Selkirk 19, Gala 10

Selkirk players' fighting spirit wins the day in epic Border League clash with Gala

NICE ONE BANKSY! Selkirk lock Simon Willet pats 'Man of the Match' Rory Banks on the head as skipper Neil Darling leads the Selkirk team off the pitch following Tuesday night's 19-10 win over Gala at Philiphaugh.

SELKIRK reignited their season in spectacular style at Philiphaugh on Tuesday night with a hard-fought 19-10 victory over Gala. The result throws Pool 'B' in this season's Radio Borders Border League Championship wide open, and gives the Souters a chance to reach their fifth consecutive play-off final.
The Maroons came to Philiphaugh knowing that victory over their old rivals would guarantee them a place in the 2011 final against Pool 'A' winners Melrose. However, defending champions Selkirk had other ideas, and after a bruising 80 minutes it was the home players who emerged with the spoils.
No-one was happier than Selkirk fly-half Rory Banks, who had been called into the side at the 11th hour as a late replacement for Gavin Craig. The 19-year-old scored all of his team's points from a try, four penalties and a conversion - a feat which won him the Four Seasons Forestry 'Man of the Match' award.
"This has to be the highlight of my career," the young threequarter commented after the final whistle. "The team has really come together these past few weeks, and it's great that we've now got the chance to make the final if we can win our three remaining matches, which are all going to be really tough."
Another young player who showed his mettle on the night was centre Craig MacDougall, a late replacement for Darren Clapperton. The 21-year-old tackled himself to a standstill to keep the visitors' back division in check, and almost got his name on the score sheet with a 40-metre kick-and-chase effort late in the game.
But it is unfair to single out any of Selkirk's 20-man squad for special praise, as this victory was first and foremost a team effort. "We knew we had this kind of performance in us," said skipper Neil Darling, "and it's only a pity it has come so late in the season.
"Winning the Border League these last three years means a hell of a lot to the club, and I think everybody could see that passion out there tonight. We've now got our destiny in our own hands, and while nobody's counting any chickens, there's now a real incentive to keep up this momentum over the remaining three matches."
Both sides gave their all in a no-holds-barred contest, with referee David Crudge issuing a total of three yellow cards during the match - to Selkirk number eight Andrew Renwick, and to Gala forwards Gary Graham and Craig Hogg.
Playing with the strong breeze at their backs in the first half, Gala took the lead in the fourth minute from a Craig Dods penalty. However, the Maroons failed to exploit the conditions, preferring to run the ball at Selkirk's makeshift back division rather than kick for position deep in their opponents' territory. The halftime whistle blew with Gala 3-0 ahead.
Selkirk quickly levelled the scores from a Rory Banks penalty, and scrum-half Michael McVie's kept up the pressure with a series of high box kicks. The home side took the lead in dramatic fashion when Banks intercepted Bruce Dick's intended pass to Euan Dods in the 49th minute, racing from the 10-metre line to score under the posts. His conversion put Selkirk 10-3 ahead.
Eight minutes later Gala drew level. Fly-half Bruce Dick kept his composure after a high tackle from Rory Aglen to scramble his way over for a try close by the right-hand post. Craig Dods converted to keep Gala in the hunt at 10-10.
With both sides using their full complement of replacements in the final quarter of the game, it was Selkirk who gradually gained the upper hand thanks to a magnificent effort by their forwards, who took the game to their bigger opponents time and time again. This pressure resulted in the awarding of three penalties, with Rory Banks keeping his nerve to convert all three, so putting the result beyond the visitors' reach.

HIGH-FLYER. Selkirk's Rory Aglen wins another line-out in Tuesday night's match at Philiphaugh.
(Photos: Grant Kinghorn)

PASS MASTER. Selkirk's teenage fly-half Rory Banks launches his threequarter line as the home side piles on the pressure.

NO WAY PAST. Selkirk wing Nyle Godsmark battles to keep possession as Gala's defenders try to win back the ball.

SELKIRK - C. Beattie, N. Godsmark, R. Nixon, C. MacDougall, J. Hendrie, R. Banks, M. McVie, R. Taylor, S. Forrest, M. Weller, R. Aglen, R. Crockatt, N. Darling, A. Renwick. Replacements: D. Scott, M. Martin, C. Marshall, M. Murray, R. Godsmark.
GALA - C. Dods, G. Young, L. Kibble, E. Dods, F. Hunter, B. Dick, G. Graham, L. Pettie, E. McQuillan, C. Hogg, D. Marshall, O. Palepoi, G. Haurua, G. Graham, T. Weir. Replacements: L. Roden, D. Hughes, S. Cairns, S. Law, G. Campbell.
Referee - David Crudge (Hawick).