Jed-Forest 25, Selkirk 6
Royal Blues too strong for Selkirk in hard-fought encounter at Riverside
DESPITE turning in a dogged display at Riverside Park on Saturday, Selkirk's players were unable to match Jed-Forest's pace and finishing power, which allowed the home team to notch up 20 unanswered points after the break to seal victory.
The result leaves the Souters still mired in the Premier 2 relegation zone, knowing that three victories in their remaining four league games will be required if they are to guarantee safety.
Playing with the breeze at their backs in the first half, the visitors found themselves forced on to the defensive in the opening minutes following a surging run up the middle by Jed's strong-running centre Gary Hill - one of the home side's most influential players on the day.
Selkirk managed to weather the storm, and an interception by skipper Darren Hoggan switched the pressure back on to the Royal Blues, with Michael McVie's clever box kick being followed by two drives upfield led by Fraser Harkness and Gavin Craig.
With Rory Aglen winning good line-out ball and the visitors' scrum performing well, Selkirk had plenty of possession but simply couldn't find a way through Jed's well organised, hard-hitting defence.
David Cassidy had a chance to put his team's first points on the board from a penalty after 17 minutes, but his kick drifted just left of the posts.
Roy McFarlane's break up the grandstand touchline then took play deep into Selkirk's half, before a knock-on and a bungled 22 drop-out by Selkirk led to a penalty being awarded, plus an extra 10 metres for backchat. Clark Laidlaw kicked to Selkirk's 5-metre line, and the subsequent line-out drive saw Ali Hall touch down for Jed.
On the half-hour mark Cassidy's second penalty attempt sailed over from 40 metres, after a Jed tackler had been penalised for not rolling away. Seven minutes later Cassidy put Selkirk 6-5 ahead with a penalty from a similar distance, and this was the way things remained until the halftime whistle.
The visitors started brightly after the break, with Scott Tomlinson and Neil Darling hitting up the middle to gain sizeable chunks of territory. However, Jed soaked up everything Selkirk could throw at them, with Hill easing the pressure by escaping his marker to make another telling break.
When Alister Heatlie was penalised for tackling Ross Goodfellow within 10 metres of a quickly taken tap penalty, Laidlaw again kicked to within five metres of Selkirk's try line. Although the visitors succeeded in defending the ensuing line-out drive, they were powerless to prevent Laidlaw's drop-goal.
A missed tackle allowed home openside Scott Laidlaw to burst 40 metres upfield to take play to the edge of the visitors' 22. Disaster then struck the Souters when Cassidy's clearance kick was charged down and ricoched straight back over Selkirk's try line, allowing Hill to dive on the loose ball for a try which he also converted.
At this stage Selkirk lost the services of scrum-half Michael McVie with a twisted knee, but good runs by Denver Rumney and Lee Jones set up an attacking platform deep in Jed territory. The visitors were unable to convert this pressure into points, however, and a penalty from Hill in the 71st minute increased the home side's lead to 18-6.
Selkirk centre Denver Rumney then had to leave the field after sustaining a head knock, and the visitors' misery was complete when a fumbled pass allowed James Henderson to pick up the loose ball and transfer to Scott Laidlaw, who sprinted over for Jed's third try. Hill added the conversion, with the referee blowing for no-side a minute later.
SELKIRK - G. Craig, C. Hunter, D.
Rumney, F. Harkness, L. Jones, D. Cassidy, M. McVie, G. Patterson, I. Walling, M. Murray, R. Taylor, R. Aglen,
N. Darling, D. Hoggan, S. Tomlinson.. Replacements - S. Renwick, A. McDowall, A. Heatlie, M. Jaffray.
Referee - A. McMenemy (Gala YM).
NO HOLDS BARRED. Selkirk centre Denver Rumney on the attack in Saturday's Premier 2 match against Jed-Forest at Riverside Park. (Picture: Grant Kinghorn)