STEPHEN BRUNSDON @ Riverside Park
JED-Forest produced a dominant second-half performance to secure a bonus point Premiership victory over Musselburgh, to move them further clear of the bottom. Having trailed by three at the break, Jed’s attacking prowess was traded in for brute strength as tries from Clark Skeldon, Paulo Ferreira, Nik Stingl and Lewis Young gave Scott Tomlinson’s side a deserved triumph.
Indeed, Jed’s performance last time out away to Marr suggested they were due a result before long and the display, particularly in the second period when the game was at its tightest, was made all the sweeter in front of a stand packed with ex-players watching on.
“The last two weeks have been tough for us, but we have played really well in these games,” Tomlinson told The Offside Line. “Listen, to get a bonus point against a side like Musselburgh who have shown how good they can be this season, is a big result for us.
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“We maybe didn’t play the typical attacking style that you would expect from us, but that says a lot about our forward pack who got the job done today.”
Despite pre-match rain making conditions far from ideal, both sides stayed true to their attacking DNA, making for an entertaining – if not inaccurate – opening 40 minutes. Jed were the first to reap the rewards from this style of play inside the first two minutes, with Skeldon bundling over from short-range following a superbly judged 50:20 kick from out-half Gary Munro.
The resulting line-out put Burgh under the cosh early doors and the trundling maul brought down by the desperate visiting defence gave Jed a penalty advantage which they didn’t need. Unusually, Munro was off target and his conversion sailed past the uprights, leaving the home side 5-0 up.
Although Burgh were happy to give back what Jed had offered in attack, Graeme Paterson’s men were denied several scoring opportunities inside the opening quarter of the match. Gregor Tait – who scored four tries in his side’s victory over Aberdeen Grammar last weekend – burst down the near touchline and nearly produced the first try for Burgh, before scrambling Jed defence forced Tait to hold on a fraction too long, allowing Munro to clear their lines.
They may not have been able to breach the Jed try-line, but Burgh did make the hosts suffer at the set-piece, winning a total of seven penalties inside the first half and creeping ahead on the scoreboard through the boot of Danny Owenson, whose two kicks enabled Burgh to lead 6-5.
Jed got back into the lead on the half-hour mark as Munro kicked the first of his three penalties, but Burgh retaliated with what proved to be their only try of the match courtesy of back-rower Jordan Lister.
The visitors demonstrated their scrummaging prowess in the first half with another penalty, resulting in Jed replacement prop Ferreira – who had been brought on for Harry Meadows to solve the ongoing issues – being sin-binned. Burgh went again and Lister struck from short-range to touch down. Despite Owenson’s conversion attempt straying wide, Burgh held the lead at the half-time break, which for Jed’s Tomlinson, could not come quickly enough.
“Half-time definitely came at the right time for us. There were a lot of penalties in the scrum and it was a bit difficult for us to handle,” Tomlinson said. “We’d got advice from the referee and tried to change our attitude a bit. We brought on Paulo, who is a very good scrummager, but even he was getting pinged.
“But we made some changes in the second half and that started to change a few things in our favour and thankfully we were able to pull away and take our chances when they came.”
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Having trailed at the break, Jed were the first to strike at the start of the second half, with Ferreira redeeming himself in fine fashion, crashing over after a period of sustained pressure in the Burgh 22. From then, Owenson and Munro exchanged penalties but the common denominator of Jed leading remained the same until the end, with the crucial blow being dealt through scrum-half Stingl’s short-range try. A strong Jed driving maul from a line-out on the Burgh 10m line took the hosts all the way up to the 22 before being illegally dragged down. From then, Munro sent Rory Marshall into space before Stingl nipped over from the base of the ruck to touch down.
Now 28-14 ahead, Jed finally found themselves with a bit of breathing space, and from that moment, they had the momentum. Munro orchestrated territorial advantage through the boot which gave Jed an attacking opportunity deep in the Burgh half. Captain Gregor Young’s midfield break sent the Burgh defence into panic stations before delivering the try-scoring pass to brother Lewis who sped in under the posts. Munro’s conversion gave Jed an unassailable 32-14 lead.
For Burgh, it was difficult to see exactly where they’d gone wrong. Defensively battered by the waves of Jed forward play, the visitors soon began forcing play too much, with at least two scoring chances going begging through handling errors. They did, however, bag a late consolation try through Rory Hindhaugh in the final minute, but for coach Paterson, it was all a case of ‘too little, too late’.
“We gave them far too many chances in the second half really,” Paterson explained. “I don’t think there was that much that we did wrong, we were in a good position at half-time. We held the ball well, we were dominant in the scrums, and we just let them back into the game too easily.
“After they scored, we couldn’t get ourselves back into the game until the very end, which was obviously too late by then. We’ve got some big games coming up now, especially with Marr next weekend, but as we’ve seen this season, there are fine margins, and it only takes a slip-up from one team and you’re in the mix.”
Jed-Forest: L Young; M Cullen, G Young©, R Marshall, R Shirra-Gibb; G Munro, N Stingl; G Paxton, F Campbell, H Meadows, D Wardrop, C Skeldon, G Young, B McNeill, D Buckley. Subs: S Anderson, P Ferreira, G Law, B Roff, A Bambrick.
Musselburgh: R Hindhaugh; S Watt, R Smith, R Watt, G Tait; P Cunningham, D Owenson©; P Brown, C Owenson, C Arthur, W Fleming, D Slaven, M Maltman, M Crawford, J Lister. Subs: R Stott, N McNairn, J Haynes, L Kotze, T Foley.
Referee: M Todd.
Jed-Forest: Tries: Skeldon, Ferreira, Stingl, L Young; Cons: Munro 3; Pens: Munro 2.
Musselburgh: Tries: Lister, Hindhaugh; Con: Owenson; Pens: Owenson 3.
Scoring sequence (Jed-Forest first): 5-0; 5-3; 5-6,;8-6; 8-11 (h-t) 13-11; 15-11; 15-14; 18-14; 23-14; 25-14; 30-14; 32-14; 32-19; 32-21.
Yellow cards –
Jed-Forest: Ferreira, Buckley.
Man-of-the -Match: He’d been slightly anonymous in the first half but once he had quick ball virtually on tap in the second, scrum-half Nik Stingl was exactly the sort of accelerant Jed needed to turn the tide on what had been a bit of a turgid affair in the opening 40 minutes. A lot of work was fairly basic, but in getting team-mates to run off him and make ground, Jed were able to get in behind the Burgh defensive line effectively, which allowed Munro and the forwards to do the necessary damage and win the game.
Talking point: Having been under pressure in the first half, Jed bolted out of the starting blocks after the break and a concerted 20-minute period ultimately won them the match. The urgency was far higher than Burgh’s at this stage of the game and crucially, they took their chances when they appeared to give themselves a largely comfortable victory margin in the end.