Selkirk 28, Hawick 3

Discipline the key as Selkirk erase memory of Mansfield defeat with convincing home victory

TOUGH GOING. Selkirk flankers Ben Meyer and Neil Darling put the squeeze on their opponents in Saturday's match at Philiphaugh, as Hawick battle to get back into the game.

BONUS points have been in short supply for Selkirk this season, and in recent years this deficiency has also applied to victories over Hawick. Both issues were rectified in convincing fashion at Philiphaugh on Saturday, with Selkirk running four tries past the visitors to secure a bonus point - a feat which moves them into second spot in Scottish Hydro Electric Premier One.

"I thought the boys really came of age today," Selkirk coach Kevin Barrie told the web site after the final whistle. "Before the game I told them that good discipline and keeping a level head would be crucial, and that's exactly what they did. Our defence held up well and we took the right options when not in possession of the ball. It was a real team effort, and shows that these players have got where they are on ability and by working hard for each other."

The match was played in light drizzle, but with conditions underfoot surprisingly good. Hawick took the lead in the fifth minute when a ruck infringement allowed Craig Neish to kick a 30-metre penalty. Selkirk almost hit back straight from the restart. Gavin Craig cleverly switched his kick to the grandstand touchline, and Lee Jones was able to gather cleanly and sprint for the corner. However, the ball just slipped from his grasp as the visitors' cover arrived and the chance was lost.

A try for the home side was only briefly delayed. Spurning the chance to kick a penalty, Michael McVie instead kicked to Hawick's five-metre line. Moments later Hawick incurred another penalty, and Martin Murray took a quick tap and moved the ball right to Neil Darling. Although stopped, the Selkirk skipper off-loaded to Gavin Craig, who burst under the posts for an opportunist try. McVie's conversion put the home side 7-3 in front.

Craig then distinguished himself in defence with a cracking tackle on Rory Hutton, before breaking clear and releasing Alex Dunbar on a surging run which Hawick did well to snuff out 15 metres from their own line. Next Rory Aglen pulled off two tackles in quick succession to halt the visitors' progress, and after Darling retired to the sidelines with a blood injury, McVie sent a 20th minute penalty attempt just wide of the posts.

Selkirk maintained the pressure, and at the next line-out Eddie Gauché took a great catch at the front. The ball was quickly moved along the threequarters, with Alex Dunbar's half-break allowing Lee Jones to come off his left wing and sprint round Hawick's stretched defence to score wide on the right. McVie's conversion sailed over from the touchline, putting Selkirk ahead 14-3. Neish had the chance to cut the deficit from a penalty in the 27th minute, but his kick curled past the left-hand post.

As a former Hawick player, Selkirk centre Ross Armstrong knows the level of intensity in any contest against the Greens is going to be extremely high. Throughout the match 'Strongy' proved his value to the home side with a display of outstanding commitment - whether hitting up through the middle, tackling like a demon or angling teasing line kicks behind the visitors' defence. He was later named as Selkirk's 'Man of the Match'.

Before halftime the Greens made a final push for a score, with the Landels brothers, Petrie and Robertson all picking and driving towards the home try line. To their credit Selkirk's players refused to budge, preventing their opponents from getting into their stride with a series of full-blooded tackles.

When the halftime whistle blew, Hawick headed for the warmth of the dressing room while Selkirk's players remained in a huddle out on the pitch. Once again Ben Meyer was asked to swap roles, replacing Callum Johnston at openside, while Rob Taylor took over from Martin Murray at tighthead prop.

Both teams engaged in aerial ping-pong in the early stages of the second half, and more often than not it was home scrum-half Michael McVie who had the final say with a deft kick into touch around the visitors' 22. A break up the left touchline by Sean Crombie then had the home crowd roaring their encouragement, but Edinburgh team-mate Ben Meyer just failed to hold the final pass.

Soon afterwards Hawick's scrum wheeled the Selkirk pack off their own ball, and a sizzling 40-metre break by Hutton almost managed to breach Selkirk's defence. The defining moment in the match was to come shortly afterwards, however, when Hawick's threequarters were again threatening the home try line.

With men outside him, centre Graham Hogg elected to chip ahead to Selkirk's 22. The ball was cleanly gathered by Fraser Harkness, who then deftly chipped the advancing Hawick players, gathered the ball, before hoofing it into Hawick's half and giving chase. A couple of fly-hacks later and the home full-back had beaten the visitors' cover to dive over the line and touch down Selkirk's third try. McVie's conversion put the home side 21-3 ahead.

Hawick battled gamely to stay in the match, but found Selkirk in equally resilient mood. Rob Taylor turned over ball at a ruck, Dunbar and Armstrong combined well to set up a scoring chance, while Selkirk's scrum avenged their earlier reversal by wheeling the visitors off their own scrum ball.

With the seconds ticking away, Selkirk clinched a bonus point in style. Not for the first time Rory Aglen stole Hawick line-out ball, and the move's momentum was continued up towards the halfway line. A blindside burst by Fraser Harkness up the stand touchline took play to within 10 metres of Hawick's try line, and when halted the home full-back found Lee Jones up in support, and the wing needed no second invitation to take his team-mate's off-load and score his second try of the match. McVie's conversion kick went straight between the sticks, bringing the curtain down on a thoroughly deserved home victory.

HITTING THE HIGHSPOTS. Selkirk second row forward Rory Aglen stretches for line-out ball in Saturday's Division One match at Philiphaugh, watched by appreciative supporters packed along the decking area. (Photos: Grant Kinghorn)

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

HAWICK - J. Coutts, G. Anderson, G. Hogg, C. Neish, S. Anderson, R. Hutton, K. Reid, B. McNeil, M. Landels, S. Linton, G. Petrie, M. Robertson, R. Hogg, N. Mactaggart, D. Landels. Replacements: G. Johnstone, N. Little, K. Hedley, K. Millar, D. Lowrie.

Referee - Iain Heard (Gala).