GHA take Jed right to the wire

Jed-Forest 31 GHA 21

Riverside Park, home of Jed-Forest was a hive of activity on Saturday as over one hundred members and friends settled down for a Christmas meal . Whilst Santa was scheduled to appear after the match to bring presents and good tidings to junior Jed members, GHA had no desire to be part of the free gifts. The visitors went through a series of prematch routines to loosen off any muscle strain from the long journey down to the Borders. The home side ran a number of plays in particular working on an impressive array of drills concentrating on bringing in on the inside and outside an overlapping player. This tactic was to pay dividends for the home side as the game unfolded. Riverside Park is located in a natural bowl which affords the ground some protection from the vagaries of a Border winter.Conditions were overcast and damp with a chilling wind sweeping up and down the pitch. Underfoot was soft but would take a stud.

Jed-Forest kicked off and Tony Brogan held the ball and immediately drove forward at the home defence ably supported by Fergus Haig and Ross Angus. Quick recycling of the ball gave Grant Mollison the opportunity to find space for a run before being stopped by the home defence. Even this early in the match it became obvious that both sides were intent on running the ball in hand at every opportunity. Inside three minutes Ross Findlay had to scramble back to clear the danger from a probing kick by Elliot Stuart. Several early lineouts for the visitors showed a huge improvement from last week with Seitaro Usuda and Jamie Auld combining well to secure ball. In seven minutes as play swung from end to end, Grant Mollison made a superb chip into space before collecting the ball and striking forward. GHA were awarded a penalty for an infringement at the breakdown and Peter Jericevich (who returned to duty with his partner Andrew Goudie following their appearance at the Dubai sevens) put the ball in touch at the half way line. GHA were building momentum and Fergus Haig and Ross Findlay combined well to force the home side to defend deep in their own half. Ben Addison in a lightning break was stopped just outside the Jed five metre area. The home side attempted to use their bulkier citizens to break out of the situation but determined and effective tackling by the visitors kept the pressure on the home side. From a clever break at the base of the scrum Ben Addison flew past his marker and scored under the posts. Peter Jericevich converted and after twelve minutes the score was : JED-FOREST 0 GHA 7.

This was not what the large local crowd expected but this early lead was the result of a determined and resolute opening by GHA. The visitors had brought Sean Fisher into the side on the morning of the match when Michael Scott became unavailable. Sean was to work tirelessly throughout and his was a telling presence. Further disruption due to injury would see Peter Jericevich move to stand off, Andrew Goudie to centre and Andrew Gillman come into the scrum half berth as Chris Binnie would go off injured. Jed seemed to rally at this point and it took strong tackling in the centre to prevent the home side bullying their way through the GHA defence. Despite this the home side drove the visitors back and were awarded a penalty deep inside the GHA half for not releasing the ball at the breakdown. Jed kicked into touch and from a well rehearsed line out move Craig Cowan went through a group of bodies to score. Callum Young converted and the score after sixteen minutes was: JED-FOREST 7 GHA 7.

The match was being played at a fast pace with no quarter given as both sides attempted to establish a lasting dominance in the match. GHA with a combination of forward and back play cut a path to the home sides twenty metre area and were awarded a penalty for offside at the loose. Peter Jericevich missed the penalty attempt and we remained all square. Jed were employing the tactic of kicking deep behind the visitors defence forcing GHA to turn and retrieve. The tactic was varied with a deft grubber kick behind the front foot of the visitors defence which allowed the home forwards to bear down on the GHA player scrambling back to clear the danger. Lewis Young in particular seemed to be able to harness the light provided by the floodlights to probe and harry the visitors. He was aided and abetted by Elliot Stuart at stand off. In one clever move down the narrow side , Jed were stopped just short of the line and were awarded a penalty for law infringement. Fergus Haig was yellow carded and Jed took the opportunity to take a quick penalty for Connor Hogg to score again. The conversion was missed and after twenty two minutes the score was: JED-FOREST 12 GHA 7.

Far from being downhearted the visitors once more attacked the home side at every angle possible and created some panic in home quarters to the extent that the home side gave away a penalty for offside. Peter Jericevich stroked the ball into touch inside the home twenty metre area. Another penalty was awarded to GHA as a rather rattled home side attempted to pull down the maul. From the ensuing lineout Jamie Auld rose majestically to claim good ball which was ferreted to Peter Jericevich who to great acclaim from team mates went over to score. He converted his try so the score after twenty five minutes of pulsating action was now: JED-FOREST 12 GHA 14.

For several minutes both sides exchanged long kicks into space and chased the loose ball. Both defences were proving up to the task and both sides showed some ingenuity on clearing danger when the first line of defence was finally broken. Just on the half hour mark a clever mismove by the home side sent Lewis Young away with support from Callum Young. GHA just managed to hold the attack inside their five metre area but desperate defence resulted in a penalty to Jed. For the second time in the match quick thinking saw the home side react speedily and score from just in front of the try line. The try was converted by Callum Young and the score at thirty four minutes was : JED-FOREST 19 GHA 14.

