotter taking copious notes and both teams becoming frustrated at decisions, you know the referee isn’t having his best game. Which is a pity, we need more assured displays from our match officials.