Excellent pre-season taster as Jed face Melrose

Amid the sprinkling of pre-season friendlies around the south-east, the Booker Border League provides a competitive taster on Saturday to the forthcoming campaign.

Thursday, 22nd August 2019, 2:49 pm
Jed-Forest and Melrose have met twice already this summer - one of these a final - in the Kings of the Sevens competition (picture by Brian Sutherland).

Jed-Forest play Melrose Rugby (at Riverside, 4pm) in what could be a cracking game, given summer recess activities involving both clubs.

With Jed in the new-look Premiership and their recent ‘Three 9s’ celebration marking a glorious note in club history, they’ve made a perfect start to this year’s Kings of the Sevens tournament.

They have won both rounds so far and defeated Melrose in each – most recently in a very close final at Hawick.

A number of experienced Melrose players have joined the Super 6 semi-pro set up and, under the franchise agreement, the new-look Melrose Rugby squad has dropped down to National Division 1.

However, there are many seasoned campaigners still in the Greenyards line-up – and first XV head coach Stuart Johnson says not much has changed in terms of approach.

“We’ve worked hard on our game shape and game plan and it has worked well over the last four or five seasons,” he said. “We have a very talented young squad.”

Players who’d come through the youth system could account for around 95 per cent of the starting line-up, he added, while the club regarded the game both as a pre-season warm-up and the chance to get nearer a Border League final.

Jed president Paul Cranston said there was little point in playing lesser teams in Premiership warm-ups, so the “higher tempo” would be good – especially against Melrose, whose team selection always had an element of surprise.