Selkirk 28, Kelso 17

No-nonsense Selkirk outgun Tweedsiders in bruising Border derby

PAYING THE PENALTY. Referee Andrew McMenemy's raised arm was a familiar sight at Philiphaugh on Tuesday night, as Kelso's transgressions resulted in a string of penalties to Selkirk. (Picture: Grant Kinghorn)

SELKIRK kept alive their hopes of a place in the play-off final of this season's "Southern Reporter" Border League Championship with a hard-fought victory over Kelso at Philiphaugh on Tuesday night.

The Souters' remaining Pool B fixture is against Duns at The Hardens, and will be played next Wednesday night (kick-off 6.30pm). A bonus point win would assure Selkirk of their play-off place.

Tuesday night's encounter at Philiphaugh was a typically full-blooded affair, with no quarter being asked or given. Selkirk's victory came at a price, however, with number eight Scott Tomlinson and scrum-half Michael McVie both being forced to limp to the sidelines with knee and ankle injuries respectively.

One of Selkirk's key performers on the night was David Cassidy, whose booming clearance kicks were matched by an equally effective display of goal-kicking. The centre only missed one attempt, finishing the match with a haul of 23 points from seven penalties and a conversion.

Ahead 12-3 after 26 minutes, Kelso came right back into contention on the half-hour mark when referee Andrew McMenemy awarded the Tweedsiders a penalty try following a collapsed scrum close to the home line. Skipper Kevin Utterson added the conversion to his earlier penalty, cutting the deficit to 12-10.

Just before halftime Scott Tomlinson increased the home team's lead when he broke from a scrum and, at full stretch, just managed to touch the ball down over the line. Cassidy's conversion put Selkirk 19-10 ahead at the interval.

Two more penalties from Cassidy early in the second half increased Selkirk's lead to 15 points, but Kelso refused to throw in the towel, scoring a try through prop Stuart Lowrie after a spell of sustained pressure. Utterson converted, making the scoreline 25-17.

Both teams then had try-scoring chances as play swung from end to end, with home full-back Fraser Harkness capping another impressive display with a try-saving tackle on Gregg Minto under the shadow of his own goalposts.

The issue was finally put beyond doubt in the 74th minute, when Cassidy's seventh successful penalty sailed between the posts, bringing the curtain down on a highly competitive and evenly matched contest.

SELKIRK - F. Harkness, M. Jaffray, D. Cassidy, A. Lyall, R. Nixon, G. Craig, M. McVie, G. Patterson, I. Walling, A. McDowall, R. Taylor, R. Aglen, N. Darling, C. Johnston, S. Tomlinson. Replacements: M. Murray, E. Robbie, K. Connor, J. Ross.

Referee - A. McMenemy (Gala).