Aberdeen Grammar 17
ALAN LORIMER @ Riverside Park
JED-FOREST continued their recent good form in overrunning Aberdeen Grammar at a bitterly cold but crucially dry Riverside with an eight try destruction of what has to be said was a considerably below strength Rubislaw side.
The excellent condition of the Riverside pitch invited running rugby and for much of this match Jed moulded their game accordingly. But while one of the greatest spectacles in Premiership rugby is that backline in full flow, the tendency of this talented bunch of backs to kick away possession when tactical nous would suggest an alternative use of the ball is one of the few frustrations of watching the Royal Blues.
In the event, Jed’s backs probably could have scored a few more tries than they did. As it was, Jed’s forwards claimed four of the winners’ tries and additionally forced a penalty try. But beyond scoring tries, Jed’s forwards dominated the set-piece, particularly in the second half, all in contrast to the earlier part of the season, when they were spectacularly short of big men up front.
Effective for Jed were second-row Gregor Law who showed a return to form, No 8 Garry Young and front-rows Thomas Jeffrey and Finlay Campbell, the quartet helping to inspire confidence in a Jed team that has turned the corner.
“After our result last week [against Hawks] we seem to have got ourselves back to a winning way. It’s good for us to build momentum going into next week [Edinburgh Accies]. We need to pick up points on the road,” said Jed’s coach Gavin Kerr. “We’ve got a couple of guys who were injured now back in the team, so the outlook’s a bit more positive.”
For Aberdeen, this was always going to be a difficult match coming as it did out of university term time. Grammar’s coach Ali O’Connor was, however, pleased that the team he had available showed up reasonably well.
“There are of course some things that need to be put right,” he said. “Defensively, we find it difficult against a side like Jed who put pace and width on the ball. We found it difficult to turn them over and we struggled to cope with their power at times. In attack we scored three tries but just didn’t have enough guile to get over the line for the bonus score.”
Yet, in spite of these shortcomings, Aberdeen looked the more likely winners in the early part of the game when they went into a twelve point lead in as many minutes from a try by centre Murray Mitchell after excellent ball retention, the conversion from Tom Aplin, and then a try by wing Craig Sheppard from a kick and chase after Jed had misjudged a clearance.
But then it all went sour for Aberdeen as Jed decided they should dominate possession, resulting in a try for Garry Young and the conversion by Robbie Yourston. Jed’s task was then made easier when Mitchell was carded for a high tackle and against a depleted side the Riverside men made hay as Law scored from a tap penalty, Lewis Young finished off a break by Gary Munro, and then Garry Young broke from the back of a scrum to earn his side the bonus point. Two of this trio of touchdowns were converted by Yourston for a 26-12 half time lead.
Jed were reminded at the beginning of the second half that Aberdeen had scoring power when No 8 Nat Coe took a pass from Mitchell to power in for his side’s third try.
Thereafter, Jed took control, dominating the set-piece to added tries by scrum half Nik Stingl, centre Monty Mitchell (both converted by Yourston), a penalty try and a final effort by hooker Finlay Campbell.
Jed-Forest: L Young; C Young, R Yourston, M Mitchell, R Marshall; G Munro, N Stingl; T Jeffrey, F Campbell, P Ferreira, D Tjombie, G Law, B Saxton, M Weekley, Garry Young. Subs: A Keeler, H Meadows, D Buckley, J Laing, J McGough.
Aberdeen Grammar: F Sneddon; C Shepherd, M Mitchell, T Aplin, D Russell; S Knudson, J Troup; C Reddish, L Buchan, M Martin, V Ojogwu, A Robertson, C Robertson, F McKenzie, N Coe. Subs: C Neilson, R Larment, A Ovenstone, P Ritchie.
Referee: R Mabon
Jed-Forest: Tries: Garry Young 2, Law, Lewis Young, Stingl, Mitchell, Penalty Try, Campbell; Cons: Yourston 5.
Aberdeen Grammar: Tries Mitchell, Sheppard, Coe; Con: Aplin.
Scoring Sequence (Jed first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 5-12; 7-12; 12-12; 17-12; 19-12; 24-12; 26-12 (h-t) 26-17, 31-17, 33-17, 38-17, 40-17, 47-17, 52-17
Yellow cards –
Aberdeen Grammar: M Mitchell
Man-of-the-Match: Jed’s forwards laid the basis of victory against Aberdeen, the pick of the pack being No 8 Garry Young who appears to have found his optimum position
Talking Point: Jed’s next few games will be crucial for the Riverside club’s Premiership survival but with their forward pack restored to what it should be there is definitely a sense of optimism in the Borders club.