Selkirk 16, Hawick 7


LEFT –Josh Welsh celebrates his recall to the Selkirk team by scoring the Souters’ first try in Saturday’s RBS Border Regional Cup match against Hawick at Philiphaugh. Selkirk won the game 16-7. RIGHT – Full-back Fraser Harkness looks for an exit strategy as four Hawick defenders close in. [Photos: Grant Kinghorn]

LEFT – Selkirk lock Matt Kissick manages to keep his feet despite being tackled by Hawick number eight Keith Davies. RIGHT – Selkirk vice-president John Rutherford presents the Four Seasons Forestry ‘Selkirk Man of the Match’ award to prop Cata Graur at the end of the match. [Photos: Grant Kinghorn]

SELKIRK maintained their unbeaten record in this season’s RBS Regional Cup competition with a tense victory over Hawick at Philiphaugh on Saturday. The win puts the Souters within touching distance of the national quarter-finals, which will see Scotland’s four British & Irish Cup representatives join the country’s four regional section winners in the draw.
The Souters’ final cup fixture is against Peebles at The Gytes on Saturday, February 2, and Selkirk skipper Gavin Craig, for one, is eagerly looking forward to the match. “It’s a while since Selkirk has had a good cup run, so all the boys are really chuffed to be still in the hunt and will give it our best shot to go through the competition unbeaten.
“We made life hard for ourselves in Saturday’s game by not taking chances when they came. Hawick are always a difficult team to beat, so credit has to go to our forwards for competing so well when we were down to 13 men at the start of the second half. We got stronger as the game wore on, and it was good to get the win for our supporters, who’ve really got behind the boys this season.”
The home team’s cause wasn’t helped by the concession of a stream of penalties throughout the match, although ironically it was the yellow card shown to Hawick forward Hue Scammell for obstruction at a ruck that allowed Selkirk to put their first points on the board.
Although Michael McVie missed the penalty chance afforded by the dismissal, Selkirk soon exploited their extra man advantage. Good clear-up work by Ross Nixon resulted in a penalty being awarded to the home side which Josh Welsh booted into touch just outside the Greens’ 22.
From the line-out Cata Graur managed to grab the ricocheting ball and take play close to the visitors’ line. A few phases later Gavin Craig broke wide and threw out a long pass to Josh Welsh, and the strong-running 19-year-old wing did well to hold off a couple of defenders and touch the ball down for a try in the right-hand corner.
Buoyed by this breakthrough, Selkirk launched a series of attacks through Fraser Harkness and Darren Clapperton, but Hawick’s defence proved equal to the task. Moments later visiting centre Lee Armstrong was unlucky to knock on when going for an interception which would almost certainly have produced a score.
On the half- hour mark Steven Renwick notched up his 100th senior appearance for Selkirk when taking the field to replace Clément Lacour, who required two stitches in a head wound. A line-out steal by Ryan Crockatt led to Nixon breaking clean up the middle of the field, but at the ruck Graur was penalised for not releasing. Backchat to the referee gained the visitors an extra 10 metres, and the halftime whistle sounded with Selkirk 5-0 ahead.
The home team started the second half strongly, with Angus Duckett bursting downfield and skipper Gavin Craig carrying on the move, but a turnover allowed Hawick to clear their lines.
In the 46th minute home scrum-half Michael McVie received a yellow card for what referee Gary Gordon deemed a dangerous tackle, and within minutes he was joined in the sin-bin by team-mate Scott Hendrie, after the centre was penalised for coming in from the side at a ruck.
Sensibly opting for a scrum rather than a kick at goal, Hawick skipper Greg Cottrell spotted a gap in Selkirk’s stretched back division and scampered over for a try in the left-hand corner. Lee Armstrong’s touchline conversion just cleared the bar to put the greens 7-5 in front.
Down to just 13 men for the next four minutes, Selkirk’s players raised their game - the home forwards in particular preventing the visitors from spreading the ball wide with some fierce close-quarter tackling plus good line-out work by Andrew Renwick.
A reversed penalty allowed the newly returned McVie a chance to put Selkirk ahead, but his attempt was off-target. Soon afterwards, Scott Hendrie did manage to send his penalty attempt straight between the posts, edging the home team back in front 8-7.
In the 67th minute Clément Lacour gathered a loose ball to set up another Selkirk attack, and following Gavin Craig’s sharp break down the left flank, Angus Duckett popped up in support to sprint over the line for the home team’s second try of the afternoon and a 13-7 lead.
For the remainder of the match Selkirk began to call almost all the shots. Ewan MacDougall and Matt Kissick combined well to send first Scott Hendrie and then Darren Clapperton on mazy runs deep into Hawick territory. However, the home team suffered a setback eight minutes from time when flanker Callum Johnston had to be helped from the field after straining knee ligaments.
Another dazzling run by Darren Clapperton set alarm bells ringing in the Hawick defence, and when a visiting forward gave away a penalty just outside the Greens’ 22, Hendrie stepped up to send over his second successful penalty and make the game safe.
Hawick battled gamely to the end, and only a last-ditch tackle by Neil Darling on visiting skipper Greg Cottrell prevented a Hawick score. A strike against the head by Selkirk’s talented young hooker James Bett allowed Fraser Harkness a final surge downfield, but Hawick managed to snuff out the danger and referee Gordon’s whistle sounded soon afterwards to signal the end of the match.
Selkirk prop Cata Graur was named the Four Seasons Forestry ‘Selkirk Man of the Match’ for his solid scrummage work and effective ball-carrying. Selkirk has no scheduled fixture this Saturday, January 19.
SELKIRK: F. Harkness, J. Welsh, S. Hendrie, R. Nixon, D. Clapperton, G. Craig, M. McVie, C. Lacour, J. Bett, C. Graur, A. Renwick, M. Kissick, N. Darling, A. Duckett, R. Crockatt. Reps: R. Banks, C. Johnston, E. MacDougall, S. Renwick, M. Waldron.

HAWICK: N. McColm, G. Anderson, G. Johnstone, L. Armstrong, S. Anderson, G. Hogg, G. Cottrell, A. Williamson, H. Scammell, M. Landels, D. Lowrie, K. Willison, S. Muir, N. Mactaggart, K. Davies. Reps: L. Gibson, L. Launders, A. Weir, J. Tinlin.

Referee – Gary Gordon (Dollar).