Selkirk 14, Haddington 27

Hungry Haddington put bite on Selkirk

A TRY by Haddington in the final seconds of injury time knocked the stuffing out of Selkirk's players and supporters at Philiphaugh on Friday night, denying the home team even the consolation of a bonus point.

It was the fourth occasion this season that the Souters have let a bonus point slip through their fingers in the final minutes of a match, and these missed opportunities could come back to haunt the team when the league enters its final stages later in the year.

Haddington were certainly worth their win. The Neilson Park players made far fewer mistakes than their Selkirk counterparts, while the visiting pack were more aggressive, better organised and displayed greater teamwork and co-ordination than the home eight.

Just why Selkirk couldn't match the East Lothian side's passion for a win is something of a mystery, given that the Philiphaugh club remains perilously close to the relegation zone. And with fellow strugglers Kelso and Murrayfield Wanderers both winning at the weekend, Selkirk can ill-afford to turn in such listless displays in the weeks ahead.

Haddington made the brighter start to the game, and went ahead after 11 minutes. Michael McVie's clearance kick failed to find touch, and poor defending by Selkirk allowed the visiting backs to sweep towards the home try line, with centre Graham Dykes crossing for a score converted by Scott Brownlee.

Selkirk hit back straight from the restart. Denver Rumney picked up a loose ball outside the visitors' 22 and fed Scott Tomlinson, whose floated pass reached Simon Murdoch - Selkirk's skipper for the night - wide on the right.

The Kiwi flyer beat two men and made good ground up the touchline, and David Cassidy was up in support to take an inside pass and crash over for a try in the corner.

Selkirk supporters' hopes that this riposte would kick-start a home team revival proved unfounded, and matters went from bad to worse when lock Neil Darling was yellow-carded for defending a team-mate following a fracas in front of the grandstand.

Soon afterwards the Haddington pack set up a well controlled rolling maul from a line-out 20-odd metres from Selkirk's try line, and the home forwards were powerless to prevent wing-forward Alex Baddeley from touching down for his side's second try. Brownlee added the simple conversion.

Half-time came with no further scoring, even though Selkirk had handed Haddington further scoring opportunities through turnovers from line-outs and rucks.

In the 50th minute a penalty from the boot of Michael Rutherford cut the deficit, but two similar awards against Selkirk allowed Brownlee to kick Haddington back into a 20-8 lead.

Selkirk's problems increased when prop Ben Rawcliffe was yellow-carded for lying over the ball.

Soon afterwards a quickly taken tap penalty by Martin Murray near the posts came to nothing, before Rutherford kicked his third and fourth penalties to put the home team within six points of Haddington at 14-20.

Deep in injury time a speculative 'gary owen' from Brownlee was dropped by a Selkirk player just inside his own half, and following the resultant scrum visiting prop Malasia Lokini burst clean through Selkirk's defence.

The Kiwi then had the simple job of feeding scrum-half Sam Johnson to go over for his side's third try, and Brownlee's conversion brought the curtain down on a hugely disappointing night for the Philiphaugh team.

The only plus-marks for Selkirk was the performance of flanker Scott Jeffrey (now beginning to show his class after being dogged by injury), while Neil Darling turned in a typically gutsy display, and Rory Aglen did well in his comeback match following 11 weeks on the sidelines.

SELKIRK - F. Harkness, S. Murdoch, D. Cassidy, S. Tomlinson, A. Lyall, M. Rutherford, M. McVie, B. Rawcliffe, E. Robbie, M. Murray, N. Darling, R. Aglen, S. Jeffrey, D. Rumney, A. Heatlie. Replacements: M. Barnett, I. Walling, G. Ruthven, M. Jaffray.

Referee - P. Burr (Lenzie).