Hawick YM 14, Selkirk 21

SELKIRK STRUGGLE IN EDGY CUP CONTEST AS FIRED-UP REDSKINS GO ON THE WARPATH

LEFT – Selkirk outside centre Scott Hendrie finds himself under pressure in Saturday’s RBS Border Regional Cup match against Hawick YM at Mansfield Haugh. Selkirk won a tight contest 21-14. RIGHT – Darren Clapperton streaks home for his 13th try of the season.

SELKIRK came perilously close on Saturday to losing their unbeaten record in this season’s RBS Border Regional Cup. In a bruising encounter at Mansfield Haugh, the visitors never got the measure of a more physically committed and street-wise Hawick YM team, who grew in confidence as the game progressed.
It had all looked so different in the opening stages of the match, with Selkirk racing to a 14-0 lead after just eight minutes. However, instead of building on this advantage, the visiting players appeared to lose focus, allowing the Redskins to take the upper hand - capitalising on a steady stream of errors by Selkirk and gaining big yardage from a rash of penalties conceded by the visitors.
Playing into the strong wind in the first half, it was Selkirk who made the stronger start. After six minutes a drive by Cata Graur resulted in quick ruck ball for Gavin Craig, who broke clean through the middle and gave a scoring pass to Darren Clapperton. The wing finished the move by racing between the posts to notch his 13th try of the season. Michael McVie added the conversion.
Within a couple of minutes the visitors struck again. Neil Darling made good ground up the right-hand side of the field, and when the ball reached Scott Hendrie the nippy centre sprinted up the right touchline. Fraser Harkness was up in support, and after taking Hendrie’s off-load, the full-back powered past two defenders to score. Once again McVie’s conversion sailed over to put the visitors 14-0 ahead.
Soon afterwards YM put their first points on the scoreboard. Gregor Welsh’s monster 60-metre kick took play to inside Selkirk’s 22, and after Robson’s charge to the line had been stifled, Selkirk were penalised at the ensuing ruck. Home skipper Bruce Campbell immediately took a tapped penalty to himself, burrowing his way through a clutch of Selkirk defenders for a try. Welsh’s conversion drifted wide.
Errors then began to cost Selkirk dear as the Redskins began to raise the tempo. McVie and Banks were penalised for crossing - nullifying Andrew Renwick’s scrum pick-up - before Craig’s 40-metre break saw the visiting skipper’s final pass latched on to by ex-Selkirk player Ross Armstrong, who raced downfield before being stopped just short of the visitors’ 22.
With Selkirk continuing to struggle for set piece ball, YM pressed home their advantage. Three successful penalties from the boot of Gregor Welsh brought the scores level at 14-14 with 30 minutes on the clock.
At this stage of the match Selkirk brought on Ryan Crockatt for Clément Lacour, allowing number eight Andrew Renwick to move back to the second row. Not long afterwards the Redskins’ number eight Ryan Hogg was shown a yellow card, with Neil Darling following him into the sin-bin a couple of minutes later.
A minute before the interval Welsh had the chance to put YM into the lead from a penalty, but his attempt was off-target, leaving the halftime score tied at 14-14.
At the start of the second half Josh Welsh replaced Rory Banks on the visitors’ right wing, and the teenager almost made an immediate impact. His charge for the corner was stopped inches short of the home try line, and penalties against the visitors in quick succession took YM back up the field.
The introduction of prop Willie Blacklock from the home bench was putting Selkirk’s scrum under even more pressure, and good work by Matt Kissick at a line-out on YM’s 22 was nullified when the YM pack pushed the visiting forwards off their own scrum ball.
Even with the wind at their backs, Selkirk were finding it hard to break down the Redskins’ defence, and penalty misses by McVie in the 61st and 62nd minutes meant the scores were still level going into the final quarter.
The game’s turning point came in bizarre fashion. McCracken’s 22 drop-out kick was blown back towards the YM’s right winger, whose fumble allowed Scott Hendrie to hack the loose ball over the home try line and dive on it to register the visitors’ third try. McVie’s conversion put Selkirk 21-14 ahead.
The final stages of the game were played out in the visitors’ half, with YM applying constant pressure and Selkirk’s players grimly defending their try line. Just when it looked as though the Redskins were going to make the decisive breakthrough, Selkirk openside Angus Duckett saved the day with a timely turnover under his own goalposts, allowing Michael McVie to boot the ball downfield.
The final whistle sounded after Fraser Harkness had gratefully kicked the ball dead, ending what had been an uncomfortable afternoon for the men from Philiphaugh.

LEFT – Selkirk flanker Neil Darling gets to grips with a Redskins player, while team-mates Angus Duckett, Darren Clapperton and Ryan Crockatt are ready to lend support. RIGHT – Full-back Fraser Harkness heads for the try line to put Selkirk 12-0 up in Saturday’s cup match after eight minutes. [Photos: Grant Kinghorn].

SELKIRK: F. Harkness, R. Banks, S. Hendrie, R. Nixon, D. Clapperton, G. Craig, M. McVie, S. Renwick, J. Bett, C. Graur, C. Lacour, M. Kissick, N. Darling, A. Duckett, A. Renwick. Reps: J. Welsh, E. MacDougall, R. Crockatt, M. Waldron, E. Turner.
HAWICK YM: G. Welsh, M. Graham, G. Kellington, R. Armstrong, S. Hill, D. McCracken, B. Campbell, A. Williamson, G. Douglas, A. Turnbull, B. Thomson, S. Mabon, C. Robson, D. Cowan, R. Hogg. Replacements: G. Wylie, R. McLeod, B. Lilly, W. Blacklock.
Referee – Colin Reavely (Gala).