Selkirk 23, Watsonians 51


LEFT –Selkirk wing Darren Clapperton prepares to give opposite number Jack Ferguson the slip in Saturday’s RBS National League game against Watsonians at Philiphaugh. RIGHT – Gordon Patterson gets his pass away despite the attentions of Watsonians No. 8 Niall Dennis.

LEFT – Selkirk fly-half Gavin Craig comes under pressure close to his own line. RIGHT – The combined efforts of Angus Duckett (in scrum cap) and Ross Nixon halt another Watsonians attack. [Photos: GRANT KINGHORN]

SELKIRK’S players were left wondering what had hit them after going down to a seven-try defeat at the hands of table-topping Watsonians in Saturday’s RBS National League game at Philiphaugh.

Even before kick-off things had looked ominous for the home side, with centre Lee Kibble being forced to drop out after tweaking a hamstring in the warm-up. His departure saw Scott Hendrie switched from wing to centre, with Rory Banks asked to pull on the No. 14 jersey. Selkirk ‘A’ full-back Josh Welsh was quickly summoned from the back pitch to sit on the bench.

Playing against the wind in the first half, Selkirk managed to soak up some early Watsonians pressure – Ross Nixon leading the way with a crunching tackle on Ross Aitken. After eight minutes Ben Di Rollo opened the visitors’ account from a penalty, but Michael McVie brought the scores level with a similar award on the quarter-hour mark, following a typically mazy run by Darren Clapperton in his comeback match.

A powerful rolling maul by the Watsonians pack had the home forwards struggling to stand their ground, but Scott Hendrie and Matt Kissick combined well to hold up the ball carrier and rescue the situation. A second consecutive penalty against McVie for a squint feed saw Watsonians take full advantage – skipper Ben Di Rollo side-stepping his way past a clutch of defenders to score under the posts, with his conversion putting the Myreside men 10-3 ahead.

Watsonians’ threequarters capitalised on some missed first-time tackles by Selkirk to keep up the pressure. In the 33rd minute Angus Duckett received a yellow card for an alleged maul infringement, and the city team were again quick to capitalise - a concerted drive by the visiting pack resulting in a try by Alan Jacobsen.

Soon afterwards it was Watsonians’ turn to incur the ire of the referee. Full-back Rory Steele received a yellow card after attempting to trip Fraser Harkness as he broke up the grandstand touchline, and McVie’s penalty into the teeth of the wind reduced the deficit to 15-6.

Selkirk suffered a double setback in the minutes leading up to the interval. Gavin Craig was yellow-carded for an alleged deliberate knock-on, while moments before a calf strain had forced number eight Ryan Crockatt to leave the field, his place being taken by Ewan MacDougall. A second Di Rollo penalty made the halftime score Selkirk 6, Watsonians 18.

With the wind now at their backs, Selkirk quickly cut the deficit when McVie sent over his third penalty after visiting hooker Matt Brierley had become the fourth player shown a yellow card by referee Samson.

Unfortunately for the home supporters, things then started to go rapidly downhill for the home team, with Selkirk unable to match Watsonians’ aggression in the loose and in the tackle. Slack defending allowed Ewan Millar to run in from 40 metres for a try, converted by Di Rollo, to increase the visitors’ lead to 23-9.

A searing break out of defence by Clapperton and a charge upfield involving Harkness, Craig, MacDougall and Kissick, helped lift the spirits of the Philiphaugh faithful, but successive turnovers allowed the city side to clear their lines, with Steele rubbing salt into the wound by romping home for the visitors’ bonus point try after 45 minutes to put Watsonians out of sight at 32-9.

Things went from bad to worse when home skipper Andrew Renwickwas shown a red card by the referee for dissent, quickly followed by the loss of Scott Hendrie with a dislocated finger that would later require hospital treatment.

Watsonians replacement Ramsay Young stretched the visitors’ lead to 39-9 with another touchdown, before Gavin Craig’s superb solo try in the 72nd minute finally put Selkirk back on the scoreboard.

The final four minutes of the match managed to produce three further tries – Scott and Young scoring for Watsonians, and Harkness for Selkirk – leaving Watsonians convincing 51-23 winners.

The home side’s problems were compounded when it was later learned scrum-half Michael McVie had broken his thumb and will be out of action for at least six weeks.

Four Seasons Forestry ‘Selkirk Man of the Match’ – Callum Marshall.

SELKIRK – F. Harkness, R. Banks, S. Hendrie, R. Nixon, D. Clapperton, G. Craig, M. McVie, G. Patterson, J. Bett, C. Graur, A. Renwick, M. Kissick C. Marshall, A. Duckett, R. Crockatt. Replacements: J. Welsh, G. Turner, I. Walling, E. MacDougall.

WATSONIANS – R. Steele, J. Ferguson, A. Ledingham, R. Aitken, E. Miller, B. Di Rollo, M. Page, A. Jacobsen, M. Brierley, M. Christie, M. Rennie, C. Smith, N. Irvine-Ness, C. Abram, N. Dennis. Replacements: A. Ross, J. Forrester, C. Scott, M. Ker, R. Young.

Referee – Charles Samson (Howe of Fife).