IAIN HAY @ Fullarton Park
MARR swept past Currie Chieftains into second place in the Premiership table with a big win over decimated, makeshift Jed-Forest outfit at a windy, chilly ‘Fortress Fullarton’.
Jed head coach David Grieve had acknowledged in the build-up that the odds were stacked against his side, and the task was made even more difficult as he was forced into making the long trip from Jedburgh with only 16 available players, and two back-rowers forced into the centre positions
“We’ve used 47 players this season – although I don’t know where we’ve found 47 players about, but we’ve used that many – and the sixteen who came up today: they stuck in,” said Grieve.
“It was always going to be a tricky scoreline but they stuck in, and in the second half [when Marr had the wind] we only conceded 28 points which was a huge positive from us. We had 11 forwards on the pitch, so we [the coaching group] want to thank them for their spirit and commitment.
“It’s a tricky time for the club, how do we keep them motivated and committed? The club gave questionnaires to the players because we want to know what they want, and the club’s willing to listen and do it. It’s just about getting the boys down to training and getting them involved.”
Marr opened the scoring after only two minutes and, going into the final quarter with the hosts on 66 points, thoughts in the crowd had begun to turn to: ‘What will they do with the scoreboard if we reach triple-figures?’
Callum Folan had grabbed that opening score, and soon afterwards Jake Jacobson out-paced Lewis Young on the outside before stepping in past the last man, and he nearly doubled his personal tally seconds later, only for the final pass to be called forward.
After the scrum, Marr regained possession and Greg Montgomery showed good feet before unselfishly passing to Grant Baird for an easy finish, and then Jacobson did get his second, a simple finish in the left-corner, perhaps more notable for Colin Sturgeon’s excellent touchline conversion in treacherous tee-kicking conditions.
Lock David Andrew scored his first of a hat-trick with a delicious dummy and burst for the line, but Jed then got themselves on the scoreboard through Young, scoring from close-range after a line-out which was the kind of try usually reserved for a front-row.
The visitors then got a second mini-victory when preventing Marr from scoring by turning them over on the try-line.
It was a pyrrhic victory, though, as the clearing, wind assisted kick came back with interest, with the back three of Montgomery, Jack Scott and Jacobson making the major inroads before Ali Rogers dived over.
A bullet-pass from Baird to send Andrew over again and a try from tight-head Alex Apthorpe saw a ruthless Marr over the 50-point mark before referee David Young blew for half-time.
Andrew completed his hat-trick early in the second half, only for Jed to reclaim the restart with a clever grubber which eventually saw Harvey Keith over the line to level the scores in the half … that was until Robbie Baird came off the bench for Scott and made a big impact.
First he showed lovely feet to dance around Robbie Shirra-Gibb, and although he was denied a quick-fire second by a combination of Shirra-Gibb and Young, Young’s ‘Hail Mary’ as he approached the touchline landed in the hands of Sturgeon, and another replacement, Callum Smith, finished off.
Baird did get his second try by grubbering and running around Dan Wardrop, he stumbled over the try-line but was able to get back on his feet to dot the ball down in-goal and spare any potential blushes, and it proved to be the last points of this statement-sending win.
“It was one of those games that can be quite tough to stay focused on the stuff we want to work on,” said Marr coach Kenny Diffenthal. “Obviously, it’s a depleted Jed team, but it was really good to see the guys stick at the fundamentals, like we asked them to”
“Scott Bickerstaff picked up a hamstring niggle in the week so it was good to give youngsters a chance to gain some experience because we knew Jed would never give up, and fair play to them.
“There was a few lapses of concentration in attack towards the end of the first half and we could have been even more clinical, but that’s quite harsh when you look at the scoreboard.”
Marr: G Montgomery; J Scott, G Paxton, C Bickerstaff, J Jacobson; C Sturgeon, G Baird; A Rogers, B Sweet, A Apthorpe, D Andrew, F Grant, C Folan, C Young, B Jardine. Subs: S Reekie, C Smith, K Vallance, R Baird, C Inglis.
Jed-Forest: L Young; B Irvine, E Lauder, B Fotheringham, R Shirra-Gibb; O Cranston, M Glen; J Ferguson, H Keith, D Campbell, C Skeldon, J Hynd, G Law, D McNeil, D Wardrop Subs: J Bowie
Referee: David Young
Marr: Tries: Folan, Jacobson 2, Baird, Andrew 3, Rogers, Apthorpe, Baird 2, Smith; Cons: Sturgeon 10.
Jed-Forest: Tries: Young, Keith.
Scoring sequence (Marr first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 17-0; 19-0; 24-0; 26-0; 31-0; 33-0; 33-5; 38-5; 43-5; 45-5; 50-5 (h-t) 52-5; 57-5; 59-5; 59-10; 64-10; 66-10; 71-10; 73-10; 78-10; 80-10
Yellow Cards –
Jed Forest: Fotheringham
Player-of-the-Match: With apologies and a doff of the cap to hat-trick rocking lock David Andrew, the catalyst for a number of Marr’s tries and attacking intent was full-back Greg Montgomery. He chewed up metres, made breaks and drew defenders before delivering killer-passes.
Talking Point: Even if he is used to the wind, for Colin Sturgeon to only miss two conversions from 12 in these conditions was highly impressive, and when it comes to crunch time, keeping that scoreboard ticking could be crucial.