WE HAVE LIFT-OFF!
Centre David Cassidy divers over for a second half try to set the seal on Selkirk's magnificent 24-10 victory over
Prem. 2 leaders West of Scotland at Philiphaugh on Saturday. Selkirk take over top spot in the league, with promotion
to Premier 1 now resting on this Saturday's final league match against Biggar at Hartreemill.
The Philiphaugh air was filled with tension as
both teams went through their routine warm-ups prior to this top-of-the-table clash. Both teams must have been
relieved that the long League sabbatical was over and that they could now get down to business. Selkirk had been
humbled by Haddington in the SHE Cup the previous Saturday but at least they had the benefit of match time, whereas
West had gone for a couple of weeks without a game.
Playing towards the cricket field end and with the wind in their favour the Souters started briskly and Martin
Murray appeared to have scored a perfectly good try from a forwards drive. However, referee Malcolm Changleng was
unsighted and adjudged the Selkirk No 3 to have been halted just short of the line. Minutes later winger Scott
Hendrie spilled a scoring pass from Michael McVie with the line at his mercy. In all probability, the scrum half
would have scored himself but unselfishly he spread the ball wide and the chance was lost. None of this deterred
the home side and the reward came in the shape of a superb solo try by David Cassidy who cut through the defence
with a strong run from the West 22. The same player added the conversion and the Selkirk supporters were in seventh
heaven when Cassidy's opportunist drop goal attempt rebounded fortuitously off the left upright straight into the
arms of fly-half Gavin Craig who accepted this good fortune and ran in for try number two. West found themselves
14-0 down after Cassidy brought out full points and they were stung into action. The Glasgow side had the upper
hand in the set scrum and threatened ominously on several occasions with the Selkirk pack under pressure in the
face of power scrimmaging. However, Selkirk's defence held firm and Scott Tomlinson, in particular, put in some
stalwart chores to clear up the debris at the base of a retreating pack. Just before the half hour mark West got
right back in the game with an exciting try. No 8 Graham Fiskin started the move with a charging break out of defence
and when he was eventually brought down the ball was recycled and moved left at pace where former Scotland hooker,
Gordon Bulloch transferred to winger Johnnie Sloan who found ex-Edinburgh pro team lock Guy Perrett inside him.
Perrett crashed over for the try and Conor Davis converted to narrow the deficit to 7 points. Cassidy responded
with a long-range penalty to give Selkirk a well deserved 17-7 lead at the interval. West had a series of attacks
on the Selkirk line at the end of the first half and it seemed inevitable that they would score from pick and drives
by their more experienced forwards. However, the Souters held out and grew in confidence during the second half.
Substitute fly-half Fraser Sinclair kicked a straight forward penalty to bring the Glasgow side to within a converted
try from equalising and Selkirk winger Lee Jones was yellow-carded to make life more difficult for the home side.
Selkirk showed more hunger on the day and their tackling was most effective in snuffing out the attacking challenges
by West. Appropriately, it was David Cassidy who had the final say by carving through for a second try which he
converted to bring his personal points tally to 19.
The Selkirk Silver Band struck up with "It's Up wi' the Souters o' Selkirk" as the final whistle signalled
a home victory by 24-10. The visitors were generous in defeat conceding that the better team had won on the day.
The promotion race goes right down to the last weekend. Although Selkirk are sitting at the top of the table, a
solitary point ahead of West and four points ahead of Biggar, there are likely to be several twists and turns before
Premier 1 becomes a reality for two of the three contenders. This was a confident Selkirk side totally focussed
on achieving a winning score line. West played their part in treating the large crowd to an excellent advert for
the much maligned Scottish club rugby scene.