Selkirk 9 Biggar 9
STRAIGHT SHOOTER. David Cassidy lands his third penalty in the gathering gloom at Philiphaugh to put Selkirk back into the lead against Biggar. (Picture: Grant Kinghorn)
SELKIRK once again had to settle for a share of
the points on Saturday, after a dramatic injury time penalty from Chris McKeand levelled the scores. Such cruel
twists of fate in the final seconds are nothing new to the Souters - no fewer than five of their Premier 2 fixtures
this season have been decided on the last kick of the game.
"It's obviously very disappointing," Selkirk coach Brian Cassidy commented after the match, "as I thought we had done enough in the second half to merit the win. Still, there's no use getting down about it, it's something we have to address, and we'll now be working doubly hard to put things right."
At the halfway stage of Saturday's contest, Selkirk's supporters could be excused for fearing a Biggar win might be on the cards. The home side had only been able to open up a narrow 3-0 interval lead, despite having the strong, gusting wind at their backs, and it looked odds-on that the visitors would send up a barrage of high kicks to keep Selkirk pinned in their '22'.
In fact this scenario never materialised. Just as Biggar's players had performed best while playing into the teeth of the gale, so Selkirk's players found fresh inspiration when facing the elements, and the Hartreemill men were unable to press home their advantage.
With so much at stake for both teams, it was perhaps understandable that the game's opening exchanges proved nervy - each side getting into promising positions, only for errors or the concession of penalties to undermine their efforts.
Although scrummaging solidly, Selkirk looked vulnerable at the breakdown, where a series of turnovers allowed Biggar to launch quick counterattacks through their powerful centre Logan Kirisome. Indiscipline also threatened to cost Selkirk dear, with Alistair Heatlie being spoken to by the referee for a late challenge on Murray Thomson.
After missing with a penalty attempt in the ninth minute, David Cassidy made amends soon afterwards by striking the ball sweetly between the posts, after the visitors had been penalised for coming into a ruck from the side.
Just before halftime Chris McKeand was wide with a penalty attempt, leaving Selkirk clinging on to a narrow 3-0 lead at the change of ends.
Five minutes after the break Biggar drew level, when Cassidy was penalised for not releasing the ball, and McKeand stepped up to send over a straightforward kick.
This reversal sparked Selkirk into life, and surging runs by first Lee Jones and then Scott Hendrie took play deep into Biggar territory, where Cassidy kicked his second penalty in the 67th minute to restore the home side's lead.
However, immediately after the restart Selkirk were penalised for a ruck infringement, allowing McKeand to level the scores once again from a well-hit penalty.
Selkirk then enjoyed their best spell of the game, with Martin Murray, Scott Tomlinson and Darren Hoggan all making ground with ball in hand, as Biggar found themselves with their backs to the wall.
After 72 minutes Biggar hooker Michael Rutherford received a yellow card for injudicious use of the boot, and Cassidy sent over the subsequent penalty to put Selkirk back in the lead.
Hopes of a home victory were cruelly dashed deep in injury time, however, when referee David Walker penalised Selkirk on their own 10-metre line for not releasing, and McKeand kept his nerve to land the penalty and earn his side two precious points.
SELKIRK - D. Cassidy, B. Armstrong, S. Hendrie, A. Lyall, L. Jones, G. Craig, M. McVie, A. McDowall, , I. Walling, M. Murray, M. Adamczewski, R. Aglen, S. Tomlinson, D. Hoggan, A. Heatlie. Replacements - R. Taylor, G. Patterson, S. Renwick, R. Nixon.
Referee - D. Walker (Irvine).
GOTCHA! Selkirk fly-half Gavin Craig makes a crunching tackle on opposite number Cammy Thomson during Saturday's Premier 2 match against Biggar at Philiphaugh. (Picture: Grant Kinghorn)