Edinburgh Accies 29
LEWIS STUART @ Fullarton Park
IT has been a tough few weeks for Marr, but they bounced back in style with an all-action second-half performance. It saw them come from behind to score 26 unanswered points and walk away with five points from the match.
For Craig Redpath, the head coach, it was a perfect response to a frustrating period and there was no hiding his delight as he reflected on the performance after the break. Even when they were behind on the scoreboard, he maintained, the signs were all there, it just needed something to give them a confidence boost and kick start the recovery.
“I think we dominated the whole game,” he said. “This showed we have our spirit back. That is the real Marr team back in term of how we played. We got on the front foot and the forwards dominated most of the game even though we were behind at half-time. It was just a great performance once we got going.
“I’m heartened that under pressure at the end we held out and didn’t let them in for a second bonus point. The pack were outstanding and once the backs got going we scored two or three good tries.
“Hopefully it is a spring board for us after a few weeks of tough stuff. We have to keep going now. I’m delighted with the win and the performance, the spirit came back, the crowd came back, it was good. We have to win the next few games. We will fight for everything.”
The frustration for Iain Berthinussen, the Accies head coach, was that after taking a 13-point lead into the changing room at the break, his side were the authors of their own downfall. “We were in their half four times in the first half and scored four tries,” he pointed out. “We were really clinical and put them under some real pressure, but unfortunately folded in a 15-minute period when, after being right on their line, we gave away six penalties and let them back into the game.
“They had scrum ascendancy, but we have five props out injured and we had an 18-year-old [Cameron Cartwright] who came off the bench and did really well. That’s the nature of things.
“Our guys will come back and will be better for this game. I don’t agree we are wobbling. We have still only lost three games and are still in the top four so we are going well. In the first half we were really clinical. There may be some issues but we are still confident.”
It really was the proverbial game of two halves and the strong-ish breeze behind Accies in the first half was only a minor factor in that. The fact is that after the break, the home forwards took full control and with such domination up front, the backs had the space to strut their stuff.
It had been a totally different story before the break when Accies gave Marr a lesson in converting pressure into points. They took an early lead when Euan McVie, the teenage flanker, charged down a clearance kick and won the race to touch down for the opening try.
The visitors did fall behind to three penalties from Colin Sturgeon, the Marr fly-half, but were quickly back in charge when full-back Vincent Hart intercepted on his own 22 and had the gas to go all the way to the opposite try line. Add a third try from a line-out maul, Fraser McAslan, the hooker, the man in possession, and two conversions from Hart and they seemed to be cruising.
Marr did close the gap when Ben Johnson, the No 8, found space to cross after their line-out maul was held, but Accies were soon back in charge when the backs produced some slick handling to create some space for Kerr Gossman out wide for the bonus-point try.
That put the visitors 29-13 up and feeling confident when they went into the dressing room, but that was as good as it got. Marr were transformed when they returned to the field, with two crunching tackles in midfield demonstrating their new-found intensity.
Blair Jardine, the hooker, started the recovery with a maul try and then the backs got into the action, tying in the defence and spreading the ball wide to Jack Jacobson, the replacement wing, for the try that, with Sturgeon’s conversion, brought them within a point of their opponents.
By now Marr’s tails were up and the crowd were starting to make themselves felt as confidence flowed into the home camp and away from the visitors. Gordon Reid, the former Scotland prop doing a shift at lock in this game, put them in front as he drove them over, before Jacobson put the icing on the cake after Colin Inglis, the full-back, had created the space for him to go over.
Fullarton Park was now a raucous place to be as the supporters realised they were seeing one of the best performances of the season from their team. Though the rest of the game was scoreless, it didn’t matter to them, they had already done all they needed to do. Marr have some tough games coming up but after this must feel they can still make it into the top four and the play-offs.
Marr: C Inglis; G Montgomery, N Calder, C Bickerstaff, S Bickerstaff; C Sturgeon (C), G Baird; A Rogers, B Jardine, C Miller, D Andrew, G Reid, F Grant, C Young, B Johnston. Subs: S Reekie, R Brocket, C Folan, M O’Sullivan, J Jacobson.
Edinburgh Accies: V Hart; K Gossman, R Kent, M Wallace, L Wells; B Appleson, B Grainger; S Habib, F McAslan, G Ratcliff, C Bain, R Thompson, E McVie, J Sole, R Campbell (C). Subs: C Cartwright, F Riddle, F Simpson, S Broad, F Lindsay.
Referee: D Young.
Marr: Tries: Johnson, Jardine, Jacobson 2, Reid; Cons: Sturgeon 4; Pens: Sturgeon 3.
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: McVie, Hart, McAslan, Gossman; Cons: Hart 3; Pen: Hart.
Scoring sequence (Marr first): 0-5; 3-5; 6-5; 9-5; 9-10; 9-12; 9-17; 9-19; 14-19; 16-19; 16-24; 16-26; 16-29 (h-t) 21-29; 26-29; 28-29; 33-29; 35-29; 40-29; 42-29.
Yellow card –
Edinburgh Accies: Broad (60mins).
Player-of-the-Match: If this was unit of the match, it would go to the entire Marr front five and it is harsh to single one player out. But Gordon Reid, moving to lock, won some key turnovers, carried and tackled hard and scored a key try.
Talking point: Could there be a late-season revival at Marr? After some early-season rebuilding they seem to be hitting form and feel they are poised to make a run into the top four in the second half of the season.