April 8, 2023
Article originally posted on The Offside Line.
COLIN RENTON @ Malleny Park
MARR booked a spot in the last four of the Scottish Cup with an impressive win over a lacklustre Currie Chieftains side. The visitors bounced back from a slow start to deliver a performance that was built on a magnificent defensive effort. The result means they will make the short trip to face Ayr at Millbrae with a place in the final up for grabs on Saturday 15th April.
Marr’s assistant coach Kenny Diffenthal was full of praise for the way his men had performed. “The boys just dug in,” he said. “It was a good squad performance. We’ve been working hard the last couple of weeks when we haven’t had a game and the boys have been focussed on some simple structures, knowing that we were going to be a few bodies down. That showed today because Currie are a class outfit and we knew we would have to be at our top to turn them over.”
Home coach Mark Cairns had a frustrating afternoon, enduring a defeat that marks a disappointing finale to a campaign that had promised much.
“We had a few call-offs on the day, but I still feel we put out a good enough team to win that match,” he said. “We were 10-0 up and you feel that if we just get the next score we’re on our way. But the guys just didn’t work hard enough. They turned up to do just enough, and you can’t do that against Marr. Then when it’s been asked of them to step up, they have been found wanting.”
Matches between these sides are invariably competitive affairs, and this was no exception. The hosts, who were forced into several changes to the listed line-up, had the bulk of the possession in the opening minutes, but it was Marr who came closest to breaking through after a clever break and chip ahead by Jake Jacobsen, although ultimately it came to nothing.
Chieftains were first on the scoreboard when Sam Leto booted a penalty. That provided the impetus for a spell of Chieftains pressure, with Ryan Daley and DJ Innes each having a go at a solid Marr defence.
Then, with 14 minutes played, and Chieftains again pressing, Innes took the direct route, bouncing off one defender and racing in between the sticks to leave Leto a simple conversion that took the gap into double figures.
Marr survived another spell on defensive duties before a visit to opposition territory earned a penalty – and a yellow card for Cameron Lessels – which Colin Sturgeon banged over to cut the deficit.
The momentum was now with the visitors and they drew level after half an hour. A penalty booted into touch provided the platform for a superbly executed catch and drive that ended with Curran McMillan applying the final touch. Sturgeon’s reliable boot delivered the extras and tied the scores.
Then, with the clock ticking towards injury time, another penalty allowed Marr to launch another assault on the home line. The drive was halted, but Ben Johnston picked up the recycled ball and plunged over, with Sturgeon’s successful conversion leaving the visitors seven points clear at the break.
Marr extended their advantage immediately after the restart when a Scott Bickerstaff break and a series of pick and go efforts edged them ever closer before Andrew Acton completed the job. Sturgeon again landed the conversion and he added a further three points to his tally with a penalty a couple of minutes later.
Chieftains needed a swift response, and a powerful surge by Innes took them to within striking distance. However, the Marr defence held firm against a string of attacks and the visitors stole ball at a close range scrum before regaining the initiative.
Chieftains had a let-off when Sturgeon had a rare penalty miss, but the hosts were unable to create any sustained pressure and they were again reduced to 14 men when Greg Cannie saw yellow.
The game was effectively over when the outstanding Harry Murray pinched a Chieftains line-out and the home misery was complete when skipper Rhys Davies was red-carded for a late tackle on Sturgeon.
Currie Chieftains: J McCaig; K McGovern, DJ Innes, G Cannie, R Daley; S Leto, P Boyer; C Anderson, R Stewart, G Carson, E Stewart, J Donoghue, C Ramsay, G Nelson, R Davies©. Subs: E McCallum, A Cameron, S Edwards, K Steel, C Lessels, C Meager, E Crombie.
Marr: C Inglis; J Jacobsen, S Bickerstaff, C Bickerstaff©, J Scott; C Sturgeon©, G Beckwith; G Reid, S Clelland, A Acton, D Andrew, H Murray, C Young, F Grant, B Johnston. Subs: B Nicholl, L Morrison, C McMillan, A Ramage, D Craig, J Evans, M Blair.
Referee: Sam O’Neil
Currie Chieftains: Try: Innes; Con: Leto; Penalty: Leto.
Marr: Tries: McMillan, Andrew, Acton; Cons: Sturgeon 3; Pen: Sturgeon 2
Scoring sequence (Currie Chieftains first): 3-0; 8-0; 10-0; 10-3; 10-8; 10-10; 10-15; 10-17 (h-t) 10-22′ 10-24; 10-27.
Yellow cards –
Currie Chieftains: Lessels, Cannie
Red cards –
Currie Chieftains: Davies.
Man-of-the-Match: On a day when game management was key, Colin Sturgeon controlled proceedings perfectly for Marr, and also weighed in with 12 points.
Talking point: Marr’s win sets up an intriguing derby in the semi-finals, meaning there will be an Ayrshire team in the final, and guaranteeing a vociferous support, regardless of who makes it through.