Strathmore 15, Selkirk 31
Selkirk keeps composure to see
off never-say-die Strathmore
GREAT SCOTT! Selkirk number eight Scott Tomlinson breaks up the blindside in Saturday's cup tie against Strathmore at Inchmacoble Park. (Picture: selkirkrfc.com web site)
A CRACKING cup tie was served up in front of an appreciative crowd at Inchmacoble Park on Saturday, where visitors
Selkirk withstood a fierce second half onslaught by Strathmore to book their place in the fifth round of the Scottish
Hydro Electric Cup.
Unbeaten so far this season, and sitting top of Caledonian League Division One, 'Strathie's players, officials and supporters clearly felt an upset could be on the cards, and had worked round the clock in the days leading up to the match to ensure the pitch was playable.
Their efforts were rewarded with a full-blooded contest in which both sets of players adjusted well to the glutinous playing surface and strong cross-field wind, and which produced no fewer than seven tries over the 80 minutes.
The home side won the toss and elected to play against the elements. Within six minutes Selkirk had gone ahead through a try by Fraser Harkness, after Denver Rumney's crunching tackle had resulted in the ball being spilled, allowing his fellow centre to pick up and burst clear for a score out on the right.
A rolling maul close to Strathmore's line then saw Martin Murray (one of the visitors' best performers on the day) just stopped short, but soon afterwards the referee awarded a penalty try to Selkirk after a home forward had illegally prevented Darren Hoggan from touching down at another maul.
On the half-hour mark Rumney was replaced by Michael Jaffray after suffering blurred vision, while John Everitt temporarily took over in the back row from Neil Darling, who required treatment to a leg knock.
Following powerful breaks by Scott Tomlinson and David Cassidy, the visitors increased their lead when Lee Jones scooped up a loose ball and sprinted clear for an opportunist try, converted by Cassidy, putting Selkirk 19-0 ahead.
Just before halftime a clean line-out take by Steven Renwick on Strathmore's 22 was driven forward by the Selkirk pack, allowing Martin Murray to force his way over for the visitors' fourth try. Cassidy's successful conversion gave Selkirk a halftime lead of 26-0.
With the wind behind them and the home supporters now in full voice, Strathmore's players redoubled their efforts after the break to shatter any illusions the visitors may have harboured of an easy ride in the second half.
A simple overlap on the right, following turnover ball, allowed Keily to run in Strathie's first try of the afternoon in the 45th minute, before scrum-half Mike Bruce kicked a penalty from in front of the posts to cut the deficit still further.
The biggest cheer of the day came shortly afterwards, when home centre Hull exploited a gap in Selkirk's midfield to burst through and touch down near the posts. Bruce's successful conversion made the score 26-15, with Strathmore still very much in contention.
To their credit Selkirk's players refused to panic, and a good break by Gavin Craig, followed by a clever line-out steal by Rob Taylor, saw the visiting pack launch a 30-metre rolling maul deep into enemy territory. The ball was eventually spun left, with Harkness cutting inside before firing out a well-judged pass to Jones, who scored his second try of the day from 10 metres out.
The match ended with the players still gamely battling away in the cloying mud, and credit must go to both teams for managing to turn on such a stirring spectacle in such difficult underfoot conditions.
SELKIRK - G. Craig, C. Hunter, D. Rumney, F. Harkness, L. Jones, D. Cassidy, M. McVie, G. Patterson, I. Walling, M. Murray, R. Taylor, S. Renwick, N. Darling, D. Hoggan, S. Tomlinson.. Replacements - J. Everitt, C. Johnston, M. Jaffray.