Marr Rugby round-up: Winning weekend – Dominant 1s go top, Revitalised 2s broken hearted by last play score, 3s left kicking their heels as GHA pull out of match and Marr College champions again
Marr Rugby senior results
Tennent’s NL1: Dundee High Rugby 0 - Marr Rugby 35
Tennent’s Reserve League 1: Marr Rugby 28 Ayr RFRC 29
Over the weekend Marr Rugby’s sides delivered feast of high quality and exciting rugby action. Starting on Friday evening the 2s narrowly lost to Ayr who scored a final play converted try to snatch the victory. In recent weeks the 2s have continued to improve and a big crowd on the touchline enjoyed a keenly and close fought derby match where Marr nearly pulled off another shock result against a leading team. Earlier this season in the reverse fixture Ayr’s winning margin was almost 60 points so the progress and improvement is evident.
On Saturday morning Marr College completed their final round of matches in this season’s Barbarian Conference when they played Ayr/Wellington. Wins across the age groups meant that Marr College completed the season as Champions. This is a back to back success as Marr were the defending Champions. The achievement included impressive performances from the U18’s and U16’s who both were undefeated in their nine matches during the campaign.
The afternoon’s action was limited to the 1s away at Dundee after GHA Lion’s made a late call-off to their fixture against the 3s.
At Mayfield the 1s claimed a bonus point win scoring five tries while also preventing Dundee from getting anything on the scoreboard. Man of the match Colin Sturgeon marked his return with a try and five conversions.
See 1st XV match photos here
Marr Rugby’s 1st XV’s took top spot in National League 1 after their bonus point win at Mayfield allowed them to leapfrog Jed-Forest who could only draw against Aberdeen Grammar
Marr’s performance and result at Mayfield was achieved with a much changed side. Injuries from the last outing against Cartha meant that influential players Ben Johnston and Ross Miller were absent from the pack and Jack Scott from the back line. The return of Colin Sturgeon proved a real bonus as it allowed coach Craig Redpath to reshape his back line with Conor Bickerstaff returning to inside centre and Richard Dalgleish switching to the wing expanded Marr’s attacking options. In the pack Josh Evan’s was called up from the 2s and Fraser Grant started at number 8. Callum Steele, Curran McMillan and Liam Wallace were called up from the 2s to join the bench.
Marr started off at a fast and furious pace as they immediately set out their intent of wide attacking play. With Dundee’s rush defence deployed it needed some creative play to make line breaks. On five minutes Richard Dalgleish’s clever chip let him drop the ball into space behind the first line of defence and as he chased his kick his pace was sufficient to beat the cover defence to touch down and score near the corner. Colin Sturgeon added the additional points with the first of five successful conversions.
Dundee worked hard in defence as they provided a dark blue wall to prevent Marr getting much return out of their possession. They also enjoyed good periods of possession but in a similar vein found Marr’s defence unbending. The next break for Marr came at the start of the second quarter. Marr’s pack had secured dominance at the set piece scrum and lineout and from these platforms the backs were enjoying good quality ball. Marr encamped near to Dundee’s line. The home side found themselves under severe pressure. Repeated infringements were penalised and Marr confidently opted for the option of playing from a 5m scrum. Following a penalty Dundee lost a player to a yellow card and Marr capitalised in the following play as Colin Sturgeon blasted through from close range.
Playing a man short Dundee’s determination and spirit showed through as for the remainder of the ten minutes they held possession and prevented Marr for enjoying and further points advantage.
Just before half time Marr once again managed to unlock the home defence. The break came as Findlay Hazel and Scott Bickerstaff delivered a masterclass in pace and passing interplay to break through the cover defence. As Scott Bickerstaff found open space he turned on his afterburners to race in and score.
The opening quarter of the second half was scoreless as Dundee and Marr continued to defend well. At the start of the final quarter Marr once again encamped in Dundee’s 22 metre area. Scrum dominance brought them to a perfect attacking position close to Dundee’s line. Fraser Grant’s pick up and drive saw him cross the line and touch down only to have try disallowed as referee Lee Fish viewed a slight knock on as the ball was grounded. Marr immediately made amends by winning the resulting scrum against the head and Fraser Grant made sure of the points as he burrowed his way through a pile of defenders.
Marr’s final score came on 72 minutes after the defence was stretched to allow Liam McLoughlin to race in to score in the corner. Dundee closed the game with a number of good attacks but their energy and effort went unrewarded as Marr’s defence held firm to keep a blank sheet.
News of the result from Riverside Park brought added joy to the Marr support. As the season starts the reverse fixtures we have the top five clubs separated by only five points. NL1 is once again shaping up for a real tussle for the top spot with little margin for error between the pack chasing the title. In coming weeks Marr will face Jed-Forest and Musselburgh in must win matches to maintain the momentum.
Marr Rugby 1st XV man of the match – Colin Sturgeon (sponsored by Craig Armour)
Marr Rugby 1st XV scorers
Tries: Richard Dalgleish; Colin Sturgeon; Scott Bickerstaff; Fraser Grant and Liam McLoughlin
Conversions: Colin Sturgeon (5)
On Friday night Marr Rugby’s 2nd XV just missed out as Ayr snatched victory with a final play score after a classic local derby match. Title chasing Ayr started as hot favourites, knowing that they had comfortably won the previous encounter by a huge margin. Marr’s starting line-up and squad included a number of changes due to injury and other unavailability. Rudi Marshall switched to cover scrum-half and partner Craig Kolarik making his final appearance for Marr. Aaron Rankin returned at centre and following a lengthy absence due to injury Chris Galloway started on the wing. With Fraser Miller and Neil Wallace starting in the front row Mark Allison switched to the second row to add some much needed bulk to Mar’s pack.
Ayr started at a blistering pace as they tried to blast Marr away. Under extreme pressure Marr held firm and as they soaked up repeated attacks they started to find their own attacking opportunities. On the quarter hour mark Marr opened the scoring as Chris Galloway latched on to a cross kick from Craig Kolarik to gather the ball and race in to score. Ayr quickly responded with a converted try to take the league. This started a seesaw as the lead changed hands. Murray Beckwith’s blistering line break allowed him to add Marr’s second try and Craig Kolarik slotted a 35m drop kick but an Ayr try and penalty say them lead 15-17 at halftime.
In the first quarter of the second half Marr regained the lead. Staring with a try from Curran McMillan following a five minute period where Marr was encamped near Ayr’s line and extended by a Rudi Marshall penalty Marr gain a slender advantage. This set the scene for a final quarter where the play was fast and furious. Ayr clawed back with a try to leave a six point gap. In the closing play Ayr won turnover possession and launched a final onslaught. This gained a matching winning try and conversion. As Ayr celebrated getting off the hook, Marr’s players, coaches and supporters were left exhausted and disappointed to have come so close. However, in the aftermath the more considered view was that the improvements from Marr’s 2s continue and with the same effort and commitment wins will start to come their way.
Marr Rugby 2nd XV man of the match – Craig Kolarik
Marr Rugby 2nd XV scorers
Tries: Chris Galloway; Murray Beckwith and Curran McMillan
Conversions: Rudi Marshall (2)
Penalties: Rudi Marshall (2)
Drop Kick: Craig Kolarik
Marr Rugby next fixtures - Saturday 24/11/18
1s - Away v Watsonians (Cup)
3s – Away v East Kilbride 2s (League)
Updated 19:24 - 15 Jan 2019 by Kevin Quinn