Heriot’s Blues 20
DOUGLAS ROSS @ Fullarton Park
FAR from a display of champagne rugby, Marr managed to do just enough to take the win with Heriot’s Blues refusing to say die. It was a hardened display of strong forward carrying from both sides, which just needed some slicker passing in the 10-12 channel to really spark the game to life.
Following his side’s narrow victory, Marr head coach Craig Redpath commented: “I’m happy with the win, considering the players we had missing, but disappointed we didn’t come away with the bonus point.
“I thought we were strong in the carry, dominant with ball, but as soon as we scored we switched off and then Heriot’s came back and they kept coming back at us. It kind of epitomises our season at the moment. But a wins a win and we know we have boys coming back next week [when the two sides meet again but at Goldenacre this time]. It’ll be a different team and a different game.
“It’s kind of been our season at the moment, making the wrong decisions, but it’s not through the want of trying by the players. It’s just making the right decision in the pass but I think we’ve been working really hard on that.”
Decision making and passing were a concern for both sides throughout the match but never more so than in the first half. After an arm-wrestle back and forth, it was Marr who opened the scoring on 10 minutes with a Callum Inglis penalty.
Despite Marr having the better of the possession, it was the visitors who managed to get the first try. After a couple of penalties, they utilised their driving maul from a line-out in the 24th minute before sending winger Craig Robertson over for the try.
Marr responded by setting up camp in the Blues’ half, using their superior scrum to keep the pressure on the visitors. Bulldozing winger, Tom Stevens, touched down for the home team in the 31st minute off the best midfield play of the game so far.
Despite the game still being in the balance at 8-5 at half-time, both sets of fans would have been looking for a lot more from their respective teams. One Marr stalwart on the side line describing it as a ‘damp squib’. It was a fair point.
Marr took the game to Heriot’s and tried to keep the ball in the forwards when in dangerous positions. This paid off in the 50th minute, when second-row Gordon Reid rumbled over, setting up a straight forward conversion for Inglis from in front of the posts to make it 15-5.
Heriot’s responded quickly, opting to go for posts from a 30 yard penalty opportunity in the 53rd minute, with substitute Graham Wilson slotting the kick to bring his side right back into the contest.
Five minutes on from their kick and Heriot’s were back on the scoreboard, this time touched down by hooker Matthew Toward off another line-out drive. Wilson was unable to convert, leaving the match at 15-13 on the 58th minute.
Suddenly, the match came to life. Inglis, having a mixed performance at this stage, was sent under the posts after the hard yards had been made by Marr’s bullying forward pack. With conversion, it was now 22-13 and it should have been a simple end of game for the home side.
However, with 15 minutes to go, Marr seemed to take their foot off the gas and Heriot’s had their best spell of the whole game, although they had wait until the 72nd minute to finally get their try. After a few slick behind the back passes from winger Robertson, fly-half Ross Jones found himself with the ball in his hands and winger Charles Dineen in acres of space. A pin-point cross-field kick did the trick, and Wilson’s conversion meant it was 22-20 with just over five minutes to play.
Marr took the game to Heriot’s in the final minutes and pushed for the bonus point try, but to no avail.
“The emotion is frustration, I think,” said Blues head coach Phil Smith. “Playing the reigning champs, away from home, we’re still finding our feet, and not getting the chance to win in the last five minutes is frustrating.
“Our line-out was good, and we laugh, but in the warm-up it was appalling. So, we had no idea how it was going to go but it just clicked. But that’s just mindset, I suppose.
“Our forward play was good, our back play was okay, we defended really well. We didn’t get a lot going but it’s difficult to run in conditions like today.”
Marr: J Scott; J Jacobson, N Calder, C Bickerstaff, T Stevens; C Inglis, G Baird; A Rogers, B Jardine, C Miller; D Andrew, G Reid, E Bulger, C Young, C Folan. Subs used: S Reekie, C Steel, M O’Sullivan.
Heriot’s Blues: P Christie; C Dineen, O Quinn, R Kay, C Robertson; R Jones, R Thomson; M Bouab, D Dineen, S Cessford; S Johnstone, L Gordon, M Keogh, I Hill, A Johnston. Subs used: M Toward, G Wilson, R Steel.
Referee: David Sutherland
Marr: Tries: Stevens, Reid, Inglis; Cons: Inglis 2; Pens: Inglis.
Heriot’s: Tries: Robertson, Toward, C Dineen; Con: Wilson; Pens: Wilson.
Scoring sequence (Marr first): 3-0; 3-5; 8-5 (h-t) 15-5; 15-8; 15-13; 22-13; 22-20.
Man-of-the-Match: Marr prop Craig Miller was a bully on the ball, solid in defence and scrummed superbly.
Talking point: Despite the game being dominated by the forward packs, the cross-field kick from Ross Jones to Charles Dineen to touch down in the corner was a pleasure to watch. A little bit of magic in an otherwise brutish affair.