No hiding place as Currie turn
up the heat in march towards Premier One title
WITH Selkirk's last two Premier One games being
against title contenders Ayr and Currie, the road to this season's Scottish Hydro Championship was always destined
to pass through Philiphaugh. And on Saturday night the Selkirk faithful were treated to a contest worthy of deciding
any league competition, with the home players fighting tooth and nail to halt the Currie juggernaut.
Although ultimately failing to match the visitors' physicality, Selkirk showed enough pride, passion and perseverance
over 80 bruising minutes to give the home supporters real hope for a positive outcome in Wednesday's Border League
play-off final against Melrose at the Greenyards.
With prop Gordon Patterson and centre Scott Hendrie failing late fitness tests, Steven Renwick and Jason Hendrie
were drafted into the home line-up as replacements. Selkirk were boosted by the appearance of Edinburgh pro. Simon
Cross (making his first 15-a-side appearance of the season), with Alex Dunbar also available after last turning
out for Selkirk against Langholm three weeks ago.
Having scored 17 tries in their previous two matches, any hopes Currie's supporters might have harboured that Selkirk
would prove yet another lamb to the slaughter only lasted for the first three minutes of the game. That's how long
it took Fraser Harkness to scamper over for a try near the right-hand corner, after Michael McVie's box kick had
bounced awkwardly, and been missed by, Currie wing Dougie Fife.
Although Rory Banks' conversion attempt went wide, the teenage stand-off made amends after 17 minutes when he stretched
his side's lead from a sweetly struck penalty close to the halfway line. Moments earlier Selkirk had shown incredible
resilience to withstand a series of six five-metre scrums on their own try line - a feat which had the large home
crowd roaring their appreciation from the packed stand touchline.
Finding themselves under so much pressure, Selkirk's discipline was beginning to show signs of strain, and two
successive penalties for not releasing allowed visiting full-back Johnny Smith to close the gap to 8-6. The same
player then side-stepped his way under the posts after a series of forward drives had again had the home pack at
full stretch, putting Currie 13-8 ahead.
This was the way things stood at halftime, and with Selkirk's players beginning to tire from the sustained onslaught
of Currie's massive pack, the visitors increased their lead to 27-8 with tries by skipper Andy Adam and his second
row partner Ryan Wilson, both converted by Smith.
Far from raising the white flag, Selkirk stunned the league leaders with a try out of the top drawer. A typically
silky break by Gavin Craig took play deep into Currie territory, but the chance appeared to have ben lost when
Selkirk were penalised at a ruck close to the visitors' try line. Turnover ball then allowed Alex Dunbar to burst
through the Currie defence on a blistering run, and the supporting Fraser Harkness was on hand to take the offload
and send Darren Clapperton sprinting under the posts for a great score. McVie's conversion closed the gap to 27-15.
Currie then showed the steely resolve which has kept them at the top of the Premier One table all season by redoubling
their efforts to secure the vital bonus point thanks to a try by Willi Moala, with Dougie Fife adding a fifth to
put the game beyond Selkirk's reach and keep the Malleny Park bandwagon securely on track. The final try of the
night came from Andrew Renwick, while Johnny Smith kicked a penalty in the dying seconds to set the seal on Currie's
Openside Callum Johnston was named Selkirk's 'Man of the Match', but in truth every member of the home team deserved
a mention for contributing to such a competitive contest. Currie take on Ayr this Saturday in a game that will
go a long way to deciding the destiny of the Premier One title, with the Millbrae men coming to Philiphaugh on
May 15 for Selkirk's final league fixture of the season.
SELKIRK - F. Harkness, D. Clapperton, G. Craig, A. Dunbar, L. Jones, R. Banks, M. McVie, R. Taylor, D. Grieve,
M. Murray, J. Smyth, R. Aglen, S. Cross, C. Johnston, S. Tomlinson. Replacements: J. Hendrie, S. Forrest, S. Willet,
S. Renwick, A. Renwick.
Referee - A. Healy.