Poor defending and ill-discipline signalled Jed-Forest’s downfall on Saturday as a very successful season came crashing to a sad end.
The Riverside Park side were defeated 46-0 by Glasgow Hawks in a BT Premiership play-off at Lasswade, with the Borders side knowing they were well capable of a trip upstairs after such a consistently good campaign in 2017-18.
But in Hawks, they came up against a relentless force which displayed all the skill, physicality and experience of a Premiership side, who offered not the slightest hint that they would give up their status.
Nerves on the day, failure to score and a red card for back row Darren Gillespie summed up a heartbreaking day for Jed, who also had captain Gregor Young and prop Connor Hogg sent to the sin bin.
But they intend to enjoy the rest of the rugby that remains this season and look forward with interest to the next campaign.
Director of rugby Ali Campbell put Saturday’s failure down to a mixture of ingredients.
“Nerves played a factor but our defence was terrible,” he admitted. “It’s been really good most of the season but there was no line speed at all on Saturday.
“The most disappointing thing for me was the zero score, with the attacking rugby we can play. They snuffed it out up front – we were dominated up front. Glasgow Hawks certainly deserved their win.”
Lack of discipline was a telling factor too, he added.
“If we give away 13 penalties in the first half, with three yellow cards and a red, we ain’t going to win anything,” he observed.
Jed had targeted a play-off slot at the beginning of the season and they had reached that goal, although it was a bitter pill to swallow.
The club had received tremendous messages of support and good luck in the lead-up to the game – Campbell reckoned 96 per cent of the support at Hawthornden was for Jed – and it had been a great day out for the club. But the players were “gutted” they didn’t do it for their supporters.
“Taking the defence and ill-discipline out of the game – they (Hawks) targeted us round the fringes,” he said. “There was no line speed. They kept coming at us all day and we couldn’t cope.”
Jed were nevertheless looking forward to their own Kings of the Sevens tournament on May 19 and then a sevens contest in La Manga, Spain. “We are a great club and we have done really well in the last few years,” said Campbell.
“We’ve finished fourth, third, and now second, in the last three years. It’s progression for the club and we just need now to have a wee think about our plans for next year.”
Of the 22-strong squad, 16 were ‘Jed boys’, said Campbell, which was a tribute to the work of development officer Kevin Barrie.