Gala 14, Selkirk 27 

Second half fightback sees Selkirk home in crunch derby at Netherdale

TRY TIME. Selkirk full-back Fraser Harkness crosses for his second touchdown at Netherdale on Wednesday night, with Gala fly-half Andy McLean unable to intervene. (Photo: Grant Kinghorn)

SELKIRK kept their BSPC Border League title defence right on track with a hard-earned victory over Gala at Netherdale on Wednesday night.

The visitors' bonus point victory puts them in pole position in Pool 'A', and a win over Jed Forest in their remaining group match at Philiphaugh next Tuesday evening, March 24, will see the Souters qualify for the Border League final play-off.

However, it was a fired-up young Gala team who made all the early running at Netherdale, with left wing Shaun Law almost squeezing over in the corner following a touchline break. A strike against the head by Lewis Roden led to the Maroons' first try in the 15th minute - Fraser Thomson touching down, with Graeme Speirs adding the conversion.

The visitors hit back almost immediately. Skipper Fraser Harkness was held up over the Gala line, but made no mistake from the scrum-five by cleaning up untidy ball to burst over for Selkirk's first try.

Gala continued to exert all the pressure as the visitors were forced into a series of errors, and only two penalty misses by Speirs kept Selkirk from falling further behind. In the 34th minute a late challenge by Callum Johnston on Lee Kibble saw referee David Crudge award a penalty try to Gala, with Johnston receiving a yellow card for his troubles. Speirs' conversion put Gala 14-5 ahead.

Once again Selkirk's reply was swift. Opting for a scrum close to Gala's line instead of a penalty, scrum-half Fraser Jack broke blind before executing a delightful reverse pass to Harkness, who ran round behind the posts for his second try of the night. Scott Hendrie's successful conversion took the halftime score to 14-12 in Gala's favour.

After the break Selkirk's players upped their game, with Eddie Gauché being stopped just short of the home try line following some slick inter-passing between Gavin Craig and Ross Armstrong. A penalty by Scott Hendrie then edged the visitors ahead for the first time in the match, but soon afterwards a recurrence of a hamstring injury forced the threequarter to retire to the sidelines.
The introduction of Alex Dunbar, for his first Selkirk appearance since December 13, paid dividends in the 58th minute. The centre burst down the left flank and, when eventually stopped, off-loaded the ball to Martin Murray who bulldozed his way over the line for Selkirk's third try.

The result was put beyond doubt by a typical piece of Gavin Craig wizardry. Despite receiving the ball when stationary just outside Gala's 22, the fly-half somehow managed to jink and weave his way past a clutch of home defenders to score Selkirk's bonus point try without a hand being laid on him. Armstrong's conversion kick sailed over, setting the seal on a solid Selkirk victory.

SELKIRK - F. Harkness, J. Hendrie, S. Hendrie, R. Armstrong, L. Jones, G. Craig, F. Jack, R. Taylor, S. Forrest, M. Murray, R. Aglen, S. Willet, E. Gauché, C. Johnston, R. Crockatt. Replacements: G. Patterson, N. Darling, I. Walling, S. Tomlinson, A. Dunbar.

Referee - D. Crudge (Hawick).