Kelso 2nds 25, Selkirk 'A' 29

Selkirk 'A' reach play-off final after hard-fought victory over Kelso

DESPITE a late fightback by the home team, Selkirk's players managed to hold their nerve to run out winners in Saturday's Border Farm Supplies Championship semi-final play-off (second leg) at Kelso. With the first game at Philiphaugh having ended in a 14-14 draw, Selkirk 'A' booked their place in the final with an aggregate score of 43-39.

"The boys have worked extremely hard at training all week," joint coach John Rutherford said after the final whistle, "and today's victory was just reward for their efforts. Securing a place in the play-offs has been our objective right from the start of the season, and the players now have a real chance of ending the campaign with some silverware."

The Souters' opponents in the final will be the powerful Gala 2nds team who have never been off the top of the league table since the opening weekend of the championship. The date and the venue for the deciding match are expected to be confirmed in the next few days.

The return of skipper Fraser Jack to the visitors' ranks was a big plus-mark for Selkirk, as was the comeback of flanker David Gray, out injured since the Souters' defeat by Gala at Netherdale on December 6.

Other players to shine for Selkirk at Kelso on Saturday included lock Callum Marshall, one of the team's most improved players this season, while behind the scrum Craig MacDougall, Alex Godsmark and Darren Scott all turned in solid performances.

Selkirk took the lead when Michael Rutherford's eighth minute penalty rebounded from the post, with Marshall scooping up the loose ball and power his way over for the contest's first try.

A mazy 30-metre run by Darren Scott set up the visitors' next score. A penalty then allowed Rutherford to kick close to Kelso's line, and from the resultant line-out prop Ray Price was driven over by his fellow forwards for the touchdown.

The Tweedsiders hit back with two penalties, but when David Gray was tackled illegally just before the interval, up stepped Rutherford to stroke over the penalty to make the halftime score 15-6 in Selkirk's favour.

Early in the second period a crunching tackle by Marshall resulted in a turnover for the visitors, and Fraser Jack was on hand to release Rutherford for an opportunist try which the fly-half also converted.

However, two quick-fire tries by Kelso, the second of which came from an intercepted pass on their own try line, saw the home team haul themselves back into contention at 22-18.

It looked all over when Craig MacDougall's long downfield kick bounced between the home side's wing and full-back, with Chris Davies plucking the ball out of the air to sprint over for the Souters' fourth try. Rutherford's conversion took Selkirk's lead to 29-18.

To their credit Kelso's players refused to throw in the towel, and a converted try in the closing minutes of the game kept the result in the balance right up until the referee's whistle signalled no-side.

SELKIRK - D. Scott, C. Davies, C. MacDougall, A. Lyall, A. Godsmark, M. Rutherford, F. Jack, A. McDowall, I. Walling, R. Price, C. Marshall, K. Connor, D. Gray, A. Millar, J. Everitt. Replacements: M. Robertson, P. Forrest, S. Renwick, S. Tough, R. Henderson, C. Kemp, Chris Johnston.

Referees - D. Dods (Gala).

Callum Marshall - another
fine display for Selkirk.