Selkirk 30, Kirkcaldy 24

Never-say-die Kirkcaldy almost put wind up Souters in Scottish Hydro Electric Cup try fest

MURRAY IN A HURRY. Buried under a pile of bodies, Selkirk prop Martin Murray still manages to power his way across the whitewash for Selkirk's opening try at Philiphaugh on Saturday. Selkirk went on to win the sixth round Scottish Cup tie 30-24. (Photo: Grant Kinghorn)

ON the day a 100-1 shot won the Grand National at Aintree, outsiders Kirkcaldy showed a similar level of self-belief at Philiphaugh on Saturday, pushing favourites Selkirk all the way down the home straight in a pulsating Scottish Hydro Electric Cup sixth round tie.

A three-try burst in the space of eight minutes midway through the second half was enough to see the Souters safely through to the quarter-finals, but to their credit the Fifers never stopped battling, being were rewarded with a try in the final play of the match to get within a single score of their Premier One opponents.

The visitors demonstrated why they have been such a force to be reckoned with in Premier Three this season, dominating the scrums and forcing a succession of turnovers in the early stages of the game. Playing with the strong wind at their backs in the first half, Kirkcaldy soon had the home team pinned inside their own 22.

In the 15th minute visiting skipper Colin Harvey opted for a scrum rather than a kick at goal after Selkirk had been penalised for offside, and moments later wing Iain Gillies dived over in the right-hand corner for the game's first try. Quintan Sanft's touchline conversion sailed over to put the visitors 7-0 up.

Selkirk hit back with a strong run out of defence by Rory Aglen following Lee Jones' quickly taken tap penalty, but a knock-on by Callum Johnston allowed Kirkcaldy to clear their lines. Gavin Craig and Eddie Gauché then combined well to penetrate the visitors' defence, and when Kirkcaldy were penalised at the ruck, Craig kicked to the corner to set up a line-out eight metres from the visitors' line.

The ball was cleanly won by Rory Aglen, and several phases later Selkirk won a scrum deep in Kirkcaldy territory. Number eight Ryan Crockatt picked up from the base, and with the whole home pack hitting the ensuing ruck it was Martin Murray who bulldozed his way over the line for a try.

It wasn't long before Kirkcaldy were once again hammering away at the home try line, hooker Greg Wallace almost getting his name on the score sheet following a surging run, but skipper Fraser Harkness lifted the siege with a typically robust run out of defence.

With halftime approaching Sanft extended the visitors' lead to 10-5 from a penalty, but deep in injury time Selkirk hit back with a well worked try. Rory Aglen stole line-out ball on Kirkcaldy's throw, allowing Gavin Craig to make a stunning break inside the visitors' 22, and Lee Jones roared up in support to take a scoring pass from his half-back partner and touch down wide on the right. Ross Armstrong's conversion was kept out by the strong wind, but Selkirk were back in the hunt at 10-10.

Ian Walling replaced Stuart Forrest at hooker at the interval, and five minutes into the second half Selkirk were forced to make another substitution when Ryan Crockatt suffered a painful shoulder injury and had to be helped from the pitch. Teenage lock Andrew Renwick took his place.

Kirkcaldy's fired-up players continued to take the game to the home team, but in the 50th minute Selkirk took the lead for the first time in the match when Eddie Gauché pounced on loose line-out ball to score his side's third try near the right hand corner. Once again Armstrong's conversion kick slipped tantalisingly wide, leaving Selkirk 15-10 ahead.

Selkirk coach Kevin Barrie then sent on remaining replacements Rob Taylor and Alistair Lyall (for Gordon Patterson and Ben Purves respectively), with Lyall making an immediate impact by crossing for a try wide on the left following another scything run from Gavin Craig and well judged pass final from Ross Armstrong.

Two minutes later Lyall repeated his try-scoring act in the same corner, after Andrew Renwick had made the initial charge downfield, Eddie Gauché had set up quick ruck ball, and Ross Nixon's half-break had created just enough space for Lyall to batter his way over the whitewash.

Hardly had the scoreboard boys put up the 25-10 numbers than their services were required again. This time it was Lee Jones who capitalised on another telling Eddie Gauché run by scorching round the visitors' stretched defence on the left to touch down for his second try of the afternoon. Gavin Craig's conversion attempt was just wide, leaving Selkirk in the driving seat at 30-10.

Far from throwing in the towel, the Premier Three champions showed they were still in business by upping their work rate and keeping possession for most of the remaining 15-minute period. They were rewarded with tries from Jordan Webster and replacement Gavin McKenzie, both converted by Sanft, leaving coach Dave McIvor to congratulate each of his players as they left the field on a gutsy display.

Selkirk will now meet the winners of Wednesday night's tie between Edinburgh Accies and Stirling County, with the match likely to take place at Philiphaugh on the evening of Tuesday, April 14.

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

Referee - Cameron Rudkin (Hawick).