Helensburgh’s last game of the season was against Marr on Saturday. Despite requests, the game could not be moved to a midweek fixture and it followed the club’s end of season and award dinner held on Friday night. Unusually the selected team were abstemious a reflection of their commitment. All three award winners, player of the season Phil Rogers, young player Connor Slader and most improved Kane Greggain were all selected for the starting line-up.
On the face of it there was nothing to play for, however Marr were looking for the perfect season – winning all games with a four try bonus point in each. Burgh were keen to try and spoil the party by showing just what they were capable of. A tough task as no other team had even managed a losing bonus point for getting within seven points of the recent National Shield champions.
From the kick off Marr showed their intent with some strong attacking rugby. Their talented set of backs were soon in action and it wasn’t long before slick handling and fast feet created the first try for the visitors. This was converted by the Marr fly half.
Helensburgh showed real character by some impressive attacking defense and soon the forwards and backs combined to threaten the Marr line. Strong runs from captain McNee, playing back at hooker, Feltham, Inglis and the impressive Slader resulted in Clipston showing great strength and barging over from five metres. Sterry failed to convert when his left foot slipped.
Marr continued to threaten and despite herculean efforts and a huge tackle count Marr scored again as their jinky fly half carved through the defence. A fantastic effort with all players putting their bodies on the line pegged the score to 5-12 at half time.
The second half started much as the first. Marr showing great hands with angled running taking them to another try under the posts. The conversion was easy and the score now 5-19 could Burgh hit back? Sterry playing at fly half had his game of the season and he caused the Marr defence all sorts of problems. When in possession Burgh varied the game with strong runs around the breakdown from Musset, Flannagan and Clipston. In defence awesome tackling and strength at the ruck meant that Marr were often pushed off the ball. Gibson returning to the team was outstanding in the loose and with Greggain a safe pair of hands in the line outs.
From one of Burghs midfield attacks replacement Drake showed his customary pace and strength to touch down for Burgh’s second try. Converted by Sterry the sore now 12-19; was this to be the come back? It was not all one way as Marr continued to threaten with strong attacks. Flying defence from Greggain, Slader and Sterry disrupting the visitors. In a game where most penalties were used to gain ground not points a rare kick for goal from Sterry sailed through taking the score to 15-19.
Marr attacked again and were unlucky not to score as they knocked on over the line. Helensburgh rallied again and Sterry gathering his own clever kick through scored close to the posts. This was converted and the unthinkable was happening Helensburgh were ahead 22-19. This was unknown territory for Marr. Helensburgh were believeing they could win and pressured the Marr line again. From an attack in the corner Drake sliding in just missed the try as brave defense from the Marr winger took the ball into touch, rendering him unconscious. The break in play disrupted the momentum and a penalty within the Marr 22m line was run as the referee counted down the time. Marr seemed to run the ball as there was no time on the clock and they wanted to keep it alive. From three phases of tapped penalties the Ayrshire team showed why they have won the league by scoring in the corner. A dejected support watched the failed conversion and the referee blow his whistle for full time; final score 22-24. The end of a fantastic game of rugby, probably the best display of guts shown this season. Marr themselves admitted it was their hardest game of the season and they were lucky to win. This bodes very well for next season and we look forward to seeing all players old and new for the pre-season training.