Jed-Forest 3, Selkirk 40

SELKIRK PLAYERS PUT DOWN AN EARLY MARKER WITH IMPRESSIVE SIX-TRY VICTORY

Selkirk skipper Gavin Craig manages to get the ball away under pressure in Friday's game. 

Scott Hendrie in full flight for the home try line, chased by Jed's Ross Goodfellow and with Selkirk team-mate Fraser Harkness in support. (Photos: Grant Kinghorn) 




SELKIRK'S new-look team made a solid start to the new campaign with a convincing 40-3 victory over Jed-Forest in Friday night's Booker Border League Pool 'B' match at Riverside Park.
With no fewer than seven players in Selkirk's 20-man squad making their debuts for the club, concern had been expressed in some quarters that such widespread changes from last season would unbalance the side.
Such worries proved unfounded. On the night Selkirk looked a well organised unit, with one of the most satisfying features of their display being the way players linked with each other both in attack and defence.
Jed-Forest also blooded a number of new players in the match, and, like Selkirk, were without some key personnel, most notably injured skipper Gregor Young, with former Selkirk player David Grieve taking over the captaincy duties for the Royal Blues.
Strong scrummaging by the visiting front row of Clément Lacour, Stuart Forrest and 'Cata' Graur saw Jed pushed off their own ball in the first minute of the game, and further pressure at the breakdown led to Jed conceding a succession of penalties - the third of which saw Michael McVie step up to kick the goal and put Selkirk 3-0 ahead.
One of the visitors' most dynamic performers on the night was full-back Fraser Harkness, whose runs from the deep always stretched the home defence. Several times he won back ball after following up his own high kicks, and in the sixth minute spearheaded the move which led to Scott Hendrie jinking his way over for the visitors' first try.
The high work rate of openside Angus Duckett and his Kiwi compatriot, lock Matt Kissick, also contributed significantly to Selkirk's early dominance. When Duckett's opposite number, Michael Weekley, was yellow-carded for persistent infringement after 17 minutes, Selkirk took full advantage to stretch their lead.
Another surging run by Harkness up the left touchline saw the Scotland sevens player break three tackles before feeding the ball to Ross Nixon, and the centre's crisp exchange of passes with Scott Hendrie saw the latter dive over for his second try.
Jed then mounted a series of attacks to move play to the visitors' 10-metre line, where a successful penalty kick after 26 minutes by stand-off Iain Chisholm allowed the Royal Blues to open their account, making the score 15-3 in Selkirk's favour.
Soon afterwards Ryan Crockatt scored the visitors' third try following a scrum base pick-up and quick dart down the blind side.
For the seven minutes leading up to halftime Jed laid siege to Selkirk's try line, but the Souters' defence proved rock-solid - even following the yellow-carding of Cata Graur for handling in the ruck. The interval whistle blew with Selkirk 20-3 ahead.
Early in the second period McVie stretched Selkirk's lead from another penalty, before Crockatt had to leave the field with a nasty eye injury. Another extended period of Jed pressure saw the visitors once again successfully defend their try line, with Ross Nixon leading the way with some cracking tackles.
In the 64th minute visiting skipper Gavin Craig launched an attack that saw teenage wing Josh Welsh make ground down the left touchline, before executing a well-judged off-load to fellow newcomer Lewis MacLennan, whose cleverly angled run saw the young centre crash over for Selkirk's bonus point try.
Craig demonstrated Selkirk's growing confidence with a huge reverse pass behind his own try line, and moments later Fraser Harkness crossed for the visitors' fifth try following good lead-up work by Welsh and MacLennan.
Replacement hooker Peter Forrest set the seal on Selkirk's victory with a try seven minutes from time, converted from the touchline by McVie. What made Forrest's try especially satisfying was the fact the young forward has been sidelined for the past nine months after tearing ankle ligaments in the same Jed fixture.
After the game Selkirk coach Ewen Robbie praised the team's display: "It was pleasing to get the win, but it's early days yet and there are still plenty of things to work on. The efforts put in by the players during our pre-season build-up have paid off, and I thought our work rate tonight was good.
"No-one's going to get carried away by one result, and Kelso will be a completely different kettle of fish on Saturday. Tonight gave us a chance to see how the new players would perform, and I thought they all acquitted themselves well.
"For me the character of this team was epitomised by replacement prop Brendon Reid, who played a full game against Hawick 'Quins on Tuesday night, turned out for us today, and will be back playing for the 'A' XV tomorrow. That kind of commitment makes a huge difference to a side, and that's the level of dedication we've got to take forward into our league campaign."
SELKIRK: F. Harkness, J. Welsh, S. Hendrie, R. Nixon, C. McColm, G. Craig, M. McVie, C. Graur, S. Forrest, C. Lacour, M. Kissick, A. Renwick, E. MacDougall, A. Duckett, R. Crockatt. Reps: L. McLennan, B. Reid, P. Forrest, K. Mitchell, F. Orr.
JED-FOREST: R. McFarlane, D. Gobby, D. Wallace, S. McDonald, C. Gillon, I. Chisholm, R. Goodfellow, A. Ions, D. Grieve, C. Hogg, S. Scott, N. Cook, G. Elder, G. Taylor, M. Weekley. Replacements: G. Slorance, S. Raeburn, J. Hogg, D. Grieve, M. Chisholm.
Referee - Cammy Rudkin (Hawick)