Currie 62, Selkirk 20

After back-to-back wins on the road, wheels come flying off the Selkirk bandwagon

HENDRIE IN A HURRY. Selkirk wing Scott Hendrie just evades the clutches of Currie full-back Johnny Smith to score Selkirk's third try at Malleny Park on Saturday.

SELKIRK might have emerged as Premier One's dark horses in the first half of the league campaign, but many more displays like the one they gave in the second half at Malleny Park on Saturday, and they'll be heading for the knackers yard rather than a place in the winners' enclosure.

Having fought their way back to 24-20 just after the interval, the visitors proceeded to lose the plot in dramatic fashion, leaking five further tries to transform a gutsy comeback into a defensive catastrophe. However, full marks go to a lively and hungry Currie team who took every chance that came their way, and whose clinical finishing had the Malleny Park faithful in understandable raptures.

Saturday's scoreline represents Selkirk's worst defeat since September 25, 2004, when they suffered a 65-3 drubbing at the hands of Stirling County at Bridgehaugh, conceding the same number of tries on that occasion (nine) as they did at Malleny Park. Meanwhile Currie's defence proved secure enough to prevent the visitors from notching a try-scoring bonus point, adding to the sense of frustration and bewilderment of Selkirk's large travelling support.

Ironically Saturday's game was the first time Selkirk had been able to call on the services of four of its allocated professionals - Sean Crombie, Simon Cross, Ben Meyer and David Blair - all four of the Edinburgh players being given at least 30 minutes of game time. Currie had two pros in their ranks: wing Andrew Turnbull and lock Dan Turner.

Selkirk had a chance to put points on the board in the third minute when Ross Armstrong's penalty kick drifted wide, after Currie had been penalised for obstruction. Soon afterwards the home pack pushed the visitors off their own scrum ball, and following a quick touchline break by Douglas Fife, fly-half Matthew Scott chipped over the Selkirk try line and beat Scott Hendrie to the touchdown.

On the 10-minute mark Ross Armstrong cut the deficit to 7-3 from a well-struck penalty, but a series of missed first-time tackles (a deficiency which was to mar Selkirk's performance for the rest of the afternoon) allowed Currie to exert more pressure on the visitors. After 18 minutes Smith exploited a three-to-one overlap to score in the right-hand corner.

Stung into action, a superb run out of defence by Lee Jones was carried on by Ross Nixon, whose chip to the line almost resulted in a try for Ross Armstrong. Currie were immediately penalised for obstruction, and from the quickly taken tap penalty the ball was moved left to Fraser Harkness, who cut inside and bulldozed his way through a clutch of defenders to score.

Missed tackles and turnovers continued to blot the visitors' copybook, and two tries in the space of three minutes by hooker Colin Quigley and centre Graham White, the latter converted by Smith, secured Currie's bonus point and, more importantly, stretched the Balerno team's lead to 24-8.

Rather than throwing in the towel, Selkirk responded in thrilling style. After Ross Armstrong and Scott Hendrie had both been stopped just short of the Currie line, Lee Jones took advantage of a sloppy pass in Currie's midfield to gather the loose ball and sprint 40 metres for a spectacular try in the left-hand corner. Armstrong's successful conversion from the touchline made the halftime score 24-15 in the home team's favour.

Following full and frank discussions with coaches Kevin Barrie and Michael Jaffray during the interval, plus the introduction of Simon Cross and David Blair, Selkirk started the second half in more confident vein. A blindside move involving Blair, Harkness and Jones resulted in Sean Crombie just being bundled into touch near the corner flag.

Five minutes later the visitors hauled themselves right back into the game. A squint line-out throw by Currie saw Selkirk opt for a scrum, and following incisive runs by David Blair and Gavin Craig, it was left to Scott Hendrie to burst clear down the right-hand touchline, keeping his composure to round Johnny Smith and score a great individual try.

Instead of building on this score, and with the home side's lead now cut to just four points, Selkirk began to lose their defensive shape as Currie's players upped their work rate. For the remainder of the match these defensive frailties were cruelly exposed by some fine running and support play from the home players, with Reeves, Walker, Turnbull (2) and Officer all running in tries to blow Selkirk's hopes of a comeback clean out of the water.

The closest the Philiphaugh team came to scoring followed last-gasp breaks by Simon Cross and Fraser Harkness, but these efforts were thwarted by a Currie side playing with the confidence and vigour a 42-point advantage invariably generates.

All is not doom and gloom, however. Despite Saturday's defeat, Selkirk stay in third spot in Premier One. And having targeted two wins out of three in their run of three successive away fixtures, this goal has duly been achieved - no mean feat, irrespective of the Malleny Park result.

This coming Saturday Neil Darling and his players have the chance to redeem themselves when Glasgow Hawks pay a visit to Philiphaugh, when home supporters will be hoping the harsh lesson handed out by Currie will have been marked, learnt and inwardly digested.

POWER PLAY. Despite the best efforts of several Currie defenders, Fraser Harkness crosses the line for Selkirk's first try on Saturday, with team-mate Scott Hendrie ready to add his congratulations. (Photos: Grant Kinghorn)

SELKIRK - F. Harkness, S. Hendrie, R. Armstrong, R. Nixon, L. Jones, G. Craig, M. McVie, R. Taylor, S. Crombie, M. Murray, S. Willet, E. Gauché, N. Darling, C. Johnston, S. Tomlinson. Replacements: G. Patterson, S. Forrest, S. Cross, B. Meyer, M. McVie.

Referee - Andy McPherson (Glasgow).