Hawick 42, Selkirk 15

Unbeaten Selkirk brought back down to earth by fired-up Hawick team

TAYLOR-MADE BREAK. Selkirk prop Rob Taylor bursts upfield in the second half of Saturday's

match at Mansfield Park..

A SPECIAL 'Poker Night' was being held in the Mansfield Park clubrooms on Saturday evening to raise funds for the club. However, Hawick's supporters only needed to wait until 3pm to discover that it was the Greens' players who held all the aces up their sleeves.

The final try count of 6-0 in the home side's favour was a fair reflection of Hawick's superiority, with Selkirk unable to get into their stride after a promising opening. The unerring boot of David Cassidy - who landed six penalties from six attempts - helped keep the visitors in the game, and five minutes into the second half, with the Greens just one score ahead at 22-15, it looked as though Selkirk might stage one of their trademark comebacks.

It was not to be, however, and 20 unanswered points saw Hawick chalk up their first Premier One victory of the seasonů and inflict Selkirk's first defeat. "It was a bad day at the office," admitted Selkirk skipper Neil Darling after the match, "and we simply didn't perform at a high enough level. Hawick punished our mistakes and showed greater control than we did. The boys realise they'll have to improve in a lot of areas, and it's up to everyone to knuckle down and put things right in training this week."

Selkirk had no answer to the guile and attacking skills of Hawick full-back John Coutts and stand-off Rory Hutton, who emerged as the game's most influential players. Hawick's pack also had the upper hand in the forward exchanges, aided by the visitors' persistent line-out difficulties, with the return of number eight Ryan Hogg and the presence of pro. player Bruce McNeil having a galvanising effect on the home eight.

Selkirk wing Lee Jones struggled manfully to try and break through Hawick's solid defence, and was named the visitors' 'Man of the Match' at a ceremony in the clubrooms following the game. Overall, however, little went right for the Philiphaugh men over the 80 minutes.

Selkirk took the lead in the third minute after Ryan Hogg had been penalised for a late challenge on Michael McVie. David Cassidy stepped up and coolly landed the first of his six successful penalty kicks. This lifted the visitors' spirits, with clever kicks by McVie and Cassidy gaining large chunks of territory. A clean line-out take by Rory Aglen put further pressure on the Hawick line, but an attempted pushover try soon afterwards was unsuccessful and a clear scoring chance lost.

A quickly taken tap penalty then saw Hutton race clean up the middle of the pitch, and when the ball was switched left to Neil Renwick, it took a superb last-gasp tackle by McVie to force the wing into touch at the corner flag. Centre Alistair Lyall had taken a head knock in the build-up, and was replaced by Ross Nixon. Selkirk were then penalised at a line-out, and swift handling saw McNeil dive over for a try.

Hawick kept up the pressure, harrying Selkirk's players at every turn and forcing the visitors on the back foot. Tries by Bruce Campbell and Bruce McNeil quickly followed, the latter converted by Renwick. Although Cassidy managed to land a further three penalties to steady the Selkirk ship, a fourth try for Hawick from Neil Renwick gave the home side a 22-12 halftime lead.

Cassidy's sixth successful penalty immediately after the break gave visiting supporters a glimmer of hope that a Souter revival might be in the offing, but straight away a loose pass allowed Hawick to regain possession, with Hutton ghosting past three defenders to score an excellent solo try under the posts.

The same player kicked a penalty soon afterwards after a late challenge by Fraser Harkness, and John Coutts then got on the score sheet with a try under the posts following a break by Ryan Hogg. The coup de grace was supplied by flanker David Lowrie, who kicked a penalty from 35 metres in injury time.

Facing a Hawick team smarting from three consecutive defeats was always going to be a big ask for Selkirk, and this rejuvenated Greens side looks well equipped to rapidly climb the league table in the weeks to come. With three wins from four matches the Philiphaugh team are still in good shape, and coach Kevin Barrie will no doubt be keeping his cards close to his chest as he plans for the visit of Watsonians to Philiphaugh this Saturday.

SELKIRK - F. Harkness, S. Hendrie, D. Cassidy, A. Lyall, L. Jones, G. Craig, M. McVie, G. Patterson, I. Walling, M. Murray, R. Aglen, S. Willet, E. Gauché, N. Darling, S. Tomlinson. Replacements: R. Nixon, M. Rutherford, R. Taylor, S. Forrest, R. Crockatt.

Referee - Iain Heard (Gala).

TOUCH AND GO. Centre David Cassidy just manages to stay in play as Selkirk try to get back on

track against Hawick on Saturday. (Pictures: Grant Kinghorn)