Premiership: swashbuckling Edinburgh Accies stun miserable Marr

Captain Ruairi Campbell leads from the front in big win for Raeburn Place men

Lewis Wells scores Edinburgh Accies' first try in their victory over Marr. Image: John Wright.

Edinburgh Accies 53

Marr 12

IAIN MORRISON @ Raeburn Place

WITH last season’s semi-finalists pitched against the league champions, this match promised much ahead of kick-off – but only one side delivered on the day in what was a horribly one-sided “contest”. 

In fairness, Marr arrived missing perhaps one third of their starting team, but they were only really competitive in the opening quarter. You expected a reaction to losing the opening 40 by five tries to one, but almost the entire second half of this game was played deep inside Marr’s half of the field as the visitors failed to create a single scoring chance after the break until the very last move of the match.

Accies were at their swashbuckling best on one of those days when almost everything they attempted came off, a dream performance that will be difficult to replicate. They got off to a blistering start with a try after three minutes, they claimed another four before the break, and if they were unable to reproduce those fireworks after in the second period, they still managed three more and dominated both possession and territory to an almost embarrassing degree.


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Marr’s collective head visibly dropped as this match progressed. The visitors enjoyed an edge in the set scrum early on, only for Accies to march them back late in the game.

Marr started well enough and were their habitual abrasive selves in the opening exchanges, with centre Conor Bickerstaff scoring a try after 11 minutes. But that first score was their only one until the last move of the match, when Bickerstaff’s fellow-midfielder Nairn Calder took advantage of some tiring defenders to grab a late consolation touchdown.

The visitors were without key players, but coach Craig Redpath can’t have been happy to see his side throw in the towel so early. “I was extremely disappointed in the performance,” said the Marr coach in the aftermath of a difficult afternoon. “We made a lot of mistakes but you have to credit Accies for their performance.

“We didn’t play with intelligence and didn’t make it difficult for them. We just let things happen. But it’s one afternoon, so we will digest it and then move on. It is just one game.”

This was a victory for speed, of thought and deed, over the raw power that Marr bring through their forwards like the ever-green Gordy Reid, still doing his thing at 35, flanker Callum Steel and hooker Scott Clelland. Those three all carried like they meant it, even if the latter sat out 10 minutes of the first half for an innocuous offside offence that snapped the referee’s patience. Accies scored two tries in his absence.

The home side simply had too much pace and skill for the visitors’ defence to keep a lid on. Centre Robbie Kent and full-back Kerr Gossman have the beating of the first defender almost every time they get the ball in hand and in wingers Fraser Lindsay and Lewis Wells the home side boasted able finishers who would take a mile if you gave them a sniff.

Wells grabbed the first one after a good turnover from Accies hooker Callum Black, and the big flyer also scored the third of Accies’ touchdowns following excellent driving work by the home forwards.

Lindsay took advantage of the dancing feet of Gossman to finish off the final try of the first half, Accies’ fifth, and in between time Kent rounded his marker far too easily in the midfield to score. Meanwhile skipper Ruairi Campbell claimed Accies’ fourth towards the end of the first half and their sixth early in the second.

The lanky No 8 was outstanding throughout, at the heart of Accies’ attack and defence. When he wasn’t scoring tries he was creating them with his offloading game and two or three times in the first half alone the leggy breakaway stole Marr’s throw at the sidelines. He was a real thorn in the side.

In the first half Campbell consistently took quick tap penalties, catching Marr on the hop and making massive inroads into the opposition defence. At one point in the second half he even put boot to ball to clear Accies’ lines. Clark Kent surely sports a Ruairi Campbell t-shirt!

In what was a niggly and bad-tempered encounter the Accies skipper was also at the centre of all the skulduggery, pushing and pulling after the whistle in a very successful attempt to rile the opposition.

Fly-half Vincent Hart kicked for position far more in the second half after keeping the ball in hand in the first 40 and both tactics seemed to work just fine given the loss of morale in the Marr ranks.

