Jed-Forest 10, Selkirk 29


Callum Marshall feeds Craig MacDougall in the build-up to Selkirk’s second score at Riverside Park on Saturday.

Craig MacDougall bursts over for his try to put Selkirk 12-3 ahead.

Selkirk stand-off Callum McColm checks inside opposite number Guido Danil.

Lock Jordan McGowan keeps Selkirk on the front foot during Saturday’s match at Riverside.

Line-out jumper Callum Marshall secures possession for Selkirk.

Try-scorer Darren Clapperton finds his route to the line blocked this time by Greg Walker & Daniel Ritchie.

Scrum-half Mikey Davies tries to spot a gap round the fringes, watched by Jed’s David Grieve.

Head coach Peter Wright addresses his players after the match.

Photos: Grant Kinghorn Pics

SELKIRK stretched their unbeaten run in BT National League Division 1 to nine matches at Riverside Park on Saturday, but not before hosts Jed-Forest had tested the resolve of Ross Nixon’s players to the limit.

A grandstand finish looked on the cards when a 70-metre interception try by the Royal Blues right at the start of the second half brought the home crowd alive, taking Jed to within two points of the visitors.

Selkirk refused to push the panic button, however. Showing the strength of character that has served them so well this season, within the space of two minutes the Souters had bounced back with a try of their own to steady the ship and put them on course for victory.

The game was ultimately decided up front, with Jed unable to counter Selkirk’s dominance at the scrum. The visitors used their ascendancy in this area as a launch pad for their most incisive attacks, with prop Kieran Cooney’s strength and experience giving the visitors a massive advantage.

Locks Jordan McGowan and Matt Kissick put in a power of work at the set-piece and in broken play, while Callum Marshall continues to grow in stature at number eight. Young wing Callum McEwan also showed up well in attack, and Darren Clapperton’s try-scoring exploits show no sign of slowing down any time soon.

In the match’s opening exchanges, Jed’s ferocious first-time tackling prevented Selkirk from developing any kind of rhythm, with centres Declan Wallace and Robert Hogg making life extremely uncomfortable for their opposite numbers.

Home stand-off Guido Danil used the wind at his back to telling effect, and a series of long positional kicks saw the visitors pegged back in their own half. In the 16th minute Selkirk were penalised for not rolling away at a ruck, allowing David Grieve to put Jed’s first points on the board.

The visitors now began to raise the tempo of their game, and a dangerous Clapperton break up the left touchline just failed to breach the home defences. Selkirk kept up the pressure, and after 25 minutes a clean take by Marshall at a line-out on Jed’s 22 led to a powerful rolling maul, with Angus Duckett and fellow Kiwi Kissick joining forces to propel Cooney over the line for the visitors’ first try.

Selkirk increased their lead three minutes later when a slick handling move saw Marshall feed McEwan, who then make ground up the right flank. The wing passed back infield to Marshall, who checked former team-mate Fraser Harkness long enough to allow Craig MacDougall to take his off-load and race under the posts for the visitors’ second try. Josh Welsh converted.

A high tackle on Ross Nixon by Wallace led to a spell of pressure close to Jed’s line, but two stolen line-outs saw the home team clear the danger. Halftime arrived with Selkirk leading 12-3.

Two minutes into the second half Jed roared back into the game. Clapperton’s floated pass to Duckett was intercepted outside the home 22 by Jed wing Greg Walker, who sprinted upfield and, after kicking the ball over Selkirk’s line, beat Clapperton to the touchdown. Grieve’s conversion cut the visitors’ lead to 12-10.

Selkirk hit back almost immediately. A drive up the right touchline saw Mikey Davies switch the ball infield to Callum McColm, who managed to find Clapperton in space. The wing’s pass to Welsh was knocked on by Walker, but with advantage being played the Selkirk full-back did well to beat defenders Michael Weekley and Daniel Ritchie to score in the corner.

With Selkirk’s players growing in confidence and Jed’s beginning to feel the pace, Clapperton raced over in the 65th minute for Selkirk’s bonus point try after good work by Nixon to tie in the Jed defence and Welsh to provide a secure link out wide.

The home team suffered a major blow soon afterwards when Danil was helped to the sideline with a painful knee injury. Selkirk went close to scoring again when a break by McColm saw McEwan stopped right on the line, but in the final minute Cooney got his name on the score sheet for the second time after being driven over the line by Kissick and James Bett. Rory Banks added the conversion.

The final whistle blew two minutes later, bringing the curtain down on another notable Selkirk victory, which leaves the Philiphaugh side seven points clear at the top of the table. The Souters are on the road again this weekend, travelling to take on Peebles at the Gytes for what is sure to be another no-holds-barred Border derby.

SELKIRK – J. Welsh, C. McEwan, R. Nixon, C. MacDougall, D. Clapperton, C. McColm, M. Davies, K. Cooney, J. Bett, C. Graur, J. McGowan, M. Kissick, E. MacDougall, A. Duckett, C Marshall. Replacements: R. Banks, G. Patterson, S. McDonald, R. Wilson.

JED-FOREST – F. Harkness, G. Walker, D. Wallace, R. Hogg, D. Gobby, G. Danil, D. Ritchie, M. Meek, S. Raeburn, G. Nagle, J. Barrie, G. Law, G. Taylor, M. Weekley, D. Grieve. Replacements: R. Gibson, C. Lothian, D. Batey, R. Miller, A. Thomson.

Referee – Gordon Corry (Gala Wanderers).