Selkirk 26, Biggar 3

BIGGAR BATTLE HARD, BUT SELKIRK STAND FIRM TO CONTINUE UNBEATEN RUN

Selkirk wing Darren Clapperton is tackled by a Biggar opponent in Saturday’s 26-3 win at Philiphaugh.

Centre Lewis MacLennan bursts past his opposite number to launch another Selkirk attack.


Blindside flanker Chaney Willemse heads upfield, having just taken Callum McColm’s off-load.

Darren Clapperton prepares to pass infield, watched by Selkirk skipper Ross Nixon.


Scrum-half Mikey Davies manages to grab hold of opposite number David Reive following a scrum.

Saturday’s mascots: Cameron Smith (left) and Innes Little pictured before kick-off in front of the stand.

Ex-Selkirk players Michael McColm, Austin Lindores and Donald Phaup watch from the sidelines on Saturday.

Selkirk vice-president Elliot Henderson presents Chaney Willemse with the Four Seasons Forestry ‘Selkirk Man of the Match’ award after the game.


[Photos: GRANT KINGHORN]

FOR the second week in a row Selkirk’s players had to dig deep to keep their 100 per cent league record at Philiphaugh on Saturday, opponents Biggar proving equally desperate to stay clear of the BT National League Division 1 drop zone.

The visitors pushed the table-topping Souters every step of the way in a no-holds-barred encounter, with both teams’ defences proving as niggardly as the bitter flurries of wind and rain which blew down the pitch for most of the match.

After the final whistle, Selkirk head coach Peter Wright said it had been a tough game against a tough team. “We knew Biggar would come at us hard, and that’s exactly the way things turned out. Our play became very scratchy at times, and too often we took the wrong options under pressure.

“That said, the character of this squad came through in the end, and picking up a bonus point was no less than the efforts of Selkirk’s players deserved. Today we showed everyone we can play hard-yard rugby, and that’s the kind of focus the team’s going to have to maintain in the weeks ahead.”

The intensity of the contest was arguably the most memorable aspect of the match, with both sides’ rapid line speed in defence more often than not ensuring ball-carriers received a thumping tackle a fraction of a second after receiving the ball.

Playing with the breeze at their backs, Biggar made by far the stronger start, visiting fly-half Graeme Hunter’s positional kicking keeping Selkirk pinned in their own 22. After 13 minutes the Hartreemill men went 3-0 ahead from a Hunter penalty, after a Selkirk player had been penalised for not releasing.

The home team hit back in the 22nd minute with a typically polished piece of finishing from Scott Hendrie. A quickly taken penalty by Mikey Davies saw the ball switched right to lock Jordan McGowan, who handed off two opponents near the stand touchline before off-loading to Hendrie.

Having been out of 1st XV action so far this season through a combination of injury and business commitments, the 27-year-old wing showed the home crowd he’d lost none of his running skills by cleverly rounding the last Biggar defender to score near the corner.

The visitors had a chance to regain the lead five minutes before the interval, when backchat from a Selkirk player saw the referee march the home team back an extra 10 yards, giving Graeme Hunter an easier pot at goal. However, the stand-off pulled his attempt well wide of the left-hand post.

On the stroke of halftime Selkirk almost increased their lead. A squint feed by former Selkirk player David Reive (now Biggar’s scrum-half) saw Davies again take a quick tap and release flanker Chaney Willemse on a diagonal run towards the visitors’ try line. The South African looked as though he would score near the corner, but a superb covering tackle saw him bundled into touch a metre short. Halftime score: Selkirk 5, Biggar 3.

Selkirk’s new second row recruit Mitch Utteridge came on to make his debut for the club at the start of the second half, replacing Angus Duckett, with Matt Kissick moving into the back row. Selkirk looked far more comfortable with the wind at their backs, and immediately laid siege to the Biggar line – turning down three possible kicks at goal in favour of line-outs inside the visitors’ 22.

Something had to give, and the breakthrough came in the 54th minute when hooker James Bett charged down Hunter’s clearance kick, beating Lewis MacLennan to the touchdown to score Selkirk’s second try. Josh Welsh’s conversion put the home team 12-3 ahead.

The game was stopped soon afterwards when Biggar wing Craig McDonald suffered a nasty knock to the head, after taking the full force of Scott Hendrie’s downfield kick on his chin. Seeing the distressed state of the player, referee Gary Gordon sensibly called an immediate halt to proceedings.

After several minutes of medical attention on the pitch, the player was eventually stretchered from the field - an ambulance later taking him to Borders General Hospital. Thankfully, following precautionary X-rays and further examination, he was later allowed home.

In the final quarter of the match Selkirk began to turn the screw, with a series of scrums and line-outs deep in Biggar territory resulting in tries for Gordon Patterson and Mitch Utteridge, both converted by Josh Welsh.

Blindside flanker Chaney Willemse was later named the Four Seasons Forestry ‘Selkirk Man of the Match’, setting the seal on yet another successful day at the office for the title-chasing Souters.

SELKIRK - J. Welsh, S. Hendrie, L. MacLennan, R. Nixon, D. Clapperton, C. McColm, M. Davies, K. Cooney, J. Bett, C. Graur, J. McGowan, M. Kissick, C. Willemse, A. Duckett, C. Marshall. Replacements: R. Banks, G. Patterson, R. Wilson, M. Utteridge.
BIGGAR – S. Swankie, M. Bertram, G. Boland, A. King, C. McDonald, G. Hunter, D. Reive, D. Voas, E. Stewart, C. Bachurzewski, C. Taylor, M. Morisz, J. Orr, D. Notman, C. Simmons. Replacements: C. Henderson, C. Cochran, A. Peacock, G. Jamieson.

Referee – Gary Gordon (Hillfoots).