Stewart's/Melville FP 23, Selkirk 32


TRY TIME. Rory Banks touches down the first of his two tries against Stewart's/Melville FP at Inverleith on Saturday. (Photo: Grant Kinghorn)

PUTTING the disappointment of last week's abandoned match against Biggar behind them, Selkirk's players showed real character to secure a hard-fought victory over Stewart's/Melville FP in Saturday's RBS National League fixture at Inverleith.
Every member of the Selkirk side played his part in containing a strong, well-organised Colleges outfit, who always looked dangerous on the counter-attack, and whose physicality up front put the Philiphaugh pack's resilience to the test.
"That was as gutsy a performance as I've seen all season from the boys," delighted Selkirk coach Brian Cassidy commented after the match. "To come up here and get a bonus point win is a great achievement in anyone's books, especially when you consider how well Stewart's/Melville have been performing in recent weeks.
"The players have finally started to believe in themselves, and as a result the confidence is started to come back. They played their hearts out today, and all credit to them for giving our faithful band of travelling supporters plenty to cheer about."
In the early stages of the match it was the Inverleith faithful who were doing all the cheering. A couple of turnovers resulted in runaway tries for Stewart's/Melville wings Richard Borthwick and Liam Steele to put the home side 10-0 up within the first 18 minutes of the contest.
Selkirk were unlucky when a second penalty attempt by Michael McVie rebounded off the goalposts, and despite playing most of the opening quarter in the home team's half, the visitors were again finding it hard to turn pressure into points.
All this changed in the 21st minute when Angus Duckett collared a Colleges player and immediately secured turnover ball. Soon afterwards McVie delicately chipped over the home defence, allowing Darren Clapperton to race through and hack the ball over the line to score Selkirk's first try. McVie's conversion cut the deficit to 10-7.
With skipper Gavin Craig now urging his troops to raise their game, Selkirk went ahead in the 26th minute. A great scrum pick-up and 20-metre dash by Ryan Crockatt allowed Craig to find touch just outside the home 22.
Stewart's/Melville's clearance kick from the ensuing line-out was just kept in play by Darren Clapperton on the stand touchline. The wing threw a long pass infield to Rory Banks, and slick inter-passing between Ross Nixon, Scott Hendrie and Fraser Harkness saw the ball eventually switched back along the line, with Banks slipping between two Colleges defenders to score wide on the left and put the Souters 12-10 ahead.
Two penalties by Mike Hanning regained the lead for Stewart's/Melville, but McVie reduced the home side's advantage to 16-15 with a successful penalty.
Selkirk suffered a blow when their influential No. 8 Ryan Crockatt had to leave the field after suffering a painful shoulder knock, his place being taken by Ewan MacDougall. However, with the game entering the fourth minute of injury time before the interval, Selkirk struck a decisive blow.
Stuart Forrest managed to win a strike against the head close to the left touchline, setting up a platform for some clever running by Harkness and Hendrie, which stretched the home defence and allowed Banks to jink his way over the line for his second try. McVie's conversion put Selkirk 22-16 ahead at the break.
The second half had barely started when Selkirk prop Cata Graur was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on, and within minutes Stewart's/Melville had regained the lead through a try by Hayden Lingard, converted by Manning.
Graur's dismissal resulted in the introduction of teenage prop Michael Waldron, who gave an excellent account of himself in the remainder of the match. Further changes later in the contest saw Kieran Monks, James Bett and Callum Johnston all take the field.
In the 55th minute Selkirk edged back in front when a Stewart's/Melville forward was penalised for not rolling away, and Michael McVie's second penalty made the score 25-23 in the visitors' favour.
The final stages of the match saw play ebb and flow up and down the pitch. Harkness and Craig both came close to engineering tries - the centre's pass just failing to be held by Monks metres short of the line, and the fly-half's off-load to Stuart Forrest being adjudged fractionally forward.
Selkirk put the issue beyond doubt in the final minute of regular time. A scorching 35-metre break by Duckett was carried on by lock Matt Kissick, who was tackled just short the home try line. The lanky Kiwi managed to protect the ball, allowing McVie to pop up a pass to Callum Johnston, with the wing-forward crashing over next to the posts for the game's clinching try. McVie's conversion put the visitors two scores ahead, and there was no way back for the city side.
No-one epitomised Selkirk's never-say-die spirit more than livewire openside Angus Duckett. The Kiwi flanker gave another five-star display, setting the benchmark in what was a hugely physical, no-holds-barred encounter. In what was great, all-round team effort, Selkirk's players richly deserved their third bonus point away victory of the season.

SELKIRK: R. Banks, S. Hendrie, F. Harkness, R. Nixon, D. Clapperton , G. Craig, M. McVie, C. Lacour, S. Forrest, C. Graur, A. Renwick, M. Kissick, N. Darling, A. Duckett, R. Crockatt. Reps: K. Monks, E. MacDougall, J. Bett, C. Johnston, M. Waldron.
Referee - Andy Ireland (Grangemouth).