Hillhead-Jordanhill 17, Selkirk 14
Out of sorts Selkirk hit rock-bottom
PASS MASTER. Selkirk's openside flanker Denver Rumney finds himself in possession and in space during Saturday's Prem. 2 game against Hillhead-Jordanhill at Hughenden, with team-mate Michael McVie ready to lend a hand. (Picture: Grant Kinghorn)
IN hindsight, scoring a try as early as the second minute of Saturday's Premier Two basement battle mightn't have been the best start for Selkirk, for after this the visitors paid a high price for underestimating the danger posed by Hillhead-Jordanhill.
The Souters had more than enough chances to wrap up victory, but their players' inability to turn pressure into points - something which has come back to haunt Selkirk in every fixture this season - ultimately decided the match's outcome in Hillhead's favour.
Saturday's defeat anchors Selkirk firmly at the bottom of the league table, making it vital the side registers a win in this weekend's home fixture against Kelso: not only in terms of picking up precious points, but in restoring the Philiphaugh players' self-belief.
In front of a sparse crowd at Hughenden, and with the electronic scoreboard bizarrely registering the previous night's Warriors scoreline for the entire 80 minutes, it was the visitors who stamped their mark on the game within seconds of the kick-off.
A scrum to Hillhead-Jordanhill just outside Selkirk's 22 was disrupted by the visiting pack, and Michael McVie was able to feed his threequarters. David Cassidy broke to the halfway line, before releasing Lee Jones, who made ground up towards the left-hand corner flag.
Quick recycling allowed Selkirk to keep up the pressure, with the ball being expertly spun wide to the clubhouse side of the field, where Polish lock Michal Adamczewski just managed to hold on to a high pass to keep the move alive.
Play then switched back to the visitors' left flank, and following another swiftly won ruck, Alistair Dickson cut inside his opposite number to feed McVie under the shadow of the posts. The scrum-half found prop Rob Taylor at his elbow, and the Kiwi dummied his way over for an excellent try. Cassidy's conversion put Selkirk 7-0 ahead.
Soon afterwards another dynamic Selkirk attack looked certain to penetrate the home defence, but at the crucial moment a back-flip pass didn't go to hand, and the chance was lost. This proved something of a turning point for the visitors, whose play started to lose direction and conviction from this point onwards.
Line-outs began to be lost on a regular basis, while knock-ons and over-elaboration stifled any momentum Selkirk's players were able to generate in attack. Just before the interval Ross Curle landed a penalty for Hillhead after Jones had been penalised for not releasing, leaving the visitors 7-3 in front.
Nine minutes into the second half a penalty kick close to the posts was sent wide by Cassidy, and when Denver Rumney was yellow-carded by referee McKinnon for not binding, it began to look as if this really wasn't going to be Selkirk's day.
This feeling crystallised when Hillhead wing David Mitchell crossed for two tries - one of which featured an 80-metre touchline dash, and came after Selkirk had turned over possession when it looked as though a score had been on the cards. Both tries were converted by Curle, giving the home side a 17-7 lead.
In the closing stages of the game Selkirk at least managed to pick up a bonus point, when Fraser Harkness' clever kick-and-chase saw McVie up in support to score under the posts, but Cassidy's successful conversion still left the visitors trailing 17-14.
Shortly afterwards the referee's whistle blew for no-side, leaving the home players elated at having finally broken their league duck, and their Selkirk counterparts wondering how they had allowed things to slip so badly after making such a flying start.
Still, at least the bottom-placed team's supporters can console themselves with one positive thought - at this moment in time, the only way for Selkirk is up.
SELKIRK - F. Harkness, A. Lyall, A. Dickson, D. Cassidy, L. Jones, G. Craig, M. McVie, R. Taylor, D. Hoggan, A. McDowall, M. Adamczewski, R. Aglen, N. Darling, D. Rumney, A. Heatlie. Replacements - I. Walling, S. Tomlinson, M. Murray, R. Nixon.
Referee - R. McKinnon.