Selkirk 14, Hillhead-Jordanhill 8

Selkirk players keep their nerve to secure priceless points

ONCE again Selkirk put their long-suffering supporters through the wringer at Philiphaugh on Saturday, but showed enough character during the game's frantic final minutes to record a crucial victory over Hillhead-Jordanhill.In what was clearly a 'must win' fixture for both sides, the intensity of the contest rarely dipped below boiling point, with the Glasgow team showing the greater drive in the opening exchanges, pressurising Selkirk into mistakes and turning over ball at the contact situation.
After 10 minutes the fired-up visitors reaped their reward. From a scrum on Selkirk's 22, Hills skipper Cammy Kerr picked up and transferred the ball to scrum-half Sam Muir, whose pop-up pass found David Frame steaming down the blind side, and the lanky full-back ran in for a try without a hand being laid on him. Martin Yorston's conversion slid wide.
Stung into action, a crash ball move involving Alistair Dickson set up a promising position for Selkirk just inside Hillhead's 10-metre line, and when the visitors were penalised for coming in from the side of the ruck, David Cassidy stepped up to cut the deficit to 5-3 with a well-struck penalty.Back came Hills, and but for referee David Walker reversing a penalty in Selkirk's favour following the intervention of a touch-judge, the home team could have found itself further in arrears.Strong runs out of defence by Fraser Harkness and Craig Hunter helped keep the Souters on the front foot, while Cassidy's superb kicking from hand repeatedly relieved pressure, allowing his team-mates time to regroup in the face of some hostile Hillhead attacks.
Next a mazy break by Lee Jones up the left flank took play deep into enemy territory. A clean line-out take by Rory Aglen was followed by a rolling maul towards the visitors' line, and moments later the visitors were penalised at a ruck, allowing David Cassidy to kick another penalty and put Selkirk ahead for the first time in the match.
Just before halftime Alister Heatlie stole an overthrown Hillhead line-out ball to set up a counter-attack from inside Selkirk's 22. The move was swiftly carried on upfield by Gavin Craig and Fraser Harkness, before Lee Jones received the ball and sprinted towards the corner flag - only to be high-tackled by Hillhead-Jordanhill prop Douglas Walker, who received a yellow card for his trouble.
Cassidy's penalty kick drifted just wide of the posts, leaving Selkirk 6-5 ahead at the interval. This changed within three minutes of the restart, when Hillhead-Jordanhill were awarded a penalty and Yorston made no mistake to edge the visitors 8-6 in front.
This was the signal for Selkirk to step up a gear, and Martin Murray led the way with a powerful surge up the middle, followed by darting runs from Harkness and Jones. In the 50th minute Harkness looked to have crossed for a try after breaking blind from scrum possession, but the referee ruled the ball had not been grounded.
Selkirk's pressure eventually paid dividends when Cassidy kicked his third penalty of the afternoon to put the home team back in front 9-8.
There was no let-up in Selkirk's assault on the visitors' line. Skipper Darren Hoggan, who gave a spirited lead throughout, mopped up a Hillhead-Jordanhill knock-on and fed Cassidy, whose booming clearance kick took play back to the visitors' 22.The match's turning point came soon afterwards. Alister Heatlie picked up from the scrum base, fed out to Gavin Craig, who in turn gave the ball to Alistair Dickson. The powerful centre rounded his man on the outside, and despite the attentions of three Hillhead defenders managed to touch down the ball for a try.
More siege-gun clearances from Cassidy's boot kept play deep in Hillhead-Jordanhill territory, and it looked as though Selkirk had put the result beyond doubt when Martin Murray peeled from a driven line-out maul to dive over the try line. Referee Walker thought otherwise, however.
From the resultant scrum Hillhead somehow managed to steal possession, and a sprint up the stand touchline by Andrew Eggleton set the alarm bells ringing in Selkirk's overstretched defence. Although eventually stopped, the home team conceded a penalty at the ruck.
Trailing by six points, Glasgow skipper Cammy Kerr opted to kick for the corner to force a line-out five metres from Selkirk's line. To the disbelief of both sets of supporters, Will Marshall's kick to touch passed into the dead ball area on the wrong side of the corner flag.
After consultations between the referee and his touch-judge, a scrum was eventually awarded to Selkirk in front of their posts on the 22-metre line. Despite losing possession at the next ruck, Selkirk managed to win the ball back from Hillhead's scrum, and it was fitting that David Cassidy should once again clear the ball downfield to secure a priceless win for the home side.

SELKIRK - F. Harkness, C. Hunter, 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, G. Patterson, J. Everitt, R. Nixon.

Referee - D. Walker (Irvine).