Edinburgh Accies 33, Selkirk 10

HENDRIE IN A HURRY. Selkirk wing Scott Hendrie evades the clutches of opposite number Chris Dickie to set up his team's only try at Raeburn Place on Saturday, with Neil Cruikshank (left) and Andrew Renwick ready to lend support.


SELKIRK'S shaky start to the season continued at Raeburn Place on Saturday, where a confident Edinburgh Accies team proved too strong for the visitors. Selkirk's cause wasn't helped by a sluggish start, which saw the home side score two quick-fire tries within six minutes of kick-off - a tailor-made launch pad for Accies' eventual 33-10 victory.

The problem areas exposed by Boroughmuir the previous week surfaced again in Selkirk's play, most notably the high number of turnovers conceded at the breakdown, with the visitors' muted performance in stark contrast to the drive and passion generated so effectively by the Souters during their previous Premier One campaign. 'Second season syndrome', is how one Sunday rugby writer put it.

It didn't take long for Ian Barnes' troops to fire the first shot across the visitors' bows. Having lost possession on their own line-out throw, Selkirk compounded the error by missing two first-time tackles, allowing home skipper Ian Berthinussen to break left and release Alex Blair. The full-back made ground before off-loading to wing Matt Coupar, with the lanky wing running in unchallenged to score near the posts. David Duffus converted.

Three minutes later Selkirk full-back Fraser Harkness ran from deep, before punting the ball into Accies' territory. Fly-half Ruairidh Bonner immediately returned the compliment - his cleverly placed kick landing in space behind the visitors' defence, where Chris Dickie showed clever footballing skills to shepherd the ball over the Selkirk line, and David Dennon raced from deep to touch down Accies' second try.

It took a clever break by Selkirk stand-off Gavin Craig to finally get the visitors out of first gear, and a ruck infringement by Accies allowed David Cassidy to step up and put Selkirk's first points on the board with a well judged penalty, cutting the home lead to 12-3.

Alas Selkirk found it difficult to capitalise on this positive development, and normal service was resumed when the Raeburn Place men once again won turnover ball. A penalty allowed Bonner to kick for position inside the visitors' 22, and from a rolling maul following the line-out Tom Drennan was driven over for Accies' third try.

Strong runs by Harkness, Gordon Patterson and Scott Hendrie then raised the hopes of Selkirk's large travelling support, but handling errors allowed the city side to regroup, with an overthrown ball to the back of a line-out on Accies' five-metre line allowing the city team to clear their lines.

Just before halftime Selkirk paid the price for sloppy clearance work close to their own try line, when a misdirected kick ricocheted into the path of blindside flanker Robin Snape, who gratefully gathered the ball and crashed over for the bonus point try. Duffus' conversion put Accies 26-3 ahead at the break.

With coach Kevin Barrie reading his players the riot act during the interval, Selkirk finally generated some meaningful momentum in the second half. As tempers began to fray both Andrew Renwick and Alex Blair were yellow-carded within minutes of each other by referee Andrew Healey, and at this juncture Rob Taylor was replaced in the front row by Daniel Moussa.

Selkirk's hard-working number eight Scott Tomlinson, making his 300th senior appearance for the club, received a big hand as he left the field to make way for Callum Marshall in the 58th minute, while David Gray was given an equally big round of applause when he replaced Neil Cruikshank in the back row shortly afterwards.

On the hour-mark the visitors suffered a serious blow when lock Simon Willet, a former Accies player, had to be helped from the field after sustaining a painful knee injury, necessitating the reintroduction of Cruikshank, who himself was feeling the effects of a shoulder knock.

The introduction of Selkirk's last three replacements - Stuart Forrest, Callum Marshall and Darren Clapperton - gave fresh impetus to the visitors' attacking options. Soon afterwards Rory Aglen charged down a clearance kick to keep up the pressure on Accies' try line, and from the next scrum Andrew Renwick fed Scott Hendrie on the blind side. The wing cut inside his opposite number before drawing the final defender to send Neil Cruikshank crashing over for his first try in a Selkirk jersey. Hendrie converted to pull the score back to 26-10.

There was to be no trademark escape act by the Souters this time, however, and in injury time Accies underlined their superiority by scoring a fifth try through Chris Dickie, making the final score 33-10 in the city side's favour.


WE HAVE TOUCHDOWN. Flanker Neil Cruikshank manages to ground the ball for a try, with Accies' John Berthinussen unable to prevent the score. (Photos: Grant Kinghorn)

SELKIRK - F. Harkness, S. Hendrie, D. Cassidy, R. Armstrong, L. Jones, G. Craig, M. McVie, G. Patterson, D. Grieve, R. Taylor, R. Aglen, S. Willet, N. Cruikshank, C. Johnston, A. Renwick. Replacements (all used): S. Forrest, C. Marshall, S. Tomlinson, D. Moussa, R. Nixon.

Referee - Andrew Healey (GHA).