Selkirk 28 Melrose 6

   

SELKIRK STING "WASPS"

Competitive tussles between the two fiercely proud sides have always been the way over the years and Philiphaugh was buzzing with excitement at the prospect of the visit of the 2008 Scottish Hydro Electric National Cup champions. The match kicked off in cloudy but calm conditions in front of a bumper crowd and the Souters had the better of the early exchanges. Selkirk should have scored at least one try in the opening 10 minutes but Melrose defended stoutly and the Philiphaugh men had to settle for a penalty goal from centre David Cassidy, who was making his first appearance in Premier One. Melrose were ruled offside at a ruck and "Cass" duly obliged to get the scoreboard ticking over. Melrose had a chance to strike back when stand-off, Scott Wight released James King in the clear with a perfectly weighted pass. However, a thumping tackle by the last line of defence, in the shape of full-back Fraser Harkness, brought King to an abrupt halt. Harkness soon showed his attacking talents with a midfield surge from which Selkirk moved the ball left and were awarded a penalty for a high tackle. Cassidy successfully stretched Selkirk's lead to 6 points and the home side were ahead in most aspects of open play. Selkirk almost scored when centre Alex Dunbar gathered a spilled ball in the Melrose midfield and the attack ended with winger Lee Jones being thwarted in the corner by a superb tackle by lock Jon Bradburn. Shortly afterwards, Jones was again kept out in the same corner but Melrose were penalised for straying offside. Cassidy had no trouble in finding the target with another well struck penalty on the half hour mark. Melrose were finding it difficult to take play into the Selkirk half but eventually they won a penalty in front of the posts after Selkirk used hands in a ruck. Scott Wight's opened his account with 3 points and the score line of 9-3 in favour of the Souters seemed paltry given their territorial advantage. Astute kicking and organised teamwork were features of Selkirk's play in the first half and scrum-half Michael McVie was inspirational. The work rate of the home forwards was immense and the second row combination of Rory Aglen and Eddie Gauche led from the front. A raking kick by Cassidy resulted in a line-out five metres out and indiscipline by the visitors allowed the centre to end the half with his 4th penalty and a 12-3 advantage. Scott Wight had an opportunity to bring Melrose closer, a minute into the restart, but his kick from short range flew wide of the posts. Cassidy and Wight exchanged penalties and 15-6 heralded a period of strong Melrose pressure. Harkness was sin-binned after 60 minutes but Melrose were unable to capitalise on their numerical advantage thanks to sterling defensive play. The game was crying out for a try and eventually Selkirk struck a telling blow. McVie made a clean break and linked up with Lee Jones who was brought down inches short of the try-line. From the resultant scrum, No 8 Scott Tomlinson, was unstoppable from a pick up and he crashed over to take Selkirk out of sight at 20-6 with only 10 minutes left to play. The discipline of the visitors slipped again when prop Andrew Gillie fell foul of the referee's whistle. David Cassidy stroked over his 6th penalty of the afternoon and then when Graeme Dodds joined his team-mate in the sin-bin there was no way back into the game for Melrose. With time running out, Selkirk added their 2nd try from Edinburgh pro and Selkirk debutant, Sean Crombie. 13 points from their opening 3 Premiership matches sees Selkirk away from "the ugly end" of the league table but there is a long way to go. Coaches Kevin Barrie and Michael Jaffray will now turn their preparations to next week's visit to the "cauldron" that is Mansfield Park where Hawick will be desperate to get their league season back on track.