Premiership: Marr dig deep to return to winning ways against Heriot’s Blues

Scott Bickerstaff scores a hat-trick for the hosts

Blair Jardine carriers for Marr versus Heriot's Blues. Image: Jonathan Pearce
Blair Jardine carriers for Marr versus Heriot's Blues. Image: Jonathan Pearce

Marr 45

Heriot’s Blues 34

IAIN HAY @ Fullarton Park

MARR bounced back from last week’s surprise defeat here at Fullarton to Musselburgh but they were made to work hard for it by an adventurous Heriot’s side who landed plenty punches of their own in this tumultuous, action-packed encounter.

“We can score points, we’ve done it most of the season, but it’s also fairly clear we give away points too easily, and that’ll be a big focus for us”, said Heriot’s head coach Phil Smith, whose side remain sixth in the table.

“We need to stop letting teams back in the game when we have a bit of control and we’re looking okay, because, we’ve given away a number of tries today on things that we could’ve stopped. We need to reflect and work out how we’re going to stop doing that, based on the fact that, generally, we’re good attack-wise.


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“We’ve scored 33 points away at Hawick, we’ve scored 34 points here at Marr and we’ve come away with two league points which is just really frustrating.”

Kick-off was delayed by 10 minutes due to the visitors’ late arrival because of roadworks but they didn’t let that fluster them and they took a deserved early lead through left-winger Fraser Stanier finishing off in the left corner.

However, Marr hit back almost instantly through Scott Bickerstaff, weaving in off his wing to score and make Colin Sturgeon’s conversion easier than the one Kenta Kutsuna had faced for Heriot’s.

A Kutusna penalty edged Heriot’s into the lead, however, from the restart came an extremely similar situation to the one George Horne had forced in the previous night’s Glasgow Warriors match, when Calum Smith charged down the box-kick clearance, and although his ‘Hail Mary’ pass from the touchline didn’t find a teammate, it did deflect off a Heriot hand to give Marr the throw only five metres out. Smith himself was the man to take the ball over the line from the maul.

The potent Bickerstaff boys can usually get Marr out of a jam, and when captain Conor Bickerstaff scored a try all of his own making, dashing through midfield and bumping the last man, you assumed this would be Marr on their way, but Heriot’s weren’t going away.

An excellent break through the middle from Trent Storen didn’t quite lead to a try because Rory Kirkpatrick’s pass didn’t find its target, but when possession was kicked back to them they went through their phases, into the Marr 22, and Luke Townsend dived over.

A nasty clash of heads saw Struan Cessford go off and Marr capitalised on his missing experience, completing the scrum and working it wide for Greg Montgomery to go in in the right corner, but again, straight from the restart, Heriot’s won a penalty which gave them field position and, after a string of further penalties which they repeatedly sent to the corner, Ali Johnston scored from the maul to leave it poised at 26-20 as the teams hit the sheds.

 

A botched line-out saw Marr fail to increase their lead from close-range early in the second period, but they made up for it at the next set-piece. The scrum seemed to pop up with no sanction called by referee Michael Todd and Marr broke down the left through Blair Jardine along with earlier try-scorer Smith, the backs then took over and spun the ball wide to Scott of House Bickerstaff to claim his second.

Heriot’s came back again. Marr’s Ben Johnston saw yellow for a high tackle in his own 22, although it may have been for the accumulation of penalties as much as the foul itself, and after a kick to the corner, replacement Rory Jackson found himself in acres of blindside space only a few metres from the try-line. Kutsana’s successful conversion reduced it to a one-score game at 33-27.

Heriots’ own openside Matt Dillon then saw yellow – perhaps harshly – for “impeding” a quick tap-penalty, they then opted to scrum and Sturgeon waltzed his way through a hole but didn’t quite have the turbo to make the line, however Jake Jacobson was on hand to finish in the next phase.

An almighty penalty touch-finder from Kutsuna again saw Heriot’s reduce the arrears, this time Keir Singleton finishing off on the right-wing after the forwards had given the pick-and-go a few bashes, but another outstanding Scott Bickerstaff finish put the game to bed, even though he also saw yellow towards the end for obstructing a quick tap.

“I’m a little bit frustrated, we had a really good week of prep after last week’s disappointment but we shipped them too many points, so it will be a big focus this week as we’re away to Hawick so we’ll need full focus on our defence I think,” offered a relieved Kenny Diffenthal afterwards.

 

Teams –

Marr: G Montgomery; S Bickerstaff, G Paxton, C Bickerstaff, J Jacobson; C Sturgeon, G Baird; B Sweet, S Reekie, A Rogers, D Andrew, F Grant, C Smith, B Johnston, B Jardine. Subs: G Dick, C Young, K Vallance, G Beckwith, C Inglis.

Heriot’s Blues: T Storen; P Christie, B Kay, K Kutsuna, F Stanier; L Townsend, G Wilson; A Munro, D Dineen, S Cessford, N Docherty, M Keough, R Kirkpatrick, M Dillon, A Johnston. Subs: R Jackson, J Lascelles, C Shand, K Singleton, A Hunter.

Referee: Michael Todd

 

Scorers –

Marr: Tries: S Bickerstaff 3, Smith, C Bickerstaff, Montgomery, Jacobson; Cons: Sturgeon 5.

Heriot’s Blues: Tries: Stanier, Townsend, Johnson, Jackson, Singleton; Cons: Kutsuna 3; Pens: Kutsuna.

Scoring sequence (Marr first): 0-5; 5-5; 7-5; 7-8; 12-8; 17-8; 19-8; 19-13; 24-13; 26-13; 26-18; 26-20 (h-t) 31-20; 33-20; 33-25; 33-27; 38-27; 40-27; 40-32; 40-34; 45-34.

 

Yellow Cards –

Marr: Johnston, S Bickerstaff

Heriot’s: Dillon

 

Player-of-the-Match: A slight blot on the copybook for a yellow but a hat-trick of excellent tries – including two terrific solo finishes – sees Scott Bickerstaff take the virtual bottle of champagne.

Talking point: By my count, penalties conceded were Marr: 13, Heriot’s: 5. So, expect Kenny Diffenthal and his team to be having stern words this week. “Discipline is something I talk about and focus on a lot, so that’s really worrying and disappointing as up until now it’s been really good,” he said afterwards


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About Iain Hay 73 Articles
New to the freelancing journalistic world as of August 2019, Iain has previously written for The Scottish Rugby Blog since 2017, covering matches for Glasgow Warriors, Scotland and opinion pieces. Can also often be heard on their podcast flapping his gums about the oval-ball (technically, it’s ellipsoidal) game and being pedantic. Is rumoured to believe that Finn Russell is The Messiah. Does the Twitter thing, but doesn’t like it.