BIGGAR 0 SELKIRK 15

HOORAY FOR HENDRIE. Selkirk wing Scott Hendrie crunches into a Biggar opponent and forces turnover ball in Saturday's epic promotion decider at Hatreemill. [Picture: Grant Kinghorn]

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Hail the conquering heroes! Mud, driving rain, slashing sleet and icy winds couldn't stop the Selkirk team from emerging as worthy victors in this promotion battle at Hartreemill. Selkirk must have been a quiet town yesterday as the glutinous touchlines were packed with Selkirk supporters who had travelled to deepest Lanarkshire on the foulest of days. There was so much at stake and Selkirk simply showed more desire to win. No disrespect to the Biggar team who battled gamely for the full 80 minutes. The visitors started at a cracking pace in the dire conditions and they were snappier in the tackle, quicker to the breakdown and displayed more urgency. The Selkirk forwards turned in a powerful performance in a game that was never going to allow expansive rugby. No 8 Scott Tomlinson, in particular, was faultless as he gained territory time after time in trenchant style. Prop Martin Murray also put in some impressive ball-carrying work as the Selkirk pack gained in ascendency and put Biggar under pressure. Biggar, unable to rest possession from Selkirk, were eventually drawn into infringing and the trusty boot of centre David Cassidy repeatedly found the target. In a remarkable series of place kicking, in the direst of circumstances, he converted five penalties and one narrow miss from long range that shaved the outside of the post. The forward battle was where the game was won, both teams keeping it tight, picking and driving. Biggar's two Kiwi ball carriers were gang-tackled throughout the game and neither team looked like scoring a try. Selkirk coped with the tricky cross wind better than the home team and scrum half Michael McVie turned in one of his grittiest displays in a Selkirk jersey. It couldn't have been much fun for the backs on such a lousy afternoon. Rory Aglen, Eddie Gauche, skipper Neil Darling and the tireless David Gray put in a power of defensive chores and Biggar just couldn't get back into the game. They enjoyed a long period of possession in the second half but they were unable to breach the solid defence. Long before the final whistle, Selkirk's faithful supporters were starting to celebrate a well earned return to top flight status. With West of Scotland only gaining their crucial bonus point 4th try against Hillhead/Jordanhill in the dying minutes the title chase went right to the wire. Congratulations to West who won the championship by virtue of a better points differential. Both teams racked-up 84 points and although Selkirk actually won more games, West earned 12 bonus points as against 8 for the Souters. So it was celebrations late into the night at Burnbrae and Philiphaugh. Commiserations to a gallant Biggar team who came so close to achieving promotion. There was always going to be one disappointed team with West, Biggar and Selkirk fighting for two promotion slots.
Stepping up to Premier 1 is an outstanding achievement for Selkirk and the hard work begins now for season 2008/2009. There is a steely determination to show that they are not just in Premier 1 to make up the numbers. Congratulations to coaches, Rodney Pow and Kevin Barrie and well done to all the players who have participated in such a successful league campaign. Captain, Neil Darling has been an inspired leader throughout and attention now turns to Border League business and defence of the Radio Borders "Kings of the Sevens" title. No rest for the wicked!!


COOL-HAND CASS. Selkirk goal-kicker David Cassidy kept his nerve in Saturday's appalling conditions to succeed with five penalty attempts from six, taking his personal points tally for the season to an impressive 264. He is pictured above landing his first penalty in the fourth minute of the match.