Selkirk 53, GHA 10


MEMORY HONOURED. The Selkirk and GHA players line up for a minute’s silence prior to Saturday’s RBS National League match at Philiphaugh, as a tribute to former Selkirk players Billy Stark & Murray Neil, both of whom recently passed away.

LEFT – Gavin Craig leaves three GHA defenders trailing in his wake as he bursts upfield in Saturday’s RBS National League game at Philiphaugh. RIGHT – Angus Duckett goes over for the second of his two tries, much to team-mate James Bett’s delight. [Photos: GRANT KINGHORN]

LEFT – Selkirk full-back Fraser Harkness bursts upfield with team-mate Ricky Fluhler in support. RIGHT – Matt Kissick tries to break through the GHA defence.

LEFT – Saturday’s official mascots were Selkirk Rhinos P3 players Mac Cleghorn (left) and Craig Cochrane. RIGHT – Selkirk president John Rutherford presents Fraser Harkness with his Four Seasons Forestry ‘Selkirk Man of the Match’ award.

A REJUVENATED Selkirk team brushed aside the challenge of GHA at Philiphaugh on Saturday, scoring eight tries in a thumping win which keeps them very much in contention in this season’s RBS National League promotion race.

“The boys knew they’d under-performed against Jed last week,” head coach Ally Dickson said after the game, “and today they were desperate to put things right in front of their own supporters. To their credit the whole side kept its focus for the full 80 minutes, doing the basics right and working hard for each other.

“It makes a big difference if you can get on the front foot early, and once we managed to generate some momentum in the match we never looked back. When we’re able to play at pace it always gives us a big advantage, and that’s exactly what happened today. We’ll need to show the same intensity when we go up to Inverleith in a fortnight, so a lot of hard graft still lies ahead.”

No-one epitomised Selkirk’s ‘up-and-at-them’ attitude better than full-back Fraser Harkness. Back to his belligerent best, the Scotland Club XV internationalist crossed for a hat-trick of tries in typically bravura fashion, later being named the Four Seasons Forestry ‘Selkirk Man of the Match’.

No less impressive was the contribution of openside Angus Duckett, who has developed into one of Selkirk’s key performers since joining the club at the start of last season. The livewire Kiwi’s phenomenal work rate in the loose helped keep the shackles on GHA as they threatened to build on their early lead, while his support play in attack saw him bag two tries to take his season’s tally to seven (just one behind Fraser Harkness).

It was the visitors who put the first points on the board in the seventh minute, when prop Sean Fisher was propelled over the line by his fellow forwards for a classic rolling maul try after a penalty had been kicked to the home five-metre line. Scott Lang’s conversion attempt drifted wide.

Selkirk cut the deficit with a Rory Banks penalty, and soon afterwards a Ross Nixon burst up the left flank took play deep into GHA territory. A line-out steal by skipper Andrew Renwick allowed the Souters to maintain the pressure and, on the 17-minute mark, Harkness scored the first of his tries following good lead-up work by Renwick and Ricky Fluhler. Banks’ conversion put Selkirk 10-5 ahead.

It looked as though Selkirk had scored again when Gavin Craig stretched to touch down the ball after being tackled just short of the line, but on the advice of the touch-judge the home fly-half was deemed to have knocked on and the try was disallowed.

A yellow card shown to GHA loosehead Scott Carson for handling in the ruck saw Selkirk’s pack take immediate advantage, with Renwick once again securing choice line-out possession to release Duckett, who needed no second invitation to barrel over for a try.

GHA cut the deficit to 15-10 following a fine diagonal run by wing-forward Alan Auld, whose off-load to strong-running ex-Glasgow Warriors pro. player Heflin O’Hare saw the centre sprint over for a try in the right-hand corner.

Selkirk restored their 10-pont advantage on the stroke of halftime when Mat Kissick linked up with Lewis MacLennan and Cata Graur. Quick ruck ball saw Craig cleverly change the direction of attack, and Harkness was up in support to sprint clear for his second try of the afternoon. Interval score: Selkirk 20, GHA 10.

The Glasgow visitors threw everything at Selkirk in the opening minutes of the second half, but a well-judged take and counter-attack by Matt Kissick took play back into GHA territory. In a carbon copy of the city side’s opening score, Gordon Patterson emerged as Selkirk’s try scorer from the bottom of a well-executed rolling maul, sparked by Fluhler’s clean line-out catch.

Harkness completed his hat-trick of tries on the 53-minute mark, and thereafter scores came at regular intervals from Callum Marshall (the result of a finely floated pass from Gavin Craig to Scott Hendrie), Angus Duckett (created by Harkness’ initial burst and a mazy run by Marshall) and Lee Kibble (sparked by a fiery touchline burst from the irrepressible Duckett ). Rory Banks added four conversions to push the final scoreline past the 50-point mark.

SELKIRK - F. Harkness, L. MacLennan, S. Hendrie, R. Nixon, R. Banks, G. Craig, M. Davies, G. Patterson, J. Bett, C. Graur, R. Fluhler, A. Renwick,. Replacements: L. Kibble, G. Turner, R. Wilson, C. Marshall, E. MacDougall.

Referee – Cammy Rudkin (Hawick).

* A minute’s silence was observed prior to Saturday’s match, as a tribute to former Selkirk players Billy Stark and Murray Neil, both of whom recently passed away.