Biggar 33, Selkirk 6

Biggar's late scoring burst leaves Selkirk's weary troops shell-shocked

IN WITH A SHOUT. Selkirk lock Rory Aglen shows plenty of determination as he bids to break Biggar's stranglehold on the game at Hartreemill on Saturday. (Picture: Grant Kinghorn)

SELKIRK supporters' satisfaction with their makeshift team's encouraging first half display turned to exasperation in the final 10 minutes, when the rapidly tiring Philiphaugh men conceded three tries in rapid succession.
With the wind at their backs in the opening period, Selkirk's players took the game to Biggar right from the start. Skipper for the day Denver Rumney set the benchmark by regaining possession from David Cassidy's hanging kick-off, and thereafter the No. 7 led from the front at all times.No less impressive was fellow flanker Neil Darling, who followed up his five-star display against Cardiff with another highly impressive performance. It was Darling's clever scrum pick-up and break downfield in the sixth minute that laid the foundations for the visitors' first points.
The move was carried on by Alistair Lyall and Rory Aglen, and when Biggar's Eddie Manawaiti was penalised at the ensuing ruck, Cassidy stepped up to send the goal-kick straight between the posts. Soon afterwards Chris Kemp was penalised for handling on the ground, and instead of going for goal Biggar kicked deep to the corner. A great tackle by Rumney forced a turnover at the next breakdown, and Darling was up in support to clear the danger. With Cassidy's booming line-kicks pinning Biggar in their own half, and Selkirk's defence managing to keep the shackles on the home side's strong-running centres, Kerisome and Sharman, at this stage it was the visitors who were enjoying the majority of possession and territory. Another key weapon in Selkirk's armoury was scrum-half Michael McVie, who not only had the upper hand in his personal battle with former Philiphaugh team-mate David Reive, but put in some shuddering tackles and kicked intelligently to keep the visitors going forward.
Biggar's danger on the break was brought into sharp relief when Fraser Harkness' kick to the home 22 found no Selkirk player up in support, and a series of errors and loose passes allowed the Hartreemill men to gain 75 metres in the space of a few frantic seconds. A penalty miss by Cassidy was answered by a similar miss from Craig Parker, while on the half-hour mark Selkirk prop Rob Taylor retreated to the sidelines with a neck injury, his place being taken by Gordon Patterson.
Another siege-gun kick by Cassidy took play down to Biggar's 22, before a bout of fisticuffs involving both packs saw referee Colin Brett speak to home prop Campbell. Moments later Cassidy's second successful penalty kick put Selkirk 6-0 ahead. A touchline break by teenage wing Ross Nixon on his premiership debut looked to have given the visitors a chance to increase their lead, but the move was called back by the referee for an earlier offside infringement. Prop Alan McDowall was also making his Prem. 2 debut for Selkirk in the match, and the ex-Earlston player did everything that was asked of him, his scrummaging being particularly solid. Stand-off Gavin Craig also showed up well, whether breaking with ball in hand or harrying his opposite number.
Three minutes from halftime Biggar hit back when their forwards won turnover ball at a set-piece underneath the Selkirk posts, and Campbell was on hand to power his way over for a try. Parker's conversion attempt rebounded from the upright. A break up the middle by Cassidy was followed by Craig Hunter's kick and chase to the home try line, but a handling offence by the visitors at the next ruck saw Biggar clear the danger.With the halftime whistle imminent, a missed first-time tackle on Kerisome saw the burly centre burst clean up the middle, and when finally collared he slipped the ball to Callum Thomson, who raced over for a try in the corner to make the interval score 10-6 to the home team.
Now playing with the wind at their backs, Biggar's players began to grow in confidence, and stretched their lead to 16-6 thanks to two Sharman penalties. A painful shoulder 'stinger' forced Harkness to the sidelines, his place going to Michael Jaffray, while Scott Tomlinson took over at No. 8 from Chris Kemp. Shortly afterwards Rumney also left the field with a jaw injury. A quick-fire break by Gavin Craig, following probing runs by McVie and Nixon, was to prove the visitors' last hurrah. Gaps began to open up as the visitors lost their shape, and Biggar needed no second invitation to ram home their superiority with a triple whammy of tries from Craig Parker, Gary Walkinshaw and Rob Dunlop, one of which was converted by Sharman. This ultimately convincing win by Biggar means that Selkirk's players have yet to defeat the South Lanarkshire side at Hartreemill. The fact that Selkirk has yet to lose to Biggar at Philiphaugh would have been of scant consolation to coaches Brian Cassidy and Steve Scott as the stunned Souters headed for the dressing room.

SELKIRK - F. Harkness, R. Nixon, D. Cassidy, A. Lyall, C. Hunter, G. Craig, M. McVie, R. Taylor, I. Walling, A. McDowall, M. Barnett, R. Aglen, N. Darling, D. Rumney, C. Kemp. Replacements - G. Patterson, S. Tomlinson, M. Jaffray, J. Duncan.

Referee - C. Brett (Edinburgh Referees' Society).