SELKIRK 13 STEWART'S-MELVILLE 9 (Sat. Jan. 5th)

No cold feet in Selkirk as the Souters take the points at a chilly Philliphaugh


SNOW POW Coach Rodney Pow gives up leaning on a shovel and helps clear the snow to ensure that Saturday's game against Stew Mel goes ahead.


Border Spirit Backs and forwards alike help Ian Walling recover the ball during a dour encounter.

(Stuart Cameron reports from Philiphaugh)


It wasn't pretty rugby but Selkirk ground out a win at Philiphaugh against fourth placed Stewart's-Melville to keep their promotion hopes alive, and as each week passes it looks more and more likely that the Souters' final game of the season against Biggar away from home could yet be the match which decides which of the two teams will go up.

A mighty effort by 40 supporters and club members - including one 75 year old! - to clear the snow from the pitch, enabled the game to go ahead, and coach Rodney Pow told his players that after that kind of effort his team needed to reward them with an 80 minute performance.

Selkirk won the hard way by turning round at the break only two points up despite playing almost half of the opening 40 minutes against 14 men and playing with the strong wind and rain at their backs.

It was a good start for Selkirk. Lee Jones crossed for a try on seven minutes following a move out wide which went through several pairs of hands. Jimmy Moran cut the lead with a penalty but Ross Armstrong bagged one of his own to restore the five point gap when Stew-Mel's Adrian Duncan was sent to the bin for a professional foul. Duncan had barely served his ten minutes in the bin when his colleague Shaun McMurchy was ordered off for a ten minute break, making things even more difficult for the men from Inverleith.

Just before half time some back chat from Fraser Harkness upset Hawick referee David Crudge and a third yellow card was produced. Moran scored from the resulting penalty and you had to fancy the visitors' chances as the teams turned round with the elements in their favour. But Stew-Mel failed to drive home the advantage and let Selkirk back into the game.

Guy Blair came on for Gavin Craig and the turning point in the game came with one of Selkirk's few excursions into the Stew-Mel half. Blair made his mark on 64 minutes with a neatly flighted cross kick which was collected by Scott Hendrie who unselfishly passed inside to Fraser Harkness who needed no second invitation to dash to the line. A third penalty from Moran set up an interesting finale but Selkirk held on to get the four points. With Biggar winning again on Saturday and a game in hand it's essential that Selkirk keep on winning and next week's encounter against Jed-Forest, who are still smarting from their hiding earlier in the season at Philiphaugh, will be a mouth-watering prospect when the two clash at Riverside Park.

Selkirk coach Rodney Pow was full of praise for his boys afterwards: "We looked like the underdogs at half time but we produced a performance in the second half and with them missing a couple of penalties and Harkness's try it broke their hearts. Overall we had three key players missing (Cassidy, Murray and Gray) and we still came away with a win. I can't say enough about the boys' commitment. We deserved to win with a 2-0 try count and we came through with no injuries so we hope to be near to full strength next week. Jed will be laying out the welcome mat for us in no uncertain terms!"

You can hear more from Rodney Pow as well as a roundup of all the Borders Rugby news on Scottish Rugby Radio at www.ScottishRugbyRadio.com