Jed-Forest players and supporters may have suffered heartbreak at the end of yesterday’s match but the neutral contingent among the large crowd enjoyed an afternoon of entertaining BT Cup magic.
Jammie McFarlane’s National One outfit showed character and innovation in abundance to take Premiership title contenders Heriot’s to within a whisker of being ousted from the Cup competition in the third round.
Only the cruelty of an injury time penalty miss prevented them from doing so.
Playing against a side with a wealth of power and experience in their forwards was always going to present a huge challenge and the visitors were keen to stamp their authority on the game from the off.
The opening try in the third minute could be traced all the way back to a Jed knock on at the kick-off when the resulting scrum gave Heriot’s the platform they were looking for with second row man Roan Van Heerden being shoved over amid a pile of black and white jerseys.
Jed had been expecting this kind of pressure however and responded well. A chased down chip ahead by Fraser Harkness was followed by a good strong run by Robert Hogg who passed to Gregor Young to run in and touch down at the posts. Gregor Mein kicked the conversion and the hosts went two points clear.
Heriot’s went back in front in the 19th minute when Jed lost possession at the breakdown and the ball was shipped out wide for Charlie Simpson to race in to dot down in the corner, John Semple making the conversion.
Once again Jed held firm and following a spell of inspirational defending in their own 22 they managed to get the ball back up to their own half where some pretty slick passing among their talented back line led to Gregor Young crossing the visitors line to score once again. Mein added the difficult conversion and Jed went in at half-time 14-12 to the good.
A shocker of a kick-off put the hosts under pressure at the start of the second half but they were now well prepared for the force of the Heriot’s forwards and managed to regain possession. Minutes later the scoreboard was turning in their direction when an optimistic drop goal attempt from Mein fell short and the Heriot’s defender knocked on. Fraser Harkness received the ball from the resulting scrum and nipped over the line for try number three which Mein converted.
More heroic defending in the Heriot’s 22 was called for as the visitors desperately tried to close the gap and Jed answered that call admirably with both backs and forwards taking some big hits during an enthralling 20 minute spell. The deadlock was finally ended when, after failing to run in a previous award, Heriot’s, through Semple, opted for a penalty goal to close the gap to four points.
Jed had the chance to pull away again minutes later but Mein’s long range penalty attempt drifted just wide and Heriot’s regained possession to continue their assault, a try in the corner from Max Learmonth moving them one point in front with just eight minutes remaining.
As the game moved into injury time an infringement at a Heriot’s scrum in their own 22 saw the hosts one more opportunity to grab glory. Sadly Mein’s high pressure penalty attempt sailed across the front of the posts the referee’s final whistle sounded shrilly in the almost silent aftermath.
Jed-Forest: L. Young; R. Hogg, G. Young, F. Harkness, R. Shirra-Gibb; G. Mein, D. Ritchie; C. Hogg, S. Raeburn, P. Ferreira, C. Skeldon, G. Law, G. Stewart, C. Cowan, M. Weekley. Subs: H. Snyman, N. Bates, G. Taylor, G. Robson, R. Combe.