Premiership: champions Marr pick up from where they left off against Musselburgh

Victorious head coach Craig Redpath says his team is still a "work in progress"

Blair Jardine smashes his way through Musselburgh's defensive line to score his second try. Image: Kevin Quinn
Blair Jardine smashes his way through Musselburgh's defensive line to score his second try. Image: Kevin Quinn

Marr 47

Musselburgh 31

MATT VALLANCE @ Fullarton Park

CLICHE warning, here was a classic “game of two halves.” At the break, with Marr 26-10 ahead and with the try bonus point already bagged, it seemed a case of how wide their winning margin might be. At that stage spread betting aficionados would have been going for a winning margin greater than the eventual 16.

But, as home coach Craig Redpath admitted, his side dropped-off the pace in the second period, however, this gives him something to work on before Saturday’s visit to Edinburgh Academicals.

“I’m delighted with the points and that we played some good stuff,” he said. “We blooded some new guys and debutants. Andrew Ramage and Nairn Calder both got tries, which was pleasing; however, we are still, at this stage, a work in progress.”

This weekend’s other Premiership match reports:

Premiership: Edinburgh Accies recover from early wobble to claim comfortable win over GHA

Premiership: Hawick and Selkirk fight our a Border stalemate

Premiership: Glasgow Hawks finish strongly to see off new boys Heriot’s Blues

Premiership: Currie Chieftains put Jed-Forest to the sword

Opposite number Derek O’Riordan was happy with the way his side kept going. “When we could get front foot ball, we looked good,” he said. “We were poor in the first half, but they cut out the mistakes and were better in the second. Before the break we maybe played too-much rugby in the middle third. In the second we played more in the right areas and our self-belief grew. After a poor pre-season, there was more to be pleased with today.”

Musselburgh had the first ball-in-hand chance early in the game, but Marr cleared, kept the pressure up and after a maul was nullified by the visitors, four pick-and-go phases stretched the visiting defence for Blair Jardine to open the scoring in the fifth minute, Colin Sturgeon converting.

The home pack kept up the pressure and on 12 minutes they doubled their advantage, Sturgeon again converting after Fraser Grant ran a great line off an advancing maul. The home pressure continued and in 19 minutes a third try arrived, debutant Andrew Ramage finishing-off a flowing handling movement. No conversion this time.

A ruck offside allowed skipper Danny Owenson to open the Musselburgh account from a penalty, but Marr nullified this score quickly when Jardine ran a superb in to out line off ruck ball for the bonus point try, converted again by Sturgeon.

Musselburgh, however, had the final say in the half when Tom Foley scored a brilliant solo breakaway try, which Owenson converted to make it 26-10 at the change-round.


The speed of the Marr ruck ball had been a feature of the first half and it was off a lightning delivery that the fifth try came on 45 minutes – a thrust down the blind side, Jack Scott kicking ahead and Scott Bickerstaff beating the kicker in a race for the loose ball and the try, converted by Sturgeon.

But, Scott was not to be denied, slaloming through the visiting defence for a try between the posts, meat and drink to Sturgeon for the extras.

Leading 40-10 with half an hour left, Marr visibly relaxed, then as the benches came on, they lost their way a bit while Musselburgh’s refusal to concede paid dividends. The visiting pack had been second all afternoon, but, re-grouped and tight-head Colin Arthur breenged over for a try converted by Owenson.

Musselburgh then had to go to unopposed scrums due to a shortage of props and this definitely hurt Marr, who took off Gordy Reid, who had been enjoying himself up until that point. Musselburgh kept going doggedly and a wonderful solo run by replacement Calum Marshall set-up Callum Champion for their third try, again converted by Owenson.

Then, when a Marr handling movement broke down in midfield, Rory Watt pounced on the loose ball and sprinted 50 metres for the visitors’ bonus point try, converted by Owenson.

This awoke Marr from their slumbers, Reid returned for an unopposed scrum, off which Scott Bickerstaff broke up the wing and passed inside to Nairn Calder for the final try of the game, converted by the reliable Sturgeon.


Teams –

Marr: C Inglis; A Ramage, S Bickerstaff, N Calder, J Scott; C Sturgeon, G Baird; G Reid, C McMillan, C Miller, D Andrew, F Grant, B Jardine, C Steel, C Folan. Subs: S Khan, R Brown, K McCulloch, G Beckwith, C Bickerstaff.

Musselburgh: J Ferguson; T Foley, F Thomson, R Watt, S Watt; D Owenson F Call; P Brown, R Stott, C Arthur, C Champion, J Haynes, C Pryde, M Crawford, L Hutson. Replacement (all usaed) F Duraj, R Hanning, L Milne, M McMillan, C Marshall.

Referee: David Young


Scorers –

Marr: Tries: Jardine 2, Grant, Ramage, S Bickerstaff, Scott, Calder; Cons: Sturgeon 6.

Musselburgh: Tries: Foley, Arthur, Champion, R Watt; Cons: Owenson 4; Pens: Owenson .

Scoring sequence (Marr first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 19-0; 19-3; 24-3; 26-3; 26-8; 26-10 (h-t) 31-10;  33-10; 38-10; 40-10; 40-15; 40-17; 40-22; 40-24; 40-31; 45-31; 47-31.


Player-of-the-Match: Former Scotland cap Gordy Reid was at the sharp end of Marr’s forward domination for the opening 55 minutes. He even gave a text-book demonstration of turn-over jackalling at one point, while giving Colin Arthur a torrid time in the set-piece. The wheels rather came off the Marr bandwagon when he was subbed.

Talking point: Musselburgh are most people’s relegation favourites this season, but they showed in this game that if their backs can get reasonable front foot ball they are dangerous. Early days yet but this could be a good Premiership season if the teams play with the freedom these two sides showed.

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About Matt Vallance 37 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.