1st XV vs Jed-Forest: Match Report
After so many close games this season, where the winning margins have been slim, Saturday’s game was a massive disappointment. Having led throughout, we conceded a converted try in the last minute to lose the match.
Mental attitude is so important; no matter how much you tell yourself that the opposition will be ‘up for it’, if you wake up on a Saturday morning thinking you are better than the opposition, it is hard to get into the correct frame of mind for the task in hand.
On the other hand, if you wake up on the Saturday knowing that the whole team has to be at its very best to have any chance, and that, if you are off the pace at all, a drubbing could ensue – that is when you play your best.
And so it was on Saturday: a beautiful day, Jed-Forest understrength with Gillespie away and, after twenty minutes, we were 19-3 up. It all seemed so simple.
Playing towards the castle, Liam ghosted through after three minutes and touched down. Shortly after, Hayden accepted an overlap and was in, after Mike Hanning had wrong-footed the entire Jed backline with a simple step inside. Mike added the conversion.
Jed kicked a penalty but Liam was on hand to accelerate through a gap and score, with Mike again adding the extras. One thing about Border teams is that they never give up, but, although Jed were now getting some possession, they were making plenty of mistakes themselves, and, to be honest, we looked in control. On the stroke of half time, however, the visitors found a lifeline, as their hooker Grieve wrong-footed Liam to touch down, with Scott converting
Such is the ability of our backline with the ball in hand that you would expect the converted try by Jed to be an annoyance rather than a game changer. But you have to do the hard yards first before the backs can apply the finish, and, although we did a lot of pretty things in midfield, the steel was lacking. In defence, we were simply giving Jed too much space, and they have decent three-quarters themselves who don’t need a second invitation to exploit the space.
Hayden retired having received a ‘sore one’ and Neil Bowie moved into the centre, with Andrew Hughes restored to the wing. We would play well for a few phases and then lose a turn-over, and this pattern continued throughout the half. Mike converted a penalty attempt which coincided with Jed losing a man to the bin, however Willie ‘sportingly’ evened things up, in Reece’s absence, by receiving our customary front row yellow.
Most of the game was evenly fought around the half way line, but Hogg wriggled over and Scott converted to put Jed within 5 points of our score. The clock was ticking down and the full complement was restored, but we were caught’ betwixt and between’, with Jed focused on attack. We kept trying to play rugby with no real conviction, when, perhaps, a more pragmatic approach was required.
Then, from a scrum on the half way line, Jed found space and broke blind down the stand side and we conceded a scrum 5 metres out. Jed knew this was their chance, and, sure enough, Grieve burrowed over to leave Scott with a tricky conversion – which you just knew was going over to give Jed the win. A bitter pill to swallow, but that’s sport.
Positives? Joni played well, Phil had a few good charges, the set piece looked secure and Scott and Liam looked class – but we didn’t do what we have done all season, which is play as a team and for each other. Our hold on the Premier 2 championship now looks a bit tenuous – it is between us and Jed-Forest. Jed have both Hawks and Hawick to play – both desperate for bonus points – and we have Heriot’s. We both have 13 points; work it out for yourselves, but make no mistake – this was a huge opportunity blown.
Next week we are in the position of waking up on the Saturday morning knowing that, to prevail, every tackle has to be made and every chance taken. Can we do it? Of course we can – we have played great rugby all season and let ourselves down against Jed-Forest, but next Saturday we have a chance to make amends. Get down and support the team!
Kevin Barrie (Jed-Forest coach)
“Was very pleased with the way we stuck in and came back – it says a lot for the boys who came in and stepped up.”