Haddington 27, Selkirk 10

Haddington turn heat on hesitant Selkirk

SELKIRK were caught cold by a fired-up Haddington team in Saturday's BT Premiership Division Two opener at Neilson Park. The visitors paid a heavy price for missed tackles, with the home side's bigger threequarters taking full advantage to run in three tries before the break for a 20-3 halftime lead.

When it was Selkirk's turn to have wind advantage after the break, the visiting back division couldn't press home the advantage - their lack of penetration allowing Haddington's defence to keep the upper hand until the dying seconds of the contest.

Although clearly disappointed by the manner of Saturday's defeat, Selkirk's supporters could take heart from some signs of better things to come.

New lock Simon Robson's commitment and speed in open play will be a major asset in the weeks ahead, while Matt de Franck showed that he has lost none of his spark after coming off the bench to replace Ryan Crockatt (torn groin muscle) in the 27th minute. The Aussie had himself been suffering from a groin strain, but felt no ill-effects and remains a key figure for Selkirk.

Another definite plus-mark was the return of Darren Hoggan to Premiership action after an 18-month injury lay-off. The hooker showed characteristic grit as he matched Haddington's fire with fire, and his return to full fitness bodes well for the future.

Behind the scrum Selkirk found it harder to live with their opponents. Haddington's classy New Zealand centre Te-Rito regularly cut swathes through the visitors' defence, and whereas the visitors' backs found themselves quickly bottled up when in possession, the home threequarter line seemed to operate in acres of space.

It took Haddington less than five minutes to open the scoring when a missed touch-kick by Selkirk saw the ball quickly shipped to Te-Rito, who waltzed past four defenders before sending Weston over near the corner.

Skipper Guy Blair was wide with a penalty in the 12th minute, and soon afterwards Alistair Lyall was caught in possession. The turnover led to yet another mesmerising run by Te-Rito, whose try near the posts was converted by Bowman.

A try-saving tackle by Denver Rumney kept Selkirk in the hunt, but yet another turnover by the visitors allowed Haddington to counter-attack down the left flank, and wing Thomas scored in the corner unopposed.

Soon afterwards a knock-on by Michael Rutherford in front of his own line was followed by a penalty against de Franck, which Bowman chipped over. A similar kick by Blair took the interval score to 20-3 in Haddington's favour.

Selkirk showed more drive after the break, with Martin Murray, Rumney and Robson all making telling runs, but Haddington's defence stood firm. Alister Heatlie came close to scoring after Scott Tomlinson had taken a quick tap penalty, but the number eight then had to retire with a hamstring pull shortly afterwards.

Yellow cards were issued to Rumney and Morrison in quick succession as tempers boiled over, before a breath-taking 80-metre Haddington counter-attack led to a superb try for Douglas, converted by Bowman.

In time added on for injury Selkirk finally managed to cross the home line, when Murray was driven over for a consolation try by Robson from a line-out. Blair's conversion took the visitors' score into double figures, but couldn't disguise Haddington's overall superiority.

SELKIRK - F. Harkness, D. Cassidy, G. Blair, A. Lyall (rep. M. Jaffray 74 mins), D. Rumney, M. Rutherford, S. Tomlinson, J. McDonald (rep. S. Renwick 42 mins), E. Robbie (rep. D. Hoggan 28 mins), M. Murray, S. Robson, M. Barnett, N. Darling, R. Crockatt (rep. M. de Franck 27 mins), A. Heatlie.

Referee - D. Dods (Gala)