Campbell’s second-half try was followed up around the hour mark by hard-working hooker Black, who went over the line in the middle of a slow-motion maul that Marr were still unable to halt. He was followed over the line by fellow front-rower Cole Imrie to bring up the 50 points with perhaps 15 minutes still to play.

Accies kicked a penalty and there was still time for Marr to grab a late score and a smidgen of consolation with the clock in the red.

“Marr were missing a good few players,” Accies coach Iain Berthinussen said after the game. “But so were we, to be honest.

“We had a little luck go our way, but I was delighted with the way the boys stuck to the task. With Marr today and Currie next weekend we wanted to put down a marker, because both those two teams beat us pretty easily last season.

“We have worked hard on our attack and that showed today. A lot of things stuck. We will get a better idea of where we stand next Saturday.”

 

Teams –

Edinburgh Accies: K Grossman; M Wallace, R Kent, N Armstrong, L Wells; V Hart, M Love; C Imre, C Black, C Taylor, C Bain, F Simpson, T Drennan, M Walker, R Campbell. Subs: H Campbell, G Ratcliff, M Crowther, B Grainger, F Lindsay.

Marr: C Inglis; M O’Sullivan, C Bickerstaff, N Calder, J Scott; C Sturgeon (captain), G Baird; G Reid, S Clelland, C Miller, D Andrew, C Young, B Jardine, C Steel, C Folan. Subs: A Acton, K McCulloch, J Evans, G Beckwith, E Light.

Referee: Sam O’Neil.

Scorers –

Accies: Tries: Wells (2), Kent, Campbell (2), Lindsay, Black, Imre. Cons: Hart (3), Stephen (2).  Pen: Stephen.

Marr: Tries: Bickerstaff, Calder. Con: Sturgeon.

Scoring sequence (Edinburgh Accies first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-5; 12-5; 14-5; 19-5; 24-5; 29-5; 31-5 (h-t) 36-5; 38-5; 43-5; 48-5; 50-5; 53-5; 53-10; 53-12.

Man-of-the-Match:  Any number of Accies put their hands up, including half-backs Max Love, who kept the defence honest, and Vincent Hart, who bossed things throughout. The forwards stuck to the task and the backs rewarded the front-foot ball with eight tries. But the stand-out player was skipper Ruairi Campbell, who can do it all.

Talking point: Accies scored within three minutes of kick-off thanks to winger Lewis Wells, who joined from Linlithgow Rugby. He looks the part, big and quick and still learning his trade, it makes you wonder how many more raw gems can be unearthed in the lower leagues?


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About Iain Morrison 148 Articles
Iain was capped 15 times for Scotland at openside flanker between his debut against Ireland during the 1993 Six Nations and his final match against New Zealand at the 1995 World Cup in South Africa. He was twice a Cambridge ‘Blue’ and played his entire club career with London Scottish (being inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 2016). Iain is a lifelong member of Linlithgow Rugby Club. After hanging up his boots, he became rugby correspondent for The Sunday Herald, before moving to The Scotland on Sunday for 16 years, and he has also guest written for various other publications.

7 Comments

  1. Everyone in the year deserves a holiday etc. Bit unfortunately we were missing 50% of the team to injury, holidays and work commitments. If you want to do well in this league you need to have a full squad every week!

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  2. David barnes put what ever spin you like on the article.Marr had the edge on the scrum today except 1 scrum late in the game.What to do is block me you would be doing me a favour.

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  3. Fair play to accies today on there win.This is not sour grapes but lets get facts right.Marr had the edge in the scrum today.Stats marr won 3 scrum penalties to accies 1.If you hadnt been at the game you would have thought by this report. That marr were getting shoved back all second half. 1 scrum in the second half accies had the edge and drove them back.Stats dont lie as for who carried and who didnt might be good for the reporters to get actual stats in a game.I think you will find it was different to your report.

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    • Sounds like you are saying: “The visitors enjoyed an edge in the set scrum early on, only for Accies to march them back late in the game.”

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