MATT VALLANCE @ Braidholm
THE Tennent’s Premiership season 2021-22 ended with a nine-try flourish in the Braidholm sunshine. Neither of these sides will be involved in the end-of-season play-offs, but, they signed off by taking enough from the game to offer encouragement for next season.
That point was made by Jed’s Neil Cook, who said: “This wasn’t the result we were looking for, but, credit to GHA, who worked us out well. I am disappointed that we didn’t get a bonus point, but, realistically, our season was over in December. We know we lack depth, but,we’ve got some good guys here. It’s been a difficult season, between injuries and Covid, but now we will enjoy ourselves in the sevens and look to rebuild for next season.”
Opposite number Trevor Carmichael was naturally delighted with his side’s six-try win. He said: “I thought we had a degree of control in the first half, but with the Youngs you can never relax and Jed showed the pride in the jersey you expect from a Borders outfit. It’s been a long season, but I hope we can find a bit more consistency next season, while some of our younger players will be better for this.”
The home team made the better start and took the lead in only two minutes, winger Benoit Jouary touching down from a clever Andrew Goudie cross-kick, with Adam Scott adding the extras. GHA continued to dominate and increased their lead in seven minutes, Jouary again touching down following good three-quarter handling, with Luca Bandelli putting his fellow-winger over. This try went unconverted.
Jed regrouped, however, and off an attacking lineout they got over, but couldn’t get the ball down. They also lost Robbie Yourston, who was injured in the build-up. However, they kept their foot on GHA’s neck and off another line-out the Young brothers combined to good effect, Lewis breaking the gain line to put Gregor in at the posts and leave Finlay Scott with a simple conversion.
The visitors continued to hold a territorial advantage, until Max MacFarlane made a terrific solo break from inside his own half, to put Goudie in for his side’s third try, converted by Scott.
With six minutes to play in the first half, GHA sealed the bonus point, mauling a five-metre lineout forward for hooker Archie Falconer to get the touch down.
But Jed’s response was almost immediate, Lewis Young picking up ruck ball on the home ten-metre line and finding a huge gap to burst through on his way to the try line. Again, Finlay Scott added the extras to complete the first-half scoring.
Jed might really have made a game of it five minutes into the second half when Robbie Shirra-Gibb broke clear, but young Bardelli showed remarkable pace to get back and delay him enough for Jouary to help him stifle the threat.
And it was GHA who scored next, off a genuine strike against the head at a scrum. GHA attacked and Charlie Lonergan galloped over, with Scott converting.
The game then lost shape as the benches came into play and in 67 minutes, one of the “finishers” finished the scoring when Jed’s Paulo Alves Ferreira blasted over for his 11th try of the season: “Total metres made for these 11 tries – 12,” remarked the scorer afterwards.
The visitors finished strongly but were denied even a try bonus point when, in the final minute, they got all the way to the line, but lost the ball forward in the final dive.
GHA: A Scott; L Bardelli, C Lonergan, M MacFarlane, B Jouary; A Goudie, G Baird; B Boum, A Falconer, M Fox, S Callaghan, J McCarthy (captain), M Ryan, D Ewing, J Bruce. Subs used: T Brogan, S Carmichael, W Graham, S Simpson, J Peacock.
Jed-Forest: G Young; K Hayes, R Marshall, R Yourston, R Shirra-Gibb; L Young, N Stingl; G Paxton, F Campbell, T Jeffrey, C Skeldon, A Sweenie, D Wardrop, F Scott, B McNeill. Subs: T Cromarty, P Alves Ferreira, K Scott, E Lauder, L Elder.
Referee: Ben Blain.
GHA: Tries: Jouary 2, Goudie, Falconer, A Scott, Lonergan. Cons: A Scott 4.
Jed-Forest: Tries: G Young, L Young, Alves Ferreira. Cons: F Scott 3.
Scoring sequence (GHA first): 5-0, 7-0, 12-0, 12-5, 12-7, 17-7, 19-7, 24-7, 24-12, 24-14, 29-14, 31-14 half-time, 36-14, 38-14, 38-19, 38-21.
Man of the match: Young GHA back Luca Bardelli gets the call. He impressed in attack, and had assists in fellow-winger Benoit Jouary’s two tries, but, mainly for his tracking back when he gave the flying Robbie Shirra-Gibb a head start in a foot race but got back to halt his progress and save a certain try.
Talking Point: Late March, a firm pitch, a sunny day, and that’s the end of serious rugby at 15-a-side for these two teams – why? Our season structure needs looking at.