1st XV vs Jed-Forest: Match Report
After the Miracle of Medinah and Glory at Gleneagles, there was Jittering at Jed-Forest. With Gavin Calder being kept in the locker room, the Red, Black and Gold bandwagon rolled into Riverside Park and came away with a win.
To win in the Borders requires a special mindset. With the Jed team buoyed by a vocal home support and a self-belief that their own ground is a fortress, the Stew Mel team put in an almost Ian Poulter like performance. Solid, dependable, sleepy and yet with moments of sheer magic which leave you thinking that, if we ever fire on all cylinders … watch out!
Stew Mel coach Bruce McNaughton will be pleased to have guided his team to third in the League, on the same number of points he would have taken before the season started, however he will be left with a sense of dissatisfaction after a match that, yet again, Stew Mel controlled from beginning to end and were never in any danger of losing, despite switching off around the 10 minute mark.
Yet again our defence was good – but it has to be when we constantly give penalties away – 10 alone in the first half! This makes for a very stop start game and also allows the opposition to relieve pressure. Interestingly, after a half time warning on penalties, we proceeded to give only one away in the next 38 minutes before relentless pressure and fatigue resulted in two penalties being conceded near the death. So it is very clear that the boys can control this aspect of the game.
As for the game itself: in all honesty, there is not much to write about. The pre match curry was superb, the half time pies equally delicious and the match kept you interested without ever threatening to generate any great interest from the crowd – either that or the Jed-Forest support had lost their voice!
Jed started the game, and, within 2 minutes, Banger had intercepted on halfway and barged his way up the far touch line prior to drawing the defence in and looping a pass for the supporting Fraser Christie to touch down under the posts. McCashin added the conversion.
At this point in the game we looked ready to score every time we ventured into the Jed half, and, in truth, that probably did us no favours. After a couple of powerful scrums on the Jed line which were reset, we inexplicably called for the ball to go out to the backs when everyone bar our backs could see that a penalty try was imminent. We were then fortunate that Jed strayed offside in front of their posts, where McCashin slotted the penalty to take Stew Mel into a 10-0 lead. The only other real moment of note was Strachan’s yellow card 5 minutes before half time for repeated team offences.
The second half started very much as the first half finished, with very little to note. We emptied the bench to inject some urgency into our play, but, for various reasons, there was no further scoring until our forwards took the game to Jed, and, having battered away at the Jed pack, released Banger. He smashed a few backs out of his way before passing to McCashin 10 metres out; Cash threw a long pass which bounced before Matt Morrell collected to dot down in the far corner.
The new Kicking Tactician – the injured Angus Rennie – ran on with the tee, and whatever advice he had to give must have worked as McCashin slotted the kick from the far touch line. That made it 17-0 with 30 minutes to play; to all in the ground, a bonus point win was very much on the cards. The fact that it did not materialise is partly down to our inability to go for the knockout punch and partly down to the fact that, at this level, no team will just lie down and let you run up the points. It is to the credit of our newly promoted hosts that we were then put under intense pressure in the remaining 10 minutes of the half, with two quick tries and a conversion making the final score Jed-Forest 12 vs Stewart’s Melville 17.
On the positive side, we yet again proved that we can soak up pressure and that we have a collective team belief that we will not be beaten. Some of our younger players are starting to find their feet, having just recently left schoolboy rugby, and this, mixed with the old heads, bodes well for the coming weeks.
Our next fixture sees the Selkirk scoring machine visit Invers – just like Poulter, as a team and and as a club, we will be ready for when the action really starts.