SELKIRK 31 MELROSE 21

Maybe a "friendly" game between Selkirk and Melrose meant nothing in terms of league status and maybe both teams were under strength thanks to the Friday night Scotland Club XV v France game plus injuries, but both teams served up an entertaining, fast flowing game of rugby for the spectators at Philiphaugh. Eight tries were scored and the vast majority were out of the top drawer. Melrose were missing several regulars but so too were Selkirk as the game kicked off in fine conditions with the breeze favouring the home team. After only 5 minutes Selkirk's Gavin Craig made a telling break to feed Michael Rutherford at good angle and his finely executed pass sent winger Callum McColm sailing in for the opening try. In the absence of the prolific goal kicker, David Cassidy, scrum half Michael McVie converted to bring out full points. Selkirk, playing with wind advantage, were serving up good open rugby and winger Niall Godsmark threatened with a chip kick which he gathered and nearly breached the Melrose defence. Melrose stand-off Andrew Skeen proved to be the playmaker for the visitors and he set off from deep in his own 22 on a 70 metres run which ultimately resulted in a penalty try being awarded by referee Malcolm Changleng. Skeen's offload in the tackle to a supporting player was apparently adjudged to have been fouled by a Selkirk defender barging into prevent a try. Skeen easily brought the scores level at 7 apiece at the end of the first quarter.
Selkirk's fly-half Gavin Craig then left Melrose for dead with an individual try which had class written all over it. He left at least four defenders flat-footed with a mesmerising run which ended over the whitewash and between the posts. McVie added the easy conversion. Andrew Skeen was always looking sharp for Melrose and he sparked off the move from well inside his own half which resulted in No 6 Ross Ovens storming over for the visitor's second try. Clinically and into the wind, Skeen converted from the touch line. 14-14 after the first quarter and the crowd was being well entertained. The next try went to Melrose after a comedy of errors. A thudding fly hack by winger Callum Wilde saw a kind bounce into the hands of Skeen who turned the game into Melrose's favour as he ran in under the posts leaving him with a simple conversion. Three yellow cards and a penalty try signalled that the "friendly" game was turning out to be anything but friendly! Selkirk's Ryan Crockatt was brought down just short of the line as Selkirk continued to play an expansive game. All credit to Melrose for defending well and finishing ahead by 21-14 at half time. Selkirk had squandered at least a couple of try scoring opportunities and must have been worried not to have capitalised with the elements in their favour.
Playing into the wind in the second half, Selkirk struck an early blow when Niall Godsmark finished off a fine break by the impressive Callum Marshall with a try created from the minimum of space. He squeezed over in the corner much to everyone's amazement. For the next twenty minutes of the game, Melrose kept Selkirk pinned back in their own half. They enjoyed territorial advantage and were putting the Selkirk scrum under pressure. As the game entered the final quarter it seemed as though Melrose would control events. However, with 15 minutes to go, Selkirk eventually worked their way into the Melrose half with some fine play from their tiny backs line. Perhaps small in stature, but packed with natural rugby skills. Gavin Craig then stamped his class on the game by jinking and crossing under the posts for his second try of the afternoon. McVie's conversion meant that Selkirk were now ahead by 26 points to 21. During the final 10 minutes, it was all Selkirk and their fifth try was scored by Scott Hendrie returning to the team after injury. All credit to both teams for serving up a thrilling 80 minutes with expansive rugby to the fore. Selkirk remain undefeated in 2012 and enjoy the bragging rights over the probable Scottish Champions having won twice against them in the space of eight weeks. Borders derbies certainly make for great entertainment.