Selkirk 13, Hillhead Jordanhill 6


LEFT – Mud-soaked Matt Kissick carries ball during Saturday’s RBS National League game against Hillhead-Jordanhill at Victoria Park. Team-mate Angus Duckett gets ready to lend support. Selkirk won a hard-fought match 13-6. RIGHT – Try scorer Darren Clapperton in the thick of the action on Saturday, watched by team-mate Steven Renwick.

A GUTSY display in atrocious conditions saw Selkirk’s fired-up players edge out an equally combative Hillhead-Jordanhill side in Saturday’s RBS National League game at Victoria Park. This was the Souters’ second victory in the space of six days, and lifts them to fourth spot in the league.
Heavy overnight rain on Friday had left the Philiphaugh surface unplayable in places, but Selkirk Youth Club saved the day by giving permission for the match to be switched to its pitch at the Haugh. Despite persistent rain and a cold, blustery wind throughout the game, both teams made light of the slippery surface and served up a gripping contest.
“I was really pleased with the way the boys stuck in,” Selkirk skipper Gavin Craig said after the match. “Those were some of the worst conditions I’ve experienced, but everyone just got on with the job and never took a backward step. To be fair Hillhead were just as committed, and the result could have gone either way.”
Both sides had to make late changes to their line-ups. Selkirk full-back Fraser Harkness and scrum-half Michael McVie failed fitness tests, so Lewis MacLennan and Mikey Davies were called into the squad. Visiting skipper Stuart Ross switched from openside flanker to hooker to replace Aidan Macmillan, while Craig Watson deputised at prop for the unavailable Joe Stafford.
With the breeze at their backs, it was Hillhead-Jordanhill who made the early running. The astute kicking of fly-half AJ Macfarlane kept the home team in their own half, with full-back Gus Twaddle making several telling intrusions into the line to keep Selkirk’s defence at full stretch.
Selkirk had the chance to open the scoring when Hills were penalised for collapsing a maul, but Scott Hendrie’s long-range attempt fell short. Rory Banks was then penalised for obstruction after his clearance kick had been charged down, and Twaddle made no mistake to put Hillhead 3-0 up.
In the 12th minute the visitors doubled their lead from a second Twaddle penalty, after Neil Darling had been penalised for not rolling away after the tackle. Hendrie cut the deficit to 6-3 soon afterwards when flanker Dougie Crichton was judged to have strayed offside at a ruck.
At this stage of proceedings it was the visitors who were adapting better to the muddy conditions, and it took a last-ditch tackle by Angus Duckett to stop centre Stuart Howie in his tracks with the home try line beckoning.
However, the Kiwi wing-forward turned sinner midway through the half, after being yellow-carded for a late challenge on visiting fly-half Macfarlane. His absence had the effect of galvanising the home pack, with Matt Kissick in particular showing outstanding form – stealing the ball at a Hillhead line-out before driving upfield to clear the danger, as the Glasgow team laid siege to Selkirk’s try line.
Powerful breaks by Neil Darling and Darren Clapperton then took play back into Hillhead’s half, and Duckett returned to the field without his side having conceded a point during his absence. Selkirk’s scrummaging was particularly strong, while scrum-half Mikey Davies turned in a five-star performance both in attack and in defensive duties.
Five minutes before the interval Ewan MacDougall came off the bench to replace Cata Graur, with Clément Lacour switching to the front row and Andrew Renwick moving to lock to allow MacDougall to take over at number eight.
With halftime looming, Selkirk struck a decisive blow. Gavin Craig’s break up the middle was carried on by Neil Darling, who in turn sent Scott Hendrie racing down the left-hand side of the field. Rory Banks was up in support to continue the attack, and in textbook fashion drew the last defender before sending Clapperton over in the corner for the game’s only try. Hendrie’s conversion sailed over to put Selkirk 10-6 ahead at the interval.
In the second half the visitors continued to pile on the pressure, but heroic defending by each member of the Selkirk team managed to stifle the Hillhead thrusts. A high tackle on Lewis MacLennan gave Hendrie the chance to stretch Selkirk’s lead in the 57th minute, but his penalty kick drifted left.
On the hour-mark a powerful burst by Clapperton saw the wing run past a clutch of defenders, and although Craig and Kissick were up in support to maintain the momentum, Hillhead managed to keep their line intact.
Selkirk stretched their lead to 13-6 following Hendrie’s second successful penalty in the 62nd minute, but Hillhead’s players never once gave up the fight and continued to press for the equalising score.
Four minutes from time a flare-up resulted in Andrew Renwick being yellow-carded, and for the remainder of the match the home players had to fight tooth and nail to preserve their narrow lead.
The final whistle blew to set the seal on another hard-fought Selkirk victory, but full credit goes to both sides for producing such a spirited game of rugby in such trying conditions.
Matt Kissick was later named as the Four Seasons Forestry ‘Selkirk Man of the Match’.

LEFT – Obscured by a clutch of Hillhead-Jordanhill defenders, Selkirk prop Cata Graur battles upfield in Saturday’s game. RIGHT – Taking a more civilised approach to the game under their brollies are Selkirk ex-president George Thomson (left) and Hillhead-Jordanhill ex-president John McLean. [Photos: Grant Kinghorn]

SELKIRK: R. Banks, C. McColm, S. Hendrie, R. Nixon, D. Clapperton, G. Craig, M. McVie, S. Renwick, S. Forrest, C. Graur, C. Lacour, M. Kissick, N. Darling, A. Duckett, A. Renwick. Reps: L. MacLennan, J. Bett, C. Johnston, E. MacDougall, E. Turner.
HILLHEAD-JORDANHILL: G. Twaddle, A. Leslie, S. Howie, R. Holland, C. Butler, AJ Macfarlane, D. Armstrong, C. Watson, S. Ross, C. Buchan, C. Tulloch, J. Agnew, D. Grove, D. Crichton, B. Macpherson. Replacements: C. Bryson, D. Paterson, S. Busby, L. McKinney, B. Mackenzie.

Referee – Colin Reavely (Gala).