On-song Selkirk outgun Berwick
in 12-try thriller
ANYONE not able to be at Scremerston on Saturday,
must have thought the Teletext results service had made a mistake when the '52-32' scoreline from the match was
flashed up. In fact the score was completely correct, with the Berwick and Selkirk players between them amassing
no fewer than 12 tries in the match, making it the highest-scoring game of this season's BT Premiership Division
Selkirk's first half display was simply breath-taking, with the visitors' attacking creativity breaking the Berwick
defences time and again. It left the Souters' faithful band of supporters in seventh heaven, and more importantly
showed just what this young Selkirk team can achieve when everything clicks.
Despite being 42-17 in arrears at halftime, the home team refused to throw in the towel, scoring a further three
tries to secure a bonus point, and capitalising on Selkirk's second half casualty list, which saw no fewer than
four visiting players leave the field injured.
However, nothing could detract from Selkirk's power-packed first half assault, with every member of the visiting
team totally focussed on the job in hand. Just two minutes had elapsed when Martin Murray went over for a try near
the posts, following neat breaks by Fraser Harkness and Michael Rutherford.
Matt McCreath kicked a penalty to reduce the deficit soon afterwards, but Selkirk were soon back in the driving
seat when Rutherford's interception took play up to the Berwick '22'. A loose line-out ball was snapped up by openside
Denver Rumney - who had an outstanding game - and the former Ireland under-21 player weaved his way past three
defenders to score under the posts.
Next Alister Heatlie forced a turnover, with Harkness sprinting clear on a 50-metre blindside run. The full-back
drew his opposite number in textbook fashion, before passing the ball outside to David Cassidy, who strode over
for another try.
With the wind now starting to pick up, a kick downfield by Ben McCreath rolled over the dead ball line, bring play
back to Berwick's '22'. On the next play Rutherford broke inside, off-loaded to Neil Darling, and the lock's pass
to Scott Tomlinson saw the centre touch down to secure Selkirk's bonus point.
Berwick hit back when Andrew Skeen charged down Tomlinson's clearance kick to score near the posts, but Selkirk
quickly restored their 25-point advantage when Scott Jeffrey scored his first try of the season, following a 20-metre
rolling maul by the visiting pack.
Selkirk went further ahead through a Fraser Harkness try after Tomlinson had split the home defence, but right
on the stroke of halftime Berwick's nippy scrum-half Liam Cox scored from a 5-metre scrum, making the interval
scoreline 42-17 in Selkirk's favour.
A leg injury forced the withdrawal at halftime of Michael Rutherford (who had converted all of Selkirk's six tries),
allowing teenager Gavin Craig to take over the No. 10 jersey.
Normal service was resumed after the break, with Harkness scoring his second try of the afternoon after the ball
had passed through almost every Selkirk pair of hands. Skipper Guy Blair converted from the touchline.
From this point onwards it was Berwick who had the upper hand, with tries from Rob Haggerstone, Gareth Riddell
and Ben McCreath finally giving the home supporters something to cheer about. Selkirk's only other points came
from a Blair penalty.
Selkirk lost the services of Ewen Robbie with a head gash that required seven stitches, while number eight Alister
Heatlie limped from the field after aggravating an ankle injury. None of this could detract from Selkirk's stunning
victory, however, which lifts the Souters to eighth place in the league.
The match proved a fitting send-off for Kiwi prop Ben Rawcliffe, who returns home this week. The Timaru agricultural
student has proved a popular figure at Philiphaugh over the past three months, impressing in all phases of the
game. He has not ruled out the possibility of a return to Philiphaugh at some future date, and left the field on
Saturday with the applause of his team-mates ringing in his ears.
SELKIRK - F. Harkness, G. Blair, D. Cassidy, S. Tomlinson, A. Lyall, M. Rutherford, F. Jack, B. Rawcliffe, E. Robbie,
M. Murray, N. Darling, R. Aglen, S. Jeffrey, D. Rumney, A. Heatlie. Replacements (all used): R. Crockatt, I. Walling,
R. Taylor, G. Craig.
Referee - B. Devin (Portobello).