ALAN LORIMER @ Riverside Park
MARR signed off the regular part of the Tennent’s Premiership with an emphatic win over an injury-hit Jed-Forest side that contained far too many players below the standard required for this level of rugby and which in consequence presented the men from Troon with perhaps an easier game thaN they might have wanted ahead of the play-offs.
The visitors, too, used a number of fringe players but this was certainly not an equaliser, for the simple reason that there is a big difference between the reserve strengths of the two clubs. Marr’s coach, Craig Redpath, however, certainly felt that the game, even although won easily, had positives for his play-off planning.
“It gave us the opportunity to use a number of other players who could possibly push themselves into contention for the home semi final against Hawick,” he said. “It was a fractious type of game with lots of turnovers. But we scored some goods tries and it gave us another 80 minutes of rugby and another good win.”
All the same, a harder work-out might have suited Marr, who were denied the opportunity of using their second half replacement, international prop, Gordon Reid, when the game went to uncontested scrums towards the end of the third quarter.
As for Jed, this was perhaps not the show they had wanted for their last home game. “It has been a difficult week for us,” coach David Grieve admitted. “For various reasons we lost four players who would have started earlier in the week. We’re hoping that for our final Premiership match this season [against GHA next weekend] we will have at least two of them back fit”.
Despite starting with a weakened team, Jed had some fine individual performances from a number of their side, among them Dan Wardrop and Finlay Scott in the forwards, while behind the scrum the return from New Zealand of Robbie Yourston provided strength at inside centre.
But despite trenchant work by Jed’s core players it was not enough to stop a stop Marr running in nine tries, four of these scored by their powerful right wing Jamie Shedden. For their opening try Shedden was the creator, breaking through a weak tackle before linking with Gregor Paxton, who put Colin Sturgeon in for the score.
Sturgeon converted his own try and then added the extras to a touchdown from flanker Angus Johnston from a break by hooker Blair Jardine. Shortly afterwards, Jed lost their club international lock, Gregor Law, to injury, but overcame this set-back by opening their scoring with a try by Gregor Young after a big hit by Yourston. Gary Munro added the conversion points but any thoughts of a home fightback were soon put right as Marr stepped up the pace.
Two tries by Shedden on either side of a touchdown from Jardine, and two successful conversion kicks from Sturgeon, gave Marr a match winning lead of 33-7 at half time. The visitors’ score was extended immediately after the break when full back Doug Steele was the beneficiary of neat chip ahead kick, Sturgeon again showing accuracy off the kicking tee.
It was not all a one-way flow of points, however, as Jed showed with a try from a clever line-out move by Scott. The score seemed to invigorate Jed, who all but scored from a kick and chase. Grant Baird was back to save the situation but in doing so he deliberately prevented Jed from securing the ball a metre out from the Marr try-line and paid the price with ten minutes in the bin.
Jed then kicked to the corner and drove the ensuing line-out for second row Clark Skeldon to pile over for the home side’s third try.
However, for a second time the Jed resurgence was checked as Shedden completed his hat-trick after a well-timed pass from Paxton. The big wing then made it four, with a defence-splitting run, before replacement Sinjin Broad charged over for try number nine, both converted by Sturgeon to round off a pleasing win for Marr.
Jed-Forest: G Munro; L Elder, G Law, R Yourston, R Marshall; L Young, N Stingl; A Sweenie, P Ferreira, C Sweenie, C Skeldon, J Hynd, G Law, D Wardrop, F Scott. Subs used: T Cromarty, J Bowie, D McNeill, K Hayes, K Scott
Marr: D Steele; J Scott, G Paxton, C Sturgeon, J Shedden; C Inglis, G Baird; B Sweet, B Jardine, C Miller, D Andrew, J McLean, A Johnston, R Brown, B Johnston. Subs: C McMillan, G Reid, F Grant, N Calder, S Broad.
Referee: B Blain
Jed-Forest: Tries: G Young, Scott, Skeldon; Con: Munro
Marr: Tries: Shedden 4, Sturgeon, A Johnston, B Jardine, Steele, Broad; Cons: Sturgeon 7.
Scoring Sequence (Jed first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 0-14; 5-14; 7-14; 7-19; 7-24; 7-26; 7-31; 7-33 (h-t) 7-38; 7-40; 12-40; 17-40; 17-45; 17-50; 17-52; 17-57; 17-59.
Yellow cards –
Man-of-the-Match: Marr winger Jamie Shedden’s four try haul and contribution to two further scores was an outstanding performance fully deserving of the man-of-the-match award.
Talking point: Marr showed that they are in good form to contest the play-off semi-final against Hawick and will certainly be pleased at scoring nine tries in what was essentially a hit-out against Jed. As for the Riverside men, this week will perhaps be a reminder that if they are to achieve wins in the Premiership a strong and fit reserve team is a prerequisite. That, of course, requires numbers and therein lies the problem for a community like Jedburgh.