Marr 10 Melrose 24

By Kevin Quinn
at Fullarton

MELROSE’S solid performance in difficult conditions secured back to back wins at Fullarton against Marr – this time with success in the BT Cup that takes them into the last four as they seek to defend the trophy.

This tie wasn’t a reprise of the easy run of last week’s league encounter as Marr provided a much sterner test.

The home side managed to breach the yellow wall on two occasions and in defence they emulated Melrose and clearly showed they had learned from the previous game.

Nevertheless the visitors were comfortable winners scoring three tries and one penalty along the way.

It was another composed and mature performance where the side enjoyed great swathes of possession and territory and executed scoring moves as and when the opportunity presented.

Marr provided a greater change but Melrose’s players were more than capable of coping with what was tried.

Fraser Thomson showed the way for the Borders side in defence and more often than not he was in the forefront of stymieing Marr’s attacks and setting up counter attacks.

It took 15 minutes for Melrose to open the scoring. A Marr mistake provided a penalty that was kicked to the corner.

From the lineout Melrose tried several close range pick and go’s before Russel Andrew spread the ball wide.

The catch was missed but Jason Baggot reacted quickest as the ball as it spilled into open space. From close range he spun out of the first tackle to twist and turn and score a try converted by Craig Jackson.

During the following 20 minutes the visitors enjoyed good possession and territory but Marr’s defence was unyielding.

On 35 minutes Melrose launched another penalty kick to take play into touch close to Marr’s line. In a textbook catch and drive Melrose’s pack drove over the try line but was illegally prevented from scoring.

Referee Mike Adamson had no qualms in awarding a penalty try and sending Marr’s skipper Angus Johnston to the sin-bin.

To their credit the home side weren’t going to lie down and quickly they struck back. Marr’s forwards were actively involved in getting things going.

Marr’s Fraser Ferguson was impressive as he made his Premiership debut, while Ross Miller was his usual nuisance with several testing breaks.

Just before half-time Ferguson’s midfield break made the hard yards which Ross Miller built upon.

As Marr spread the ball wide they spotted a gap and made the most of this as Toby Buchanan and Scott Bickertsaff combined well to create an overlap that was run into the corner.

Five minutes into the second half Melrose struck again with a try from James Head converted by Jason Baggot.

It was another pack led score from a lineout drive and after some deliberation and peeling away of bodies over the ball, the referee adjudged that the score had been made.

As the match entered the closing stages Melrose showed good maturity in managing the time down. With five minutes remaining a converted penalty from Baggot ended their scoring.

Marr got the last score with a consolation try that involved some nifty interplay between Ross Miller, Angus Johnston and Grant Baird.

This released prop Greg Jackson into space and he raced in from 30 metres.
After the final whistle Melrose reflected on a win that was ground out in difficult conditions.

It wasn’t pretty rugby but it was pretty compelling for the players and supporters who were involved.
It was a blood and guts affair and the physical battle left some casualties for Melrose, who will now assess how quickly key players Grant Runciman and Craig Jackson will recover before their home match against Heriots.

Melrose scorers: tries – Jason Baggot, James Head and penalty try. Cons – Craig Jackson and Jason Baggot. Pen – Jason Baggot.