Peebles 6, Selkirk 31


LEFT – Selkirk centre Lee Kibble gets his pass away in Saturday’s league match against Peebles at The Gytes. RIGHT – Ryan Crockatt prepares to hand off opposite number Connor McCann.

LEFT – Scrum-half Fraser Harkness bursts past a clutch of Peebles players to score Selkirk’s second try. RIGHT – Lock Ricky Fluhler launches another Selkirk attack, watched by team-mate Ewan MacDougall. [Photos: GRANT KINGHORN]

A THIRD successive bonus point win sent Selkirk’s large band of travelling supporters home happy from the Gytes on Saturday. More importantly, the Philiphaugh men’s 31-6 victory over Peebles lifts them to third place in the RBS National League and puts them back in the promotion hunt.

Such a clear-cut win looked a distant prospect in the game’s opening quarter. A succession of errors and a string of penalties conceded by the visitors allowed the home side to have the upper hand, and it came as no surprise when Peebles took an early 6-0 lead through two Greg Raeburn penalties.

Selkirk’s best scoring opportunity came in the seventh minute when Darren Clapperton scorched 45 metres down the left touchline on a dazzling run, but what looked a certain try came to nothing when the Peebles cover managed to smother the move.

The visitors finally managed to put their first points on the board after a raking line kick by Josh Welsh had taken play to the Peebles five-metre line. Matt Kissick won clean line-out possession, and scrum-half Scott Tough (whose service had been excellent throughout the half) whipped the ball out to Gavin Craig. The fly-half fed Clapperton, who checked the defence before releasing Welsh on an angled run, with the full-back steaming over for a try wide on the right. He converted to give Selkirk a 7-6 halftime lead.

Selkirk made two substitutions at halftime – Fraser Harkness replacing Tough at scrum-half, and Ian Walling coming on at hooker for James Bett. The visitors stepped up the pressure at the start of the second half, pinning Peebles inside their own ‘22’ for fully 10 minutes.

Gordon Patterson and Lee Kibble both came close to scoring for the visitors, and eventually Selkirk had to settle for a successful 52nd minute penalty from Welsh to stretch their lead to 10-6. At this point Sean Nixon came off the bench to make his senior debut, replacing Ryan Crockatt (who was making his comeback after a two-week injury lay-off) at blindside flanker.

More pressure on the Peebles line saw Gavin Craig held up over the line, and from the resultant scrum Harkness used all his guile and strength to dance his way past a ruck of bodies to crash over under the posts for a try. Welsh’s conversion put the visitors 17-6 ahead.

The match’s momentum then swung Peebles’ way, with Ewan MacDougall and Matt Kissick both making excellent hits to keep the home side at bay. Another brilliant break by Craig saw Selkirk launch a quick counter-attack, and good support play by Ross Nixon and Graham Turner (on for Cata Graur) allowed the impressive Ricky Fluhler to take the final pass and touch down the visitors’ third try. Welsh added the conversion, making the score 24-6 in Selkirk’s favour.

The Philiphaugh side then introduced their second debutant of the day, Callum McEwan, who came off the bench to replace Darren Clapperton. A high tackle on Kibble resulted in Welsh gaining a chunk of territory up the stand touchline, and an attack featuring Kibble, Craig and Kissick resulted in Fluhler being driven over the line for his second try of the afternoon.

Welsh’s conversion set the seal on an impressive second half showing by Selkirk, with the visiting forwards raising the tempo and allowing their threequarters to find the penetration that had largely been missing before the interval.

SELKIRK –J. Welsh, S. Hendrie, L. Kibble, R. Nixon, D. Clapperton, G. Craig, S. Tough, G. Patterson, J. Bett, C. Graur, R. Fluhler, S. Renwick, R. Crockatt, E. MacDougall, M. Kissick. Replacements: F. Harkness, C. McEwan, G. Turner, S. Nixon, I. Walling.

PEEBLES – G. Raeburn, D. Munday, C. Scott, D. Clancy, N. Hogarth, D. Anderson, S. McCormick, J. Cockburn, M. Carryer, A. Brown, J. Swiatek, A. Warnock, C. McCann, D. Hall, W. Kearney. Replacements: R. Harrison, B. Glasgow, K. Clyde, R. Brown, R. Clinch.

Referee – Charles Samson (Howe of Fife).