GHA 29 Jed-Forest 28
An expectant crowd arrived at Braidholm looking forward to a match between two sides who like to play attacking rugby. The appetite was further whetted by the fact that only a few points separated the sides in the Premiership table. The Old Aloysian Dinner meant that the club house was busy. An overcast day with a slight cross field wind greeted the teams. The pitch was quite firm and both teams ran through a pretty detailed programme of drills and moves pre match. The teams took the field with a guard of honour from the Junior section.
The homeside kicked off and Jed cleared the ball up to halfway. Immediately the home side looking sharp and eager attacked the visitors with drives from messrs Gillman, Fox Brogan and Marinkovic. Jed managed to blunt these early forays and pushed play up to their ten metre line. However, GHA thundered forward assisted by the sniping of Andy Gillman with support from Barnett and Clark. Jed were forced to concede a penalty and Jack Anderson kicked the penalty to give the home side an early lead. The score after five minutes was: GHA 3 JED 0.
The visitors seemed taken aback by the power and accuracy of the GHA start and tried desperately to gain a foothold in the match. Not for the first time in this match Lewis Young carved holes through the home defence and his sublime pass to Calum Young looked promising deep inside the GHA half until a tackle broke the momentum. For several minutes play ebbed and flowed from end to end as both sides attempted to gain a position of dominance. Promising moves from both sides in the match especially the first half broke down at crucial times due to poor passing, wrong options or mishandling. Throughout this match was played at a frenetic pace which hindered accurate completion of some lovely moves. Just after eleven minutes GHA looked likely to score only for a mismove to break down inside the Jed half and allow Jed to attack through the ball carrying talents of Dom Buckley, Donald Grieve and Harry Meadows. Jed exploded out of their own half and suddenly it was the home side who had to defend and attempt to blunt the carefully orchestrated moves of Robbie Yourston. The impressive line-out work of Kerr and Barnett was disrupting clean ball for the eager Jed backs.As we reached past the first quarter of the match the influence of Lewis Young, Dom Buckley and Robbie Yourston began to galvanise the visitors. A mixture of forward drives, recycling mispasses in the backs and some excellent angled running by Rory Marshall and Monty Mitchell was forcing the home side to defend across the field inside their own half. Just before the half hour after several minutes of pressure, a swift movement of the ball through hands allowed Gary Munro to go over to score. A superb conversion by the capable boot of Robbie Yourston made the score : GHA 3 JED 7.
The game remained very tight with very little to choose between the sides. A number of knock ons and fractured moves perhaps resulting from the pace of the match meant that there was little opportunity for either side to establish a base of control in the match. After thirty minutes GHA had managed to force Jed back deep into their own territory. Great forward work by Fox ,Clark and Brogan was giving the home side quality ball. A scrum on the Jed twenty two metre line resulted in a huge drive by the home side which threw the visiting side into confusion, the ball was taken on by Andy Kerr and Dario Ewing into the Jed five metre area before being released through the GHA back line to allow Chris Binnie to complete a lovely passage of play by going over in the corner. Jack Anderson from far out converted the try to make the score after thirty seven minutes: GHA 10 JED 7.
The Visiting side came straight back at the home side from the restart but again poor handling and loose passing prevented the Jed side from capitalising on some excellent initial work. The score at half time was: GHA 10 JED-FOREST 7.
It had been a keenly fought if somewhat untidy first forty minutes played at a hectic pace. Both sides could rue the fact that they had not capitalised on good possession and had cause to be grateful to the ability of their respective defences to prevent further incursions.
The second half began much as the first half had played out with both sides trying to gain territory with long kicks stymied by alert defences who gathered the ball and returned it with interest. After two minutes GHA led by Dario Ewing penetrated into the Jed half. Quick defensive cover closed him down and the move broke down with the ball going forward. From a scrum at the Jed twenty two, the home side put in a superlative eight man drive which totally threw the visitors back on their heels and in the ensuing confusion in Jed ranks conceded a penalty warmly greeted by the home support. Jack Anderson kicked to the corner and Andrew Kerr rising majestically brought the ball down to allow his forwards to drive back the Jed pack. With another thundering drive GHA headed towards the goal line forcing Jed to collapse. A penalty try was awarded and the score after three minutes of the half was: GHA 17 JED 7.
