Peebles 17, Selkirk 24

CUP COMPETITION HAS SILVER LINING FOR SELKIRK, WITH HOME QUARTER-FINAL TIE NOW IN THE PIPELINE

THAT WINNING FEELING. The Selkirk coaching team of Brian Cassidy (left), Ewen Robbie and Ally Dickson (far right) pictured with skipper Gavin Craig after the cup presentation on Friday night. [Photo: Grant Kinghorn]

A FIRED-UP Peebles side pushed Selkirk all the way in Friday night’s RBS Border Regional Cup contest at The Gytes, but two tries by the visitors in the final quarter of the match were enough to preserve the Philiphaugh team’s unbeaten run in the competition and secure the trophy.
As one of Scotland’s four regional cup winners, Selkirk’s players have guaranteed the club a home tie in the RBS National Cup quarter-finals on Saturday, March 2, when they will face one of this season’s four British & Irish Cup representatives – Dundee HSFP, Gala, Melrose or Stirling County.
Going into Friday night’s game, Peebles had an outside chance of progressing into the national cup competition in their own right. A bonus point victory over Selkirk would mean they could still overhaul the Souters in the league table, if they were able to win all three of their remaining games.
And for a period at the start of the second half, with Peebles eight points clear of their opponents, such a scenario didn’t look out of the question. However, as they have been doing all season, Selkirk’s players showed great character in regaining the initiative and keeping the home team at arm’s length until the final whistle.
Although Peebles made the livelier start to the match, it was Selkirk who put the first points on the board thanks to two Michael McVie penalties in the sixth and 18th minutes.
The first came after Ryan Crockatt secured turnover ball and released back row colleague Angus Duckett, who in turn sent Fraser Harkness on a 40-metre burst down the left touchline. Although the Peebles cover eventually stifled the danger, an offside infringement allowed McVie the chance to land a successful penalty.
Peebles’ James Hemara was testing Selkirk’s defences with some strong running, and it took a fine tackle by Ryan Crockatt to halt the Kiwi centre’s progress. Andrew Renwick then secured turnover ball to release Harkness on another upfield surge, but again the home defenders proved equal to the task.
After 16 minutes Selkirk centre Scott Hendrie limped to the sidelines with a hamstring strain, his place being taken by teenager Lewis MacLennan. Straight away a penalty to Selkirk was moved 10 yards further forward by referee Graeme Wells because of backchat, allowing McVie to kick his second penalty.
In the 23rd minute Greg Raeburn was off-target with his first penalty attempt of the night. Following the 22 drop-out, Hemara again made a bee-line for the visitors’ try line, this time Ewan MacDougall making a great tackle to save the day.
A well-controlled rolling maul by the Selkirk pack took play deep into home territory, but at the next scrum Selkirk were penalised for collapsing and the chance was lost. The visitors found themselves at the wrong end of the referee’s whistle on a regular basis, with Peebles taking full advantage – skipper Warren Kearney giving a spirited lead from number eight.
On the half-hour mark Selkirk suffered a second injury blow when a painful ankle knock saw young wing Josh Welsh helped to the sidelines. As the visitors’ only backs replacement was already on the field, hooker James Bett was switched to the left wing for the remainder of the game, his place in the front row going to Stuart Forrest.
As halftime approached, Peebles took the lead in dramatic fashion. Michael McVie’s clearance kick was charged down, allowing Hemara to fly-hack the loose ball over the visitors’ line and score an opportunist try. Raeburn’s successful conversion put Peebles 7-6 ahead at the break.
Peebles continued to harry Selkirk at every turn as the second half got under way, with the visitors not helping their own cause by conceding a string of penalties. From a line-out close to the Selkirk line, a series of close-quarter drives by the Peebles forwards resulted in a 53rd minute try under the posts for prop Adam Clark. Donald Anderson’s conversion stretched Peebles’ lead to 14-6.
At his stage Clément Lacour was replaced in the front row by Michael Waldron, and almost immediately Michael McVie reduced the deficit with his third successful penalty.
Straight from the restart Matt Kissick burst through the home defence, off-loading to second row partner Andrew Renwick. Several phases later Ross Nixon came close to going over for the visitors’ first score.
The large travelling support finally had something to cheer about in the 58th minute, when a strike against the head five metres from the home try line allowed Ryan Crockatt to feed Gavin Craig, and the Selkirk fly-half showed great presence of mind to evade the clutches of two Peebles defenders and spin over the line for his team’s first try. McVie’s sweetly struck conversion put Selkirk back in front 16-14.
This score galvanised the Philiphaugh men, and after McVie had kicked his fourth penalty of the night, Selkirk stretched their lead to 24-14 with a try from Ryan Crockatt, set up by another storming run from Angus Duckett.
With eight minutes left on the clock, Peebles cut the deficit to seven points from Donald Anderson’s penalty. Selkirk’s third injury setback of the contest came soon afterwards when Ross Nixon left the field having broken his nose making a tackle. Eddie Turner came on as replacement, with openside flanker Angus Duckett moving to the centre.
The Kiwi livewire looked equally at home in the threequarters, and his blistering break two minutes from time saw him hauled down just short of the home try line. The final whistle blew shortly afterwards, signalling the end of an intensely competitive match.

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, E. MacDougall, A. Duckett, R. Crockatt. Reps: R. Banks, S. Forrest , M. Waldron, E. Turner, J. Everitt.

PEEBLES: M. Cruickshank, C. Blyth, C. Scott, J. Hemara, R. Clinch, G. Raeburn, D. Anderson, A. Brown, R. McConnell, A. Clark, K. Clyde, A. Warnock, C. McCann, D. Hall, W. Kearney. Reps: M. Carryer, R. Milne, K. Brown, D. Wills, R. Brown.

Referee – Graeme Wells.

LEFT - Skipper Gavin Craig receives the RBS Border Regional Cup from Border League representative Norman Anderson, following Selkirk’s 24-17 victory over Peebles at The Gytes on Friday night. RIGHT – Selkirk’s squad of players in jubilant mood after the trophy presentation.


LEFT – Scrum-half Michael McVie breaks round the side of a ruck in Friday’s cup match. RIGHT – Fraser Harkness makes a typically powerful break down the left touchline.


LEFT – Wing Josh Welsh is tackled by a Peebles defender. RIGHT – Lock Matt Kissick rises high to secure line-out possession for Selkirk. [Photos: Grant Kinghorn] Click here for match report