Jed-Forest 29, Melrose 22
The opening Booker Border League game on Saturday at Riverside Park set the yardstick for the new, all-change season which kicks off next month.
Jed-Forest, who play in the Premiership, and Melrose (National League 1), many of whose squad will play in the Super Six, provided a match of seven tries as the clubs experimented with new faces, many from the junior ranks.
Jed felt they just deserved it; Melrose were equally adamant they could have won the contest, coming from 0-15 down to lead 22-15. But, overall, it was about players fitting into the new regime.
Kevin Barrie, the Jed coach, said after the final whistle: “We started well and finished well and tried to save ourselves in the middle.
“We gave young boys the opportunity and we have a bit of confidence from the
sevens side (Jed won at Peebles and Hawick), and the forwards played well.
“Twelve of the players only got home from abroad on Thursday. We try to give everyone an opportunity. They showed a bit of urgency at the end and it paid off. It is a win but we have a long way to go.”
“There were a lot of positives to take out of that,” added new Melrose coach, Stuart Johnson, who has been joined by former Gala coach, Chris Dalgleish.
“The only negative thing was the result. We stepped up and fielded five boys from the under-18s last season.
“There is work to be done, and there always is after the first game. That was a massive step-up against a Premiership side. To be fair, we could have been on the other end of the result.”
Gary Munro gave Jed the winning start with a try in five minutes from a surging break by Othello Heka and he converted for a 7-0 lead, while later kicking a penalty.
Gregor Law added try number two before Melrose rallied. Referee David Young awarded a penalty try after a drive to the line and a Donald Crawford touch down from Fin Broomfield’s pass, converted by David Colvine, cut the deficit to 15-14 at the break.
Just on half-time, Jed were short-handed when Elliot Lauder was shown a yellow card but Colvine could not convert the penalty.
Melrose went ahead with a Chris Raymond try in 47 minutes, then there was a Colvine penalty. But two tries from Lewis Young and Gregor Young, both converted by Munro, squeezed Jed into the lead for the final time.
Jed-Forest: L. Young; R. Marshall, Gregor Young, M. Mitchell, R. Shirra-Gibb; R. Yourston, G. Munro; G. Paxton, K. Lamont, H. Meadows, Gary Young, G. Law, D. Wardrop, J. Howe, O. Heka. Subs: C. Lothian, F. Campbell, A. Keeler, E. Lauder, N. Stingl, C. Young, J. Laing.
Melrose: K. Clarke; L. Mallin, D. Colvine, G. McWilliam, J. Brown; D. Crawford; F. Broomfield; M. Wilson, B. McLean, C. Crookshank, T. Brown, G. Lindsey, C. Raymond, H. Morris, G. Runciman. Subs: R. Ferguson, S. Fisher, C. Fairbairn, T. Andrews, C. Wilde, T. Klein, C. Meager.