DOUGLAS ROSS @ Fullarton Park
MARR march on with their play-off ambitions still very much alive after a convincing win over a spirited but ultimately ill-disciplined Jed-Forest side.
The home team burst into the game from the off and were quickly rewarded when winger Jack Scott made a bulldozing run, breaking through two tackles and dragging a third defender over the try-line in the third minute.
Marr crossed the whitewash again in the eighth minute when full-back Calum Inglis touched down to double their lead. Captain and fly-half Colin Sturgeon kicked the conversion and soon after found himself slotting a penalty to make the score 15-0 and Jed were facing a long, tough afternoon.
However, with a bit of good fortune and some quick reactions, Jed’s outside centre Gregor Young pounced on a loose ball in his own half and made the 60 yard sprint to score under the posts (but not before he was tackled into said posts), and Finlay Scott’s conversion made 15-7 and the visitors were somehow back in the match having barely touched the ball.
Five minutes later Jed managed to peg the score back to just 15-14, after a beautiful display of soft hands between the centre pairing put winger Robbie Shirra-Gibb in for his first of the match.
It didn’t take long for the pendulum to swing back into Marr’s favour though. Jed’s discipline let them down in their own 22 and Marr capitalised with two tries in quick succession from Scott. Giving the young winger his hat-trick before the half-time whistle had blown.
Marr were also galvanised by the performance of flanker Blair Jardine. He was a man possessed at times; tackling everything that moved, taking kick-offs in the air, making a complete nuisance of himself at rucks, and carrying the ball into contact with genuine ferocity. The Jed forwards could not handle the pace he was creating in the game.
Another penalty by Sturgeon made it 30-14 at the break.
The second half started with a mini-fightback from Jed prompted by their inside centre, Owen Cranston, jinking past a static Marr defence and touching down in the 41st minute.
But Jed’s celebrations were short-lived and the match, once again, swung back to Marr who scored through a bulldozing run from Jardine. A just reward for his overall performance.
After that Marr try, the match seemed to settle into itself for the first time all afternoon. Both teams sharing possession, but Marr still looking the more dangerous.
With an hour gone, Jed found themselves down to 14 men when No 8 Ben Fotheringham was shown a yellow-card for a high tackle. This was not the first high tackle of the game from Jed and it was clear that the referee’s patience had run out.
Despite the numerical disadvantage, it was Jed who scored the next try. Cranston made a superb line-break before sending Shirra-Gibb home for his second of the match.
In keeping with the theme of the day, Marr responded five minutes later with a try of their own when No 8 Fraser Grant bundled over the Jed line straight from a five metre scrum.
Marr put the game beyond doubt with five minutes to go when Gordon Reid smashed his way over. Tempers flared after the try, when the majority of players on the pitch decided to get involved in a bit of handbags. Once the pushing and shoving was quelled by the referee, Sturgeon slotted the conversion to make it 51-28.
A consolation try from Finlay Scott finished the scoring, leaving. Marr deserved winner of this extremely entertaining game.
“We got the job done and played some really good stuff,” said Marr head coach Craig Redpath. “We started really well but there were obviously some mistakes. We know Jed, with their backline, are always going to create opportunities. But I thought we played well. The first 20 minutes were really good.
“Next week is another cup final for us. We have to win to keep the pressure on Selkirk, and just try to do the same thing again. The result is more important than the performance, but I thought our performance was really good today.”
Andy Brown, Jed-Forest’s head coach, said: “It’s obviously not the result we were looking for. We came here with confidence and we came here wanting to play.
“We didn’t execute our game plan. We gave too much ball away, gave away too many penalties, and we didn’t handle the referee well enough.
“On the back of that we did play some really good rugby. We scored five tries but it was just inconsistent throughout the game.”
Marr: C Inglis; A Ramage, S Bickerstaff, S McDonald, J Scott; C Sturgeon, G Baird; G Reid, S Clelland, C Miller; D Andrew, C Folan, C Young, B Jardine, A F Grant. Subs used: C McMillan, A Acton, R Brown, L Morrison, G Beckwith.
Jed-Forest: C Young; M Cullen, G Young, O Cranston, R Shirra Gibb; G Munro, A Bambrick; A Sweenie, F Scott, H Meadows; G Young, C Skeldon, E Lauder, B Roff, B Fotheringham. Subs used: J Story, L Elder, L Walker, R Marshall.
Referee: Rob McDowell
Marr: Tries: Scott 3, Inglis, B Jardine, Grant, Reid; Cons: Sturgeon 5; Pens: Sturgeon 2.
Jed-Forest: Tries: G Young, Shirra Gibb 2, Cranston, Scott; Cons Scott 4.
Scoring sequence: 5-0; 10-0; 12-0; 15-0; 15-5; 15-7; 15-12; 15-14; 20-14; 25-14; 27-14; 30-14 (h-t) 30-19; 30-21; 35-21; 37-21; 37-26; 37-28; 42-28; 44-28; 49-28; 51-28; 51-33.
Yellow cards –
Marr: C McMillan
Jed-Forest: B Fotheringham
Man-of-the-Match: Marr flanker Blair Jardine was a force to be reckoned with all over the park, leading by example in the tackle, in the ruck and with ball in hand.
Talking point: Gregor Young’s 60 yard break to score Jed’s first try was a shot of adrenaline which the away side desperately needed, and shows just how dangerous the Borderers can be given half a sniff, but they couldn’t match Marr’s all-round game here.