Selkirk 8 Kelso 7

Selkirk survive injury-time cliff-hanger to pick up first league win of the season

DURO DELIVERY. Selkirk's blindside flanker Neil Darling gets the threequarter line moving, watched by back row colleague Alister Heatlie, during Saturday's Prem. 2 victory over Kelso at Philiphaugh. (Picture: Grant Kinghorn)


SUCH was the tension generated during eight minutes of agonising injury time at Philiphaugh on Saturday, that both sets of supporters - having bitten their nails to the quick - were left contemplating a bout of knuckle-gnawing.
Having hung on to a one-point lead for almost the entire second half, Selkirk's players found themselves staring defeat in the face as the Tweedsiders' fly-half, Ewan Ford, lined up a penalty attempt just outside the home team's 10-metre line, which the referee had indicated would be the last kick of the game.
Throughout the contest Kelso had been plagued by indifferent penalty-kicking, with no fewer than three different kickers having been used - all to no avail. To the visiting supporters' despair, and to the home supporters' delight, Ford's last-ditch effort slipped just past the left hand post, with referee Walker blowing for no-side immediately.
"It was a scrappy game," Selkirk coach Brian Cassidy commented afterwards, "but a win is a win, and I hope this will help restore the players' confidence. It will give us something to build on at training this week, but we're still a long way short of where we want to be, and I'm sure the players realise that. Still, hopefully this will help us turn the corner."
With Alistair Dickson ruled out by a rib injury picked up against Hillhead-Jordanhill last Saturday, Alistair Lyall switched to centre and Selkirk teenager Ross Nixon was brought in on the right wing.
It took the home side just eight minutes to open its account, when David Cassidy stepped up to kick a straightforward penalty after Kelso had been penalised for not releasing.
However, for the rest of the half it was Selkirk who were forced on to the back foot as Kelso stepped up the pressure, and the 3-0 interval scoreline would have been very different if the Black & Whites hadn't sent six penalty kicks wide of the posts - Ford missing a sitter right in front of the posts on the stroke of halftime.
Kelso did manage to take the lead four minutes after the break, when Greg Minto won the race to touch the ball down after Ford had cleverly chipped over the try line. Craig Renton added the conversion, which turned out to be Kelso's only successful goal-kick of the game.
In the 68th minute Selkirk went back in front through a brilliant counter-attacking try. Kelso's scrum-ball was disrupted by Denver Rumney, who tackled Scott Newlands, forcing the number eight to hurry his pass. The ball bounced off Graeme Cowe's shoulder, and Alister Heatlie was up in a flash to steal possession.
Somehow Rumney managed to get back on his feet and take Heatlie's pass, before releasing Alistair Lyall on a run down the left flank. Lyall passed outside to Cassidy, who quickly transferred the ball to Lee Jones, and the pacy young win needed no second invitation to sprint down the grandstand touch-line, showing a clean pair of heels to the Kelso defence and scoring a thrilling try. Cassidy's conversion drifted wide.
Late in the game the centre had an opportunity to put the result beyond the Tweedsiders, but couldn't hold on to Michael McVie's pass with the try line at his mercy.
Then came the injury time drama of Ford's last-ditch penalty attempt, allowing the home supporters to celebrate their good fortune and the visitors to ruefully consider what might have been. Games don't come any closer, or more nerve-wracking, than this.

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 - D. Walker (Irvine).