Report by Matt Vallance
CLICHE warning, here was a classic “game of two halves.” At the break, with Marr 26-10 ahead and with the try bonus point already bagged, it seemed a case of how wide their winning margin might be. At that stage spread betting aficionados would have been going for a winning margin greater than the eventual 16.
But, as home coach Craig Redpath admitted, his side dropped-off the pace in the second period, however, this gives him something to work on before Saturday’s visit to Edinburgh Academicals.
“I’m delighted with the points and that we played some good stuff,” he said. “We blooded some new guys and debutants. Andrew Ramage and Nairn Calder both got tries, which was pleasing; however, we are still, at this stage, a work in progress.”
Opposite number Derek O’Riordan was happy with the way his side kept going. “When we could get front foot ball, we looked good,” he said. “We were poor in the first half, but they cut out the mistakes and were better in the second. Before the break we maybe played too-much rugby in the middle third. In the second we played more in the right areas and our self-belief grew. After a poor pre-season, there was more to be pleased with today.”
Musselburgh had the first ball-in-hand chance early in the game, but Marr cleared, kept the pressure up and after a maul was nullified by the visitors, four pick-and-go phases stretched the visiting defence for Blair Jardine to open the scoring in the fifth minute, Colin Sturgeon converting.
The home pack kept up the pressure and on 12 minutes they doubled their advantage, Sturgeon again converting after Fraser Grant ran a great line off an advancing maul. The home pressure continued and in 19 minutes a third try arrived, debutant Andrew Ramage finishing-off a flowing handling movement. No conversion this time.
A ruck offside allowed skipper Danny Owenson to open the Musselburgh account from a penalty, but Marr nullified this score quickly when Jardine ran a superb in to out line off ruck ball for the bonus point try, converted again by Sturgeon.
Musselburgh, however, had the final say in the half when Tom Foley scored a brilliant solo breakaway try, which Owenson converted to make it 26-10 at the change-round.
The speed of the Marr ruck ball had been a feature of the first half and it was off a lightning delivery that the fifth try came on 45 minutes – a thrust down the blind side, Jack Scott kicking ahead and Scott Bickerstaff beating the kicker in a race for the loose ball and the try, converted by Sturgeon.
But, Scott was not to be denied, slaloming through the visiting defence for a try between the posts, meat and drink to Sturgeon for the extras.
Leading 40-10 with half an hour left, Marr visibly relaxed, then as the benches came on, they lost their way a bit while Musselburgh’s refusal to concede paid dividends. The visiting pack had been second all afternoon, but, re-grouped and tight-head Colin Arthur breenged over for a try converted by Owenson.
Musselburgh then had to go to unopposed scrums due to a shortage of props and this definitely hurt Marr, who took off Gordy Reid, who had been enjoying himself up until that point. Musselburgh kept going doggedly and a wonderful solo run by replacement Calum Marshall set-up Callum Champion for their third try, again converted by Owenson.
Then, when a Marr handling movement broke down in midfield, Rory Watt pounced on the loose ball and sprinted 50 metres for the visitors’ bonus point try, converted by Owenson.
This awoke Marr from their slumbers, Reid returned for an unopposed scrum, off which Scott Bickerstaff broke up the wing and passed inside to Nairn Calder for the final try of the game, converted by the reliable Sturgeon.