Marr hang on at Hawick for historic win at Mansfield
A tale of 2 halves as we dig in for a crucial win
Marr’s squad was boosted by the inclusion for the first time this season of a pro-draft player; with Greg Peterson (Glasgow Warriors) bring his experience, height and bulk to augment the pack and partner Ewan Bulger in the boiler house. Marr had also hoped to have James Malcom available but he was withdrawn on Saturday morning. As a result Stephen Adair (sponsored by Toner and McCartney) started at hooker and Ollie Rossi was called into the squad to join the bench. With Ross Miller unavailable Kyle Hatherall was switched to number eight.
Hawick’s powerful pack was bolstered by the presence of Edinburgh prop Kevin Bryce and their pacey back line strengthened by inclusion of another Edinburgh pro player – the experienced Tom Brown.
Marr got off to a flying start and took Hawick by surprise with the pace and accuracy of their attacking plays. In the first ten minutes the home side conceded a number of penalties with two in kickable distance that Colin Sturgeon converted. It wasn’t all one way traffic as for the remainder of the half Hawick got themselves into the game. In the set piece scrum they started to put Marr under pressure and in open play. From a solid platform Hawick’s back line was frequently brought into play and to Marr’s relief some threatening breaks came to nothing due to unforced errors and some resilient. On the quarter hour Marr’s Craig Kolarik was yellow carded for a challenge at a breakdown near to the try line. Marr survived the ensuing onslaught and seven minutes later got some respite as the impressive Guy Graham was given a ten minute rest. Mar made better use of the extra space available and again posed some serious question of Hawick’s defence, with forwards and backs combining well. Conor Bickerstaff (sponsored by CCL Logistics) kept popping up all over the back line and changing the point of attack. Just into the second quarter he drew in two defenders and created an opening for winger Richard Dalgleish, who pinned back his ears and rocketed to the line from 35 metres and just evaded the scramble defence to touch down for a converted try.
On the half hour mark Colin Sturgeon was given a 10 minute breather after a challenge to stop Tom Brown who was going like an express train. Normally being a man down results in a ten point benefit to the side with the extra man advantage. Hawick didn’t manage this as Marr starved them of the ball and embarked on adventurous attacking play. Greg Peterson, Kyle Hatherall, Stephen Adair and Greg Jackson made repeated breenging bursts gaining huge yardage as they put Hawick under the hammer. The pressure finally was rewarded as Jackson cross the line to score a try and Dougie Steele converted.
With half time approaching Marr suffered a blow as Greg Peterson became the third Marr player to be offered a ten minute rest after he slapped down a Hawick pass to disrupt their attack. Hawick opted to kick for the corner from the penalty advantage and from the attacking lineout they bludgeoned their way towards the try line. Marr’s defence was seriously tested but remained solid and winning turnover ball they cleared their lines and brought he half to a close.
Marr survived the opening stages of the second half and resumed to full strength the first 15 minutes was evenly balanced. Then Hawick’s transformation happened, seemingly sparked by some inspired substitutions. This included the introduction of scrum half Greg Cotherhill whose added urgency ignited his teammates. Gaining dominant possession they started to create holes on Marr’s defence and their pacey and elusive running backs, in particular wing Lewis Anderson and centre Dom Buckley were marauding at will. A try from Lewis Anderson started the claw back and within ten minutes they had added two further and with the single conversion brought the difference to a single point. For those on the touchline the final 10 minutes was a nail-biter as Marr managed to stall and stem the Green Machine. Marr closed the defensive gaps and made sure that Hawick weren’t going to find a way through. Some determined work at the breakdowns enabled Marr to win turnover ball and with five minutes remaining opted to close the game out and run the clock down with a series of pick and goes. This attritional approach wasn’t pretty play but was pretty effective. It starved Hawick of the ball and inched deeper into their half. Marr’s forwards and backs were in the thick of it as they threw their all into retaining possession. As full time was indicated Hawick conceded a penalty. This brought a cheer of relief to the Marr support and a sigh of resignation from the home side. Colin Sturgeon had the final say by converting to add another three points to the board.
With a hard earned four points in the bag Marr’s players and coaching team now look ahead some respite and recovery before facing Watsonians in the next league encounter. Hawick were left to rue the missed chances in the first half.
Marr Rugby 1st XV Man of the match – Kyle Hatherall (sponsored by Glenn Davis)
Marr Rugby 1st XV scorers
Tries: Richard Dalgleish and Greg Jackson
Conversions: Colin Sturgeon and Dougie Steele
Penalties: Colin Sturgeon (3)