Selkirk 20, Edinburgh Accies 19


Second half fightback sees Selkirk home, as match decided on last kick of the game

DOUBLE TROUBLE. Selkirk number eight Scott Tomlinson prepares to test the defensive abilities of Accies back row men Colin Jarvis and Robin Snape during Saturday's game against Edinburgh Accies at Philiphaugh. (Photo: Grant Kinghorn)



SELKIRK'S 19-month unbeaten home record hung by a thread as Edinburgh Accies scrum-half Michael Campbell lined up his conversion kick in the final play of Saturday's Premier One fixture at Philiphaugh. To the visitors' chagrin, and the home supporters' relief, the attempt slipped wide to hand Selkirk a 20-19 victory that had earlier seemed highly improbable.

Four games in the space of 11 days has clearly taken its toll on the home players who, in a one-sided first half, were outplayed by a hungrier and more dynamic Accies team. Selkirk's line-out and scrummaging difficulties were compounded by turnovers, missed tackles and slack passing, and it was surprising the Souters only found themselves 8-3 in arrears at the break.

The second half proved a different story, however, with replacement Andrew Renwick making an immediate impact by scoring with his first touch of the ball. From this point onwards Selkirk's players began to rediscover their self-belief and trademark passion for the jersey.

With Eddie Gauché and Stuart Forrest both missing because of injury and illness, Selkirk were forced to field only four replacements (one of which was Stuart's 17-year-old brother Peter, a Selkirk Youth Club player). This was balanced by the reappearance in the side of skipper Fraser Harkness, just back from a week's holiday, and the home skipper showed he'd lost none of his attacking flair with another lively display.

Accies got off to a flying start when David Rattray sidestepped a clutch of home defenders to release Michael Campbell down the stand touchline. A last-ditch tap-tackle by Ross Nixon forced the scrum-half into touch at the corner flag, but a try was only momentarily delayed - prop Alistair Marsh crossing the whitewash after a series of pick-and-drives.

More Accies pressure saw the city team camp on the Selkirk try line, but a brilliant chip-and-chase by Fraser Harkness relieved the siege, and a home try looked on the cards until Ross Nixon was caught in possession just short of the line by the backtracking Accies cover.

Harkness then denied Matt Coupar a try at the other end of the field by winning the race to the touchdown, but soon afterwards Accies stretched their lead to 8-0 after Campbell kicked a penalty following a ruck infringement by one of the Selkirk forwards.

Just before the interval Ross Armstrong cut the deficit from a penalty wide on the left, at last giving Selkirk Silver Band something to get worked up about, and the halftime whistle blew to the strains of "Up Wi' The Souters".

Two minutes into the second period Accies restored their eight-point advantage from a second Campbell penalty.

Five minutes later came the game's turning point, when talented teenage lock Andrew Renwick came off the bench, with Accies facing a line-out deep in their own 22. Stand-off Stewart Walker's attempted clearance kick was charged down by Ian Walling inside the dead ball area, and Renwick was first to react - dropping on the ball for his first senior try for the club. Armstrong's fine touchline conversion narrowed the gap to 11-10.

Straight from the restart Selkirk conceded another penalty, this time for not releasing, and Campbell stepped up to restore the visitors' four-point cushion. By this stage Selkirk's tails were up, and a blistering 40-metre break by Gavin Craig saw the fly-half off-load the ball to Jason Hendrie, but the wing's pass landed at the feet of Rory Aglen, and the scoring chance was lost.

Selkirk continued to turn the screw on the Raeburn Place men, and after Craig and Ben Meyer had both been stopped inches short, Scott Tomlinson broke blind and was assisted over the line for a try by his fellow forwards wide on the right. Armstrong struck a peach of a conversion, putting Selkirk ahead for the first time in the match at 17-14.

A penalty against the home side straight from the restart (this time for crossing) allowed Campbell another shot at goal, but his kick drifted wide. A powerful break out of defence by Harkness sparked another Selkirk counter-attack, but Accies cleared the danger. Another excellent run by Gavin Craig took play deep into Accies territory, and when the visitors were penalised Armstrong was able to extend Selkirk's lead to 20-14 from his second successful penalty.

It looked as though Selkirk would wrap up the result when Lee Jones burst clear down the touchline in the final minutes of the match, but Nixon was unable to hold his inside pass and the scoring chance was lost.

Deep into injury time Rory Aglen was penalised for climbing over Ed Stewart at a line-out, and the resultant line kick took Accies to within five metres of the home try line. A flurry of pick-and-drives by the visiting pack ensued, and it was Accies' replacement forward Peter Burns who finally broke through Selkirk's desperate defence to score out on the right.

Now only one point in arrears, Accies scrum-half Michael Campbell had the chance to win the game with the very last kick of the afternoon. However, his attempt sailed agonisingly wide of the right-hand post to hand Selkirk victory.

SELKIRK - F. Harkness, J. Hendrie, R. Nixon, R. Armstrong, L. Jones, G. Craig, B. Meyer, G. Patterson, I. Walling, R. Taylor, R. Aglen, S. Willet, R. Crockatt, C. Johnston, S. Tomlinson.. Replacements: M. Murray, A. Renwick, P. Forrest, B. Purves.

Referee - James Matthew (Edinburgh).