ALAN LORIMER @ Riverside Park
JED-FOREST catapulted themselves from second bottom to fourth in the Premiership table after achieving a bonus-point win over a Musselburgh side that remains stuck at the foot of the table.
After the disappointment of losing to Selkirk last week in stoppage time, Jed needed to restore self-confidence and did so by producing a five-try tally that was complemented by brave and effective defence. But Jed will be disappointed that after a lively first half they lost their zest for an attacking style that had produced four first-half tries.
“All that mattered today was a win, but the bonus point helped as well.” said Jed’s assistant coach Fraser Harkness. “They came at us in the second half but I thought we defended very well. We spoke all week about getting to break down fast. We knew we were always going to tire. However the desire to stop our opponents from scoring at the end will bode well for future games.”
For Musselburgh, there was some satisfaction that they were able to dominate the second half in terms of territory and possession but disappointing for the Stoneyhill men was their inability to score a bonus try.
“We gave them too many points in the first half, mainly through our own efforts. We knew that they live off scraps and unfortunately that’s how it panned out in the first half.” stated Graeme Paterson, the Musselburgh coach. “We raised the intensity in the second half and nearly got the fourth try that would have given us something from the game.” he said.
Jed’s energetic start to the game gave the Riverside team a ten-point lead in as many minutes, veteran back row Donald Grieve finishing off an excellent display of handling by the backs with a try and then Robbie Yourston converting and adding a penalty goal.
Stand-off Monty Mitchell made it two tries for Jed after the home side had fed off turnover ball, Yourston again adding the extras. Shortly after this score Jed lost Gary Munro to the sin-bin after the scrum half had thrown to ball into touch as Musselburgh applied pressure.
Then followed a series of scrums and penalties against Jed and when the ball was finally released, Musselburgh’s No 8 Luke Hudson scrambled over for an unconverted try. Jed quickly returned to attacking mode and it was Munro, released from the bin, who was next on the scoreboard with a quick tap penalty that allowed him to scuttle over for try number three, converted by Yourston.
Then, just before the break, Jed’s backs showed their class with slick handling that ended with Callum Young sprinting over for the bonus point score, Yourston’s conversion giving the Riverside men a 29-5 interval advantage.
If Musselburgh had been a tad error-prone before the break then in the second half their strong start suggested their coach’s words had been heeded. Centre Rory Smith was held up over the line but from an ensuing penalty Danny Owenson took a tap penalty and darted in for his side’s second try, before adding the conversion points.
Jed replied once more in the way that suits them best, their backs showing why they are leaders in the Kings of the Sevens with a sweeping move that ended with Mitchell scoring his second try and Yourston converting.
Thereafter as Jed’s forwards began to tire Musselburgh took control, scoring through replacement Callum Champion and the conversion by stand-off Paul Cunningham. Musselburgh tried desperately to score a consolatory try in the final few minutes but Jed, despite their hard working second row Michael Weekley being yellow-carded, showed steely determination to deny the visitors from scoring the bonus-point try.
Jed-Forest: L Young; C Young, R Marshall, R Yourston, Gregor Young©; M Mitchell, G Munro; G Paxton, F Campbell, A Keeler, H Meadows, M Weekley, B McNeil, J McGough, D Grieve. Subs: P Ferreira, E Lauder, N Stingl, F Harkness.
Musselburgh: J Ferguson; S Watt, R Smith, R Watt, G Tait; P Cunningham, D Owenson; R Stott, P Portsmouth, C Arthur, W Fleming, J Haynes, G McKinstry, C Pryde, L Hutson. Subs: J Crain, E Bonthron, C Champion, A Reddick, T Foley.
Referee: R Mabon.
Jed-Forest: Tries: Grieve, Mitchell 2, Munro, C Young. Cons: Yourston 4. Pen: Yourston.
Musselburgh: Tries: Hudson, Owenson, Champion. Cons: Owenson, Cunningham.
Scoring sequence (Jed-Forest first): 5-0, 7-0, 10-0, 15-0, 17-0, 17-5, 22-5, 27-5, 29-5 (h-t) 29-10, 29-12, 34-12, 36-12, 36-17, 36-19.
Yellow cards –
Jed-Forest: Munro, Weekley.
Man of the Match: Jed’s blindside flanker Ben McNeil has put in a series of good performances this season but against Musselburgh he produced his best to date with a display that blended high octane work at the break-down, dogged defence and an ability to move the ball intelligently.
Talking Point: Jed may have cause for celebration after their win over Musselburgh but their injury problem remains acute. Key second row Gregor Law looks likely to out for five to six weeks while news of their other sidelined forwards is bleak. But as Fraser Harkness hinted work is going on behind the scenes to address the situation that could result in the appearance of a couple of reinforcements.