Premiership: Jed-Forest pack power secures comeback win over GHA

Borderers battle back from eight points down to claim win in entertaining 'dead-rubber'

Gregor Young carries the ball for Jed-Forest against GHA. Image: Bill McBurnie
Gregor Young carries the ball for Jed-Forest against GHA. Image: Bill McBurnie

Jed-Forest 22

GHA 20

ALAN LORIMER @ Riverside Park

WHAT looked to be a dead rubber game between the seventh and eighth placed teams in the Premiership turned out to be a real thriller at Riverside where the home side, eschewing their preferred sevens style of rugby after falling eight points behind, found a way to come back and overtake the visitors. 

Jed looked out of the game when they conceded two tries in the space of three minutes immediately after the interval to a GHA side that was beginning to find a useful rhythm. But borrowing from the ugly playbook the Riverside men used their forwards to first grind out a second half try and then force a winning penalty.

Interim coach David Grieve, who led Jed Thistle to the final of the National Youth u18 Cup two years ago, was concise in describing the team’s winning modus operandum. He said: “We stuck in really well. We were backs against the wall just after half time, but we found a weakness in them with the pick-and-go game.”


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All of which left GHA and their coach, Trevor Carmichael, with thoughts of what might have been. “We’re all pretty frustrated. First half was nip and tuck. We gave them lifelines, we made mistakes. They got scores off our errors” he admitted. “Second half we came out and scored two tries early on. But in a way that didn’t help us. We got a wee bit loose and compounded error after error. Then we struggled to get back into it. Wrong decisions at wrong time.”

GHA’s blitzkrieg at the beginning of the second half mirrored what they had achieved at the start of the match with a stylish opening try that punished a speculative Jed kick, the visitors running the ball from deep with crisp handling that created space for GHA’s dynamic hooker Archie Falconer to score. Full-back Adam Scott added the none-too-easy conversion to give the Braidholm men the start they wanted.

Jed came close to replying when scrum-half Nik Stingl broke clear before chipping the ball over the last defender only for Andrew Goudie to  win the ensuing race. It was only a temporary reprieve for GHA who found themselves paying for an inaccurate kick that allowed Lewis Young to carve his way through the GHA defence and then lay on the scoring pass to winger Lewis Elder.

A Scott penalty extended GHA’s lead to 10-5 but Jed hit back with a driven line-out that ended with Clark Skeldon forcing his way over for his side’s second try, this time Ross Nichol succeeding with the conversion kick to his side the lead.

GHA came back into the game but when they won a kickable penalty they made the expensive decision of opting for a scrum which in the event produced no gain, leaving the hosts with a two point advantage at half time.

 

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Immediately after the interval, Jed appeared to enter ‘nap’ mode, a period of switching off that entailed falling off tackles and a loss of concentration, giving GHA the freedom to score two tries. The assault began from the second half kick-off, when the visitors moved the ball skilfully using clever footwork and accurate off-loads to engineer an unconverted try for centre Charlie Lonergan.

Then, from the next restart, GHA produced a near identical piece of play but this time it required the extra skill of Goudie to put in a low cross kick that gave Scott Derrick an unconverted try in the corner for 20-12 lead, but one which was not to remain.

Whether Jed snapped out of their somnolent state or whether GHA simply switched off, the game turned the other way. Lewis Young and Rory Marshall combining well, took play into the GHA red zone and thereafter the Jed forwards took over with a pick-and-drive game that ultimately produced a try for prop Paulo Ferreira and the conversion from Nichol.

The maul, which had worked well for Jed throughout, and the pick-and-go tactics inevitably led to a penalty and it was left to Nichol to achieve the win with a late goal.

 

Teams –

Jed-Forest: L Young; L Elder, G Young, R Marshall, R Shirra Gibb; R Nichol, N Stingl; T Jeffrey, G Paxton, P Ferreira, C Skeldon, G Law, D Wardrop, B McNeill, F Scott. Subs: S Anderson, J Hynd, A Sweenie, C Douglas, R Hogg.

GHA: A Scott; B Jouary, C Lonergan, M MacFarlane, S Derrick; A Goudie, G Baird; E Cavan, A Falconer, M Fox, A Kerr, J McCarthy, W Graham, D Ewing, J Bruce. Subs: B Boum, S Callaghan, M Ryan, S Simpson, L Bardelli.

Referee: G Ormiston

 

Scorers –

Jed-Forest: Tries: Elder, Skeldon, Ferreira; Cons: Nichol 2; Pen: Nichol.

GHA: Tries: Falconer, Lonergan, Derrick; Con: Scott; Pen: Scott.

Scoring Sequence (Jed-Forest first): 0-5; 0-7; 5-7; 5-10; 10-10; 12-10 (h-t)  12-15; 12-20; 17-20; 19-20; 22-20.

 

Man-of-the-Match: Honours were just about even between the two sides. For Jed the Young twins made frequent incisions, Ross Nichol looked composed at stand-off and as a unit the home pack proved to be a winning weapon. For their part, GHA had dangerous runners in Charlie Lonergan and Max MacFarlane, while up front prop Eric Cavan and hooker Archie Falconer look made for 3G pitches. But overall the most consistent performer was Jed’s back-row Dan Wardrop who is the man of the match

Talking point:The man who deserves huge credit for making this an enjoyable match to watch was referee Graeme Ormiston, whose control of the game and ability to let it flow was refreshing to see. And, interestingly, there were no scrum penalties and just one reset.


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About Alan Lorimer 369 Articles
Scotland rugby correspondent for The Times for six years and subsequently contributed to Sunday Times, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Scotsman, Herald, Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Herald and Reuters. Worked in Radio for BBC. Alan is Scottish rugby journalism's leading voice when it comes to youth and schools rugby.