Six-try Selkirk outgun Murrayfield
SELKIRK edged further away from the Division Two
relegation zone at Philiphaugh on Sunday, thanks to a gutsy victory over Murrayfield Wanderers.
The intensity of the exchanges underlined the importance of this BT Premiership fixture to both clubs, with the
visitors' heavier pack and physically stronger threequarter line regularly putting the home team under severe pressure.
Barring a couple of early lapses, Selkirk's players rose to the challenge magnificently. Scrum-half Michael McVie
in particular made some heroic last-ditch tackles, and the youngster's increasing confidence in the No. 9 jersey
is helping to bring the best out of the Selkirk back division. David Cassidy is another player who is beginning
to find his best form, while Fraser Harkness took his two tries well, and on this form is going to trouble a lot
Up front the home eight had a tough battle against Wanderers' fired-up forwards, for whom Tommy Sutherland excelled
in his first outing at hooker, with prop Calum McKenzie and Kiwi lock Tony Cooper also forces to be reckoned with.
This game marked the Selkirk debut of loosehead prop Ben Rawcliffe, from South Canterbury, New Zealand, who enjoyed
a rare old tussle with opposite number Kenny Blythe, and looks certain to prove his pedigree in the weeks ahead.
Another plus-point for the home team was the return from injury of utility forward Darren Hoggan, who showed characteristic
directness and passion despite requiring four stitches in a knee gash midway through the contest.
Playing with the wind at their backs in the first half, Murrayfield Wanderers went behind to a second minute Guy
Blair penalty. However within a matter of seconds the visitors had taken the lead thanks to a try from skipper
Duncan McDonald, who cut through Selkirk's defence as though it was tissue paper. Andy Ker's conversion kick sailed
over. Ker then turned sinner in the 13th minute, when the full-back failed to collect Michael Rutherford's grubber
kick. Quick as a flash Harkness hacked the loose ball towards the try line, before coolly picking it up and touching
down for a try. Buoyed up this score, Selkirk stretched their lead when a scrum pick-up by Alister Heatlie released
McVie on the right, and the scrum-half sold a glorious dummy to take play to the Murrayfield 22. The ball was swung
left to Scott Tomlinson, and his long pass was superbly taken on the bounce by Cassidy, who made good ground before
giving a scoring pass to that tireless workhorse Neil Darling. Blair converted the try to put Selkirk 15-7 ahead.
This was the signal for the visitors to raise their game, and after Ker had kicked two penalties in quick succession,
McDonald once again effortlessly sliced open Selkirk's defence to touch down under the posts without a finger being
laid on him. Ker's conversion took the halftime score to 20-15 in the visitors' favour.
Selkirk looked much more confident with the elements at their back, and Harkness scored his second try after bursting
through the middle on a crash ball, taking two Murrayfield defenders with him. A siege-gun clearance kick by Tomlinson
set up Selkirk's next score, which saw Denver Rumney finish off drives upfield by Martin Murray and Rutherford
with an opportunist try near the posts. To their credit Wanderers never gave up, and livewire Kiwi scrum-half Brent
Comis almost squeezed over from a tap penalty. Having survived this pressure, Selkirk went further ahead when a
quite magnificent run by the irrepressible Simon Murdoch was stopped inches from the line, and Blair was on hand
to finish off the move with a try, converted by Rutherford. Back came the visitors to score through Chris Dove,
and with the game drawing to a close Selkirk suffered their biggest setback of the day when Rumney was red-carded
by referee Wilkinson after an incident in front of the grandstand. Down to 14 men, the home side then had to survive
a series of spirited Murrayfield attacks, but Selkirk had the final word when replacement Alistair Lyall capitalised
on a spilled pass to nip over for the home team's sixth try of the afternoon.
This was Selkirk's biggest score since their 47-8 win over Grangemouth on December 7, 2002, and should give the
team heart for the second half of its Division Two campaign.
SELKIRK - G. Blair, S. Murdoch,
D. Cassidy, S. Tomlinson, F. Harkness, M. Rutherford, M. McVie, B. Rawcliffe, E. Robbie, M. Murray, N. Darling,
S. Jeffrey, D. Hoggan, D. Rumney, A. Heatlie. Replacements: A. Lyall, I. Walling, K. Connor, G. Patterson.
Referee - D. Wilkinson (GHK)
Photo - G Kinghorn