Watsonians 34, Selkirk 17

SELKIRK PLAYERS SHOW PLENTY OF FIGHT, BUT SLICK 'SONIANS QUICK TO PUNISH MISTAKES

Selkirk's blindside flanker Callum Johnston goes on the attack in Saturday's RBS National League match against Watsonians at Myreside.

Full-back Fraser Harkness hands off opposite number Rory Steele in a bid to put Selkirk on the front foot. (Photos: Grant Kinghorn)



DESPITE holding their own in the first half, Selkirk had no answer when Watsonians' well-drilled team turned up the heat after the break in Saturday's RBS National League match at Myreside.
Scoring a total of six tries, the home side's ability to launch lightning counter-attacks from any area of the field gave the visitors an object lesson in how to capitalise on opponents' errors and turn pressure into points.
Missing five players because of injury or unavailability, Selkirk knew they would have to be at their best to compete on level terms with a Watsonians team that had scored 178 points in their previous five league encounters.
In the event it took the home side just six minutes to put their first points on the board. A quick attack up the left touchline was halted just outside Selkirk's 22, and when the ball was switched right Watsonians wing-forward Niall Dennis found himself in enough space to cross for a try, converted by Brian Walls.
Far from unsettling Gavin Craig's men, it took Selkirk just seven minutes to get back into the game. Good work in the loose by number eight Ewan MacDougall - growing in confidence with each outing - allowed Peter Forrest, Cata Graur and Callum Johnston to take play deep into Watsonians territory. When the ball suddenly ricocheted behind the home try line, scrum-half Michael McVie was quickest to react and pounced to score.
The visitors continued to take the game to the hosts, with Matt Kissick winning turnover ball at the next ruck and Rory Banks making good ground down the right. However, at the next line-out Selkirk spilled ball on the Watsonians 10-metre line, and the city team's dynamic back division raced downfield for Rory Steele to score under the posts. Walls' conversion put the Myreside 14-5 ahead.
For the next five minutes Selkirk pressed hard for a score, putting 'Sonians under pressure inside their own 22. Gavin Craig was stopped just short of the line, while Darren Clapperton found no-one in support when in a dangerous position.
With Selkirk's scrum beginning to creak, five minutes before the interval Gordon Patterson came off the bench to take over in the front row from Clément Lacour, who switched to lock in place of youngster Alan Lambie, who had stuck in well in his first RBS National League start.
It looked as though the visitors would score when Craig made a superb 45-metre burst up the middle, but his final pass to Ross Nixon didn't match the quality of his break, and the chance went begging. With Walls missing a penalty and a drop-goal attempt, the interval score remained 14-5 in the home side's favour.
No-one was doing more to keep Selkirk in the game than openside wing-forward Angus Duckett, whose work rate both in attack and in defence was outstanding. A crunching tackle by the Kiwi on Jamie Niven established a platform for Selkirk in Watsonians' half, but a penalty against a Selkirk forward for pushing a Watsonians forward allowed the home side to clear their lines.
Watsonians increased their lead with a try from skipper Mark Rennie, but Selkirk showed they were still up for the fight with a dangerous burst up the right touchline by Fraser Harkness. Unfortunately replacement hooker James Bett was unable to catch the full-back's floated pass, and Watsonians immediately ran the ball back to the visitors' 22, where shortly afterwards replacement Marcus Heather crossed for the Myreside men's fourth try.
Selkirk cut the deficit to 24-12 in the 63rd minute when Clement Lacour was driven over for a try under the posts, converted by Banks. However, further tries by Chris Scott and man-of-the-match Riaan Basson put Watsonians out of sight.
Selkirk had the consolation of scoring the final try of the afternoon when Craig went over for his team's third touchdown in the 81st minute, but by then Watsonians had demonstrated why they will be in the promotion hunt right to the concluding weeks of the season.

WATSONIANS: R. Steele, J. Ferguson, S. McKean, T. Hart, J. Niven, M. Ker, B. Walls, D. Rutherford, T. Wright, R. Basson, C. Harvey, M. Rennie, N. Dennis, D. Dunnett, A. Joseph. Reps: M. Heather, C. Scott, H. Grant, R. Aitken, M. Henderson.

SELKIRK: F. Harkness, R. Banks, M. Rutherford, R. Nixon, D. Clapperton , G. Craig, M. McVie, C. Lacour, P. Forrest, C. Graur, A. Lambie, M. Kissick , C. Johnston, A. Duckett, E. MacDougall. Reps: C. McColm, J. Bett, E. Turner, G. Patterson, R. Wilson.
Referee - Andy Ireland (Grangemouth).