Saturday saw the arrival of the improving Jed side at Braidholm. The home side were keen to put aside the disappointing performance last week at Selkirk. A good crowd assembled for the pre match lunch and our Bob’s superb card games. Also present and very welcome were representatives of Cancer Support Scotland. The pitch was in very good condition and variable weather saw clouds, rain and then sunshine as match time approached. Both teams went through their drills and routines as a stillness enveloped the ground. Our marvellous Mini section provided a guard of honour as the gladiators entered the field of play. 

GHA kicked-off long and the ball was gathered by Jed who cleared the immediate danger up to their twenty-two-metre line. An early opportunity to put pressure on the visitors was lost when an inaccurate lineout resulted in a scrum for Jed. The visitors attempted to move the ball across their back line but were halted by the GHA defence. Following a scrum, Luke McCutcheon took the ball into contact and released quick ball to the ever-alert George Baird who fired a pass out to the “Braidholm Express” Luca Bardelli- who shot through a startled Jed wing defence to score, much to the delight of the home support. Chris Hyde from a difficult angle, with considerable skill and intense concentration put in a superb kick to make the score after three minutes: GHA 7 JED-FOREST 0.  This was an excellent start to the match for the home side and it is to the credit of the visitors that they quickly shook off the disappointment at conceding early and looked to take the match to GHA. From the gathered restart, an overhit GHA return gave Jed a scrum at halfway. Dario Ewing, with accomplices George Baird and Scott Plumridge, made life uncomfortable for scrum half Aidan Bambrick and as the ball went loose after his ragged pass, the home side were awarded a penalty at halfway. With six minutes on the clock the home side elected to attempt to convert the penalty. Once again Chris Hyde put in a superb long conversion to make the score: GHA 10 JED 0. Chris was to be a thorn in the side of Jed all afternoon. Apart from his classy work at full back he was to produce a kicking master class which continually put pressure on the visitors and ensured victory late on in this pulsating match. Jed now knew that to concede a penalty from around halfway would possibly result in Chris Hyde punishing such indiscretions. Despite this, Jed continued to take the game to GHA . The home side broke up a promising attack from the visitors around half way and  Aminio  Bogridrau, with a distinctive hitch kick in his stride, wrong footed several Jed players on a break before being brought down. In the following loose play GHA conceded the first of several penalties for infringements which would allow the visitors back into this match. Such indiscipline would put GHA on the back foot from positive positions throughout the match and give succour to the visitors when it looked as if GHA would take command. The excellent and astute Lewis Young put the ball deep into the GHA twenty-two. A knowing look between the Jed pack and scrum half Aidan Bambrick saw the visitors take and drive at the lineout and despite GHA resistance, they continued to, reset and drive again until over the line to score. Lewis Young converted and the score after twelve minutes was now: GHA 10 JED-FOREST 7.

This score seemed to increase the confidence of the Jed players but credit to the home side who took the match back to the visitors on the restart. After several minutes of probing kicks by both sides and drives into contact around the Jed ten-metre line, the home side were awarded a penalty for an infringement. This was a penalty reversal after Jed had been awarded a penalty and the referee penalised Jed for talking back. The visitors were guilty of this misdemeanour on several occasions in the match and it was to cost them dearly. From the penalty, Chris Hyde once again delivered a lovely kick, and the score was now: GHA 13 JED-FOREST 7 after eighteen minutes.

As we moved toward the twenty-minute mark, it was clear that the prowess of Messrs Kerr and Barnett in the lineout was affecting the quality of ball won by Jed on their throw. This coupled with speed of engagement from these two, ably assisted by the rest of the home pack as Jed attempted to move the ball, was stifling creative opportunities for the visitors.

Just as GHA began to establish some dominance, another penalty was conceded by GHA which took the pressure off Jed and offered an opportunity to pull closer to the hosts. An excellent kick from Lewis Young was greeted with loud roars from the Jed support and the score after just over twenty minutes was now: GHA 13 JED-FOREST 10. The home side sent a long kick into the Jed twenty-two at the restart which was gathered and quickly cleared by Jed as the home side thundered forward to cut down the space. From the Jed twenty-two, despite winning the lineout, Jed found Messrs Fox, McCutcheon, and Cavan too much to handle and the home side won the ball back. Andrew Kerr made a break as the whole of the GHA side moved forward in support, and as Jed went backwards the ball was shipped to Charlie Lonergan who blitzed through the Jed defence to score. Chris Hyde with his usual aplomb, made light of a difficult angle to convert and make the score after twenty five minutes: GHA 20 JED-FOREST 10. Following a low restart kick, GHA gathered and moved forward to be immediately engaged by the Jed forwards. In the ensuing loose, GHA once again gave away a penalty and Lewis Young in a reprise of his earlier kick, took play down into the GHA twenty-two area. The visitors took the lineout and began to move forward, splitting off from the group and requiring huge interventions form Kerr, Falconer and Plumridge to bar progress. Despite this, Jed cleverly provided quick ball for Callum Young to ghost through the GHA defence and score. His brother converted the try to make the score after thirty minutes: GHA 20 JED-FOREST 17. Again, from a position where the home side were building control a conceded penalty had brought the visitors right back into the match. Both sides over the rest of the half looked to find a way of establishing control. Whilst the rugby on display was not necessarily the best, the constant end to end nature of the match was exciting. Neither side seemed to have the composure to control the match for any length of time. A great break by George Baird around half-way with Adam Barnett and Michael Fox in support, cut holes in the Jed rear-guard. Desperate defence finally stopped the GHA progress but in doing so, Jed gave away another penalty. Chris Hyde again delivered, and the score after thirty-two minutes was now: GHA 23 JED-FOREST 17. Undeterred by this setback, Jed attacked from the restart and soon found themselves deep in the GHA half. A huge break form the hardworking Blake Roff was only stopped near the line by desperate GHA defence. The danger was just cleared as the half ended. The score was: GHA 23 JED-FOREST 17

