Selkirk 45, Stewart’s/Melville FP 20


LEFT – Selkirk fly-half Gavin Craig breaks clear in Saturday’s match against Stewart’s/Melville FP, supported by openside Angus Duckett. RIGHT – In the same move, Angus Duckett crashes over for his second try of the game, having taken Gavin Craig’s well-judged off-load.

LEFT – Wing Darren Clapperton fires the ball out to the Selkirk back line. RIGHT – Replacement prop Graham Turner finds himself collared by Colleges wing Matt Morrell. [Photos: GRANT KINGHORN]

LEFT – Skipper Ross Nixon leads Selkirk out on to the field accompanied by mascots Sam Findlater (left) and Patrick Marston. RIGHT – Sam and Patrick pictured with Selkirk president John Rutherford after receiving gifts to mark their day as official team mascots. [Photos: JOHN SMAIL]

A SECOND successive bonus point win ensured Selkirk got their season back on track at Philiphaugh on Saturday. Even so, head coach Alistair Dickson believes the Souters still have a lot of ground to make up in their RBS National League campaign.

“We’ve definitely turned a corner,” he told the web site after Saturday’s 45-20 victory over Stewart’s/Melville FP, “but no-one’s kidding themselves about the size of the challenge we now face. Consistency is going to be the key factor over the next few weeks, and the players know they’ve got to build on these two wins if the team is going to be able to mount a serious challenge to the league leaders.

“I’m very pleased with the attitude of the players, who’ve worked hard in training and coped well with the changes we’ve had to make because of injuries and unavailability. It’s vital the boys don’t lose their focus, as the pressure is going to increase significantly from now on.”

On Saturday no-one epitomised Selkirk’s adaptability better than Fraser Harkness, who appeared unfazed by having to wear the No. 9 jersey. Up against a lively opponent in Fraser Strachan, the Scotland Club XV player positively fizzed at the base of the home scrum, making several trademark blistering bursts until substituted in the final quarter.

All the early pressure came from the visitors, however, and when John Coutts intercepted home skipper Ross Nixon’s pass in the fourth minute, the ex-Hawick player was able to sprint towards the posts before giving a scoring pass to fellow centre David Hampton. The try was converted by Nick McCashin, who added a 21st minute penalty to put the city side 8-0 ahead.

Selkirk regrouped, and a razor-sharp break by Gavin Craig almost led to a try in the left corner for Josh Welsh. Moments later Selkirk put their first points on the board thanks to a try from Lee Kibble. Matt Kissick secured clean line-out ball, before Craig and James Bett both made inroads into the visitors’ defence. Kibble’s angled run saw the centre smash past two defenders to touch down. Welsh’s conversion cut the deficit to a single point.

In the 26th minute a hamstring pull saw young Selkirk lock Eddie Turner leave the field, to be replaced by Alan Lambie, and soon afterwards the home team almost took the lead when Kissick exploited quick scrum ball to break blind and release Harkness. The scrum-half made 40 metres up the grandstand touchline before the Colleges defence forced a knock-on.

Selkirk took the lead on the half-hour mark when prop Cata Graur took a tap penalty to himself and barrelled over the line for a try. The same player found himself on the score sheet once again after Ewan MacDougall and Kissick had combined to send wing Darren Clapperton racing for the line. Although stopped, Selkirk’s pack kept up the pressure and Graur was on hand to touch down his second try. Welsh converted to put the home team 21-8 up.

On the stroke of halftime Selkirk stuck a decisive blow. Although line-out ball was won by Ricky Fluhler, a turnover meant Clapperton had to look sharp to stop Alan Whittingham from sprinting clear. At the resultant scrum just outside Selkirk’s 22, Matt Kissick picked up and drove upfield before making a perfectly timed off-load to Harkness, who raced fully 70 metres to score a superb solo try. Welsh’s conversion made the interval score Selkirk 28, Stewart’s/Melville FP 8.

After the break Selkirk kept up the pressure, with skipper Ross Nixon ripping the ball from the hands of Colleges’ giant lock Jon Hamblin (who was on the charge) before deftly off-loading to Scott Hendrie, who in turn sent Craig racing down the right touchline before the attack was smothered by the visitors’ defence.

Moments later Craig chipped a beautifully executed cross-field kick straight into the path of Hendrie, who gathered the ball superbly but was stopped agonisingly short of the try line by O’Donnell’s desperate tackle.

A Welsh penalty extended Selkirk’s lead to 31-8, before a two-try scoring burst by Selkirk’s irrepressible open-side, Angus Duckett, had the home supporters in raptures. The first try came after Clapperton managed to keep the ball alive despite being tackled close to the left touchline, and Duckett was in support to break clear and score.

The Kiwi flanker’s second touchdown resulted from another glorious Craig incursion following Kissick’s line-out steal, with Josh Welsh keeping up his 100 per cent goal-kicking record to add the conversion and put the Philiphaugh men out of sight at 45-8.

To their credit Stewart’s/Melville continued to press hard right up to the final whistle, their endeavour being rewarded with tries by Brewster and Hampton, the former being converted by Rowlands.

Number eight Matt Kissick was later named the Four Seasons Forestry ‘Selkirk Man of the Match’.

SELKIRK –J. Welsh, S. Hendrie, L. Kibble, R. Nixon, D. Clapperton, G. Craig, F. Harkness, G. Patterson, J. Bett, C. Graur, R. Fluhler, E. Turner, E. MacDougall, A. Duckett, M. Kissick. Replacements: G. Turner, A. Lambie, R. Wilson, S. Tough.

STEWART’S/MELVILLE FP – C. O’Donnell, A. Whittingham, J. Coutts, D. Hampton, M. Morrell, N. McCashin, F. Strachan, D. Simm, A. Howie, R. Morgan, J. Hamblin, S. Brewster, B. Wilson, D. Sangster, D. Pech. Replacements: W. Aitken, N. Hart, R. Stewart, S. Rowlands, M. Hannay.

Referee – Kevin White (Edinburgh).