Match Report vs Jed-Forest
Youth is a great thing. The more experienced supporters of Stewart’s Melville viewed the trip to Riverside in early January, with Jed challenging for the title, more in terms of damage limitation than a possible upset. But youth, famously, knows no fear – it’s fifteen against fifteen and so let battle commence.
It was hard to believe that there were only four minutes on the clock, such was the tempo of the match, when Sebastian Steel – sorry to use this one again, Seb – Trotted in on the overlap in the corner. Seb had the presence of mind to continue his run to allow Michael Hanning a successful, easier kick.
The play was end to end and Monty Mitchell, an interesting looking character, following a line-out to the corner and several pick and goes, barrelled his way over. The relatively straightforward conversion was missed, and, in this game of fine margins, scorning of opportunities returned to haunt Jed in the final denouement.
Hanning stretched our lead with a penalty as the high tempo was maintained, and, when Jamie Hodgson pirouetted out of a tackle in a less congested mid-field and found clear blue water, he stormed home under the sticks. The conversion gave us a twelve point lead.
The second period of the first half was full of action. ‘Happy’ Morrison seemed to receive a pass in defence from a Jed attacker, which he fumbled; the ball was regained by Jed and ‘Happy’, in an awkward position, attempted the tackle. He was promptly yellow-carded for either high tackle/deliberate knock-on/deliberate offside – you choose. Happy was anything but – but, in fairness to the referee, it looked wrong somehow!
Whilst our numbers were reduced, Callum Young squeezed in at the corner, but the play was halted in midfield shortly after as a result of a head injury to Cowan; play was then suspended for twelve minutes whilst he was attended to. Cowan was replaced by Grieve, a familiar adversary in Jed colours. The last minute of the first half saw the Jed scrum-half red carded for foul play. From the resultant penalty, at the edge of his range, Hanning’s kick squeezed over. Breathless stuff.
Half –Time:- Jed-Forest 10 Stewart’s Melville 20.
The second half provided a real test of character, as, even though Jed were down to fourteen, they have, in the three Youngs, players that can transform a game in an instant and can hurt you from any part of the ground.
Our tactic had been to make sparing use of the thump downfield, either to recycle or box kick, and, when Porteous replaced Sinclair, we had the ideal candidate to launch such kicks. The box kicks meant the Jed back three could do little by the way of countering. These kicks are only as good as the chase and follow up tackle and this is an area that, in fairness, still has room for improvement. In truth, we kept trying to play rugby and not resort to damage limitation.
Mid-way through the second half we managed to mount a counter and release Sean Murchie; there is no catching him with a head start, and we opened up a fifteen point lead.
Weekley, another familiar opponent, reduced the deficit, with Callum Young converting, to make the gap eight points with twelve minutes to go. It was pretty much all Jed at this point, and twice a scoring pass found a Stewart’s Melville player – on one occasion, the happily restored ‘Happy’ danced his way out of trouble behind his line.
Mindful of the game situation, Jed eschewed the three points late in the game in order to go for a scrum, but we defended that and a couple of line-outs. With five minutes to go, we broke free and played out time in the Jed half; Mike had a penalty that hit the post and Hobbis almost squeezed over after an impressive ‘breenge’. The loss of time due to injuries and the disorientation following the lengthy delay for Cowan’s departure meant it was impossible to assess the time remaining when referee Kevin White finally, mercifully, let out the shrill long blast.
If Michael Hanning controlled matters and gave us the edge at half-back which ultimately controlled the game, Sami Paulsson made it all possible. He was everywhere – tackling and always ready to carry the ball. He is a top drawer player, and, if curious,do come and watch him next week and see him in action. John Grant made the most of his starting shirt. Tom Spowart, Gregor Porteous and Andrew Warnock all contributed from the bench and asked different questions of the Jed defence in those crucial last twenty minutes.
Next week, then, it’s Musselburgh at Inverleith, and we have a different pressure – that of being favourites.
An away victory at one of these famous Border grounds is an occasion to be treasured, not least for the comments of the local support. The ire directed at referee Kevin White was highlighted when a worthy accused him of trying to curry favour with Stewart’s Melville to get ‘his laddie into that posh school’ – you have to laugh!
Full Time Jed-Forest 17 Stewart’s Melville 25
Match highlights c/o Scottish Rugby TV can be viewed here.