PL's Cup Hopes Sink in the Mud
Jedforest prove too good in difficult conditions under the lights on Friday night
There would be no Cup shock in terrible conditions at The Pennypit last Friday as Jedforest from Division 1 ran out comfortable winners despite some good play from Preston Lodge.
The early evening rain meant that the already wet pitch became extremely muddy and heavy but that didn't seem to deter the classy Jed back division who had former Scotland 7s stars, Gregor and Lewis Young in their line up.
PL started brightly enough and Greg Walker came close to scoring in the opening minute but the Jed defence scrambled back and cleared their lines. The first try came from an error in PL's defence though as PL's Paddy Cooney tried a clever chip over the top but the Jed threequarters were far too good as they quickly gathered the loose ball and ran through the midfield with ease allowing Lewis Young to score the easiest of tries under the posts. Mein added the conversion to make it 0-7 after only five minutes.
PL soon picked themselves up though and got the ball back downfield through a penalty to touch in the 22. The lineout was lost but as Jed tried to clear the ball, PL's Alan Whittingham was on the spot for the charge down and his back row partner, Pete Johnstone was first to react and pick up the loose ball before charging to the line for a brilliant opportunist try. At 5-7, PL were well in the game and competing well in the difficult conditions and even managed to force a Jed catch and drive into touch when a try looked inevitable. Hume, Arthur and Anderson in the front row were also holding their own in the up front battle and won a small victory of their own with a good scrum against the head. This was perhaps PL's best spell of the match as time moved towards the half hour mark and they were able to maintain good pressure inside the Jed 22 and create some good scoring opportunities but the defence and the conditions meant that too often the final pass went awry. Pete Johnstone and Jonny Sked had a couple of storming runs to gain vital ground but as half time approached, it was Jed who created two chances out of nothing which brought tries under the posts for Taylor and Gregor Young. Mein converted them both to make the score at the break 5-21.
Similar to the first half, it was PL who got off to the better start after the break and enjoyed plenty of possession inside the Jed 22 but the visitors' defence was too good and few real scoring chances were created. The heavy conditions didn't seem to deter centre Antoin Penrose as he was able to break the Jed line at full pace on several occasions but the final defensive tackle was always good. The fourth Jed try came in the 57th minute when they won the ball in their own half and three slick passes later, Marshall was able to score in the corner. The conversion was missed but the gap had widened to 5-26. And it would widen even further in the 62nd minute when the Jed pack set up a scrum on the five metre line and scrum half Harkness was able to nip over unopposed after the ball was delivered back to him. Stewart was on target with the onversion and the game was all but over with the score at 5-33.
PL would have the final word though when they were able to pick up their game again in the 65th minute and after sending a penalty to touch 10 metres from the try line, the pack did their job brilliantly by securing the ball and driving to the line. The Jed defence was helpless on this occasion and Jason Riley emerged from the bottom of the melee to claim the consolation try.
There would be another couple of chances before the end when firstly Dale Gordon and Penrose linked up to get past the first line of defence and then Thomas MaMann sent a clever kick through before kicking on again into the 22 but these would come to nothing and there would be no further scoring in the game.
The final score of 10-33 was a fair reflection of the game and both sides should be commended for trying to play fast running rugby in conditions more akin to a mudbath.
Plenty of time for the strips to be washed though as PL have no game this week and are not in action until February 20th.
Preston Lodge Team:
J Brash, P Cooney, A Penrose, N Ross, P Glynn, G Walker, J Burns
G Hume, C Arthur, C Anderson, R Runciman, J Sked, A Whittingham, P Johnstone, J Riley
C Dixon, P Dixon, D Gordon, T McMann, M Sanderson