Vital 5 points at Poynder Park
By Gregor Ness
Marr grab their first win in the borders this season at a crucial time
Match Report - by Stephen Allam
Kelso versus Marr Rugby
Poynder Park Saturday 12th January
TENNENTS NATIONAL DIVISION 1
Marr 1st XV travelled to the borders for the fourth time this season, well aware that they had lost their last three matches in this region, the only matches in Tennent’s National Division 1 where they had tasted defeat.
Marr knew that they were going to face a stern test against a Kelso side that had recovered from their poor start to the season, however, had won their last five home matches, some of these matches against teams that were at the top of the league.
The match kicked off with the wind advantage strongly in the home sides favour. It did not take long for Kelso to secure their first penalty some 30 metres out, for Marr being offside at a ruck. Craig Dods duly converted giving Kelso the initial lead.
Marr soon equalised when Kelso were caught offside with Colin Sturgeon stepping up to equalise from close range.
Kelso then took the initiative to Marr and piled on good sustained pressure that resulted in the Marr’s defence again getting caught offside with Dods converting again to give Kelso the deserved lead.
For the next 20 minutes Kelso completely dominated Marr with many attacks well into the Marr 22m line. Kelso would off scored from a drive 5 metres out, however some strong defensive tackling from Marr resulted in Kelso knocking on.
As the first half drew to a close Kelso mounted another attack. The Kelso forwards growing in confidence powered forward with Marr’s strong defence getting stretched more and more, passed the ball out the their three quarter line and with a sudden switch move it looked like they were going to score the first try of the match. However as the Kelso centre saw the line within in reach and traveling at full pace, could not avoid Oli Rossi who stopped him dead in his tracks. This tackle got a well-deserved gasp from the large home crowd and a loud round of applause from the Marr travelling support.
Kelso did manage another penalty from their stand-off Dods, when Marr captain Conor Bickerstaff was judged to of committed a high tackle.
With one minute left before half time Callum Steel had to retire with an ankle knock and he was replaced by Josh Evans.
The half came to a close with Marr scoring their first try against the run of play. Ross Miller took a quick penalty and charged the Kelso line. The big Marr number 8 was stopped inches from scoring, however Marr managed to keep possession and after a further seven or eight phases drove over the line with Dan Law the eventual scorer.
Half time Kelso 9 Marr 10
The second half kicked off and immediately Kelso went on the attack. The ball was passed out to the right wing however this pass was anticipated by Conor Bickerstaff who intercepted and ran 30 metres down the line. With imminent tackles approaching, Conor kicked the ball forward but was caught by a late tackle from a frantic Kelso defence. Marr full back Liam McLoughlin kicked the resultant penalty right onto the Kelso 5 metre line.
Marr took the line out and won possession and their powerful pack managed to drive forward over the line with Fraser Grant emerging from the bottom of the pile up, to score Marr’s second try.
Marr were now starting to look dominant and the pressure on the Kelso pack stared to show when their prop forward received a yellow card for infringing at a 5 metre scrum.
With the Kelso pack now under strength Marr took full advantage from the penalty scrum with the Marr number 8 Ross Miller controlling the ball at his feet to score.
With Marr now dominant they looked to score the valuable bonus point try and it came five minutes later. Liam McLoughlin kicked a huge 60 metre punt right down the Kelso wing and from the resultant line out Marr scored their fourth try. It was a similar to all the previous Marr tries with the now dominant forwards driving over the Kelso line with Fraser Grant emerging again to be the Marr scorer. Surgeon duly converted keeping up his prefect kicking statistics.
With Kelso now demoralised Marr took full advantage. Colin Sturgeon skilfully put in a huge cross kick aiming for Scott. Scott managed to secure the ball, however the ball was ripped from his arms in a desperate last gasp tackle. The ball broke free over the line and first to pounce on the loss ball was Marr’s opposite winger Jack Scott who had sprinted from his own wing to score is his opposite corner.
This was the last score of the match and made the score Kelso 9 Marr 36.
The match was definitely a game of two halves, however Kelso are an excellent team that look good in possession and have a sturdy defence. However Marr showed great patience and their forwards eventually ground down the stubborn Kelso defence to gain 5 vital league points and maintain their position at the top of National league 1.
Coach Craig Redpath will be happy with this all round performance. The Marr forwards looked very good and our three quarters were simply excellent in defence