A View from the Touchline – Premier League: 9.11.19.

Jed-Forest 13 pts (t 1, c 1, p g 2) v Currie Chieftains 23 pts (t 3, c 1, p g 2)

The afternoon sunshine certainly enhanced the Borders autumn colours, but it did little to raise the temperature or remove the white frost still lingering where its rays could not reach. A damp chilly Riverside Park was not for the weak-hearted, as Jed did their best to make life difficult for the Chieftains and upset the form book on a green greasy pitch.

Although it was reported that Jed were hampered by an injury crisis, their performance, particularly in the first half, belied that fact, as Currie struggled to hold on to the ball and generate any real momentum. The slippery conditions and an aggressive opposition thwarted many of the visitors’ early ambitions; their normally sound handling was put under pressure and possession frequently slithered from their control. Jed patiently worked their way towards the Currie line with some good mixed rugby involving both their gritty pack and pacey backs, but they were always confronted with the Chieftains’ brick wall defence that was only breached in the closing minutes of this tight game.

The first half was a bit of a chess match with both teams countering the others moves, although there was a degree of chance and excitement when Jed hacked any loose ball into Currie territory as the visitors’ promising attacks faltered. Jed were first on the scoreboard with an off-side penalty kick, and Robbie Yourston doubled his account with a similar effort before the break. The home team had unsettled the visitors with intimidating ferocious tackles, some of which looked a little suspect, and eventually led to a yellow card for Gary Munro. Between the two Jed scores, Currie had their moments. Hamish Ferguson made a tremendous 20 metre break into the opposition 22, but his pass to Gregor Hunter was slightly forward and the try was disallowed.

There was cause for concern when a fair, and unfortunate collision injured full back, Charlie Brett after only 20 minutes of play. Charlie’s tackling, confidence under the high ball, his positional play and searing pace have been factors in the Chieftains’ current success. We hope that the injury is not too serious, and Charlie will soon recover. Thankfully, there is talent in the Chieftains’ ranks, and Fraser Sayers did a first-class job as replacement, especially with Jed continuing to exert pressure near the goal line. Once again, the Chieftains’ defence was solid, and Gregor Hunter cleared the danger with a thumping kick that put the visitors on the front foot.

Roy Vucago is proving to be something of a wrecking ball for the Chieftains; time and again his bulk and dynamism punched holes in the Jed defence, and he was on hand to receive Steven Hamilton’s try-scoring pass just before halftime. Gregor Hunter’s touchline conversion bounced back off the post.

Halftime score – Jed-Forest 6 pts, Currie 5 pts.

There was a distinctly wintry atmosphere at the start of the second half, as the shadows lengthened, and the damp chill intensified. The travelling Currie support were soon warmed by the positive start that their team made. They attacked Jed from the kick-off, and within 5 minutes Gregor Hunter had put them in front with a well-taken penalty goal. The Chieftains’ all action attacking rugby continued, but the Jed back row slowed things down and inflicted a couple of turnovers in the process; their alert backs also stopped the Currie runners in their tracks; but each time the goal line was getting closer.

Although the scrummaging had been evenly contested, the Chieftains now fancied their chances with Wallace Nelson picking up and making ground from 10 metres out. Livewire scrumhalf, Gregor Christie threw the ball wide, and it travelled with speed and accuracy towards the goal line; Roy Vucago drew two

defenders and his one-handed pass sent Cammy Meager into the corner for another try that was not converted.

Currie were still forfeiting a reasonable amount of possession through handling errors inflicted by some well-organised effective defending, which slowed any progress. The terrier-like opposition were also being pinged for their misdemeanours, and a yellow card was issued to Gregor Law for a late tackle.

A 30-metre rolling maul must have made the Chieftains pack feel good, and Gregor Hunter rewarded their effort with a fine penalty goal that stretched the visitors’ lead. Jed were now under pressure from constant Currie attacks, but their tackling was faultless and praiseworthy. The door was finally opened by the pack, as they pushed the depleted Jed scrum backwards, and the referee awarded a penalty try.

With fifteen minutes remaining, the Chieftains went all out for the bonus point score, which almost came on a number of occasions, but Jed proved a difficult nut to crack. Graeme Carson, Reece Paterson, Josh O’Brien and Sam Edwards battled to get the advantage, and every time that Adam Hall or Steven Hamilton appeared to step free, they were pulled down. When a loose ball was hacked 50 metres deep into the Currie 22, Jed smelled blood. They drove forward and recycled a number of times, after their hard-running backs had tried to break the Chieftains’ resistance. When Cammy Meager went for an interception, he found the sinbin for an unfortunate deliberate knock-on; Currie’s resources were now stretched, and Jed’s experienced centre, Gregor Young cut through for a try that Robbie Yourston converted.

This late score put a spring in Jed’s step. Cheered on by the enthusiastic crowd they had at least a losing bonus point in their sights. Despite their best endeavours and some cracking rugby from both teams, particularly the Chieftains’ brilliant defence, no further scoring occurred, although it was very close at times.

Next weekend we are back at Malleny Park for a local derby against Musselburgh. It is some time since we have played these old rivals who are recently back to winning ways, and on the up! It should be an interesting contest; kick-off 3.00pm.

I.J.S. 9.11.19.

Currie Chieftains Team v Jed-Forest –

15 Charlie Brett, 14 Archie MacLean, 13 Steven Hamilton, 12 Adam Hall 11 Cameron Meager,

10 Gregor Hunter, 9 Gregor Christy, 8 Wallace Nelson, 7 Hamish Ferguson, 6 Josh O’Brien,

5 Matt Poole, 4 Mike Vernel, 3 Cairn Ramsay, 2 Roy Vucago, 1 Graeme Carson.

Bench – Reece Paterson, Sam Edwards, Cameron Lessels, Fraser Sayers.

Officials –

Referee – Matt Rodden

AR 1 – Tom French

AR 2 – David Changleng

 

Image : Bill McBurnie (Jed-Forest)