Gala 2nds 24, Selkirk 'A' 20

 Selkirk 'A' players almost pull off shock play-off victory, but Gala 2nds have the final say

ROSS THE BOSS. Selkirk's Jim Ross dives over in the corner for Selkirk's second try in Saturday's play-off final at Riverside - to the delight of team-mate David Purves, and the despair of Gala's players. (Photo: Grant Kinghorn)

A BATTLING display by Selkirk A's young side just failed to prevent Gala 2nds lifting the 2009 Border Farm Supplies Championship title in a thrilling play-off final at Riverside Park on Saturday. It looked for all the world as though the Souters had won the match following Michael Rutherford's successful penalty kick deep into injury time, but the Maroons managed to keep their composure and scored a try in the game's very last play.

It was a bitter pill to swallow for Selkirk's players, who had come into the final as clear underdogs in the wake of Gala's dominant league record, but who managed to raise their game on the day to hold their own against the more powerful Maroons team.

It was the Netherdale men who made all the early running, centre Lee Kibble being denied a try after 10 minutes because of a forward pass. Gala's forward-orientated strategy eventually paid dividends, however, when a series of pick-and-drives resulted in the match's opening try, converted by Dean Keddie.

To their credit the Souters kept plugging away, with full-back Darren Scott again turning in a five-star display, and Alistair Lyall and Craig MacDougall soaking up everything the Maroons could throw at them in midfield.

Just before halftime a blindside break by fly-half Michael Rutherford was carried on by skipper Fraser Jack, and the scrum-half found Callum Marshall up in support for the lanky lock to crash over the whitewash for the Souters' first try. With Rutherford injured in the move, Darren Scott stepped up to add the conversion and level the scores at 7-7. This is the way things stood at the interval.

A Michael Rutherford penalty early in the second period gave Selkirk fresh impetus, but the Souters were dealt a severe blow when Guy Blair, who had been in fine form, had to leave the field after badly damaging shoulder ligaments - an injury which saw the wing taken to the BGH.

Two unconverted tries by the Maroons swung the game back in the league leaders' favour at 17-10, and although Neil Brown looked to have scored for Selkirk soon afterwards, the try was chalked off because of a forward pass.

With 10 minutes to go David Purves stole ball at a Gala line-out, and Fraser Jack quickly fed Jim Ross down the blind side for the wing to dive over in the corner for an opportunist try. Rutherford's conversion brought the scores level at 17-17.

Some good work by Alan McDowall in the loose took the Souters deep into Gala territory, and when a Maroons player infringed at a ruck, up stepped Rutherford to send over what many Selkirk supporters thought to be the match-winning kick.

The referee said play on, however, and as the seconds ticked away Gala's players launched one last attack. To their supporters' delight - and to the disappointment of the Souter faithful - the Maroons managed to engineer a last-gasp try to ensure the silverware would be heading home to Netherdale.

After the match Jim Ross announced his retirement from the game, while Alan McDowall confirmed that he will be playing his rugby for home club Earlston next season. Both players were thanked for their magnificent contribution to the team by Selkirk coaches Ewen Robbie and John Rutherford.

SELKIRK - D. Scott, G. Blair, C. MacDougall, A. Lyall, N. Brown, M. Rutherford, F. Jack, A. McDowall, A. Muller, R. Price, C. Marshall, K. Connor, D. Gray, A. Millar, J. Everitt. Replacements: S. Renwick, C. Kemp, D. Purves, J. Ross, C. Davies, S. Tough, R. Henderson.