Jed-Forest 27, Selkirk 7

Strong finish by Jed-Forest scuppers injury-hit Selkirk

FULL STEAM AHEAD. Jed-Forest's forwards pile into a ruck during Saturday's game against Selkirk at Riverside Park. (Picture: Grant Kinghorn)

RIVERSIDE Park has never been a happy hunting ground for Selkirk, and so it proved again on Saturday. The Royal Blues gained in confidence as the game wore on, scoring 27 unanswered points after the break to run out convincing winners.
Ahead 7-0 at halftime, Selkirk created two clear try-scoring opportunities on either side of the interval, but were unable to finish off either chance. Jed exploited these let-offs to the full, Clark Laidlaw's pin-point line kicking keeping the visitors pinned deep in their own half, with the direct running of new Kiwi signing Jon Dampney a constant threat.
In the opening exchanges of the game Jed had the upper hand. Twice Simon Lightbody made inroads through the middle, only to be denied by last-ditch tackles, and it took Selkirk 14 minutes to get out of their own half courtesy of a Michael Rutherford clearance kick.
A bout of fisticuffs broke out amongst the two packs after 20 minutes, as a result of which referee Gary Gordon issued yellow cards to both John Szkudro and Denver Rumney.
Selkirk's best spell of pressure came soon afterwards. David Cassidy made a fine 40-metre break upfield, and after the ball had switched through at least nine pairs of hands, Rob Taylor was unable to hold on to the final pass with the try line beckoning.
The breakthrough finally came on the half-hour mark. Marcus Barnett won a line-out that allowed Alistair Dickson to burst through two tackles in midfield, and Scott Tomlinson dummied his way over for a try near the posts. Michael Rutherford added the conversion.
Rutherford then had to leave the field to have an elbow injury seen to, and in his absence Scott Hendrie sent a penalty attempt wide of the posts.
Straight after the break Selkirk suffered a major blow when Rumney was forced to leave the field with a head injury - lock Neil Darling being drafted into the back row as cover. Play was swinging from end to end, and Jed drew level when Ross Goodfellow beat Craig Hunter to Clark Laidlaw's lofted kick into the in-goal area, touching the ball down for a try.
Gary McGarva kicked the conversion from wide out, and moments later put Jed ahead for the first time from a penalty straight in front of the posts.
It looked as though Selkirk would regain the lead when Scott Hendrie pinned his ears back and raced for the corner flag, but his effort came up inches short, and the home team was able to clear its lines.
Selkirk's next attack foundered when Rutherford was caught in possession and gave away turnover ball, and shortly afterwards McGarva slotted his second penalty of the day when the visitors were caught offside.
This reversal seemed to sap Selkirk's confidence, and with Laidlaw's astute kicking to the corners allowing the Souters no room to manoeuvre, it came as no surprise when first James Henderson and then John Szkudro burst through the visitors' weakened defensive line for scores.
McGarva added both conversions, and Selkirk's day of woe ended on a suitably depressing note when Neil Darling limped from the field minutes from full-time with a back injury.
Jed deserve credit for wearing down their opponents after a shaky start, and the return match at Philiphaugh should ensure the teams end their league campaign on a highly competitive note.

SELKIRK - F. Harkness, C. Hunter, D. Cassidy, A. Dickson, S. Hendrie, M. Rutherford, M. McVie, G. Patterson, E. Robbie, B. Rawcliffe, N. Darling, S. Renwick, S. Tomlinson, D. Rumney, D. Hoggan. Replacements (all used): M. Murray, R. Taylor, M. Barnett, A. Lyall.

JED-FOREST - R. Goodfellow, N. Smail, S. Lightbody, G. McGarva, J. McCraw, C. Laidlaw, G. Laidlaw, J. Henderson, D. Grieve, N. Bates, G. Elder, J. Szkudro, D. Grieve, S. Laidlaw, J. Dampney. Replacements (all used): C. Shaw, P. Cranston, A. Hall, S. MacDonald.

Referee - G. Gordon (Hillfoots).