Edinburgh Accies 14
DAVID BARNES @ Fullarton Park
DESPITE being 17-0 down, the visitors will probably have been the happier of the two sides at half-time given that they were about to play the second 40 minutes with the strong wind which was blowing right down Fullarton Park at their backs. But they failed to harness that advantage, and although two late scores for Marr slightly skewed the final result, there was no doubt that the hosts deserved to win by a comfortable margin.
“I thought we were in complete control, that interception try [midway through the second half] gave them a wee sniff, so there was a few mistakes in there, but I’m reasonably happy,” was victorious head coach Craig Redpath‘s typically sober assessment. “It was tough conditions with the wind, but the boys did well. We scored a few good tries and left two or three more out there. We’re getting there slowly but surely.
“The try we scored just after half-time was important because if they’d scored first and it had gone to 17-7 with their tails up it would have been a tough old fight. It’s Hawick away next, which is a huge game, they’ve not lost at home. Then Hawks away, which will be tough as well. So two big matches.”
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It looked ominous for Accies when they were shunted off the ball on their own scrum and Marr hooker Curran McMillan burrowed over a few phases later to set up an easy conversion for Calum Inglis which made it 7-0 with six minutes played.
And the hosts should probably have scored again a few minutes later when the Conor Bickerstaff nipped through a gap then released brother Scott, but the killer pass to the men queueing up outside did not come, meaning the visitors weathered that early storm without suffering too much damage on the scoreboard.
With scrum-half Ben Afshar and centres Neil Armstrong and Robbie Kent all looking lively as Accies tried to bypass the wind by attacking from deep, Marr had to do their share of defending during the first half – but they managed to soak up everything that came their way before extending their lead, with Jamie Shedden‘s powerful surge in field from the right wing doing the initial damage, before Jack Scott finished off wide on the left.
Marr got try number three on 35 minutes when a scrum penalty was kicked to just short of the Accies 22, and the line-out was rolled home against some fairly pitiful resistance, with David Andrew finishing off.
The arrival off the bench of Colin Sturgeon‘s steadying hand was evident from early in the second half, with the stand-0ff finishing off the bonus point try following a quick tap-penalty from Scott after an Accies high tackle. That was a critical moment.
The hosts just seemed to find it that little bit easier to make headway into the wind, while the visitors struggled to build pressure though territory and possession, although they did pull points back when Ru Smith intercepted in midfield and galloped home from 30-yards.
Sensing that they had a chance of taking something from this tough mission away to the league leaders, Accies upped their game, and Marr were fortunate not to see yellow for collapsing maul as it rumbled towards their line. But the visitors kept the pressure on, and Kent’s try followed by Ben Appleson‘s tricky conversion made it a 10 point game with 12 minus to go.
The wind had picked up and it looked like things were about to get interesting, but Fraser Grant recaptured momentum for the hosts with a rampage up the middle of the park, which established the field position for Stephen Adair to muscle over.
Accies were down to 14 men at this point with tight-head prop Ed Stuart perhaps harshly in the sin-bin for a high tackle, and Shedden went over in the final play to add an extra gloss to the home team’s victory.
“You couldn’t fault our guys after the first half, we had given away just three penalties and at 17-0 we were well in it,” reflected Accies head coach Ian Berthinussen. “I think in the second half we tried to play the territory game one or two phases too quickly without manipulating their back-field, and our discipline fell away at the end.
“Having said that, they were sitting on 16 penalties, including two crucial ones in their own 22, and never saw a yellow. We conceded six and got a yellow, so what can you do?
“With a few guys missing we’ll take a lot from that, and look forward to seeing them at Raeburn Place at the end of January.”
Marr: G Montgomery (C Sturgeon 41); J Shedden, S Bickerstaff, C Bickerstaff, I Turaga; C Inglis, J Scott; B Sweet (M Pearce 52), C McMillan (S Adair 63), W Farquhar, D Andrew, G Reid, F Grant, R Brown, H Murray.
Edinburgh Accies: B Appleson; H Janes, R Kent, N Armstrong (R Mill 41), M Sinclair; W Stephen, B Afshar (J Troup 65); C Imrie, C Black (F McAslan 52), E Stuart (R Orr-Ewing 31-62), J Mills, S Whittaker (A Inwood 62-68, Black 75), F Simpson, T Jones (R Orr-Ewing 78), R Campbell.
Marr: Tries: McMillan, Scott, Andrew, Sturgeon, Adair, Shedden; Cons: Inglis, Sturgeon 3.
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Campbell, Kent; Cons: Appleson.
Scoring sequence (Marr first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 17-0 (h-t) 22-0; 24-0; 24-4; 24-7; 24-12; 24-14; 29-14; 31-14, 36-14; 38-14.
Yellow cards –
Edinburgh Accies: Stuart (72mins)
Man-of-the-Match: There was several big performers on both sides, but Marr hooker Curran McMillan was a big contributor as a carrier, distributor, competitor on the deck and defender. There was a couple of wobbly line-out darts but the conditions were tough. And he even got the ball rolling with his team’s opening try.
Taking point: At the ripe old age of 38, Ed Stuart made his first appearance for Accies 1st XV in five years at tight-head prop, having converted from the second-row. He looked like he might be in trouble at the first couple of scrums, and the engagement was clearly a challenge all afternoon, but he hung in there, contributed in the loose and managed 50 minutes in total. His yellow-card was perhaps harsh, and he joked himself afterwards that at least it wasn’t for back chat. Some effort by the big guy.