Boroughmuir 20, Selkirk 17


UNITED FRONT. Selkirk head coach Ally Dickson gives his players a final pep talk prior to the team taking the field for Saturday’s league match at Meggetland against Boroughmuir.

NO WAY THROUGH. Skipper Andrew Renwick gets to grips with Boroughmuir number eight Iain Moody as the action hots up in Saturday’s game at Meggetland.

A BATTLING display by Selkirk almost saw the Philiphaugh men pull off the shock result of the season at Meggetland on Saturday, when they came within a whisker of toppling RBS National League leaders Boroughmuir.

The city side had needed a bonus point win to clinch the league title with two matches still to play, but the visitors were equally determined to keep their own promotion play-off hopes alive, and the result was an epic contest whose outcome hung in the balance right up until the final minute of the game.

Missing three key players, and with playmaker-in-chief Gavin Craig hobbling to the sidelines after 15 minutes after suffering a painful knee injury, Selkirk produced one of their gutsiest performances of the season against a team that had trounced them 43-5 at Philiphaugh earlier in the season.

“It was a fantastic effort by the boys,” Selkirk head coach Ally Dickson said after the match, “and I honestly thought we deserved to win today. The boys stood up to everything Boroughmuir could throw at them, and the character of this team was there for all to see.

“To lose in the final moments like that was obviously very disappointing, but the players can take a huge amount of credit for the way they competed for the full 80 minutes. Before the game I asked our boys to stand up and be counted, and that’s exactly what they did. The commitment shown by the whole squad was tremendous.”

Playing against the wind in the first half, Boroughmuir took the game to Selkirk in the opening exchanges, the city side’s giant pack launching a series of drives into Selkirk’s half. A scything run by full-back Craig Marshall split the visitors’ midfield defence, and only a last-gasp tackle by Fraser Harkness – who had an outstanding game at scrum-half – prevented a try for the Meggetland men.

Boroughmuir took the lead after five minutes when stand-off David Reekie kicked a penalty after Ross Nixon had strayed off-side, but six minutes later Rory Banks drew Selkirk level from a similar award following good work by prop Cata Graur at a ruck.

Moments later the visitors suffered a setback when Gavin Craig damaged the lateral ligament in his right knee after being tackled while making a break from his own 22. After treatment he spent the rest of the game on the sidelines, with Banks taking over at fly-half and teenager Callum McEwan coming off the replacements bench to line up the right wing.

A clutch of penalties against Selkirk allowed Boroughmuir to set up camp on the visitors’ try line, but some dogged defence and an excellent turnover by flanker Ewan MacDougall – in stupendous form throughout – allowed Fraser Harkness to find touch on the halfway line.

After 25 minutes quick scrum ball saw Harkness break down the right, and a ruck infringement soon afterwards allowed Banks to find touch on Boroughmuir’s 22. Ricky Fluhler’s clean line-out take allowed Nixon make ground up the middle, and following a handful of phases skipper Jock Renwick off-loaded the ball to Josh Welsh. The full-back drew the home cover before releasing Darren Clapperton wide on the left, and the winger celebrated his return to 1st XV duty (after a three-month injury lay-off) by handing off a defender and sprinting over for a fine try in the corner. Banks added the tricky conversion to put Selkirk 10-3 ahead.

Spurred on by this success, Selkirk maintained the pressure on Boroughmuir thanks to turnovers by Angus Duckett and James Bett. A fly-hack by Banks up to the home team’s 22 resulted in a series of scrums close to the home try line, one of which saw Harkness break right and feed Callum McEwan, but the young wing was stopped just short of the corner flag.

In the 31st minute Selkirk increased their lead. A series of forward-led charges to the heart of the city side’s defence culminated in Duckett making a quick off-load to Gordon Patterson, and the prop needed no second invitation to stretch out under the posts and touch down the visitors’ second try. Banks added the simple conversion to put Selkirk 17-3 up.

The travelling Selkirk supporters’ joy was short-lived, however. Just before the interval referee Mike Adamson awarded a penalty try to Boroughmuir after a rolling maul close to Selkirk’s line had been illegally pulled down, with Cata Graur receiving a yellow card for committing the offence. Reekie slotted the conversion, making the halftime score Boroughmuir 10, Selkirk 17.

Facing the strengthening breeze in the second half, Selkirk were always going to have their work cut out. The league leaders – clearly stung by the visitors’ unwavering determination and fortitude – threw everything bar the kitchen sink at Andrew Renwick’s men over the next 40 minutes, launching wave after wave of attacks into the Selkirk half.

The visitors’ scrum found itself under the fiercest pressure, and it came as no surprise when Boroughmuir cut the deficit to 17-15 thanks to a well controlled pushover try by Iain Moody in the 55th minute.

At this stage Selkirk brought on replacements Ruairi Wilson and John Everitt for James Bett and Angus Duckett, and both players had to quickly adapt to the heat the forward exchanges. A magnificent tackle by Ewan MacDougall on number eight Iain Moody in full flight typified Selkirk’s fighting spirit, before Callum Marshall made an equally vital stop on namesake Craig Marshall as the try line beckoned.

With the match entering the final minute of regular time, and when it seemed Selkirk’s courageous last-ditch defending would win the day, Boroughmuir broke through for the deciding score. After fully a dozen phases had been repelled by the visitors just metres from their own try line, Moody grabbed the ball and hurled himself - American football-style - over a pile of bodies to touch down his second try of the afternoon.

Referee Adamson’s whistle sounded soon afterwards, ending an exhausting but enthralling contest.

BOROUGHMUIR – C. Marshall, S. Johnson, A. Cox, S. Wilson, J. Edmunds, D. Reekie, J. Adams, R. Wilson, C. Davies, J. Latta, T. Sutton, A. Best, J. Hare, A. Rose, I. Moody. Replacements: R. Mackenzie, S. Laird, G. Scott, N. Rodger, G. Cannie.

SELKIRK - J. Welsh, R. Banks, C. MacDougall, R. Nixon, D. Clapperton, G. Craig, F. Harkness, G. Patterson, J. Bett, C. Graur, A. Renwick, R. Fluhler, E. MacDougall, A. Duckett, C. Marshall. Replacements: C. McEwan, C. Elliot, R. Wilson, J. Everitt.

Referee – Mike Adamson (Glasgow Hawks).