Honours Even at Fullarton
By Gregor Ness
Selkirk prove a tough nut to crack as we lose the territorial battle
s disappointment at Fullarton as Marr Rugby’s 1st XV drew with Selkirk in a very tight and evenly balanced contest. Going into the final few minutes Marr held a slender three point advantage but Selkirk drew level with a successful penalty conversion after Marr were adjudged to have infringed at a scrum.
The result and results elsewhere meant Marr slipped down to second place in the league, two points behind Jed Forest but with a game in hand. The rescheduled match against Kirkcaldy on 23 February now takes on even more importance.
Selkirk got the first score with only five minutes on the clock and it was reward for the first sustained attack. Probing for any weakness across Marr’s try line they kept possession and maintained their shape and eventually were able to exploit a gap when they spread the ball wide and prop Bruce Riddell was unstoppable as he charged in from 5 metres.
Marr immediately hit back with a converted try to level the score. From the restart Selkirk conceded a penalty that allowed Marr to kick to the corner. The initial rolling maul from the lineout was repelled but Marr followed Selkirk’s earlier approach by patiently maintaining possession and hammering their way towards the tryline. Eventually power pressure from the forwards paid off and it was Stephen Adair who found enough of a gap to propel himself through like a human torpedo and touch down despite determined efforts by several Selkirk defenders to deny this.
During the next half hour leading up to half time play ebbed back and fro. Both sides had chances to break the deadlock but defences were sound. Marr’s backs had good opportunities, making several line breaks but were thwarted by some great cover defensive work. Scott and Conor Bickerstaff were closely police to try to prevent them getting any real space. The breakthrough came just before halftime and it was a second Selkirk converted try. Winning a 5m scrum their scrum half McColm opted to go on the blind side and twisted and turned his way to the line.
Seven minutes into the second half Marr levelled the score. They got off to a flying start and immediate laid siege in Selkirk’s 22 metre area. With dominance though the forwards, in particular herculean efforts from William Farquhar who set a lead that the rest followed Marr managed to cross Selkirk’s line and it was illegal play that prevented the score. Selkirk’s giant lock Andrew Renwick was given a yellow card for his disruptive efforts and Marr opted to go for a scrum from the penalty award. As the pack started to inch towards the tryline Ross Miller executed a perfect number eight pick and go and dived in to score a converted try.
For the following twenty minutes Marr enjoyed increasing dominance in possession and territory but were frustrated by a mixture of good defensive work as well as an unusually high number of errors. This kept Selkirk in the game and the result in the balance.
With ten minutes left Marr pressure was rewarded with a penalty that was within Colin Sturgeon’s range and he duly converted to open up a three point lead. Marr tried to close the match out in the face of increasing Selkirk pressure. With minutes remaining play we in Marr’s 22 metre area. Marr were unable to clear their lines and following a series of scrums Selkirk won a penalty that was converted by Rory Banks.
Referee Duncan McClement indicated that the restart would be the final play so Conor Bickerstaff opted to put in a short grubber kick in an effort to retain possession. He claimed the ball and Marr started a final push towards Selkirk’s line. Marr’s players made headway into Selkirk’s 22 metre area but lost possession when they were held up in the tackle. To the relief of the travelling support the referee blew for fulltime.
As Selkirk celebrated Marr’s players were left ruing a missed opportunity. The break for the six nations allows Marr to regroup and get set for the catch up match and then the final run in as they aim to reclaim and hold on to top spot.
Marr Rugby 1st XV man of the match – Callum Steel (sponsored by Langholm Farm Shop & Tearoom)
Marr Rugby 1st XV scorers
Tries: Stephen Adair and Ross Miller
Conversions: Colin Sturgeon (2)
Penalty: Colin Sturgeon