Hawick 21, Selkirk 19

BATTLING SELKIRK JUST FALL SHORT OF VICTORY IN CUP THRILLER AT MANSFIELD


LEFT – Fly-half Gavin Craig runs in for Selkirk’s opening try in Saturday’s match at Mansfield Park. RIGHT – Ricky Fluhler sparks another attack, watched by team-mates Angus Duckett and Scott Hendrie.


LEFT – Number eight Matt Kissick breaks from the base of a scrum, supported by Ewan MacDougall. RIGHT – Ross Nixon passes the ball out to fellow centre Scott Hendrie. [Photos: GRANT KINGHORN]

THE width of a crossbar was all that came between Selkirk and a dramatic win over Hawick on Saturday. Having been 19-0 ahead after 30 minutes of this RBS Border Regional Cup tie, the Souters found themselves reeled in by the Greens after the break, and when Neil Renwick kicked a penalty to edge the home team 21-19 ahead a minute from the final whistle, it looked all over for the Philiphaugh men.

The drama wasn’t over, however. Three minutes into injury time Selkirk were awarded a penalty just inside Hawick’s 10-metre line, and Rory Banks stepped up to attempt a shot at goal which, if successful, would pull the game out of the fire. For a moment it looked as though the wing’s well-struck kick would squeeze over, but at the critical moment the ball lost momentum and rebounded back off the crossbar.

“It was disappointing to lose in that fashion, especially after the boys had fought so hard to keep Hawick at bay in the second half,” Selkirk head coach Ally Dickson said after the match. “I thought we showed a lot of confidence and control in the early stages, and fully deserved to be leading by 19 points.

“We lost our discipline in the second half, although credit has to go to Hawick for putting us under the kind of pressure which makes it difficult to keep your shape and focus. I can’t fault the players’ effort though, and we’ll take a lot of positives into our game against Boroughmuir in a fortnight’s time.”

Selkirk made a strong start to the match, full-back Fraser Harkness setting the tone in the opening minute by winning turnover ball close to the halfway line, then immediately setting off on a storming run at the heart of the home defence to launch the first of a series of first half counter-attacks.

Clean pick-ups by Matt Kissick and James Bett created the time and space for fly-half Gavin Craig to find touch close to Hawick’s five-metre line. At the resulting line-out Ricky Fluhler managed to steal the Hawick throw-in, but Ewan MacDougall was held up over the line and the Greens eventually managed to clear the danger.

The home side’s respite was short-lived. In the 13th minute Selkirk hooker James Bett, who had another fine game, won a strike against the head and Mikey Davies quickly moved the ball to Gavin Craig. The fly-half expertly cut through the home defence for a try close to the posts which Josh Welsh converted to put Selkirk 7-0 ahead.

Hawick responded with a concerted drive up to the visitors’ line, sparked by a typical charging run from Bruce McNeill, before a well-executed choke tackle by Angus Duckett and Ewan MacDougall on Hawick wing Greg Anderson saw Selkirk awarded the scrum and Davies was able to clear.

On the 21-minute mark another clean pick-up by Kissick put the visitors on the front foot, and from the ensuing ruck the ball was moved from Craig to Hendrie, whose floated pass to Harkness saw the strong-running full-back make good ground before drawing his man and sending Welsh over in the corner for Selkirk’s second try.

The visitors’ third try came on the half-hour mark, the move having been started and finished by Fraser Harkness. Quick scrum ball saw Harkness carve an opening up the middle, and when Hawick were penalised at the ruck Welsh kicked to Hawick’s 22. Kissick’s line-out take allowed Fluhler to breenge upfield, with the ball being whipped along the visitors’ threequarter line for Harkness to take the final pass and sprint home for the score. Welsh’s successful conversion put Selkirk 19-0 up.

Just before the interval Hawick hit back through a try wide on the right from Neil Renwick, after the Greens had opted for a scrum rather than a kick at goal. Halftime score: Hawick 5, Selkirk 19.

Both teams retreated to their respective dressing rooms at halftime as the temperature began to plummet out on the field, and when they re-emerged from the tunnel it was Hawick who seized the initiative with a series of drives deep into Selkirk territory.

In a foretaste of what was to follow, the visitors were penalised in front of their own posts for not releasing, and Renwick stepped up to cut the deficit to 19-8. At this point Selkirk introduced Lewis MacLennan and Michael Waldron for Josh Welsh and Cata Graur respectively.

By now Hawick’s forwards had the bit firmly between their teeth, with virtually all the play for the next 25 minutes being confined to Selkirk’s 22 as the Greens pack hammered away at the visitors’ defence. Forced on to the back foot, Selkirk proceeded to concede a string of penalties, the majority of which Hawick opted to take as scrums.

Despite battling to protect their line, the visitors’ defences were eventually breached by Bruce McNeil and Shawn Muir in the 66th and 71st minutes respectively, with these tries remaining unconverted to leave Selkirk hanging on by the narrowest of margins at 19-18.

A yellow card was then shown by the referee to Ross Nixon for ‘sealing off’ at a ruck, and soon afterwards another award to the home side saw Renwick successfully land the penalty kick to put the Greens ahead for the first time in the match, with just over a minute left on the clock.

By now the home crowd was shouting for the final whistle to be blown, but enough time remained for one more moment of high drama - Banks’ injury time goal attempt coming agonisingly close to snatching a win for the visitors.

HAWICK – N. Renwick, N. McColm, J. Coutts, L. Armstrong, G. Anderson, G. Cottrell, J. Evens, L. Launders, L. Gibson, M. Landels, K. Willison, B. McNeill, N. Mactaggart, R. Scott, K. Davies. Replacements: S. Muir, W. Blacklock, S. Graham, R. Gibson, S. Anderson.

SELKIRK - F. Harkness, R. Banks, S. Hendrie, R. Nixon, J. Welsh, G. Craig, M. Davies, G. Patterson, J. Bett, C. Graur, A. Renwick, R. Fluhler, E. MacDougall, A. Duckett, M. Kissick. Replacements: L. MacLennan, M. Waldron, R. Wilson, R. Crockatt.

Referee – Mike Adamson (Glasgow Hawks).
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