Derby v Selkirk a must-win for Jed-Forest to keep alive hopes of staying in rugby’s Scottish Premiership
With the season having passed the halfway mark, time is running out for them to avoid the drop to Scottish National League Division 1 but a win at Jedburgh’s Riverside Park this weekend would at least keep them in mathematical contention to stay up.
If they lose, however, that would be as good as game over as they’d be left needing at least five wins from their remaining six fixtures to be in with a chance of survival.
As things stand, after 11 fixtures, Jed are bottom of the table awaiting their first win of this term and with only three bonus points to their name, 17 adrift of the second-bottom Souters and 19 behind third-from-bottom Glasgow Hawks.
Their 11 defeats to date include a 65-35 loss in the reverse fixture at Philiphaugh in September, providing a further incentive to break their duck.
“It’s a must-win,” said past president Cranston. “Playing a Border team at home, we’ll really be looking to win.
“Selkirk have had a couple of decent results over the last couple of weeks, a good win at home against Glasgow Hawks and two bonus points against Currie away from home.
“We’re definitely targeting a win, that’s for sure. The boys will be fired up on Saturday.”
The latest of those losses was by 31-7 at home to Edinburgh’s Currie Chieftains on Saturday, with the hosts’ only score being a first-half try by hooker Harvey Keith converted by Gary Munro.
On the other side of the scoresheet, Ryan Daley, Sam Leto, Sam Cardosi, Gregor Christie and Rhys Davies touched down for Currie, with Leto adding three conversions.
Reflecting on that loss, Cranston said: “It was a very gritty performance.
“Currie are a good side with a lot of strength in depth and we don’t have that at the moment, so they were able to utilise their bench quite a lot, with fresh pairs of legs coming on, whereas come the final quarter, we were starting to tire a bit.
“They’re in the top four for a reason and we’re at the bottom of the table of the reason.”
Kick-off on Saturday is at 3pm.
Looking back over Jed’s season to date, Cranston accepts that his club’s results have mostly been what they’ve merited but rues two missed opportunities that could have kept them within reach of Selkirk if they’d taken advantage of them, their 40-31 loss to Musselburgh in September and 41-31 defeat by Marr last month, both at home.
“There are two games that kind of got away from us, the Musselburgh game at home and the Marr game at home,” he said.
“Those were two games we potentially could have won or, if not, at least got two points out of with four tries and a losing bonus.”
Cranston blames Jed’s current woes on an exodus of players, accompanied by former head coach Andrew Brown, in the summer but is hopeful that young talent they’ve got coming through will ensure better days lie ahead.
“It’s been an uphill struggle this year, losing so many personnel,” he said. “There’s probably been almost a dozen of our lads gone overseas, not to play rugby as such but just to see what the world’s like, and for a small town like Jed, that’s been devastating.
“We’ve got a lot of youths coming through from Jed-Thistle – it’s just a case of trying to keep things ticking over until those lads get some more experience.
“The lads that we’ve got at the moment are trying their hardest. They’re putting the work in, but sometimes you need a bit of luck and unfortunately that luck’s not going our way at the moment.
“Our home performances have been pretty steady but we always seem to switch off at some stage during the game and that’s what gives teams an advantage.”