Glasgow Academicals 0, Selkirk 22

Lack of finishing power frustrates Selkirk as spirited Accies show they're up for the cup

NO WAY THROUGH. Selkirk scrum-half Lee Jones finds himself outnumbered by Accies defenders as Eddie Gauché can only watch developments.

FIRST STRIKE. Selkirk open their account at New Anniesland as prop Martin Murray powers his way over the line for the game's first try in the 12th minute. (Photos: Grant Kinghorn)

THE final 30 minutes of Saturday's cup tie at New Anniesland was played in a howling gale, with sheets of icy rain whipping across the pitch. However, by then Selkirk had weathered a storming first half display by their opponents, accumulating enough points to see them safely through to the fifth round of the Scottish Hydro Electric Cup.

The visitors' starting line-up showed one late change, after illness forced scrum-half Michael McVie to drop out of the side. Wing Lee Jones took over the No. 9 jersey, with Jason Hendrie joining brother Scott in the Selkirk threequarter line, and the ever-reliable Alistair Lyall being called on to the bench.

Selkirk's lack of game time over the festive period soon became apparent, with the fired-up home team forcing their Premier One opponents on to the back foot as tackles were missed and turnovers conceded. The strong running of Accies' Cameroon-born lock Cruz Kawakameni was proving particularly troublesome to the visitors, and in the fifth minute home flanker Jack Walker almost broke through to the Selkirk line after good leading-up work by No. 8 Graeme Simpson.

It also didn't help that Selkirk were giving away at least a penalty a minute in the opening exchanges, allowing Accies' player to grow in confidence and help cancel out Selkirk's territorial advantage.

It took a try from Martin Murray in the 12th minute to settle the visitors' nerves. Fly-half Gavin Craig made a typically dazzling break down the left hand side of the pitch, with Scott Hendrie up in support to carry on the move to within five metres of the Accies' try line. A series of rucks followed, with Martin Murray eventually bulldozing his way over for the opening score.

Five minutes later Selkirk doubled their lead when some slick handling by the visiting threequarters saw full-back Fraser Harkness burst through the last line of defence to score a try close to the posts. Ross Armstrong's conversion sailed over to put Selkirk 10-0 ahead.

Another Harkness break straight from the restart looked likely to lead to another try, but Rory Aglen's off-load went straight to an opposing player and the danger was cleared. Lee Jones' booming line kick then set up another attacking position, and seconds later Simon Willet was adjudged to have been held up over the try line. From the resulting scrum the ball was picked up and moved blind by No. 8 Ryan Crockatt, and Harkness was on hand to crash over for his second try.

There was no further scoring in the first period, leaving Selkirk with a 17-0 halftime lead. The margin could have been a lot wider had the visitors taken all of their chances, but credit must go to Accies for keeping the pressure on their opponents at all times.

A few choice words from coaches Kevin Barrie and Michael Jaffray at the interval appeared to put fresh heart into the Selkirk players, and despite playing into the ever-strengthening wind, the visitors' showed far more control and poise in the second half.

Selkirk's strong scrummaging was a feature of this period of the game, but despite having the lion's share of possession the visitors could only manage one more try in the match - Fraser Harkness completing his hat-trick in the 68th minute following another telling break by Gavin Craig.

Scott Hendrie might also have collected a hat-trick of scores if no fewer than three passes to him within touching distance of the Accies line had not been adjudged forward, while Lee Jones also came close to a runaway score but was chased down by Accies' equally lively wing Stuart Low.

A special mention must go to Selkirk hooker Ian Walling, who has missed a large part of the season through injury, and who came on as a replacement for Stuart Forrest after the break. This was the Over Whitlaw farmer's 100th senior appearance for the club - no mean feat at the tender age of 23. Here's to the next 100, Ian!

At the end of the day both sides can take positives from the match, with Accies' display sure to boost their confidence as they bid for promotion to National Division 1. For their part, Selkirk know they will have to look a lot sharper if they are to put the brakes on Heriot's FP at Philiphaugh this weekend, but at least Neil Darling's men now have a game under their belt, and will undoubtedly raise the bar come Saturday.

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

Referee - R. McHenry.