Premiership: Marr see off Heriot’s Blues with second half surge

Last season's champions won't throw in towel in fight to make the play-offs

Marr’s Calum Inglis breaks clear against Heriot’s Rugby Blues. Image: Malcolm Mackenzie
Marr’s Calum Inglis breaks clear against Heriot’s Rugby Blues. Image: Malcolm Mackenzie

Heriot’s Blues 33

Marr 43

COLIN RENTON @ Goldenacre

MARR produced an exceptional second half performance to clinch a third successive Tennent’s Premiership win and preserve their hopes of reaching the knockout phase of the competition. For their part, Heriot’s, who deservedly led at the break, faltered as Marr stepped on the accelerator, but had the consolation of a four try bonus point to help ease the disappointment. 

Home coach Phil Smith was left ruing what he saw as a re-run of a bad movie, saying: “It has kind of been typical of our season. We have had mostly good first halves, and mostly awful second halves. Credit to Marr in the second half, they put us under pressure by not giving us the ball. Our penalty count in the second half must have been astronomical.”

That mounting tally led to two yellow cards and was a sign of Marr’s raised intensity after the restart. “In the second half we had enforced changes and that actually helped us,” said Marr head coach Craig Redpath. “I don’t know if it was our tempo or they ran out of steam, but we played really well in the second half. I’m just delighted to get the win.”


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Redpath is happy with the progress his squad is now making, but knows there is limited margin for error over the remaining weeks of the campaign. “We are slowly getting there, but all we can do is just keep building on it,” ehe said. “Every week is a cup final for us. We must win all our games to have a chance of getting in the top four.”

Heriot’s, having lost the reverse fixture seven day’s earlier by just two points, raced from the blocks and tested the opposition defence a couple of times without success before opening their account in the fourth minute. A patient build up involved moving the ball left before changing direction and switching it right where Paul Christie raced onto a Ross Jones pass and broke the final tackle to finish in style. Graham Wilson was on target with the conversion.

The hosts lost a second successive line-out in the visitors’ 22 and that allowed Marr to build some momentum, but the first opportunity for the visitors to attack the home line also foundered at a close-range line-out, although a spell in the ascendancy eventually yielded points after 20 minutes. Gordon Reid was involved twice in a move that saw the ball smuggled to Scott Bickerstaff on the wing and he launched a mazy run that took him past a handful of defenders before he darted in between the sticks for an outstanding solo try, leaving Colin Sturgeon a straightforward conversion to tie the scores.

Heriot’s responded immediately. A first successful line-out of the match created the platform for a series of pick-and-go efforts that ended with Craig Robertson adding to his impressive try tally, with Wilson again landing the kick.

Marr responded in kind when Blair Jardine threw in at a close-range line-out then peeled off from the ensuing drive to plunge over, Sturgeon was off target with the conversion attempt, but he was soon showing his playmaker skills as Marr produced their best phase of the half.

That spell of pressure failed to produce points and Heriot’s regained the initiative then extended their lead a minute before the break. Sean Johnstone gathered lineout ball and launched a multi-phase attack that ended with Struan Cessford barging over. Wilson again banged over the conversion.

The champions thought they had bagged a third try just before the break when Sturgeon sparked an attack that saw the ball transferred through three pairs of hands before he took a return pass and dotted down in the corner. However, the ball was deemed to have gone forward and, although Marr ended the half in the ascendancy, they failed to add to their tally and trailed by nine points at the interval.

 

It was crucial for the visitors to claim the next points, and they set about achieving that objective with a solid start to the second half. And, after a kick to the corner followed by a drive that was thwarted just short, Craig Miller picked up and flopped over the whitewash. Sturgeon’s conversion trimmed the deficit to two points.

Marr were now in full flow and they were handed a numerical advantage when Jones was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle. While he was serving his time on the sidelines, the visitors took the lead for the first time. They opted for a scrum from a penalty award inside the home 22 and, as the Heriot’s pack retreated, Fraser Grant dived over. Sturgeon again converted, and he also added the two points nine minutes later as Marr took control of the game and Ali Rogers emerged from a heap of bodies to claim the touchdown after a powerful drive.

With the Heriot’s penalty count mounting, Johnstone replaced Jones in the sin-bin. Sturgeon opted to take the three points before the home side secured the bonus point try when the ball was moved wide and Callum Anderson was on hand to crash through the final tackle.

Jack Scott finished off a slick handling move featuring Sturgeon and Bickerstaff by darting over in the corner for try number six, with Sturgeon again converting, but Heriot’s had the last word when Cessford forced his way over for a second time and Wilson converted.

 

Teams –

Heriot’s Blues: I Kay, C Dineen, P Christie, R Carmichael, C Robertson; R Jones, G Wilson; M Bouab, D Dineen, S Cessford, S Johnstone©, L Gordon, A Johnston, I Hill, C Anderson. Subs: M Toward, A Bogle, M Keough, R Thomson, G Kirkpatrick.

Marr: C Inglis; G Montgomery, M O’Sullivan, C Bickerstaff©, S Bickerstaff; C Sturgeon©, J Scott; A Rogers, B Jardine, C Miller, D Andrew, G Reid, E Hamilton-Bulger, C Folan, F Grant. Subs: C McMillan, C Young, C Steel, G Beckwith, J Jacobson.

Referee: Scott Cubitt

 

Scorers –

Heriot’s Blues: Tries: Christie, Robertson, Cessford 2, Anderson; Cons: Wilson 4.

Marr: Tries:  S Bickerstaff, Jardine, Miller, Grant, Rogers, Scott; Cons: Sturgeon 5; Pen: Sturgeon

Scoring sequence (Heriot’s Blues first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-5; 7-7; 12-7; 14-7; 14-12; 19-12; 21-12 (h-t) 21-17; 21-19; 21-24; 21-26; 21-31; 21-33; 21-36; 26-36; 26-41; 26-43; 31-43; 33-43.

 

Yellow cards –

Heriots’s: Jones (52mins), Johnstone (61mins)

 

Man-of-the-Match: Marr benefited from the return of several key man, and the player from that group who stood out was Colin Sturgeon. He sparked the Marr attack into life in the second half with a series of runs and his excellent distribution.

Talking point: Marr have made life difficult for themselves with some mixed results so far, but if they can keep key men fit, it would be foolhardy to rule them out of making the play-offs.


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About Colin Renton 235 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!

1 Comment

  1. Geat game of rugby and advert for premier rugby.The match report is a tad disappointing.Marr had a 20 year old and a 22 year old prop playing today.And for 80min gave heriots a torrid time.Driving them about the park and wining penalties and scoring tries.This was the platform that marr fed off for their win today.Its not hard to give an accurate account of the game.

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