This score was cheered enthusiastically by the home crowd who realised that GHA were asking questions of the royal blues. The closing minutes of the half were interrupted by stoppages for injuries to players in both sides. The match had been played at a hectic pace with total commitment . Chris Binnie was unable to continue and the visitors had to reorganise their back line as was mentioned earlier. Half time finally arrived with the score : JED-FOREST 19 GHA 14.
The interval allowed the crowd to catch their breath after what had been a first half of running rugby, subtle moves and ploys and strong defence by both sides. The home side had been unable to put daylight between themselves and their hard working and determined visitors. The second half was to provide more of the same enjoyable fare.

Within two minutes of the second half, Lewis Young whose pace and timely interventions to the Jed back line had been a constant problem for GHA, broke down the wing and only a pass adjudged to have been forward prevented further damage being inflicted on GHA. The visitors were showing a marked improvement in their scrummaging and despite attempts by bulkier opponents refused to give ground at the set piece. In six minutes there was another characteristic break by Grant Mollison ably supported by Andrew Gillman who was asking questions of his opposite number around the base of the scrum and maul. A concerted forward drive led by Tony Brogan with acolytes Jamie Auld and Ross Angus in tandem took play up to the Jed five metre are. Over anxious play in the loose gave the home side a penalty and Elliot Stuart put in a huge kick to take the game back to halfway. Jed seized the opportunity through Clark Skeldon and Gregor Law to drive a series of take and recycle which allowed Jed to build a good attacking position. The ball was passed crisply through the backs with great accuracy and Lewis Young went over in the corner to finish a superb move. The conversion was missed and after eleven minutes the score stood at: JED-FOREST 24 GHA 14.

Despite losing the try, GHA returned to the task in hand and Andrew Gillman skillfully found space to set his backs on the offence on a number of occasions in the next few minutes. The home crowd seemed dismayed that the visitors flatly refused to accept second best and there were signs with passes going astray and knock ons that the home side were finding the continued resistance by the visitors more than a handful.By the twentieth minute GHA had forced the home side back to their own five metre line. Monty Mitchell received a yellow card for repeated infringements at the breakdown as Ben Addison was held up on the line. GHA chose to go for the scrum and put in a huge effort to dislodge the home side who desperately defended the resulting drive by the visitors. Scott Plumridge found a way through a sea of bodies to score and Peter Jericevich converted from a difficult angle to make the score after twenty minutes: JED-FOREST 24 GHA 21.

As the score suggests the match was now very much in the balance and if anything the pace actually increased as both sides sought the score that would probably win the match. Both sides attacked and defended with great determination and as we reached the half hour mark there was still difficulties in separating the two sides. GHA’s performance had clearly won the respect of the partisan local crowd and every attempted break out by GHA was met with desperate pleas from the stands to stop the city side from scoring. There was no room for error on either side yet there was no attempt to curtail the attacking intentions of both sides.Further injuries meant additional time had to be added and the glow from the floodlights lit up the determined faces of all participants. Jed managed to gain control of the ball just inside the GHA half as everyone kept one eye on the electronic scoreboard and one eye on the action. Jed won a penalty for interference just outside the visitors twenty metre area and their forwards drove into the GHA defence before recycling and passing the ball through hands to allow Craig Cowan to score amidst a huge cheer from the home support which was replicated moments later when the try was converted . Final score: JED-FOREST 31 GHA 21.

This had been an exciting open contest with tremendous commitment and effort by all concerned. Jed-Forest secured the points but this was a tremendous performance by the young GHA side. It is in matches such as this with this level of performance that this Braidholm side will surely continue to mature and improve.

JED-FOREST: L. YOUNG, C. YOUNG, G. YOUNG, M. MITCHELL, R. MARSHALL, E. STUART, G. MUNRO, C. HOGG, G. PAXTON, P. FERREIRA, C. SKELDON, G. LAW, M. WEEKLEY, C. COWAN, J. SUDLOW
Reserves: N.BATES J.HYND G.ROBSON S.GOODFELLOW R.SHIRRA-GIBB

Scorers: T – COWAN (2), HOGG, L. YOUNG, TBC C – C. YOUNG (3)

GHA: G. MOLLISON, B. ADDISON, C. BINNIE, R. FINDLAY, A. SPOWART, A. GOUDIE, P. JERICEVICH, T. BROGAN, S. USUDA, S. FISHER, J. AULD, A. BARNETT, M. RYAN, F. HAIG, R. ANGUS
Reserves: A. CORNWELL, L. BARRON, P. HARKINS, A. GILLMAN, S. PLUMRIDGE

Scorers: T – ADDISON, JERICEVICH, PLUMRIDGE C – JERICEVICH (3)

REFEREE: MR G ORMISTON
ASSISTANT REFEREES: MR D. McKERVAIL & MR B BERRY.

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