Old adversaries, but also friends off the pitch, Selkirk and West locked horns at Philiphaugh in a match which would either confirm Selkirk's continuation in national rugby, or condemn West to other pastures. In the event, both outcomes materialised. Selkirk and West added a breath of fresh air when they were promoted to Premier 1 a few seasons ago and their policy of developing and playing local players, as much as possible, was commendable against the vogue of importing players by clubs with financial clout. Sadly and not necessarily for the good of Scottish rugby, both teams have slipped down a rung of the ladder. However, sustainability for the leading teams will be a telling factor in due course.
Philiphaugh was bathed in sunshine as the combatants entered the fray and the first ten minutes or so saw both teams cancelling each other out. Selkirk's team bore little resemblance to the one which started against Biggar the previous Saturday. Likewise, West had a few players missing through injury and Rome. Scrum half, Michael McVie opened the scoring for the Souters with a confidently struck penalty and he repeated his good work several minutes later when West infringed. Selkirk were looking threatening in attack and their enterprise was rewarded by a thundering try by backs coach, Ali Dickson, standing in as cover for missing players. Dickson finished off a move started by No 10 Michael Rutherford who proved to be an excellent link man throughout the proceedings. McVie converted to put Selkirk comfortably ahead at 13-0. Selkirk were playing enterprising rugby and it took a superb try saving tackle on the Selkirk prop Clement Lacour to deny a further score. To give West credit, they persevered to play expansive rugby and winger Mark Simm was full of running whenever he had the ball. Stand-off Ross McAulay also contributed with intention as the first half drew to a close. Local supporters were jubilant when Niall Godsmark capitalised on a forwards drive and showed a clean pair of heels to score a fine unconverted try. Selkirk's lead was 18-0 and all in the garden seemed rosy. However, anyone who has supported Selkirk over the years would not have been surprised when West had the last say in the first half. Selkirk failed to defend a speculative kick ahead and left winger, Mark Simm pounced to open the scoring for West with a try in the corner. 18-5 in Selkirk's favour, at the interval, was probably a fair reflection of play.
Blink and you would have missed West making it game on after the second half started in dramatic style. Suddenly, the visitors were right back in the game when prop forward, Steven Longwell crashed over the whitewash for West's second try, seconds after the restart. Ross McAulay converted and from being comfortably 18-0 ahead and coasting just prior to half time, Selkirk were now defending a meagre six points lead. However, Longwell's yellow card soon followed and Selkirk were back in the ascendency. With half an hour to go there was an almighty forwards drive by Selkirk and Andrew Renwick crossed over for a try which McVie converted. Dickson, Hendrie, Godsmark, Rutherford and McVie were all dangerous in attack, but skipper, Neil Darling was truly the man of the match. Time after time he put his body through the pain barrier to gain advantage for Selkirk. Forwards, Lacour, Mirrielees, Crockatt, Johnston, Renwick and Aglen also performed heroics against a competitive West outfit. Selkirk's bonus point try win came courtesy of Andrew Renwick's second try. Never-say-die West notched up their third try with No 8 Jamie McCaulay being credited with the touchdown. Ross McAulay converted but the final minutes were played out in West territory. This latest victory secures Selkirk's future in national league rugby in 2013 and their unbeaten run in 2012 continues. West will surely bounce back. They are a proud club, full of history and they will regroup to secure the place where they rightly belong in Scottish rugby before too long. We wish them well and salute them in contributing to a game producing seven tries. This game of open rugby was exactly the kind of spectacle that Scottish club rugby needs to attract spectators along on Saturday afternoons.