Selkirk 11, Edinburgh Academicals 14
Accies take spoils as Selkirk unable to discover winning touch
IN CONTROL. Edinburgh Accies scrum-half Mark Best prepares to pick the ball out of a ruck, as Selkirk's Denver Rumney tries to force the issue.
PHILIPHAUGH was bathed in brilliant sunshine for Selkirk's first home league fixture of the season, but by the final whistle a dark cloud had descended on home supporters, who saw their team play second fiddle to a sharper Edinburgh Accies side.
With Selkirk fielding giant Polish recruit Michal Adamczewski in the second row, and with David Cassidy and Rory Aglen returning after missing the GHA defeat, hopes were high that the home players would get back on the winning trail.
Edinburgh Accies had other ideas, however, putting their opponents under pressure at every turn, with mistakes being ruthlessly punished - big chunks of territory being regularly conceded by the home team. Accies' threequarters also proved more decisive in attack, taking the ball forward at pace whereas the home backs struggled to break the gain line.
The high penalty count against Selkirk also proved costly, with Accies wing Paul Arnold's three successful penalties eventually proving the difference between the two sides.
Sustained Accies pressure in the opening exchanges led to a penalty chance for Quentin Gardiner, but the full-back's effort drifted wide. Next Alistair Dickson's attempted flip-pass through his legs was scooped up and chipped towards the try line by Gavin Douglas, and only Alistair Lyall's courageous dive at the feet of opposite number David Rattray saved a certain score.
Shortly afterwards a mis-hit clearance kick by Rory Aglen allowed Accies to keep Selkirk pinned in their own 22, and when a home player strayed offside at the next ruck it was Arnold who stepped up to put the visitors into a 3-0 lead.
When Selkirk finally managed to penetrate the visitors' defence following Gavin Craig's silky break, Adamczewski was penalised for not releasing the ball in the shadow of the visitors' goalposts, and the chance was lost.
In the 29th minute Martin Murray replaced Kiwi prop Rob Taylor, and when Selkirk gave away yet another penalty the city team kicked for the corner. Despite withstanding a series of concerted drives for the line by Accies, the dam finally broke when No. 8 Greg Campbell scrambled over for a try to increase the visitors' lead to 8-0.
Successive bursts by Fraser Harkness and the irrepressible Denver Rumney raised home supporters' hopes of a score, but the first half ended on a disappointing note for Selkirk when Selkirk skipper Darren Hoggan limped from the field with a groin strain, his place being taken by Ian Walling.
Fired up by coach Brian Cassidy's halftime rollicking, Selkirk made a much more confident start to the second period. Teenage wing Lee Jones, who had hardly touched the ball prior to the break, jinked his way past four Accies defenders on a mesmerising cross-field run, before Rattray just pipped Rumney to the touchdown after the No. 7 had chipped over the line.
After 50 minutes a scything break by Douglas caught out the home defence, and shortly afterwards Dickson was spoken to by the referee for obstructing MacIntosh, and Arnold gratefully converted the resultant penalty to increase Accies lead to 11-0. Scott Hendrie then replaced Lyall - his first senior appearance of the season after a lengthy injury lay-off.
Selkirk came close to scoring when Cassidy and Jones combined to spearhead an attack deep into enemy territory, but the final pass failed to go to hand. An exquisite 60-metre line kick by Michael McVie kept up the pressure, and when Accies handled at a ruck, Cassidy put Selkirk's first points on the board with a penalty.
Accies restored their 11-point cushion through an Arnold penalty, after Craig was penalised an extra 10 metres for talking back to the referee, but Cassidy replied in kind with a finely struck kick to cut Accies' lead to 14-6.
Minutes later Selkirk's supporters finally had something to shout about. Rattray's knock-on set up a good attacking platform for the Souters, and Harkness took full advantage by breaking through the middle to feed McVie. The scrum-half found Rumney on his right, and the ex-Ireland u-21 player sprinted over for a try near the posts. Cassidy's conversion miss kept the score at 14-11.
Despite some close calls in the dying minutes, the Raeburn Place men kept their nerve and their composure to notch their third straight victory and inflict Selkirk's third consecutive loss.
SELKIRK - F. Harkness, A. Lyall, A. Dickson, D. Cassidy, L. Jones, G. Craig, M. McVie, R. Taylor, I. Walling, A. McDowall, M. Adamczewski, R. Aglen, N. Darling, D. Rumney, A. Heatlie. Replacements - I. Walling, S. Tomlinson, M. Murray, S. Hendrie.
Referee - C. Brett (Edinburgh Referees' Society).