Stewarts Mellville 21 Selkirk 20



Selkirk set themselves the daunting task of beating league leaders Stewarts Melville away from home if they were to achieve a top four finish. In the end they failed but it was by the narrowest of margins to a last minute penalty. It had all looked so different at half time as Selkirk led by 17 to 3 but they let the second half slip away as Stewarts Melville came back to win 21 to 20.
Selkirk took to the field with the same line up as last week with skipper Neil Darling, Scott Hendrie, Ciaran Beattie and Andrew Renwick still missing. It was a bright sunny day with little or no wind as the teams kicked off.
Selkirk got off to a dream start scoring a try within the first five minutes. From a free kick awarded in the Stewarts Melville twenty two, the ball was quickly passed along the line from Aglen to Nixon for Craig to break through and score. David Cassidy added the conversion to give Selkirk a 7 nil lead. Stewarts Melville looked anything but league leaders as the Selkirk forwards harried them into mistakes with aggressive play in ruck and maul. The Selkirk back division was also in fluent form with clever kicks notably by half backs McVie and Craig keeping pressure on the Stewarts Melville defence. In the 23rd minute Cassidy added a penalty and just before half time Clapperton scored Selkirk's second try. A McVie kick into twenty two caused problems in the Stewarts Melville defence and Selkirk broke through with foraging runs from Aglen, Johnston and Patterson before Clapperton went over to score. Cassidy converted to give Selkirk a 17 to 3 lead, Hanning having kicked a first half penalty for the home side.
The second half was an entirely different affair. Stewarts Melville started very aggressively pinning Selkirk back. Selkirk's fluency and team work of the first half seemed to desert them not helped by some poor kicking and a habit of giving away possession too readily. This allowed Stewarts Melville to come more and more into the game showing the fluency and form expected of league leaders. Selkirk's demise was not helped by a yellow card for Clapperton on the 55th minute and two missed penalties.
The Stewarts Melville pressure began to tell when after a fluent move involving backs and forwards Lean scored after 50 minutes with Hanning adding the conversion. With twenty minutes to go Stewarts Melville were awarded a penalty which they kicked into touch in the corner. From the ensuing lineout their forwards drove over for Hare to score. With ten minutes to go Hanning added a penalty to give Stewarts Melville the lead for the first time at 18 to 17. With 7 minutes to go Selkirk rallied and after pressure resulting from a Marshall charge down were awarded a penalty. Cassidy kicked the points to give Selkirk a 20 to 18 lead. With time running out Stewarts Melville continued to press the Selkirk defence. Despite some valiant defending notably a timely Banks interception the Stewarts Melville pressure continued. In the last minute the referee awarded a penalty to Stewarts Melville which Hanning converted to give Stewarts Mellvile a 21 to 20 victory.
It was a disappointing day for Selkirk but one from which they can take a great deal of pride in losing so narrowly to the league leaders. Life does not get any easier for Selkirk as the run of four away games continues next week at Hawick then at Jedforest.