Premiership: Marr prevail at Musselburgh in match scarred by cards

Visitors have five players binned as whistle predominates

Marr got the better of Musselburgh at Stoneyhill. Image: John Durham
Marr got the better of Musselburgh at Stoneyhill. Image: John Durham

Musselburgh 17

Marr 28

COLIN RENTON @ Stoneyhill

TWO sides intent on playing open rugby had their ambitions thwarted in a match that was played against a deafening soundtrack of the referee’s whistle. A massive penalty count and a tally of five yellow cards – all for Marr – tells its own story. 

Both coaches tried to avoid being overly critical of Michael Todd, the man in the middle, but ultimately it was impossible to assess the efforts of the respective teams without alluding to his performance.

“The penalty count was absolutely ridiculous. It’s baffling to think that a referee has to take three or four warnings before he issues a yellow card”, said Musselburgh’s Graeme Paterson. “There has to be a consequence to a team’s actions. And if he has seen that their actions are wrong, and he is penalising them for that, there has to be a consequence, and not just a penalty. That’s what the laws are there to do.”


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And his counterpart Craig Redpath concurred with Paterson’s puzzlement.  “That game was all about the referee, I’m sorry to say, and you can’t get away from the fact that both sides will find it bemusing.”

Redpath, of course, was the happier of the two, despite being on the receiving end of the card blizzard. His side is rounding into shape as the season reaches its conclusion, and he is happy with the progress.

“When we played, we looked good and we defended very well in spells. I would be aggrieved if I was them, because in that first half we had six penalties against us and no yellow card. Then we go and score two quick tries,” he added. “We are delighted with the five points, we looked sharp and a lot better than last week. Every time we got the ball and got into two, three, four phases, I thought we looked like we could score. We made a lot of mistakes, but our defence was outstanding.”

Paterson’s biggest issue was the absence of any reward for a performance showcasing a well-drilled set-piece by a side that continues to evolve.

“I’m just gutted that we deserved something from that game. I have no doubt whatsoever of that and I think the way that we played, the way that we took them on – up front especially – we 100% deserved something from that game. To come away with nothing is just draining”, he said.

 

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Marr edged into the lead when Colin Sturgeon stroked over a 40-metre penalty on the first visit to opposition territory. And from that point on, they were never behind, although they also had no opportunity to relax against a team that refused to concede defeat.

The Musselburgh response was a sustained spell of pressure that yielded a string of penalties. All were comfortably within the range of Danny Owenson, but the home skipper opted to tap and go rather than kick for the posts.

The Marr defence held firm, although the penalty tally continued to rise, and there was some consternation among the home supporters as the referee issued two warnings without following through – a yellow card at this stage might have made his afternoon easier.

Having emerged from that onslaught without conceding points, and with a full complement of players, Marr showed their attacking capabilities to devastating effect with a breakout at pace that ended with recycled ball inside the home 22 finding its way to Callum Steel, who powered over for the opening try. Sturgeon’s conversion stretched the lead into double figures.

And it grew by a further five points after 20 minutes when Steel capped another show of pace by darting in at the corner for an unconverted score.

The home side were soon back on the attack and this time a further flurry of penalties ended with Marr skipper Fraser Grant being despatched to the sin-bin. Musselburgh benefited instantly with the ensuing award booted into touch and Colin Arthur capping a powerful surge to leave the hosts 15-5 adrift at half time.

 

The gap was down to three points within a couple of minutes of the restart when Craig Owenson forced his way over wide on the left and the conversion was good.

Marr responded in kind and, despite strong resistance from the home defence, bagged a third try when Grant blasted his way over from close range.

The latest Musselburgh response led to a further flood of penalties and another warning that eventually led to a yellow for William Farquhar. As they had done earlier, the hosts repeatedly spurned the opportunity to add three points. And they paid the price for that ambition when Marr centre Jamie Shedden carved his way through the midfield and offloaded to Greg Montgomery who darted in wide on the left for the bonus point score.

Marr continued to fall foul of the referee and Craig Miller became the third man to spend 10 minutes on the sidelines. Again Musselburgh capitalised on their numerical advantage, with Sandy Watt racing in for try number three.

Sturgeon banged over a penalty as the game entered injury time and that left Musselburgh seeking two converted tries to win, or one touchdown for two bonus points. They threw everything at a resolute Marr defence but Duncan Hodge was held up over the line and multiple attacks fell just short. In that frenetic finale, Marr ended the match with only 13 men after Angus Johnston and David Andrew were sent to the sin-bin.

 

Teams – 

Musselburgh: R Hindhaugh; S Watt, R Watt, P Cunningham, G Tait; D Owenson©, L Kotze; C Owenson, R Stott, C Arthur, P Brown, C Champion, J Lister, M Crawford, L Hutson. Subs: G Neil, D Hodge, J Haynes, J Crain, R Smith.

Marr: D Steele; S Bickerstaff, J Shedden, C Sturgeon, G Montgomery; C Inglis, S Broad; C Miller, C McMillan, W Farquhar, D Andrew, F Grant©, C Steel, R Brown, B Johnston. Subs: S Adair, B Sweet, A Johnston, J Scott, G Paxton.

Referee: M Todd.

 

Scorers –

Musselburgh: Tries: Arthur, C Owenson, S Watt; Con: D Owenson.

Marr: Tries: Steel 2, Grant, Montgomery; Con: Sturgeon. Pens: Sturgeon 2.

Scoring sequence (Musselburgh first): 0-3; 0-8; 0-10; 0-15; 5-15 (h-t) 10-15; 12-15; 12-20; 12-25; 17-25; 17-28.

 

Yellow cards –

Marr: Grant, Farquhar, Miller, Johnston, Andrew

Man-of-the-Match: There were contenders on both sides, but the man who stood out was Marr back-rower Callum Steel, who was a livewire in open play and among the scorers for the visitors.

Talking point: A good refereeing performance is where the match official is largely anonymous. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case here, where all of the talk among spectators, players and coaches was about the referee.


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About Colin Renton 208 Articles
Colin has been a freelance writer on various subjects for more than 20 years. He covers rugby at all levels but is particularly passionate about the game at grass roots. As a fluent French speaker, he has a keen interest in rugby in France and for many years has reported on the careers of Scots who have moved across the Channel. He appreciates high quality, engaging writing that is thought provoking, and hopes that some of his work fits that bill!

2 Comments

  1. I have read the comments on this article.Regarding the ref and penalty count here is my take.Marr coach craig redpath stood on the side line shouting at the ref we spoke about this before the game ?.The loose head bores in at an angle apparently.Marr were pinned on there 22 re set scrum after another ?.Why because musselburgh loose head was giving marr tight head a doing.What then happened musselburgh team management instead of going for points decided to go for re scrums.If the ref had taken decisive action early on. This would have changed the card count in this game maybe the result.Problem right now in premier rugby the coaches and refs lack technical knowledge on front row play to solve this problem.

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  2. Far be it from me to take away from your comprehensive review but could I possibly point out a factual error. I was perfectly positioned to see the first try and would have put the scorer down as Brown listed as number 7.
    As a neutral supporter of the game I even checked the photos on Marr’s site which appear to back me up.
    Credit where due to the young man.

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