Marr make history at Malleny winning the Tennent's Premiership title
It was a crisp spring afternoon at Malleny Park, with the stage set for a thoroughly entertaining fixture as Currie Chieftains hosted Marr in the Tennent’s Premiership final.
Full-back Charlie Brett kicked things off for Currie, taking the boys in yellow into their opposition's 22. Within just 50 seconds of the match beginning, the visitors conceded the first penalty of the game, and Currie opted to kick for posts to claim an early lead. Stand-off Sam Leto saw the ball safely across the posts to deliver the opening points (3-0).
Marr took the restart into touch at the edge of Currie’s 22-meter line and the forwards set themselves up for the first line out of the game. Retaining the ball at the line out, Marr then began plotting phases of play which would edge them closer to getting their first points onto the board.
Marr continued to probe around at Currie’s 22, but the defensive effort from the hosts was unwavering. However, Currie were next to concede a penalty and Marr opted to kick to the corner for another lineout some 5 meters from the whitewash.
A tight lineout was followed by a maul, with Marr peeling from the back going blind in search of a try, taking them within stretching distance of a try. Utilising their forward pack to pick-and-go at the breakdown, hooker Blair Jardine was the Marr man who managed to propel himself over the whitewash. Inside centre, Colin Sturgeon added the extras taking the score to 3-7.
From the restart, a knock-on from Marr saw the forwards pack down for their first scrum of the game. It took some time for the scrum to settle, but on a second attempt, with Marr collapsing the scrum, Currie were once again awarded a penalty, and opted for another kick at the posts. A successful kick saw Leto add another 3 to Currie’s tally (6-7).
An engaging 15 minutes of rugby followed, with both teams enjoying ball in hand. Currie worked incredibly hard to keep Marr pined in their own half for quite some time, before a break in the line saw the visitors some 10 meters away from the try line. It looked like Marr were going too add five points to their scorecard, but the referee blew his whistle with Currie offside. Marr looked to extend their lead with a kick to posts from Charlie Brett, but the kick fell short, and the score stood still.
It was time for another restart and once again Currie conceded a penalty, with a tackle deemed to be high by the referee, allowing Marr to nudge the ball deep into Currie’s half. Retaining the ball at the line out, Marr were on the hunt for try number two. With controlled phases of play, dominated by the forward pack, it was loose-head Brandon Sweet who would dash across the line for another 5 points for Marr. A close-range kick for Sturgeon, which sailed over the posts took the score to 6-14.
The hosts were looking to get back into the game, and they worked extremely hard to make most of their time with ball in hand, but Marr’s defensive efforts would thwart every opportunity.
However, with just 10 minutes left on the clock in the first half, it looked like a Currie score was coming as Brett made a break away run into Marr’s territory. As Currie recycled the ball, the pass was overly powerful and reached the side-lines rather than the hands of Ryan Stewart.
But the referee took play back for a Currie penalty and Joe Reynolds sent the ball to Marr’s 5 meter-line for the line out. Moving at pace, the forwards began chipping their way at Marr’s defence, and after several phases of play, it was Cairn Ramsay, who had only joined the field of play minutes before, that claimed Currie’s first try. A straight forward kick to goal for Leto followed, and the score was settled at 13-14 with just five minutes to go. A tight contest indeed.
Whilst it looked like Marr may have had a third try in them in the first half, Currie’s defensive efforts put a stop to their plans. However, the final phase of play in the opening 40 saw Currie’s DJ Innes penalised for not releasing on the floor, and with Marr placed firmly in Currie’s half, Sturgeon took a kick for the posts, extending their lead to 13-17 as the half-time whistle blew.
Half time: 13-17
After a quick 10-minute break to regroup, the action got back underway at Malleny Park.
A physical contest followed in the opening 10 minutes of the second half, with neither side quite able to capitalise on the opportunities presented to them.
However, it was in minute 53 when the tides would turn for Marr. Attacking from the half way line, a break through Currie’s defence from Brett saw the full-back dance his way along the right wing, before nudging the ball deeper into Currie’s territory. Whilst the ball was gathered by Currie’s Gregor Nelson, 5 meters out from the whitewash, referee Ross Mabon blew his whistle awarding Marr a penalty with Nelson holding onto the ball.
The following scrum set the stage nicely for two phases of play which would then see captain Fraser Grant cross the whitewash from close range. With Sturgeon adding extras, Marr’s lead was extended to 13-24.
Despite Currie being firmly planted in Marr’s half and showing that they had the patience to chip away at the purple and gold defence, Marr were able to shut down every chance the hosts had for five points.
But finally, with 71 minutes passed on the clock, Currie scored their second try of the game. Winning Marr’s line out, the forwards edged their way closer to the try line before the ball was recycled and put through the back line, finding the hands of Reynolds who soared across the try line. Converting his own kick, the score was now 20-24.
A quick and pressured restart found Marr deep in Currie’s half. Despite being just 10 meters away from their try line, Currie opted to play with the ball in hand. Sustained pressure around the breakdown saw Marr push Currie further towards the try line. As Currie looked for options to get rid of the ball this close to the line, pressure from Marr forced the ball to slip from Reynolds’ hands, and lightning fast reactions from Sturgeon saw the inside centre grab the ball and dot it down for five points. Sturgeon converted his try and extended Marr's lead to 20-31.
There was still plenty fight left in Currie. And with just two minutes left of the clock, a grubber kick from James McCraig following a break through Marr’s defence allowed Ryan Daley to gather the ball and dart over the line. It was a difficult kick for Reynolds to convert, and unfortunately the ball hit the posts (25-31).
Although there was only one minute left on the clock, Marr were still looking to grab another try. A turnover of the ball by Marr at the edge of Currie’s 22, the visitors steadily edged themselves forward, with Currie working hard to defend. \After several phases and lots of patience, it was Craig Miller who scored Marr’s fifth and final try of the game, sealing their fate as the Tennent’s Premiership league winners.
Earlier this week, Fraser Grant, captain of Marr RFC said on the Official Scottish Rugby podcast that the club’s rise through the ranks from regional rugby to the Tennent’s Premiership over the last 14 years felt like a ‘fairy tale story’, and today as he and his team-mates lift the Premiership trophy to become champions of the league for the first time, it has to have felt like their happily ever after.
Full time: 25-36
15. Charlie Brett 14. Ryan Daley 13. Joe Reynolds 12. DJ Innes 11. Cammy Meager 10. Sam Leto 9. Paddy Boyer 1. Graeme Carson 2. Ryan Stewart 3. AP McWilliam 4. Hamish Ferguson 5. Cody Roman 6. Wallace Nelson 7. Fergus Scott CAPTAIN 8. Rhys Davies
Replacements: 16. Sean Fisher 17. Gregor Scougall 18. Cairn Ramsay 19. Gregor Nelson 20. Cameron Lessels 21. James McCraig 22. Fraser Sayers
15. Dougie Steele 14. Scott Bickerstaff 13. Gregor Paxton 12. Colin Sturgeon 11. Jack Scott 10. Calum Inglis 9. Grant Baird 1. Brandon Sweet 2. Blair Jardine 3. Craig Miller 4. David Andrew 5. Fraser Grant CAPTAIN 6. Angus Johnston 7. Robert Brown 8. Ben Johnston
Replacements: 16. Curran McMillan 17. William Farquhar 18. Gordon Reid 19. MacKenzie Pearce 20. Sinjin Broad 21. Matt O’Sullivan 22. Nairn Calder