BT Premiership



Pictures: Ken Ferguson

A LANDMARK in Marr Rugby club history was reached as the 1st XV played their first ever BT Premiership match and Fullarton.

Marr Rugby’s ascendency to the top tier of Scottish club rugby has been achieved through hard work and determination of the players and the coaching team.

On Saturday they faced Heriot's - a club synonymous with and central part of the elite of club rugby. As anticipated the forwards were outgunned at the set-piece scrummage by a huge pack, whose existing bulk was augmented by the inclusion of Edinburgh pro-player Murray McCallum. Marr’s defence was also well tested by a Heriot’s back line that capitalised on the attacking platform offered by their forwards. Marr’s defence was seriously tested and in the main, responded well. There were one or two slips, with the first occurring after only five minutes as Murray McCallum brushed aside tacklers to stroll through and score.

Marr immediately responded with a good attacking move that was spoiled by illegal play resulting in a kickable penalty that Colin Sturgeon converted.

As the first quarter drew to a close Marr took the lead with an unconverted try scored by Richard Dalgleish. With the visitors dominating, Marr were fighting like demons and forced to rely on scraps. A Conor Bickerstaff break split open Heriot’s defence and his attacking line and interaction with Richard was prefect. It created a gap that Richard fully exploited, despite the close attention of Heriot’s full-back Ross Jones. Heriot’s responded with a penalty conversion while Marr started to show they were able to match Heriot’s in open play. A rampaging break by Kyle Hatherall reacted an opportunity that ended with a Marr try.

In 40 minutes referee Duncan McClement adjudged Heriot’s efforts worthy of the award of a penalty try and at the same time a yellow card for Angus Johnston. From the restart Heriot’s made the most of the extra man advantage. Just on half-time they scored their third try as Michael Lines touched down.

In the second half, Marr came flying out of the blocks. They survived the final five minutes of the disadvantage of being a man down with no further loss of score. During the following 20 minutes, Heriot’s failed to make the most of their dominance and found Marr’s defence unbreakable.

As Marr’s confidence grew, they became more adventurous in offensive play with forwards and backs combining well in open play and at the breakdown. Marr’s scrummage also started to settle.

Approaching the half hour, Marr won a penalty within kicking distance and Colin Sturgeon converted. With five minutes remaining Marr launched an attack off the scrum just inside Heriot’s half. Scrum half Kaleem Bareto spotted a gap in what had until this point been a watertight Heriot’s defence and he raced into and through the opening. He reached the two-metre line and as Heriot’s cover defence closed down on him he offloaded to Angus Johnston who was in close support and he finished the fine move with a score near to the corner.

The Heriot's line was pounded but held firm and in desperate play as Marr closed on the try line they conceded a penalty that allowed Heriot’s to clear their lines. A further penalty helped take them deep into Marr’s territory.

The hosts, however won turnover ball and cleared their lines. They continued scrapping for every ball and harry Heriots to win turnover ball. As the match drew to a close Greg Jackson, making his debut, showed a great turn of pace and strength to break a tackle and sprint 35 metres, turning defence into offence. As Marr continued playing through attacking phases Heriot’s conceded a penalty. Mr McClement indicated that time was up. A hush ensued as Colin Sturgeon set aside his earlier missed conversions from similar range and angles. He lined up his kick and nailed it to secure Marr’s first ever win in the BT Premiership and set off celebrations.

Man of -the match - Angus Johnston.

In National League Two, Marr defeated Biggar 28-16 away. Despite visiting player Bob Hill being red-carded and from the same incident Rudi Marshall being given a 10-minute rest, the 2s won the game.

Meanwhile the 3s found themselves 28 points down to Kilmarnock, before battling back but going down 29-33 in Reserve West 2.