FINN TAIT @ Riverside Park
JED-FOREST made it three wins on the trot as they turned the screw on league rivals GHA. A clinical second-half performance from the home side, when the visitors failed to register a single point, delivered a well-deserved victory in entertaining fashion.
“A great performance!”, said victorious coach Andy Brown. “We dug in in the first half into the wind and outscored them, and didn’t concede in the second half. We played some fantastic rugby.
“We let ourselves down when we played them away from home, but today this was a full squad performance from one to 20. The bench added to a fantastic team performance.”
GHA were the first on the scoresheet against the run of play inside the first five minutes, after the Jed defence had coughed up an offside penalty in their eagerness to get off the line. Chris Hyde slotted the kick calmly to hand the lead to the visitors.
Jed wasted no time in their response, capitalising on a loose ball and surging into the GHA half. Robbie Shirra-Gibb and Callum Young popped up with weaving runs that built momentum, before fly-half Gary Munro found Mason Cullen. The try was no guarantee but the winger showed excellent feet and power to squeeze into the corner, beating his opposite man.
GHA came back up the field through rampaging replacement Mike Ryan, who had had an early entry to the match at the expense of the injured Walker Graham. His carry drew another penalty from the Jed defence, which Hyde duly converted into three points.
The lead stood for a matter of minutes. Jed seized possession on halfway, full-back Callum Young went quickly from the base of a ruck leaving the GHA defence trailing, and then placed a pass into the waiting arms of Owen Cranston, who went over to score untouched.
Jed’s indiscipline cost them dearly with a string of offside penalties allowing GHA another entry into their 22. Glasgow Warriors academy man Christian Townsend made no mistake in putting the ball into the corner, and hooker Archie Falconer finished off from the resulting maul.
The Borders side saw several opportunities go begging before the half-time whistle. First Callum Young went alone when Shirra-Gibb had the try line at his mercy, and then the impressive No 8 Ben Fotheringham was released down the touchline only to be called back for a forward pass.
They eventually saw reward for their endeavour, however, when more fantastic handling from their talented backline saw Gregor Young throw a smart dummy and ghost through. The covering man did well to stop the galloping Young, but he was able to pop the ball from the floor to Garry Young, who leapt over to give Jed the lead right on the whistle.
Jed came out of the sheds with impressive intensity, building slowly through their pack before Aidan Bambrick released Callum Young on the wrap-around. Young did well to ride the tackle and maintain balance, then his cat-flap offload found the on-rushing Cullen, who fixed the despairing Hyde and sent Gregor Young under the sticks. Finlay Scott converted, and Jed’s lead was stretched to 11.
Jed kept up the pressure in clinical fashion, and extended their lead when Clark Skeldon scored a deserved try from clos- range. Then, after a clearance had momentarily relieved the pressure on GHA, Bambrick found Cullen, who beat two men with his scorching pace before drawing and feeding Shirra-Gibb, who went on to score.
As darkness closed in, Jed refused to rest on their laurels, and after replacement Rory Marshall was stopped centimetres short, the ball was recycled to Gregor Young, who cantered in for the final try of the match. Scott converted to round off a crushing victory.
“Jed played the game very well today,” GHA coach Calum Forester accepted. “Their outside backs created some really good chances and were clinical when they got those chances. Next week is massive: a huge game for us at Musselburgh. For us what’s important is to stay tight as a group and try to improve on the areas we slipped up in today.”
Jed, on the other hand, will be delighted after backing up two impressive victories on the road with a dominant win at home. They will need to hold onto this form with a big trip to Troon next week against a Marr side who they just beat on their own ground earlier in the season.
Jed-Forest: C Young; M Cullen, Gregor Young, O Cranston, R Shirra-Gibb; G Munro, A Bambrick; G Paxton, F Scott, P Ferreira, Garry Young, C Skeldon©, B McNeil, B Roff, B Fotheringham. Subs: A Sweenie, H Meadows, M Atkinson, E Lauder, R Marshall.
GHA: C Hyde; L Bardelli, C Lonergan, K Dixon, G Mollison; C Townsend, G Baird; E Cavan, A Falconer, M Fox, A Kerr, A Barnett, W Graham, D Ewing©, L McCutcheon. Subs: D Sutton, S Callaghan, M Ryan, R MacFarlane, C King.
Referee: Gordon Galashan.
Jed-Forest: Tries: Cullen, Cranston, Garry Young, Skeldon, Gregor Young 2, Shirra-Gibb. Cons: Scott 3.
GHA: Try: Falconer. Con: Hyde. Pens: Hyde 2.
Scoring sequence (Jed-Forest first): 0-3; 5-3; 5-6; 10-6; 10-11; 10-13; 15-13;17-13; (h-t) 22-13; 24-13; 29-13; 34-13; 39-13; 41-13.
Man-of-the-Match: The Jed side was full of exceptional performances on both sides of the ball, and several will feel unlucky to miss out, but it was Callum Young who dazzled with ball in hand. His balanced, scything running was a constant threat and he had a hand in several Jed scores. His contributions were the spark for the Jed outfit, allowing them to put GHA away.
Talking point: GHA head to a struggling Musselburgh side next week in what will be an important clash. They remain clear on points, but a defeat would see them enter a real relegation dogfight. They will need to improve their accuracy, as at times they really threatened today only for a pass to go awry.