Selkirk 39, Kelso 11
CLAPPERTON HAT-TRICK SETS SEAL ON CONVINCING CUP WIN IN THIRD MATCH AGAINST KELSO
A ROUSING second half performance by Selkirk steered them to victory in Saturday's RBS Border Regional Cup tie against Kelso at Philiphaugh. It was the third time the Souters have defeated the Tweedsiders this season, and the match produced three tries for Selkirk wing Darren Clapperton.
Both sides showed several changes from their usual starting line-ups, each coach using this non-league contest to blood a clutch of up-and-coming youngsters. Selkirk coach Brian Cassidy, for one, was pleased by what he saw.
"All credit to Kelso for pushing us so hard in the first half. Our players knew they needed to show more discipline, urgency and control after the break. We didn't try to force things as much in the later stages of the game, and as a result things began to fall into place.
"I thought the young players we brought into the side all acquitted themselves well, with teenagers Michael Waldron and James Bett coping well in the front row. These boys need game time at this level to see what senior rugby is all about, and they'll have benefitted from the experience."
With no fewer than seven changes from the side who 'd won at Hamilton the previous week, Kelso still made all the early running in Saturday's match - the home team's frustrating habit of kicking away possession, allied to a misfiring line-out, being punished by the visitors.
The Black & Whites took the lead in the fifth minute through a Murray Hastie penalty, but Michael McVie replied in kind soon afterwards to level the scores, following good work by Angus Duckett in the loose.
It looked as though Selkirk would go in front when Matt Kissick broke clean up the middle. The move was carried on by Clapperton, but hopes of a try evaporated when prop Cata Graur - who had an impressive game - saw his off-load blocked by a Kelso defender.
The visitors went ahead after 24 minutes when tighthead prop Stuart Lawrie burst down the blindside following steady pressure from the Kelso pack, romping over the line for a well deserved try. Hastie missed the conversion but was successful with a 35th minute penalty to stretch Kelso's lead to 11-3.
Just before the interval Kelso's Gregg Minto was given a yellow-card at a ruck close to the visitors' try line. Selkirk upped their game at this point, skipper Gavin Craig's break up the left flank almost producing a score for Rory Banks in the corner.
In the last play of the half, the home scrum managed to win a strike against the head and after Graur was stopped a metre short of the line, the ever-alert Matt Kissick gathered the ball and was driven over for Selkirk's first try. McVie's conversion made the halftime score Selkirk 10, Kelso 11.
Halftime changes saw Duckett replaced by Ryan Crockatt and Banks giving way to teenager Kieran Monks.
Several powerful runs by Fraser Harkness kept the visitors' defence at full stretch, and following a quickly taken tap penalty the ball passed through several pairs of Selkirk hands before flanker Callum Johnston burrowed his way over for the home team's second try.
At this point Selkirk brought on Steven Renwick and Eddie Turner for Michael Waldron and Alan Lambie respectively, and the new urgency in the home side's play was epitomised by Darren Clapperton, who threw himself into a ruck to secure turnover ball. A massive hit by Ryan Crockatt on a Kelso runner underlined Selkirk's new focus.
To the home supporters' delight, Selkirk continued to raise the tempo. Another surge by Harkness was carried on by Scott Hendrie, and only a brave last-ditch tackle by a Kelso defender prevented Michael McVie scoring.
Backchat by a visiting player at the next penalty award produced an extra 10 metres for McVie, and the scrum-half landed his fourth successful goal-kick to put the Philiphaugh men 20-11 in front with 67 minutes on the clock.
In the contest's final 10 minutes Selkirk scored two further tries through Darren Clapperton to cement a convincing win. The first followed Johnston's chip into Kelso's 22, which saw Ross Nixon scoop the ricocheting ball back between his legs to Hendrie, who sent Clapperton in at the corner.
In injury time a spilled ball by a Kelso player in front of the stand saw Ryan Crockatt gather cleanly and feed Darren Clapperton, who shrugged off the attentions of a defender to race 50 metres and seal an impressive hat-trick of tries. McVie's conversion attempt from the left-hand touchline rebounded back off the post - his only miss from seven attempts at goal.
Saturday's win should give Selkirk's players a lift, as they prepare to do battle with Premier League pacesetters Gala in a Booker Border League match at Netherdale on Friday night.
SELKIRK: R. Banks, S. Hendrie, F. Harkness, R.
Nixon, D. Clapperton , G. Craig, M. McVie, M. Waldron, J. Bett, C. Graur, A. Lambie, M. Kissick, C. Johnston, A.
Duckett, E. MacDougall. Reps: K. Monks, S. Forrest, S. Renwick, R. Crockatt, E. Turner.
KELSO: W. Massey, G. Millar, C. Brown, A. Alexander, G. Minto, M. Hastie, A. Cameron, P). Grahamslaw, C. Riddell, S. Lowrie, D. Seed, A. Wallace, M. Robertson, J. Stewart, S. MacColl. Reps: A. Marsh, A. Wolf, D. Gillespie, T. Wilson, J. Pick.
Referee - Iain Heard (Gala).