It was back to the reality of league rugby at Philiphaugh on Saturday and visitors Whitecraigs, who are based in Newton Mearns on the south side of Glasgow, proved to be tough opposition. Last weekend they defeated Hamilton in the RBS Cup and in recent years Glasgow pros, Jon Welsh and Ed Kalman came through their impressive youth system.
Selkirk started brightly and an early break down the middle by No8 Callum Marshall soon tested out the Whitecraigs defence. A counter attack by the visitors No8 Ben Blamire stung the Selkirk defence into action. His blind-side charge gained 40 metres and created a confidence booster for their bulky pack. The Souters looked dangerous with ball in hand and centre David Cassidy's incisive break led to a penalty opportunity which he coolly turned into three points with 10 minutes played. Selkirk created several try scoring opportunities but the Whitecraigs defence was up to the task. Fraser Harkness, Pete Mirrielees Darren Clapperton and Niall Godsmark were all close to scoring but were thwarted by some first class tackling. The visitors had a chance to draw level after 25 minutes but full-back, Stephen Gillies struck the upright with his penalty attempt from 30 metres out.
Despite their territorial advantage in the opening half hour, Selkirk were not turning pressure into points although, to their credit, the resolute Whitecraigs defence was proving to be a hard nut to crack. However, with 35 minutes on the clock, the home team made the breakthrough. From a scrum out wide, 5 metres from the try line, Callum Marshall picked up and weaved over for a fine try. For once the Whitecraigs defence had made an error and they were punished when Cassidy brought out full points with the conversion. The Selkirk centre kicked his 2nd successful penalty just before half-time to give the Souters a deserved 13-0 lead at the interval.
On resumption of play Whitecraigs enjoyed a period of pressure But the Selkirk forwards and backs were swift to retaliate with exciting runs by Mirrielees, Gavin Craig, Harkness, Ross Nixon and Clapperton. A high tackle offence gave Cassidy another long range penalty chance which he thumped over, straight and true, from nearly the half-way line. As the match entered the final quarter, 2nd row forward, Andrew Renwick showed excellent skills with a neat pick-up interception after Craig's kick ahead put the visitors' defenders in a muddle. Renwick brushed aside a couple of opponents and strode over for his side's 2nd try and the score line of 21-0 in Selkirk's favour was probably a fair reflection of play. To their credit, Whitecraigs put in a storming final 10 minutes and Selkirk had to defend like Trojans. The Glasgow side were determined to get a consolation score and pummeled the Selkirk line time after time. It must have pleased the Selkirk coaches, Ali Dickson and Ewen Robbie that the defence held firm and left Whitecraigs with a blank points total. This was a hard earned victory for Selkirk which leaves them leading the RBS Premier C league by 5 points from Kelso. There is little doubt that Whitecraigs will prove to be problematic for any team visiting West Lodge.