Selkirk 23, Jed-Forest 19
THE famous clarion call "Jethart's Here" translated into intense Jed pressure in the opening minutes of Saturday's RBS National League game at Philiphaugh. The visitors arrived determined to leave the Royal & Ancient Burgh with a vital away win, while the Souters were keen to get back to winning ways after successive defeats against Glasgow Hawks and Watsonians.
The trusty boot of Jed's Iain Chisholm gave the visitors a deserved lead from a well-struck penalty, and any thoughts that this was going to be an easy day at the office for the home team were immediately dismissed.
When the Souters were able to draw breath and secure possession, they responded with a try from the top drawer. The playmakers were Gavin Craig and Fraser Harkness, with the finishing touch being provided by the supporting Angus Duckett who scored a fine try between the posts after a fluent passage of play from 70 metres out.
Michael McVie added the conversion and stretched Selkirk's lead to 10-3 with a penalty. At least twice in the opening quarter Selkirk looked like scoring tries and the frustration was epitomised by the move that saw the impressive Andrew Renwick scythe through the Jed defence only to see his pass to Duckett spilled with the line at his mercy.
Indiscipline allowed Jed to regain the lead with three Chisholm penalties, and the third infringement resulted in Ryan Crockatt being yellow-carded. Selkirk could not complain with the referee's decision, as the penalty count was mounting against them.
Jed's Ewan Scott made a threatening break with halftime approaching, but Selkirk defended well. Line-outs were again proving difficult for the Souters, while the scrums were also under pressure against Jed's scavenging pack of forwards.
Clément Lacour replaced Catalin Graur in the front row after 35 minutes, and much to the relief of home supporters Selkirk edged ahead 13-12 with Michael McVie's second penalty on the stroke of half time. Captain Gavin Craig made several telling breaks in the first half, and only needs a hungry supporting cast to turn pressure into points.
Jed started the stronger as the second period got underway, and were clearly up for it in terms of determination. However, their early pressure was cancelled out by a superbly worked try, engineered by Ross Nixon's initial break and scored by the talented Darren Clapperton. Michael McVie brought out full points with an excellent conversion from out wide and the 20-12 score line was starting to look good for Selkirk.
However, a controversial try for Jed put the contest back in the balance. Selkirk were attacking when a pass was intercepted by Robert Hogg's hand and the ball deflected to ground. He re-gathered on the bounce and sprinted 50 metres to touch down between the posts, with the home supporters screaming for a knock-on. A well taken try nevertheless, and only the video will show who was right and who was wrong.
At the end of the day referees and touch-judges deserve credit and thanks for officiating on Saturday afternoons, particularly in Border derby clashes! Iain Chisholm's conversion cut the deficit to a single point, and the last 15 minutes were fast and furious as Jed attempted to clinch victory.
The visitors subjected Selkirk to monumental pressure but the Souters were stalwart in defence. Luckily Michael McVie had his kicking boots on, and another penalty took the score to 23-19. The final whistle heralded the end of a scrappy game, where both teams emerged with positives and negatives
Jed are a far better team than their league position shows and Selkirk will be menacing to anyone when they click.
SELKIRK: R. Banks, F. Harkness, C. McColm, R. Nixon,
D. Clapperton , G. Craig, M. McVie, G. Patterson, S. Forrest, C. Graur, A. Renwick, M. Kissick, , A. Duckett, R.
Crockatt, E. MacDougall. Reps: L. MacLennan, C. Johnston, J. Bett, C. Lacour, N. Darling.