The restart from the visitors failed to make the requisite distance and GHA went back for a scrum on halfway. Suddenly there seemed to be an air of hesitancy amongst the visitors. The home side sensed that this could be a pivotal moment in the match and continued to attack through a combination of forward drives and backs running angles both of which sorely stretched the Jed defence. GHA threw everything at the Jed defence which found itself being driven further and further inside its own half. Indeed after six minutes the visitors were again penalised well inside their five metre line. The home side kicked to the corner and the imperious Andrew Kerr who with assistance from colleagues had dominated line out all match rose to gather the line out ball and lead the drive to the line. Frantic efforts by Jed were unable to stop the power of Michael Fox from going over to score. The conversion failed and the score was now: GHA 22 JED 7.
The home side were working very hard to maintain their dominance at this stage of the match and Jed found themselves continually unable to break out of the smothering effect of GHA tackling. However with considerable effort the visitors began to stem the flow and the match moved towards the mid field area as Jed calmly and carefully began to put penetrating moves together. The visiting support appreciated this renewed Jed effort to break the hold that GHA had enjoyed for a while in this half. In fact in the sixteenth minute an impressive thrust from Jed resulted in a desperate attempt by GHA to prevent Jed crossing the line. However Jed were awarded a penalty with Adam Kerr being yellow carded. The subsequent drive from the penalty allowed Jed to go over and score. The try was converted and the score was now after twenty minutes: GHA 22 JED 14.
Suddenly the game had been forced back into the melting pot when it had begun to look as if the home side were taking control. Aware of the resurgent Jed challenge, GHA from the restart attacked the Jed defence. Play moved back and forth between the ten metre and twenty two metre areas with only stout defence preventing either side from scoring. After twenty five minutes JED were awarded a scrum at their twenty two metre area and launched a swift move passing the ball at speed through hands which took a huge effort to stop from leading to a score by desperate defence. In the loose situation that followed Dom Buckley was yellow carded. The home side sent a long kick from the resulting penalty into the Jed half. In twenty nine minutes after the foray from the lineout had broken down Jed won possession and immediately attempted from their own twenty two to force the pass. Jordan Craig alert to the ploy intercepted the pass and to huge cheers from the home support burst over the try line to score. The try was converted and the score was now GHA 29 JED 14.
As we moved into the last ten minutes of the half it was very clear that neither side was in anyway accepting this score as the final say. Indeed JED began to put some impressive work into retaining the ball and moving forward in tight groups of forward and backs. The tremendous work rate of Jamie Ferguson and Paolo Ferriera aided and abetted by Gary Munro was continually demanding that the GHA defence engage constantly drawing defenders in and making space for further Jed advances. After thirty two minutes Jed persistence and accurate ball distribution allowed Gary Munro to score . The try was converted and the score was now : GHA 29 JED 21.
There had been a number of stoppages throughout the match which would lead to some additional time to be played. Both sides were aware of this and an even more frantic aspect became apparent to all the play at this stage. To add to the situation the sun had decided to make an appearance in the second half and was now slanting across the vision of the home side. Inside the final quarter GHA were awarded a penalty just outside the JED twenty two area. The attempted penalty was missed and Jed realised that as we watched the minutes tick by that there might still be time to win the match. In desperate attempts to attack and indeed defend both sides threw everything at the last minutes of the match. The home side defended desperately and had to endure a number of attempts to get over their line which only astonishing defence several times inside the five metre area. Finally following a penalty Jed to a huge roar from their support went over to score. The try was converted to make the score in time added on : GHA 29 JED 28.
Now in time added on GHA found incredible resolve to prevent any further incursions from the Border side. The crowd were on their feet in the stand as both sides attempted to settle the match. After a couple more minutes GHA finally won a penalty deep inside their twenty metre area. The ball was kicked over the dead ball line and the match ended with both sides having given their all. The final score was: GHA 29 JED 28.
It had been a match played at frenetic pace whilst there was some fine rugby played by both sides there was a tendency to rush play and perhaps a failure to execute the basics to the level both these sides are very capable of producing. However it had been a hard fought contest and nail biting until the very end.
JED-FOREST: L.YOUNG C.YOUNG R.MARSHALL M.MITCHELL G.YOUNG R.YOURSTON N.STINGL G.PAXTON F.CAMPBELL P.FERREIRA M.WEEKLEY H.MEADOWS D.GRIEVE J.McGOUGH D.BUCKLEY C.LOTHIAN A. KEELER E.LAUDER J.FERGUSON G.MUNRO
GHA: C.BINNIE J.CRAIG G.MOLLISON J.REILLY J.BAILLIE J.ANDERSON A.GILLMAN T.BROGAN H.CLARK M.FOX A.BARNETT A.KERR M.MARINKOVIC D.EWING M.RYAN E.CAVAN S.FISHER L.McCUTCHEON G.BAIRD A.SCOTT
REFEREE: Mr D SUTHERLAND
ASSISTANT REFEREES: MR J SHAW MR C GEORGE