ALAN LORIMER @ Philiphaugh
SELKIRK came from behind to secure a bonus point victory thanks to a stoppage time try by full-back Henry Bithray at the end of an engaging Borders derby encounter that was hugely affected by a game-finishing injury to Jed’s influential second-row Gregor Law.
Jed were in the ascendancy when Law suffered an ankle injury and with the visitors’ boiler-house resources already depleted following the pre-match withdrawal of Garry Young, the Riverside men suddenly found themselves in a crisis, made worse by a dip in discipline that resulted in two yellow cards in quick succession.
Even with limited possession, Jed’s dangerous backs were still able to threaten but it was not enough against a Selkirk side who ditched flashy play and instead ground out a win through a dogged forward effort.
“It was very frustrating.” stated Gavin Kerr, the Royal Blues coach. “We gave away far too many penalties, but we’ve come away with a point. I’m pleased we got something from it. The loss of Gregor is going to create problems for us. Hopefully Garry Young will be back for us next week. It’s tough but that’s the nature of the game at this level.”
A match that initially was as dull as the weather at Philiphaugh burst into life with a trademark Jed score, as Callum Young, coming off his blindside wing, broke through midfield before laying on the scoring pass to Robbie Yourston, with the centre converting his own try.
Selkirk’s reply was less spectacular, as the home side opted for a series of pick-and-drive surges that ended with skipper Euan Macdougall scrambling over and Aaron McColm converting.
Then, just before the break, Jed indulged in similar forward play that brought them close to the Selkirk line. When the ball was released from a maul the attack was to the left side of the field, but a clever change of direction allowed Callum Young to pick his way though the Selkirk defence for his side’s second try. Yourston again adding the extras for a 12-7 interval lead.
That margin extended by three points after a penalty goal by Yourston early in the second half. But Jed’s joy was short-lived as Law was soon stretchered off with a leg injury. Almost immediately, Selkirk pressed home their resultant advantage, by securing touchline possession and then driving the line-out to create a try for hooker Ross Purves.
Then, when Selkirk worked a repeat move the maul produced a try for flanker Scott McClymont, and McColm’s conversion gave the home side a 19-15 advantage.
Despite being down to 13 men after the sin-binning of first Karl Lamont and then fellow replacement Gary Munro, Jed were still able to threaten with ball in hand and came desperately close to scoring when brothers Callum and Lewis Young combined to create a scoring chance for Rory Marshall, only for the centre to lose possession a meter from the Selkirk line.
Marshall was not to be denied, however, as, with five minutes of proper time remaining, Jed moved the ball slickly to put the outside centre in at the corner. With the clock ticking towards full time, Selkirk worked their way back up to the Jed line and when the visitors were penalised at the ruck, McColm kicked to the corner.
Jed’s resistance was admirable and it seemed the visiting forwards might hold out as maul after maul was stopped, but when Selkirk changed tact and moved the ball wide instead of battering the Jed line, McColm delivered a long floating pass to Bithray that gave the New Zealander a clear run to the line for the winning score. McColm added to Jed’s despair with the conversion goal.
Selkirk: H Bithray; J Henry, J Welsh, C Anderson, L Berte; A McColm, L Morelle; L Pettie, R Purves, M Waldron, D Alexander, P Forrest, A Mackay, S McClymont, E Macdougall Subs: H Borthwick, D Nichol, S Rankin, F Anderson, R Cottrell.
Jed-Forest: L Young; C Young, R Marshall, R Yourston, Gregor Young©; M Mitchell, N Stingl; G Paxton, F Campbell, H Meadows, M Weekley, G Law, D Grieve, B McNeil,, D Buckley. Subs: G Clarkson, A Keeler, K Lamont, G Munro, J McGough.
Referee: G Ormiston
Selkirk: Tries Macdougall, Purves, McClymont, Bithray; Cons: McColm 3.
Jed-Forest: Tries Yourston, C Young, Marshall; Con:Yourston; Pen: Yourston.
Scoring Sequence (Selkirk first): 0-5; 0-7; 5-7; 7-7; 7-12 (h-t) 7-15; 12-15; 17-15; 19-15; 19-20; 24-20; 26-20.
Yellow cards –
Jed-Forest: Munro, Lamont
Man-of-the-Match: Selkirk’s forward pack could collectively claim the accolade while behind the scrum ex-soccer player Callum Anderson put in a performance that suggests he should be looked at for the Scotland Under-20 squad. But it was Selkirk’s stand-off Aaron McColm who was their key player, the outside half performed impressively, no less so than with his vision for the winning try.
Talking point: For Jed, the misery of injury problems in the forwards continues to dog the Riverside club and without an equitable supply of possession their classy back division can’t operate to its full potential. And that is a loss to Scottish rugby.