FINN TAIT @ Riverside Park
JED secured famous victory at Riverside in the dying moments thanks to a late Finlay Scott penalty. The Borderers’ heart and tenacity proved vital as they executed a fantastic comeback to the delight of the Riverside faithful.
Coach Andy Brown was understandably delighted after the game. “The heart, the passion and the togetherness needed to defend for 20-25 minutes in our 22 was so good to watch,” he said. “We’ve been criticised for leaking points and being soft in defence but today that wasn’t soft at all.”
“There was some great play and some real passion for the club to break out of our half and take control of the game, then put ourselves in the position to win the match. It was outstanding.”
The early deadlock was broken when Jed infringed while trying to execute a driving maul and Colin Sturgeon knocked over the kick to five Marr the lead after a couple of minutes, but the visitors’ scoreboard advantage did not last long as battle back with some powerful carries from Clark Skeldon and Blake Roff winning a penalty at the breakdown which hooker Scott duly converted to level it up again.
It was clear that both teams had differing game plans with Marr favouring a direct route led by their forwards and Jed favouring a riskier approach running from deep and keeping the ball in play. The home forwards did not shy away from contact, however, and some barrelling carries from the pack soon gave them an entry into the Marr half.
The line-out malfunctioned under heavy Marr pressure but a bouncing ball found its way to Jye McGough, who smartly found his inside centre Rory Marshall who straightened the line and broke into open country thanks to some tricky footwork. He fed his centre partner Gregor Young who glided into the Marr 22 leaving defenders in his wake before being brought down and skilfully offloading to his young blindside Kyle Grieve who raced in to score.
Some late contact after the score led to a brawl breaking out and an extended stoppage as the ref spoke to captains Skeldon and Sturgeon, Scott converted following the discussion to give Jed the lead.
Marr hit back quickly to level things up when an aimless clearance kick found was returned with interest by the visiting side’s explosive outside backs to take them up to the 22. Some patient phase play from Marr’s dynamic pack followed as they inched their way forward. With the Jed line in reach Grant Baird picked from the base and found his Sturgeon on a tight angle allowing him to scythe over from close range. He converted his own score to level things up yet again.
Marr came again with a penalty advantage in the pocket thanks to an illegally sacked maul that cost Jed pre-match replacement Andrew Sweenie who saw yellow. The experienced Scott Bickerstaff looked set to score if it hadn’t had been for Mason Cullen‘s excellent cover tackle. They came back for the penalty and Marr went quickly with Ross Brocket burrowing over from close range to score in only his second appearance for the Troon men.
Jed however would not die wondering with 14 men on the field, bursting into the Marr 22 led by loose-head Grant Paxton and replacement tight-head Paulo Ferreira, who has built himself an impressive try scoring resume. Lewis Young led the Jed thrust back to the blindside timing a fantastic miss-pass into the hands of Robbie Shirra-Gibb, who beat his man with a sharp kick-step to dive over in the corner. Scott could not convert a tough kick from the touchline.
Marr’s incessant pressure continued. This time it was Andrew Acton from short range off the back of a quick tap from five metres short. This gave Marr a nine-point lead heading into half-time and plenty to ponder for a Jed team who had shown lots of fight in a barnstorming first half.
The second half started with the ferocity of the first with Marr wasting no time in piling on the pressure again. It started with Callum Steel bursting down the touchline to take play to Jed five metre line. After taking the penalty quickly it was only the heroic intervention of Shirra-Gibb that prevented further Marr score. The tall winger shot out of the line to smash replacement Jack Scott man and ball to cap off a magnificent defensive set from the Jed team.
Jed, energised by their defensive work, recycled the ball and Marshall burst through again to put his team on the front foot and win a penalty advantage. Aidan Bambrick spun the ball wide to Scott whose elusive turn of pace allowed him to scamper through a gap and offload to Cullen for a try in the corner. Scott’s conversion hauled Jed back into the game.
Marr had other ideas, however, winning a penalty from kick-off and ramped up the pressure by kicking to the corner. They executed the set-piece and the maul picked up steam rumbling towards the try-line with backs and forwards alike piling in. The referee had seen enough, awarding the penalty try to restore Marr’s nine-point advantage.
Jed, who were lucky not to lose a man to the bin, came back hard straight from the kick off, compiling several cutting attacks only to see the ball hit the turf at the wrong moment.
But they had the bit between their teeth and Cullen’s kick ahead lumping pressure on Marr full-back Greg Montgomery, forcing him into clearing on the full. From the line-out on the 22, Skeldon rose high to take from another perfect Scott feed and the maul began to move. They marched forward before progress slowed around 15 metres short, this gave Bambrick an opportunity to dart blind and escape the Marr pack, and with Cullen in tow the scrum-half dummied past everyone in his path then cut inside to score.
With three minutes were on the clock, two points was the difference and Marr came to the halfway line needing to secure possession, while Jed, cheered on by a raucous home support, needed one last chance to cut the deficit.
Captain fantastic Skeldon took to kick-off and received a high shot for his trouble earning Jed a crucial penalty. They kicked deep into Marr territory and went again; they gave everything smashing into the Marr line and were rewarded with a penalty which Scott lined up as the crowd fell silent. The kick sailed through the uprights to secure the narrowest of home victories in dramatic circumstances.
“It was bit like last week’s game, we had all the opportunities to win that game and we shot ourselves in the foot,” said Craig Redpath, Marr’s disappointed head coach. “We gave them too many chances to get back into the game.
“Fair play to Jed, they kept going and dug in to get the result, they’ll be ecstatic. I felt we dominated the game, but we didn’t take out chances. We just have to take this on the chin and look forward to next week.”
Jed-Forest: L Young; M Cullen, G Young, R Marshall, R Shirra-Gibb; J McGough, A Bambrick; G Paxton, F Scott, H Meadows, A Sweenie, C Skeldon, K Grieve, B Roff, Garry Young. Substitutes: O Pranston, P Ferreira, E Lauder, L Elder, R Ferreira.
Marr: G Montgomery; J Jacobson, N Calder, C Sturgeon, S Bickerstaff; C Inglis, G Baird; A Acton, C McMillan, C Miller, D Andrew, R Brocket, C Young, C Steel, C Folan. Substitutes: S Adair, G Reid, J Evans, A McGowan, J Scott.
Referee: Fergus Hollins
Jed-Forest: Tries: Grieve, Shirra-Gibb, Cullen, Bambrick; Cons: Scott 3; Pens: Scott 2.
Marr: Tries: Sturgeon, Brocket, Acton, Penalty Try; Cons: Sturgeon 3; Pens: Sturgeon.
coring sequence (Jed-Forest first): 0-3; 3-3; 8-3; 10-3; 10-8; 10-10; 10-15; 10-17; 15-17; 15-22; 15-24 (h-t) 20-24; 22-24; 22-31; 27-31; 29-31; 32-31.
Yellow cards –
Jed Forest: Sweenie (22 mins)
Man-of-the-Match: Jed hooker Finlay Scott was everywhere. His contributions to the line-out and in loose play were at times inspirational with his dynamic style keeping Jed on the front foot. Plus, he held his nerve to kick the game sealing penalty, to top off a fantastic performance.
Talking point: Jed had been criticised early in the season for their lack of killer instinct in the second half. Today’s performance did a lot to answer those critics. A team that showed so much fight and togetherness at home is definitely a dangerous prospect in such a tight league.