Jed-Forest RFC 24 Dundee High Rugby 20
21 October 2017
There are few more beautiful spots on an autumn afternoon than Riverside Park in Jedburgh, with the autumnal trees providing a glorious back drop on what was an afternoon made for rugby. “Just like Mayfield, but without the oilrigs” was how one Dundee wag saw it. Indeed, it was just as well there was something nice to look at for the travelling supporters, as they had a whole 2 hours to kill after the supercharged Smith & Sons team bus had rolled into Jed a record breaking 2 plus hours before kick-off.
All week, coach Colin Sangster had been hammering home the message, “The first 20 minutes is vital.” Yet in contrast to the bus’s performance, Dundee started the game so sluggishly that it seemed like they were stuck in neutral, let alone first gear, and after 20 minutes they found themselves 14 points down to a Jed side who were willing and able to run back any possession Dundee obligingly gave them.
Dundee had kicked off with what breeze there was, with full back Kieran Scoular pulling a penalty chance wide from 30 metres out after 4 minutes. The first scrum followed moments later, and in a sign of things to come led to one of many cutting breaks by the Jed backs, with Jed’s No. 11 Robbie Shirra-Gibb doing the damage this time. Good scramble defence stopped them just short of the line, Dundee disrupted the ensuing Jed scrum, and the danger was cleared. However, alarm bells were clearly ringing in the Dundee camp, and for the next 10 minutes it was all Jed – constant pressure, penalties and driving line out mauls. Finally, from 15 metres out, Jed scrum half Sean Goodfellow sniped round the side and Rory McGinn was unable to hold him up over the line. No. 10 Yourston converted and it was 7 – 0 to Jed with just under a quarter of an hour gone.
There was no respite for a Dundee team who were very much under siege as their slow start continued, and Jed were soon back knocking on Dundee’s line. From a 5 metre lineout, following a number of recycles, Jed’s No. 1 Connor Hogg battered over from round the side of a ruck, with Yourston again adding the extra points to make it Jed 14 Dundee 0, with around 20 minutes gone.
At last Dundee started to edge back into the game, and after a good spell in Jed’s half, which made for a welcome change, a Scoular penalty on 26 minutes put Dundee on the scoreboard, albeit still 14 – 3 down. It proved to be a brief respite, however, with Dundee all too often giving Jed easy possession, which they were delighted to return with interest. An 80 metre break led to a desperate chase as Jed’s quality full back, Lewis Young, chipped over the last Dundee defender, and Evan Fairweather did well to get back to the ball first and snuff out a likely try. However, just a few minutes later, after a Dundee lineout deep in Jed’s 22 had misfired, once again Jed ran first phase ball from the resulting scrum and this time full back Young kept ball in hand and outpaced everyone on a 75 metre run to score in the left hand corner. Yourston landed the difficult conversion with ease. Jed 21 Dundee 3, with just a few minutes left till half time.
Dundee regrouped, Scoular landed another penalty, and in the last play of the half, as we at last put some good pressure on the Jed defence, Alan Brown forced his way over from short range but frustratingly was held up over the line – no try. The half time whistle sounded to leave it still 21 – 6 in Jed’s favour, and with plenty for Dundee to think about during the interval.
Dundee made 2 changes at half time, Ally Mackie coming on for Neil Turnbull, with Geo moving up to 2nd row, and in the backs Josh Rutnagur replacing Henry Samson at scrum half.
Once again, Dundee started slowly after the break, and Jed made good use of Dundee errors and turnovers to keep asking questions of an often stretched Dundee defence. Gradually, however, Dundee were starting to gel more, and Ally Mackie, prominent since his introduction, intercepted a Jed pass and set off for the Jed line. Hauled down on the Jed 22, the ball broke to Dundee No. 1 James Forrester, who looked like he would go over, but was denied just short, and another gilt edged chance had gone abegging. Dundee centre Neil Herron, also showing up well, was next to break off a Dundee scrum, but his kick ahead was scrambled clear.
A slew of penalties in Dundee’s favour was helping their cause, but despite a number of warnings, the referee seemed reluctant to go to his pocket and produce the yellow card. However, a penalty against Jed for collapsing the scrum led eventually to Ally Mackie being driven over from short range, with Kieran Scoular’s conversion making the score Jed 21 Dundee 13 after 63 minutes. Somehow, Dundee were still well in contention, and at last looking like they might start to fire on all cylinders. Unfortunately, a Jed penalty, slotted by their No. 10 kicking machine after 68 minutes, made it Jed 24 Dundee 13, and stalled some of Dundee’s growing momentum.
It was a see saw game. Much to the dismay of the Jed faithful, referee Todd called back Jed No. 12 Monty Mitchell after he had burst clear, from what looked like a forward pass to all concerned – other of course than those wearing Jed colours! Dundee were then lucky not to concede another try as full back Scoular just won the race in the in-goal area to defuse a Jed kick ahead.
In an absorbing encounter, Dundee once more threw everything at Jed as the clock ticked down and after a fine break by scrum half Josh Rutnagur, a try looked on until Dundee’s man of the match, No. 7 Lewis McNamara, was halted 10 metres out by some abrasive Jed defence, forcing him to leave the field with a bloodied nose. Neil Turnbull went back on, as did Henry Sampson to replace a limping Rory McGinn. Time was running out, and a couple of penalties helped Jed work their way back to the Dundee 22, where they opted for the scrum, rather than kick the penalty, hoping to get the try that would give them the bonus point. Instead, it was Dundee who got the try, Neil Herron intercepting and setting off on a 90 metre run to the Jed line, with Scoular adding the 2 points. That, however, proved to be the last play of the game, and so it finished Jed-Forest 24 Dundee 20.
Reflections Dundee were far from their best, and we did well to run high flying Jed as closely as they did, given the way we played. However, there is far more to come from this Dundee side, and the coaches’ challenge is how to draw that out of this young side, especially on their travels.
- Kieran Scoular, 14. Evan Fairweather, 13. Neil Herron, 12. Andrew Hamilton, 11. Danny McGinn, 10. Rory McGinn; 9. Henry Sampson
8. Danny Levison, 7. Lewis McNamara, 6. George Arnott, 5. Andy Redmayne, 4. Neil Turnbull, 3. Alan Brown, 2. Angus Fraser, 1. James Forrester
Substitutes 16. Chris Cartmell, 17. Lewis Mclean, 18. Alasdair Mackie, 19. Josh Rutnagur, 20. Sean Gauld