Historic win over Heriots
Last play Sturgeon penalty results in our 25th home win in a row
Marr Rugby 1st XV summary: A landmark in Marr Rugby club history was reached as the 1st XV played their first ever BT Premiership match and Fullarton. Marr Rugby’s ascendency to the top tier of Scottish club rugby has been achieved through hard work and determination of the players and the coaching team. On Saturday the 1st XV matched up against Heriots…a club synonymous with and central part of the elite of club rugby. As anticipated the forwards were outgunned at the set-piece scrummage by a huge pack, whose existing bulk was augmented by the inclusion of Edinburgh pro-player Murray McCallum. Marr’s defence was also well tested by a Heriot’s back line that capitalised on the attacking platform offered by their forwards. Marr’s defence was seriously tested and in the main, responded well. There were one or two slips, with the first occurring after only five minutes of play as Murray McCallum brushed aside tacklers to stroll through and score.
Marr immediately responded with a good attacking move that was spoiled by illegal play resulting in kickable penalty that Colin Sturgeon converted.
As the first quarter drew to a close Marr took the lead with an unconverted try scored by Richard Dalgleish. With Heriot’s dominance Marr were fighting like demons and forced to rely on scraps. A Conor Bickerstaff break split open Heriot’s defence and his attacking line and interaction with Richard was prefect. It created a gap that Richard fully exploited, despite the close attention of Heriot’s fullback Ross Jones. Heriot’s responded with a penalty conversion while Marr, buoyed by their first score, started to show they were able to match Heriot’s in open play. A rampaging break by Kyle Hatherall (sponsored by Glenn Davis) created an opportunity that ended with a Marr try.
As the first half drew to a close Heriot’s switched up another gear and Marr suffered some real tests and added pressure to their creaking scrum. Heriot’s won several penalties in a row and opted to go for the try from attacking lineouts hear to the corner. From these they battered Marr’s line forcing desperate defence. With five minutes of the half remaining referee Duncan McClement adjudged Heriot’s efforts worthy of the award of a penalty try and at the same time a yellow card for Angus Johnston. From the restart Heriot’s made the most of the extra man advantage. Just on half-time they scored their third try as Michael Lines barged through to touch down off the back of a close range attacking lineout.
Half-time score Marr 13 – Heriots 22.
In the second half Marr showed great character, spirit and determination. From the restart they came flying out of the blocks. They survived the final five minutes of the disadvantage of being a man down with no further loss of score. During the following twenty minutes the match started to balance as Heriot’s failed to make the most of their dominance and found Marr’s defence unbreakable. As Marr’s confidence grew they became more adventurous in offensive play with forwards and backs combining well in open play and at the breakdown. Marr’s scrummage also started to settle and this allowed better opportunities for attack.
Approaching the half hour mark Marr won a penalty within kicking distance and Colin Sturgeon converted with ease. With five minutes remaining Marr launched an attack off a lineout just inside Heriot’s half. Scrum half Kaleem Bareto spotted a gap in what had until this point been a watertight Heriot’s defence and he raced into and through the opening. He reached the 22m line and as Heriot’s cover defence closed down on him he offloaded to Angus Johnston who was in close support and he finished the fine move with a score near to the corner. This reduced score deficit to a single point and set up a nail-biting final five minutes in what had been a hugely enthralling match.
With the huge home support in even louder voice Marr threw in everything they had left in their tank to try to get a final score. Heriot’s line was pounded but held firm and in desperate play as Marr closed on the try line they conceded a penalty that allowed Heriot’s to clear their lines. A further penalty helped take them deep into Marr’s and it looked as though they might break the hearts of the home support by adding a knockout blow. Marr’s fifteen had other things in mind as they won turnover ball and cleared their lines. They continued to scrap for every ball and harry Heriots to win turnover ball. As the match drew to a close Greg Jackson, who was making his debut, showed a great turn of pace and strength to break a tackle and sprint 35 metres turning defence into offence. As Marr continued playing through attacking phases Heriot’s conceded a penalty. Mr McClement indicated that time was up so the kick was to be the last play of the game. A hush ensued as Colin Sturgeon set aside his earlier missed conversions from similar range and angles. He lined up his kick and nailed it to secure Marr’s first ever win in the BT Premiership and set off celebrations for the home side and supporters.
As the dust settled Heriot’s rued missed opportunities while Marr acknowledged there was much more work to be done to compete in the Premiership but took heart from the way the side had fought back and claim the win. The players and coaching team now face the daunting prospect of an away trip to Mansfield Park where they will know Hawick will present an even greater challenge.
Marr Rugby 1st XV Man of the match - Angus Johnston (sponsored by Professor Sir James Armour)
Marr Rugby 1st XV scorers
Tries: Richard Dalgleish; Kyle Hatherell and Angus Johnston
Penalties: Colin Sturgeon (3)