Selkirk 30, Heriot's FP 12

Selkirk players turn on style in second half to record vital bonus point victory


DRIVING FORCE. Selkirk's Man of the Match, Scott Tomlinson, tries to burst through the tackle of Heriot's FP replacement Jason Hill in Saturday's Prem. One thriller at Philiphaugh.

SELKIRK'S climb out of the Scottish Hydro Premier One basement continued at Philiphaugh on Saturday, where a convincing 30-12 victory helped the Souters leapfrog West of Scotland to pull clear of the league's bottom two places for the first time this season.

After the final whistle Selkirk coach Kevin Barrie was full of praise for his players. "In the dressing room before the game I asked the boys for more passion and pride, and that's exactly what they gave today. What made the result even more special was the fact three of our forwards had been under the weather with viruses earlier this week, yet turned up today and played their hearts out.

"Another pleasing aspect was the improvement in our defence, which was well organised throughout the whole 80 minutes, while our discipline was also far better than it has been in recent weeks. No-one's getting carried away, as there's still a long way to go, but the boys have got their hunger back, and that's always a good sign."

The return of skipper Michael McVie, centre David Cassidy and prop Rob Taylor to Selkirk's starting line-up after injury or unavailability, helped mitigate the absence of Edinburgh pro. Jim Thompson and academy player Alex Dunbar. For their part the visitors were boosted by the presence of Glasgow Warriors flyer David McCall, who kept the Selkirk defence at full stretch all afternoon.

Heriot's cause wasn't helped when wing Andy Douglas suffered a head knock and had to retire to the sidelines in the fourth minute, and soon afterwards David Cassidy put Selkirk's first points on the scoreboard from a crisply struck penalty after a scrum infringement by the visitors.

After withstanding a bout of sustained pressure from Heriot's pacy threequarters, Selkirk increased their lead on the 10-minute mark when powerful breaks by Lee Jones and Neil Darling took play to the visitors' 22, and a neat dummy scissors by Michael McVie created enough space for half-back partner Michael Rutherford to slice through for a well worked try, converted by Cassidy.

The Goldenacre men hit back almost immediately. Selkirk knocked on in the shadow of their own goalposts, and two phases later Pete Eccles beat Lee Jones to the touchdown in the right corner. Skipper Graham Wilson converted from the touchline.

The home side didn't panic after this setback, and in the 15th minute number eight Scott Tomlinson - later named Selkirk's Man of the Match - used his left boot to telling effect by floating a delicate chip towards the right-hand corner flag, which Rory Aglen skilfully gathered first bounce to dive over for his team's second try.

It looked as though Selkirk would extend their 15-7 lead when Scott Hendrie made a dazzling break up the stand touchline, supported by Rob Taylor, but the move was eventually snuffed out by the visitors.

With Fraser Harkness off the pitch having a blood injury seen to, Heriot's got back to within touching distance of Selkirk's total when a series of drives culminated in hooker Scott Burnett bursting through the home cover to score a try in the same spot as the visitors' earlier touchdown.

With halftime approaching, a quickly taken tap penalty saw Heriot's gain a huge chunk of territory to threaten the Selkirk line, and only a brilliant try-saving tackle on fly-half Richard Mill by Ross Armstrong prevented the city team from taking the lead. The sides turned round with Selkirk 15-12 ahead.

With the slight breeze at their backs and the slope in their favour, a barrage of line kicks by Scott Tomlinson and Fraser Harkness kept Heriot's pinned in their own half before Selkirk went further ahead in the 50th minute. Lee Jones' break down the left was carried on by Andrew Renwick, and moments later Tomlinson floated a beautifully judged 10-metre pass to Ross Armstrong wide on the right, and the centre plunged over the line for his first try of the season. Cassidy's peach of a conversion put the Souters 22-12 ahead.

Gavin Craig replaced stand-off Michael Rutherford on the hour-mark, and his clever break down the left flank set up a scoring chance for Scott Hendrie, who - despite intense pressure from a handful of Heriot's players - somehow managed to keep his cool (and more importantly the ball) to score the home team's bonus point try.

In the final 15 minutes of the match Heriot's threw everything at Selkirk in a desperate attempt to claw their way back into the game, but the thin blue line held firm, and a second well struck penalty from the boot of David Cassidy set the seal on a highly satisfying victory.

CLEAN BREAK. Stand-off Michael Rutherford bursts clear to score Selkirk's opening try at Philiphaugh on Saturday. (Photos: Grant Kinghorn)

SELKIRK - F. Harkness, S. Hendrie, D. Cassidy, R. Armstrong, L. Jones, M. Rutherford, M. McVie, G. Patterson, D. Grieve, R. Taylor, R. Aglen, S. Willet, A. Renwick, N. Darling, S. Tomlinson. Replacements: G. Craig, D. Moussa, S. Forrest, C. Johnston, M. Murray.

Referee - A. Ireland (Grangemouth)