Biggar 17, Selkirk 20


LEFT - Selkirk full-back Fraser Harkness makes another break in Saturday's RBS National League match against Biggar at Hartree Mill. Selkirk won the game 20-17. RIGHT - Lock forward Matt Kissick burrows over the line for Selkirk's second try.

LEFT - Selkirk prop Cata Graur makes ground upfield, watched by team-mate Mikey Davies. RIGHT - Skipper Gavin Craig on the charge for the visitors. [Photos: GRANT KINGHORN]

TRAILING 17-3 early in the second half, it looked as though Selkirk's chances of ending their four-match losing streak in Saturday's rearranged RBS National League game against Biggar at Hartree Mill were slim. However, a spirited fightback late in the contest saw the visitors run out 20-17 winners - Rory Banks' injury-time drop-goal sealing a dramatic victory.
"Before the match I asked the boys to show what they were made of," Selkirk head coach Brian Cassidy said after the final whistle, "and that's exactly what they did. Ross Nixon played almost the entire game with a broken thumb, and for me that epitomises what this club is all about.
"The players' commitment was first class, and demonstrated that there's no such thing as a 'meaningless fixture'. Pulling on a Selkirk jersey is always special, and today our players showed just how much it means to them."
The early omens didn't look good for the visitors, with wing Darren Clapperton suffering an accidental leg injury in the warm-up which ruled him out of the game. His place went to replacement Rory Banks, which meant Ross Nixon staying on the pitch despite having broken his thumb.
With conditions ideal for running rugby, both sides showed a willingness to spread the ball wide, Biggar full-back Amo Wilbore making significant ground every time he was in possession, with brother Hato's thumping line kicks pinning Selkirk back in their own territory.
For the visitors, Angus Duckett and Ryan Crockatt were in an equally positive frame of mind, both running hard at the home defence whenever the opportunity arose, while full-back Fraser Harkness almost put the Souters ahead from a typically storming run.
However, it was the home side who struck first, referee Colin Reavely awarding a penalty try after the visitors' scrum disintegrated after being shunted back at a rate of knots under the shadow of their own posts. Amo Wilbore added the simple conversion.
Selkirk quickly regrouped, and a tap penalty by Harkness saw prop Cata Graur held up over the line. Nixon then made light of his heavily strapped thumb to gain ground for the visitors, and a deliberate knock-on by Conor Lavery - following Ewan MacDougall's break - saw Rory Banks cut the deficit from a well-judged penalty.
Just before halftime Wilbore cancelled out this kick with a penalty of his own, after a 60-metre counter-attack by Biggar saw the home side come within an ace of scoring - Rory Banks' last-ditch tackle saving the day for the Philiphaugh men. Halftime score - Biggar 10, Selkirk 3.
Hardly had the whistle blown for the start of the second half than Biggar stretched their lead to 14 points. A raking kick to Selkirk's left-hand corner saw the visitors fail to clear their lines, and turnover ball allowed flanker Gary Lowrie to sprint over for an opportunist try. Wilbore's conversion put Biggar firmly in control at 17-3.
This proved the turning point for Selkirk, with Matt Kissick, Gavin Craig and Angus Duckett all combining well to take play deep into Biggar territory. A yellow card for home lock Grant Owens in the 50th minute injected fresh life into the Selkirk pack, but some stoic defending by Biggar frustrated the visitors' efforts to capitalise on having an extra man.
Andrew Renwick then won turnover ball to put Selkirk on the front foot, with good line breaks by Harkness and Duckett continuing to put pressure on the home defenders. However, line-out errors and knock-ons in open play prevented Selkirk from turning this pressure into points.
Entering the final 10 minutes of the match, a second yellow card - this time shown to Biggar front row replacement Michael Rutherford - proved crucial in tipping the game's balance the visitors' way.
Despite losing a strike against the head close to the home try line, Selkirk secured line-out ball through Andrew Renwick, and from the rolling maul Angus Duckett was able to peel away and score the visitors' first try. Banks' successful conversion cut the deficit to 17-10.
Straight from the restart another break by Gavin Craig allowed Craig MacDougall to chip the ball into the home dead ball area, and although a home defender just beat Rory Banks to the touchdown, the resultant scrum saw Gavin Craig make ground on the right before off-loading to Matt Kissick, who managed to scramble over for Selkirk's second try. Banks' conversion tied the scores at 17-17.
With the match moving into injury time, Harkness' surging break down the right touchline was kept alive by Scott Hendrie, and at the next ruck Rory Banks stepped back into the pocket to take scrum-half Mikey Davies' long pass and send over the match-winning drop goal.
The full-time whistle sounded soon afterwards, guaranteeing Selkirk a final position of fourth in the RBS National League.