Bonus point at Bridgehaugh
County finish strong to claim victory, although winning with 15 minutes to go we can feel frustrated to walk away with just 1 point
Marr Rugby 1st XV match summary: The last minute withdrawal of Stephen Adair meant that Ollie Rossi was promoted from the bench where we was partnered by Will Farquhar and Fraser Watt who was also promoted to the starting line-up in place of Greg Jackson who was carrying a niggling injury but needed as cover for hooker/prop. Callum Craig was also added to the bench.
Playing into a strong wind Marr got off to a fast and furious start that rattled Stirling. Early possession took play close to the home try line but an error in a promising position conceded a penalty. Stirling tried to play out of defence but made an uncharacteristic handling error that Marr’s backs pounced on to force the defence to knock the ball into touch midway in their 22m area. From the attacking lineout Marr’s pack mauled its way to the line and as it neared the whitewash Ollie Rossi spotted a gap and peeled off to score an unconverted try.
Stirling immediately replied with a converted try scored by winger Logan Trotter whose elusive running off the back of a rolling maul gave notice of the real danger posed by Stirling’s back line that was well marshalled throughout by former Scotland 7s star Peter Jericevich.
The remaining ten minutes of the first quarter was evenly matched before a slip by Marr lost possession and a quick counterattack from Stirling saw the ball spread wide and Kerr Gossman, one of their other international class 7s specialists, danced his way through tackle to score in the corner. For the remainder of the first half Marr started to enjoy good phases of possession and territory but repeatedly they squandered good opportunities to lose possession in threatening and promising position. The lineout was a particular are of misfire with a mixture of good spoiling play from Stirling and slightly off target throwing/jumping by Marr. Marr’s persistence and perseverance paid off as just before half time one of Stirling’s pro player’s second row Callum Hunter-Hill was given a ten minute rest for disruptive play at the breakdown. Taking advantage Marr added an unconverted try this one from Mackenzie Pearce who peeled off a maul and smashed his way through from fifteen metres and despite some strong defence managed to extend his reach to touch the ball onto the line. (Half time Stirling 12 – Marr Rugby 10)
In the opening exchanges of the second half Stirling upped their work rate and started to really pressure Marr’s defence. Within five minutes they were hammering at Marr’s line and Craig Kolarik was given a yellow card for illegally interfering in ruck. As he exited Hunter-Hill returned. Stirling opted for the scrum and after a penalty reset they referee awarded penalty try. Marr responded well and followed Stirling’s lead by playing more aggressively and adventurously while a man down. Two tries followed in quick succession. Tom Steven was released at pace down his wing, taking on and beating the defence on the outside. This was followed by a great team try combining forwards and backs. Conor Bickerstaff won possession inside Marr’s half and took off at sped splitting open Stirling’s defence. As he was closed down and tackled he offloaded to Kaleem Barretop who continued the break racing to the try line only to be stepped about 10 metres out. Marr recycled and pressed forward. As bodies flew in to breakdowns from all sides Scott Bickerstaff came in off his wing to act as auxiliary scrum half and successful took a route one approach from five metres out. Dougie Steele (sponsored by Smart Money Scotland) converted both tries to give Marr the lead.
In the final quarter Stirling got back onto the front foot and retook the lead. Peter Jericevich moved from scrum half to standoff and from there was able to direct the fightback. His players responded well and added three tries to take a comfortable lead. Marr kept battling and were rewarded with a consolation try at the end of the match when Will Farquhar claimed his fifth try for the season as he burrowed his way through a pile of defenders.
At the final whistle Marr’s disappointment was obvious but on reflection in cold light the positives from the match were evident. Importantly their efforts gained what will be a vital bonus point try and as they now look ahead to the start of the reverse fixture the players know what lies ahead and what is needed to add to the points tally.
Marr Rugby 1st XV man of the match: Kaleem Barreto (sponsored by Colin Adam)
Marr Rugby 1st XV scorers
Tries: Ollie Rossi; Mackenzie Pearce; Tom Steven, Scott Bickerstaff and Will Farquhar
Conversions: Dougie Steele (2)