JED THISTLE 14 WANDERERS 41 TWENTY-FIVE BARREN league years were ended in the snow at Riverside Park on Wednesday night when Wanderers captured the Lochcarron of Scotland semi-junior title.
The return of the Wanderers players who have been involved with the Border set-up over the last month made an immediate impact when Rory Hutton waltzed under the posts after just 87 seconds. Rory had only just learned this week that he had been included in the Scotland A squad. His score was converted by Scotland squad player David Lowrie.
Another Scottish player Sean Linton made a stunning burst through the Jed defence in the seventh minute to score which was converted by Lowrie. Lowrie then scored and converted a try in the 17th minute as the Wanderers boys threatened to run riot.
Up front the pack were pushing their opponents of the park, Hue Scammell took a stunning strikes against the head. While Steven Jeffrey was commanding in the line-out.
After the third score the referee consulted both coaches as the ground was now white, and the blizzard worsened. But both coaches urged him to continue. Jed playing to the sprit of the game and the occasion.
Jed even began to play some good quality rugby and deservedly pulled a score back. This was converted, but only served to lift the Hawick boys to another level.
A cheeky drop-goal from Lowrie on the stroke of half-time gave his side a 24-7 interval advantage.
As the coaches set to work on their team talks, several good hearted committee men, including Derek Gibson from the Wanderers, cleared the lines of snow. The blizzard and thoughts of the match being abandoned were now beginning to ease and the attentions were very much on the job in hand.
Straight from the kick-off Wanderers took the game by the scruff of the neck. A great break by Stefan Laidlaw took play up field. By the time the attack had been halted the Wanderers were five metres from the Jed line. Two scrums later and Murray Beatson dived over the line, Lowrie's conversion dropped just short of the posts.
By now Coach Gerry McGuinness was ringing the changes giving all the squad members time to be part of the historic match, and also perhaps turning his attentions to next season.
One of the features of a great match, in atrocious conditions was the aggressive defence from the Wanderers boys. They never gave their opponents a moments peace. Every time Jed won a ball, a Wanderers player was right in his face. It was a very effective tactic.
Another powerful break from Linton paved the way for Hutton to score his second try in the 52nd minute. But Hutton sealed his hat-trick four minutes later with the try of the night. He dummied his way past two Jed players before outstripping the Jed full-back to run a full 40 metres to score. Lowrie missed the conversion but the league trophy was now on display in the Jed-Forest stand and preparations for the celebrations were underway.
To their credit Jed had the final say when they scored a converted try in the final minute of a great rugby match. But the trophy was in the hands of the magic Wands.
As semi-junior President Billy Grieve prepared to hand the trophy to Rory Hutton he said: "I have had the pleasure of watching a number of Wanderers games this season and there is no doubt you are worthy Scottish Champions. But you were only true champions when you won the best league in Scotland, the Border League. Tonight you did that in style and I congratulate you."
Rory Hutton collected the trophy in front of over 100 supporters and the cheers were euphoric. The photo's were taken and the champagne sprayed over the triumphant teenagers.
A proud Head coach Gerry McGuinness told the News: "I was a bit worried that the match would be completed. When the referee came to speak to both coaches he said he would give the game five more minutes. But Jed were brilliant. They wanted the match played and I was very grateful to them for their sporting attitude."
McGuinness added: "We have been without a number of players for almost five weeks, they were involved with the Borders side. I was confident in the boys ability and ahead of the match we spoke as a team. I was pleased to see them gel so quickly, everyone knows each others game and that was evident in what was a great game tonight!"
Commenting on the changes throughout the match McGuinness said: "I was able to throw on all the squad members, many of them will be first team regulars next season. Next season we will be under pressure with every team determined to beat the Scottish and Border champions. But it is a title we are rightly proud off."
Meanwhile an ecstatic captain, Rory Hutton said: "This has been such a brilliant season. It's our 50th year as a club. It's 25 years since the Wanderers won the league title. It really is just a perfect result."
Team: Neil McColm, Rory Scott, Stefan Laidlaw, Michael Graham, Ali Weir, Rory Hutton, Garry Whillans, Scott Robson, Hue Scammell, Sean Linton, Steven Jeffrey, Murray Beatson, Nikki Laidlaw, Steven Devlin, David Lowrie. Subs: Greg Bouglas (48), Lee Robson (48), Gavin Cameron (48), Sam Arthur (49), Wat Davies (59), Mark Young (64), Darren Young (66), Callum Whillans (69).