Musselburgh v Marr: six-try win takes leaders further ahead at the top

Visitors condemn their hosts to a quick return to the Premiership basement

Marr defeated Musselburgh at Stoneyhill. Image: Ken Ferguson
Marr defeated Musselburgh at Stoneyhill. Image: Ken Ferguson

Musselburgh 7

Marr 36

ERIN McRITCHIE @ Stoneyhill

MARR will go into the New Year nine points clear of the chasing pack after a convincing six-try win over Musselburgh, who have slipped back to the bottom of the table as a result.

“Delighted with the win,” Marr head coach Craig Redpath said. “Every game with this league is tough and I thought we put together some pretty good stuff out there. We got the job done, and we’re top of the league at Christmas – so I can’t ask for more.

“Definitely the challenge in the New Year will be pushing ahead, looking to keep that top spot. We’ll just need to focus on ourselves and we need to make sure after a week off we get back into it, and start to look ahead to Hawick, which’ll be a tough game because they’re going very well at the moment.”

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Musselburgh came into the match with their morale high as a result of last week’s win over Glasgow Hawks – a victory which took them off the foot of the table. This game was always sure to be a difficult encounter for them, however, and from early in the contest they had no answer to Marr’s confident ball-retention.

It was that aspect of the Ayrshire side’s play that enabled hooker Ollie Rossi to crash over the line for the opening try, with stand-off Colin Sturgeon adding the conversion. Marr were soon back in the hunt with a line-out in the Musselburgh 22, and it was a Bickerstaff combination that produced their second score of the half as Conor nudged a kick through the defence for Scott – returning from Scotland 7s duty – to pick up for the easy run in.  Sturgeon kicked successfully a second time, and the visitors were 14 points clear.

Musselburgh did put up a fight between Marr scores, a prime example being No 8 Paddy Brown forcing his way through defenders for a good number of yards before being brought to ground. Marr went down to 14 men when second-row Josh Harvey was shown a yellow for offside following a string of penalties against the visitors in their own 22.

Marr didn’t seem phased by the drop in man power, however. If anything, they seemed to take it as a challenge to prove their worth as they repelled Musselburgh’s every attack and forced their way back into the home side’s half.

It was another try for Rossi which saw out the first half’s scoring as Marr’s driving maul from the lineout showed real impressive force, allowing their hooker to dot down under a pile of forward bodies. With Sturgeon missing the conversion, the teams finished the half with Musselburgh trailing 0-19.

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Seconds out…

Having started it in the first half, Marr once again opened the scoring in the second. Their pressure straight from the restart soon saw them into the 22, and having used the width of the field looking for a gap, it was the forwards who trundled through the defensive line again as Mackenzie Pearce was the one to claim the bonus point for his side. Sturgeon again missed the conversion, with the ball hitting off both uprights before falling back onto the field of play.

Musselburgh thought they had scored when Gregor Tait burst up the touchline and kicked ahead as the defence bore down on him. His team-mate James Ferguson gathered before crashing over the line, but the referee called time-out to consult his touch judge, and then, deciding that he was unsure of the score, took the teams back for a penalty against Marr 10 metres out from their line instead.

The home side finally got on the board a few short minutes later as they put the ball through the phases for Tom Foley to score in the far corner, with Danny Owenson quickly kicking the conversion.  Marr weren’t happy to let Musselburgh have the attacking upper hand for long, however, as a powerful scrum allowed Fraser Grant to feed ball to Conor Bickerstaff who, with his blistering pace, had absolutely no issues in getting away from everyone to run in a clear try.

Sturgeon converted this time, but things weren’t completely rosy for the visitors in the closing quarter of the match as Grant was sent to the sin-bin, seemingly for an illegal tackle. They still managed to end things on a high, as replacement hooker Curran McMillan barged his way over for the final, unconverted try of the game.

“It was always going to be a tough game, playing the team at the top, but I thought we conducted ourselves pretty well for all of the game,” Musselburgh head coach Graeme Paterson said. “We put them under pressure, but we just didn’t convert the chances that we had.

“The guys have just got to keep training and keep a positive mindset. We just need to try and keep our destiny in our own hands.”

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Teams –

Musselburgh: J Ferguson; T Foley, R Smith, R Watt, G Tait; P Cunningham, D Owenson (c); C Arthur, J Crain, E Bonthron, W Fleming, G McKinstry, C Pryde, M Outram, P Brown. Subs: D Grant, C Champion, L Hutson, B Walls, S Watt.

Marr: G Montgomery; S Bickerstaff, G Paxton, C Bickerstaff (c), R Dalgleish; C Sturgeon, J Scott; B Sweet, O Rossi, C Henderson, E Hamilton-Bulger, J Harvey, M Pearce, R Brown, F Grant. Subs: C McMillan, W Farquhar, C Steel, K McCulloch, G Beckwith.

Referee: D Young.


Scorers –

Musselburgh: Try: Foley. Con: Owenson.

Marr: Tries: Rossi 2, S Bickerstaff, Pearce, C Bickerstaff, McMillan. Cons: Sturgeon 3.

Scoring sequence (Musselburgh first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 0-14; 0-19 (h-t) 0-24; 5-24; 7-24; 7-29; 7-31; 7-36.


Yellow cards –

Marr: Harvey, Grant.


Man-of-the-Match: It’s a toss-up between Marr hooker Ollie Rossie, who scored two tries and was destructive in defence and attack across the pitch, and centre Conor Bickerstaff, who alway had an eye for a break and was constantly up in support. Let’s go with the hooker!

Talking point: Despite being mainly outmuscled by Marr’s impressive ball-retention skills, Musselburgh kicked the ball away too readily, inviting Marr to counter-attack.

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About Erin McRitchie 12 Articles
Erin is studying journalism at Edinburgh Napier University, and is co-editor of the university’s website ENRG Sport. Earlier this year, ENRG Sport won two awards at the Scottish Student Journalism Awards - Podcast of the Year and Website of the Year.