Selkirk 32, Kelso 15

Gritty fightback by never-say-die Selkirk proves big bonus for home supporters


The Final Nail - Not even Adam Roxburgh, Kelso's Big Man, can stop Simon Murdoch finishing off Kelso's hopes of a victory with a last minute try which guaranteed Selkirk full points from this exciting encounter


AFTER Saturday's exhilarating victory over Kelso, it's obvious this Selkirk team does nothing by halves. In their previous two matches, the Philiphaugh side had failed to register a single point in the second period of play. Against Kelso on Saturday the Souters didn't trouble the scoreboard in the first half, but instead piled on 32 points after the interval.
To cap a memorable afternoon, Kiwi wing Simon Murdoch brought the home crowd to its feet in the eighth minute of injury time, by squirming over the line for his second try of the match… earning Selkirk a precious bonus point in the process.
Handicapped by the absence of lock Simon Robson, who broke his leg in last weekend's defeat by Edinburgh Accies, Selkirk's coaches were looking for big contributions from two players making their comebacks after spending a month injured on the sidelines - centre David Cassidy and back row forward Scott Jeffrey.
Showing no signs of rustiness whatsoever, both men turned in rock-solid performances: Cassidy scoring Selkirk's second try to put his side in front for the first time in the match, while Jeffrey's try-saving tackle on Kelso skipper Kevin Utterson early in the second half was arguably the turning point of the game.
Equally desperate to escape the relegation zone, it was the Tweedsiders who made by far the more positive start to the match. Number eight Adam Roxburgh linked cleverly with scrum-half Iain Fairley round the fringes, while Utterson's clever angles of attack saw the former Borders pro. team skipper open up the home defence on numerous occasions.
After Guy Blair and Michael Rutherford had failed to convert penalties from in front of the posts, Kelso struck a decisive blow just before the interval. Profiting from turnover ball, Utterson spotted a gap down the right hand touchline and made a 40-metre break before drawing his man and off-loading a scoring pass to Fairley, who strolled under the posts for a try.
Young fly-half Ewan Ford converted, and with Robin Carruthers having previously landed a penalty for the Black and Whites, Kelso turned round 10-0 in front and well worth their lead.
In the 47th minute Rutherford atoned for an earlier miss by stroking home a penalty, but almost immediately afterwards the home side's fightback was dealt a severe blow when lock Neil Darling was yellow-carded for pulling down Kelso's jumper at a line-out.
At the same line-out Kelso also suffered a setback, when hooker Lee Logan had to be stretchered from the field in obvious discomfort following the recurrence of a leg injury.
In the 55th minute Selkirk levelled the scores with a cracking touchdown from Scott Tomlinson. Kelso had been penalised for not releasing, and at the subsequent line-out Marcus Barnett provided scrum-half Michael McVie with clean possession straight off the top.
The ball was whipped straight out to Tomlinson at inside centre, and the former Scotland u-21 player powered his way past a clutch of defenders to score a fine individual try. Rutherford's conversion made the score 10-10.
Yet another Selkirk turnover, this time inside Kelso's 22, allowed the visitors to make ground up the grandstand side of the ground. A quick tap penalty saw Roxburgh switch the ball back across to the other side of the field, and with acres of space in which to operate, wing James Smail pinned his ears back and crashed over in the corner for a try, putting Kelso back in front at 15-10.
The balance of power shifted once again in the 62nd minute, when a scorching Cassidy intrusion did full justice to Alister Heatlie's clever solo break, the Selkirk centre slicing clean through for a try near the posts. Rutherford's conversion made it 17-15 to Selkirk.
In the build-up to this score, visiting No. 8 Adam Roxburgh had been deemed to have fouled Ewen Robbie by one of the touch-judges, and prior to the restart the ex-internationalist was yellow-carded by the referee.
By now the Selkirk players' tails were up, and following a scrum on their opponents' line, McVie quickly fed Murdoch on the right, and the Christchurch flyer needed no second invitation to score near the right-hand corner flag.
Four minutes into injury time, Rutherford's finely judged drop-goal put the home side two scores ahead, and it finally looked as though the league points would be staying at Philiphaugh after all.
In what looked certain to be the last passage of play in the match, a break by Ryan Crockatt led to a penalty being awarded in Selkirk's favour in easy kicking distance of the posts.
Skipper Guy Blair decided to try for a bonus point, and the ball was duly punted into touch close to the Kelso try line. Another clean Barnett take was mauled towards the line, and when the ball was released to McVie, the young scrum-half popped a pass inside to Murdoch, who managed to dive over for his team's fourth try just before being enveloped by Roxburgh's tackle.
This was Selkirk's first victory over Kelso in two years, and the fact Saturday's fixture counted for Southern Reporter Border League points as well, made the win doubly satisfying.

Ali Heatlie takes off from the back of a scrum to take on the Kelso defence.

SELKIRK - G. Blair, S. Murdoch, D. Cassidy, S. Tomlinson (rep. A. Lyall 74 mins), D. Rumney, M. Rutherford, M. McVie, R. Taylor, E. Robbie (rep. I. Walling 39 mins), M. Murray, M. Barnett, N. Darling, R. Crockatt (rep. D. Gray 39 mins), S. Jeffrey, A. Heatlie.

Referee - N. Imlach (Glasgow).

Photos - G Kinghorn

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