Return of experience welcomed by Cunningham

THINGS are finally beginning to look up for Jed-Forest coach Darren Cunningham, writes Kenny Paterson.

The Riverside Park club suffered a nightmare start to the season, which included a 78-3 thumping at the hands of Watsonians.

But Jed had Robert Hogg and Ross Goodfellow back for last weekend’s much-needed win against Biggar, and both should feature again for this Saturday’s National League trip to near neighbours Kelso.

Also, influential winger Lewis Young returns this weekend, Garry Elder is nearing full fitness, Ewan Scott is due back from a spell playing in New Zealand, and Kiwi James Brown is expected to be available in the coming weeks.

Cunningham said: “It has been a tough start to the season and we have had to throw a lot of young players in at the deep end, but now we are looking a bit stronger.

“We know Kelso well, including our former player Darren Gillespie.

“They have recruited well, but maybe they have not gelled yet. We know it will be a tough game.”

Also in the National League, unbeaten Selkirk welcome back Fraser Harkness and Matt Kissick for their home fixture with Hillhead/Jordanhill, while Hawick travel to Watsonians.

In the Premiership, Gala face the long trip north to bottom-of-the-table Aberdeen GSFP, with coach George Graham hoping to break his Granite City hoodoo.

Graham said: “Gala have never won at Aberdeen in my two spells in charge.

“The best we have had was a 15-all draw.

“It is probably down to the distance we are travelling. Aberdeen are bottom of the league but it is definitely a false position.

“We were a bit disappointed with last week’s defeat against Ayr. Our discipline let us down, we had two sin-binnings, but we have worked on that this week in training.”

Centre Chris Auld returns to the squad, but Gary Lowrie and Opeta Palepoi remain sidelined.

z Meanwhile, South Schools’ return to competitive rugby on Tuesday after a break of five years ended in a 52-38 defeat to perennially strong Dollar Academy, writes Alan Lorimer.

The game was essentially a warm-up before they play Rugby School later this month.

“The main difference was that Dollar had three games under their belt, whereas this was a first match for South Schools,” said Borderer Rob Moffat, the former Edinburgh Rugby coach, now on the PE teaching staff at Dollar.

Moffat believes that it might be possible for South Schools to play in the Scottish Schools Cup.

The rules allow composite sides and this might allow state school pupils to challenge the current monopoly of the independent schools.

“I want to see as many players as possible experiencing cup rugby. If it means that they have to do this as a combined side then this is far more positive than not playing at all. Just throw the politics out the window and go for it,” said Moffat.

In front of a crowd of 500, Dollar’s more physical pack dominated the first half.

South, however, emerged the better side in the second half, winning the try count 5-3.

South’s tryscorers were Gary Robertson (Galashiels Academy), Richard Harrison (Peebles High), Sam Bandeen, Sam Cuthers (both Kelso High) and Angus Runciman (Earlston High).