Edinburgh Accies 22, Selkirk 17
Spirited Selkirk unable to put shackles on Accies' powerful pack
SO NEAR YET SO FAR. Selkirk number eight Alister Heatlie dives over the try line in Saturday’s Premier 2 match against Edinburgh Accies at Raeburn Place, but the referee disallowed his scoring effort. (Picture: Grant Kinghorn)
PICKING up a losing bonus point was no more than
Selkirk deserved following a brave display at Raeburn Place on Saturday, where the home team's domination of the
forward exchanges ultimately proved the difference between the two sides.
Choosing to play against the wind in the first half, Selkirk survived an early scare when home openside Patrick Coupar almost forced his way over the line, but good defensive work by skipper Darren Hoggan and wing Scott Hendrie - two of the visitors' most effective tacklers - kept Accies at bay.
Selkirk's best scoring chance came when blindside flanker Neil Darling broke upfield close to the stand touchline, but a knock-on later in the movement meant the opportunity was lost.
Accies' superior aggression and ball-winning in the contact area forced a series of Selkirk turnovers, and it was left to Alistair Dickson to twice clear his lines by desperate kicks upfield as the home team began to turn the screw.
After 20 minutes it looked as though Selkirk had scored when number eight Alister Heatlie picked up from a scrum-five and launched himself past two defenders and over the line. However, referee Gary Gordon ruled that the ball had not been properly grounded.
Calamity struck three minutes later, when a promising Selkirk attack foundered outside Accies' 22, with Ross Browne quick to capitalise on a poor pass by picking up the loose ball and sprinting 65 metres down the pitch for an unconverted try.
This signalled the start of a concerted onslaught by the capital side, and five minutes of solid pressure was rewarded when stand-off Ruairidh Bonner broke towards the left-hand corner before flashing a pass inside to full-back Kevin Gartside, who swallow-dived over the line for try number two ( which he also converted).
A late hit by Dan Teague on visiting stand-off Gavin Craig gave David Cassidy the chance to cut the deficit, but his penalty kick into the wind slid just wide. Despite more pressure from Accies, halftime came with the score still 12-0 in the home side's favour.
Five minutes after the restart Selkirk put their first points on the board with a smart try. Martin Murray secured a ricochet ball in broken play, allowing Alistair Dickson to run wide down the left touchline, before the centre lobbed a beautifully weighted pass inside to lock Rob Taylor, who charged 20 metres for a great try. Cassidy converted.
Moments later Fraser Harkness almost repeated the feat. The full-back beat two men before chipping the full-back, but couldn't manage to win the race for the touchdown. Of more concern to coaches Brian Cassidy and Steve Scott at this juncture was the loss of Scott Hendrie, who had pulled a hamstring during the chase to the line and painfully hobbled from the pitch.
A penalty against the visitors saw Bonner kick to the five-metre line, and from the ensuing line-out drive Accies number eight Greg Campbell was able to touch the ball down for the city side's third try and a 17-7 lead.
Back came Selkirk, and a darting run by Lee Jones almost put Rory Aglen over in the right-hand corner (the lock being laid low by a head knock for his troubles). However, the ball was immediately switched back across to the other side of the field, where Hoggan off-loaded to back row colleague Alister Heatlie, who crashed over in the corner for a try.
With Rob Taylor retiring to the sidelines with cramp, Englishman John Everitt took the field for his first senior appearance, and the back row player showed enough promise to suggest he will figure in Selkirk's future plans as the season builds towards its climax.
Accies struck a decisive blow 13 minutes from time when Campbell scored his second try of the afternoon (a pushover) to extend the home team's lead to 22-12.
To their credit Selkirk's players never gave up the fight, and their perseverance was rewarded when Aglen's solid line-out take resulted in quick ball for Alistair Dickson to take forward, with the centre's measured pass finding Bruce Armstrong wide on the right, who in turn fed inside for Lee Jones to dive over for his team's third try.
For the remainder of the match Selkirk were forced on to the defensive as Accies pressed hard for a fifth touchdown, but the visitors managed to stall the home juggernaut, securing a bonus point which could yet prove crucial in the coming weeks.
SELKIRK - F. Harkness, S. Hendrie, D. Cassidy, A. Dickson, L. Jones, G. Craig, M. McVie, A. McDowall, I. Walling, M. Murray, R. Taylor, R. Aglen, N. Darling, D. Hoggan, A. Heatlie. Replacements - S. Tomlinson, B. Armstrong, G. Patterson, J. Everitt.
Referee - G. Gordon.
NO WAY THROUGH. Selkirk full-back Fraser Harkness finds himself in the thick of the action during Saturday's Premier 2 match against Edinburgh Accies at Raeburn Place. (Picture: Grant Kinghorn)