Edinburgh Accies 21
COLIN RENTON @ Raeburn Place
MARR turned on the style in a rousing final quarter to take a five-point haul that has virtually assured the Ayrshiremen of a home play-off. The bonus-point Accies garnered makes it mathematically possible to claim second spot, but that would take an unlikely sequence of results. The visitors didn’t quite fire on all cylinders, but when they reached the heights in the closing stages, they underlined their title credentials.
“They won the physicality and the breakdown for 60 minutes,” said Marr coach Craig Redpath in crediting Accies for their contribution to an entertaining contest. “I’m delighted with our performance in the last 20. It’s now just about us trying to win every game.
“I thought we played pretty well, considering things weren’t going our way, so we won a game when it was tough”, he added. “We are getting better. That’s the good thing for me, as long as we continue the upward curve.”
In the home camp, assistant coach Chris Martin acknowledged that errors at key moments had cost Accies and allowed Marr to become the first side to win at Raeburn Place this season.
“Second half in particular we let them back into the game with a bit of ill-discipline and maybe kicking at the wrong times,” he said. “It’s fine margins at this level and Marr took their opportunities, while we maybe just let a couple slip.”
“We’ve said all season that we’re still searching for that performance when we play to our potential. I think we’ve done an amazing job – I can’t praise the boys enough for the effort they have put in to get us into the play-offs, but now that we’re here belief is growing and we want to see how far we can take it. After today, we wouldn’t mind a return fixture at Troon.”
The visitors started well and a 50/20 kick by Dougie Steele created the platform for a spell of pressure that tested the Accies defence but failed to threaten the whitewash. Having survived Marr’s strong opening, Accies gradually built some momentum and as they pressed for the opening points they forced an offence from Jordan McLean who was despatched to the sin-bin. The hosts profited immediately from their numerical advantage, opting for the scrum and driving over to leave Ruari Campbell the task of applying the final touch. Will Stephen booted the conversion.
Despite being shorthanded, Marr enjoyed another spell in the ascendancy but again it proved fruitless and Accies extended the lead when Finlay Simpson was foiled just short and Jamie Troup picked up the recycled ball then dummied his way over for a clever score that Stephen again converted.
Marr trimmed the deficit just before half time when Scott Bickerstaff took a quick penalty and thundered over, but the gap grew again when Vincent Hart darted through a gap and tried to offload as he was caught just short of the line. Steele’s attempt to intercept produced a knock-on that resulted in yellow for the Marr full-back and a penalty try for the home side.
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Accies were in control at this stage and set about bagging a bonus point score. However, Marr were far from finished, and they gave themselves a glimmer of hope when Sinjin Broad sent Ben Johnson over and Colin Sturgeon converted.
The momentum had shifted completely and Marr looked likelier than Accies to score. And so it proved after 71 minutes when a couple of assaults near the posts were followed by some slick passing that saw the ball shipped out wide for Jamie Shedden to dot down in the corner. Sturgeon banged over the conversion to leave the visitors two points in arrears.
Accies were looking increasingly desperate. The hosts managed to hold firm until two minutes from full-time when another quick penalty by Bickerstaff sucked in a couple of defenders and left just enough space for Fraser Grant to take the recycled ball and crash over between the sticks. Sturgeon’s conversion completed the comeback and left Marr within touching distance of cementing second spot in the table.
Edinburgh Accies: B Appleson; H Janes, R Kent, V Hart, M Sinclair; W Stephen, J Troup; C Imrie, C Black©, C Lacour, J Mills, F Simpson, J Sole, M Walker, R Campbell. Subs: R Montgomery, A Winnington-Ingram, S Whittaker, B Grainger, M Wallace.
Marr: D Steele; S Bickerstaff, J Shedden, C Sturgeon, G Montgomery; C Inglis, S Broad; B Sweet, B Jardine, W Farquhar, D Andrew, J McLean, F Grant©, C Steel, B Johnston. Subs: C McMillan, C Miller, J Evans, J Scott, G Paxton.
Referee: H Davidson
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Campbell, Troup, Penalty; Cons: Stephen 2.
Marr: Tries: Bickerstaff, Johnston, Shedden, Grant; Cons: Sturgeon 3.
Scoring sequence (Accies first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 14-5 (h-t) 19-5; 21-5; 21-10; 21-12; 21-17; 21-19; 21-24; 21-26.
Yellow cards –
Marr: McLean, Steele.
Man-of-the-Match: There were several contenders on each side, but in the end it came down to two Marr players who displayed the commitment and endeavour that eventually secured the win, with Ben Johnston just pipping Scott Bickerstaff.
Talking point: Marr showed in a rousing final quarter that there is plenty of character in this squad, and, if they produce 80 minutes of similar rugby, they will take some beating.