Jed-Forest 17, Stewart’s-Melville 25
Jed-Forest’s Premiership promotion hopes took a sizable knock after the Royal Blues finished second best to Stewart’s-Melville at Riverside Park, in what became Jed’s first National League One home defeat this season.
Ahead of the match, Jed were sitting third top in National One and Stewart’s-Melville third bottom. But it was the lower-placed side which performed better on the day, delivering a display of organised defence complemented by slick handling and good off-loading in attack.
Moreover, in stand-off Michael Hanning, Stewart’s-Melville had a player capable of controlling the game and crucially having the ability to kick goals – his four successes off the tee ultimately accounting for the difference in points.
For their part, Jed made too many errors to threaten their opponents seriously but, despite a flawed performance, influenced by two incidents during the game, the Royal Blues still matched their city opponents on tries scored.
The first incident was a head injury to their dynamic back row Craig Cowan, which required the number 8 to be stretchered off after a lengthy stoppage while the player received on-field attention.
Matters became even worse for Jed when scrum half Sean Goodfellow was red-carded five minutes before half time, for what referee Kevin White identified as ‘a punch’.
“Losing Craig was hard because we were already thin up front,” said head Jed coach, Jammy McFarlane. “The sending-off was a massive blow but the boys stuck in for the second half. We actually won the second half. The boys gave their best but we didn’t have the composure when it mattered.”
Of their Edinburgh opponents, he said: “They’ve hit a bit of form. You’ve got to give them credit. They were dominant at the break-downs and that denied us possession.”
MacFarlane, however, believes that, despite this set-back, his side are not giving up, even though promotion might now be outwith the club’s control.
He said : “We’ve got to rely on favours elsewhere. Stewart’s-Melville look quite capable of beating Marr or Edinburgh Accies; Dundee are coming back into form. There’s no question of us quitting at this stage. There are eight games to go yet. But after Saturday, we’ve made it extremely difficult for ourselves.”
Jed trailed Stewart’s-Melville at half time by 10-20, having scored unconverted tries by centre Monty Mitchell and wing Callum Young. Stew-Mel stretched their lead to 25-10 but a fightback by Jed produced a try for flanker Michael Weekley, converted by Callum Young, to complete the scoring.