Stewart’s/Melville FP 16, Selkirk 13


LEFT – Selkirk’s Josh Welsh shakes off a Stewart’s/Melville FP defender to sprint over for a try in the closing stage of Saturday’s game at Inverleith. RIGHT – Lock Ricky Fluhler prepares to hand off a Colleges player, watched by team-mate Gavin Craig.

LEFT – Scrum-half Mikey Davies bursts upfield, with skipper Andrew Renwick in support. RIGHT – Selkirk fly-half Gavin Craig finds his path blocked by a clutch of Stewart’s/Melville FP players. [Photos: GRANT KINGHORN]

SELKIRK’S play-off hopes were dented by fellow RBS National League challengers Stewart’s/Melville FP at Inverleith on Saturday, where the visitors created enough chances to secure victory, but couldn’t turn pressure into points at critical moments of the contest.

“It’s a disappointing result, no doubt about it,” admitted the Philiphaugh club’s director of rugby, Cameron Cochrane, after the final whistle. “The boys took control for long spells of the game, but simple errors led to turnovers and missed scoring opportunities. That said, we’re still very much in the play-off mix, and the players will be going all out to make sure there are no further slip-ups in the weeks ahead.”

The first 10 minutes of the match saw each side testing out each other’s defences, before penalties in the 15th and 24th minute from the boot of Colleges stand-off Nick McCashin put the city team 6-0 ahead. Two minutes before the interval Scott Hendrie replied in kind for Selkirk, making the halftime score Stewart’s/Melville FP 6, Selkirk 3.

At the start of the second half, Selkirk’s utility threequarter Josh Welsh came off the bench to replace Lewis MacLennan, and soon afterwards visiting head coach Ally Dickson made a further change when Graham Turner replaced Gordon Patterson in the front row.

Hendrie was wide with a penalty attempt, followed by the referee yellow-carding home prop Rhys Morgan. Three more changes to the visitors’ line-up were made in the 52nd minute - Ruairi Wilson replacing James Bett at hooker, Ewan MacDougall taking over from Ryan Crockatt in the back row, and Patterson returning to the field in place of Cata Graur.

Shortly afterwards Selkirk took the lead for the first time when Fraser Harkness capitalised on some good lead-up work by the forwards – for whom Matt Kissick was always prominent – to power his way past two defenders and score an unconverted try to edge the visitors 8-6 in front.

A third penalty by McCashin restored the home team’s lead, but the game’s turning point came 10 minutes from time when the referee awarded Stewart’s/Melville FP a penalty try after a couple of scrum collapses. McCashin added the simple conversion to put Colleges two scores up at 16-8.

Although Josh Welsh managed to salvage a bonus point with a try just before the end, the home defences held firm to secure victory. Selkirk stand-off Gavin Craig had to have a dislocated finger reset in the final minute of the match, adding further gloom to Selkirk’s already disappointing day.

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