There was a feeling that GHA could and perhaps should have had control of this match but unforced errors, conceding penalties and wrong choices had consistently allowed the visitors to establish their presence in this match. It seemed at the interval that the side that could maintain their composure best would take the points.

Jed began the second half with a high and deep kick which Aminio Bogidaru cleared up to halfway. The home side won the lineout and as the ball was moved out, a long pass to Amena Caqusau saw him use his speed and skill to cut a way through the Jed defence, however he was stopped immediately from just inside the Jed half, where Shirra -Gibb, Marshal, Bambrick and Roff worked the ball into the GHA half. Michael Fox promptly ended their progress with a timely tackle, but the ball went loose, and Rory Marshall gathered and attempted to break through. Both sides exchanged possession as the ball went loose in the tackle and as we moved past the third minute of the half Erik Cavan made a smashing break in the centre of the field and drove into the Jed half. The visitors closed him down and in turn they took the ball and moved forward. Following an exchange of kicks which merely handed the ball to the opposition, the ball went loose in a tackle as Jed moved again into the GHA’s half. The Braidholm side conceded a penalty and this time as GHA retreated the visitors took the penalty quickly and Lewis Young tore through the confused GHA players and passed to Blake Roff, who with great forward support went over to make the score after seven minutes of the half with the conversion by Lewis Young: GHA 23 JED-FOREST 24.

For the first time in this see-saw match Jed had the lead and suddenly seemed to find greater purpose and accuracy in their play. In contrast, the home side seemed rattled by their inability to avoid giving away penalties which allowed their opponents to move into a positive position. Some intense work by Messrs McCutcheon, Bardelli, Plumridge and Fox made inroads into the Jed half before being stopped. Once again, a penalty to Jed allowed the visitors to regroup and place a kick into the GHA twenty-two metre area. Some lovely inter-passing from the Jed backs pushed the ball across the field and then redirected it back across to allow Lewis Young to break through tackles and score in corner. Just to prove that Chris Hyde was not the only excellent kicker on show, Lewis- from a difficult angle- put in a lovely soaring kick to make the score after fifteen minutes of the half: GHA 28 JED-FOREST 31.  Suddenly, it looked as if Jed were moving to a position of dominance in this thrilling if unpredictable match. From the restart Jed gathered and with confidence moved the ball through hands as they crossed into the GHA half. An inspired interception by Charlie Lonergan resulted in a huge break by the GHA side as the visitors desperately attempted to get back in position. With excellent support from Amena Caqusau, Charlie timed his pass to allow Amena to go over, to huge cheers from the home support. Chris Hyde converted the try and the score after twenty minutes of the half was now: GHA 35 JED-FOREST 31. This match was moving from end to end and few in the crowd could confidently state who would emerge victorious. At this critical juncture the hard working Archie Falconer was yellow carded for an infringement and once again Lewis Young took play deep into the GHA half. Jed took the lineout and rumbled their way through the GHA defence to score. A very narrow missed conversion made the score after twenty-nine minutes of the half: GHA 35 JED-FOREST 36– a score line so tight it was clear that any mistakes would be punished. A lovely restart kick by Chris Hyde saw him follow up and indeed gather, the home side moving the ball with intent inside the Jed half. Luke McCutcheon straightened the line and fed Luca Bardelli, who took off with his customary rocket-like speed and made it deep into the Jed twenty-two area before finally outpacing desperate Jed cover defence to score. On this occasion Chris Hyde’s conversion attempt failed and after thirty-one minutes the score was: GHA 40 JED-FOREST 36.

The narrowness of the home side’s lead had the home support looking at the time screen and praying that their heroes could hold on. Jed supporters equally saw that with the way the match had been played, it was perfectly possible for the Royals to find a score and save the day. From the restart as we entered the last ten minutes, great efforts to penetrate by Scott and Lauder broke into the GHA half. Moments later a penalty was awarded to GHA at halfway. The decision at this critical juncture was to attempt to convert the penalty and Chris Hyde was not found wanting as he eased home support nerves with the conversion to make the score after thirty0four minutes: GHA 43 JED-FOREST 36.  Both sides as time moved to a conclusion, began to throw the ball about and look for space in an increasingly untidy final few minutes. Jed was again penalised at halfway and further back chat to the referee incurred a further ten metres allowing Chris Hyde to convert and make the score after thirty six minutes: GHA 46 JED-FOREST 36. With time almost out, Jed gave away another penalty at their ten-metre line and Chris Hyde completed the scoring in a most unusual match to make the final score: GHA 49 JED-FOREST 36.

It had been a thrilling match despite there being mistakes a plenty and Messrs Hyde and Young punishing a number of indiscretions by both sides. The home side will be delighted to have registered a home victory and it will be a huge psychological boost for this young GHA side.





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