Selkirk 17, G.H.A. 5

SELKIRK PLAYERS STAND TALL TO EXTEND CLUB’S LEAD AT TOP OF DIVISION 1

Selkirk senior vice-president Elliot Henderson’s automated sweeper proved vital in ensuring the Philiphaugh pitch was playable on Saturday.

Volunteers stand beside Selkirk’s snow-covered playing surface early on Saturday morning, ready to begin clearing operations.

Past-president Eric Forster uses his quad bike to pull a mini-harrow over the pitch in order to break up any icy patches.

Director of rugby Cameron Cochrane blows a light covering of snow off the Philiphaugh line markings.



Selkirk openside Angus Duckett barrels his way over the line for Selkirk’s second try just before halftime.

Wing Darren Clapperton in full flight during Saturday’s hard-fought 17-5 victory over GHA at Philiphaugh.


Selkirk No. 8 Callum Marshall makes every effort to break free from the clutches of a GHA opponent.

Prop Kieran Cooney hands off GHA’s Rangi Jericevich, with Callum Marshall (left) and Rory Banks ready to lend support.

Selkirk hooker James Bett bursts clear down the stand touchline in the second half, with Callum Marshall not far behind.

Craig MacDougall keeps his focus as Selkirk launch another attack, with Angus Duckett and Mikey Davies in close attendance.

Josh Welsh can’t hide his joy as he crosses the line for his second (and Selkirk’s third) try of the match two minutes into injury time.

Selkirk skipper Matt Kissick pictured with official mascots Finlay Smith (left) and Fraser Kelly just prior to kick-off.

[Photos: GRANT KINGHORN]

SELKIRK took a giant step towards promotion to the BT Premiership with a towering victory over nearest rivals G.H.A. at freezing Philiphaugh on Saturday. This was the Souters’ 16th consecutive win in BT National League Division 1, and coincidentally opens up a 16-point gap at the top of the table.

Earlier in the day the home players’ sterling efforts on the pitch had been matched by some equally fine work by the club’s officials and volunteers, who for the second time in a fortnight mounted a full-scale snow-clearing operation so the fixture could go ahead.

No-one was happier with the victory than Selkirk’s skipper on the day, Matt Kissick. Since arriving at Philiphaugh in August, 2012, the popular Kiwi lock has proved one of the team’s key players, and clearly appreciated being handed the captaincy on Saturday.

“It’s a great honour and means a whole lot to me,” Matt commented after the game. “There’s no better feeling than leading your best mates, and I thought the boys performed incredibly well today.

“All credit to GHA though, who as expected proved a tough nut to crack. Their work rate, like our own, remained high throughout the game, and they threw a lot of things at us to try and get an edge. I’m glad we were able to throw it straight back at them!

“Getting this win was important in maintaining our momentum, and I’d just like to thank all our supporters for getting behind the boys. Week in, week out they give all of us a lift, and we appreciate it.”

As you would expect from a showdown between the league’s two top teams, Saturday’s contest proved a passionate, intense affair from the off. It was Selkirk who made the early inroads, with the home eight edging the scrums and Angus Duckett, Cata Graur and James Bett all carrying ball over the gain line.

The breakthrough came in the 24th minute after Graur had been stopped just short in the scoreboard corner. With referee Cammy Rudkin signalling a penalty was coming to Selkirk, following a GHA ruck infringement, Mikey Davies fed out to Callum McColm.

A dummy run by Craig MacDougall saw the ball switched instead to Darren Clapperton then Rory Banks, who found Josh Welsh up on his right shoulder. The strong-running full-back handed off GHA wing Euan Greer and ran outside him to cross wide out for Selkirk’s first try.

The home side were soon back on the attack, and Kissick’s secure take of a high Garryowen was the prelude to a typically dangerous Clapperton break up the middle. Duckett was, as ever, quickly up in support to carry on the attack, but the flanker was hauled down just short of the posts.

Ten minutes later the home team increased their lead. Following drives up the middle by Craig MacDougall and his brother Ewan, a penalty to Selkirk was thumped into touch on GHA’s 22-metre line by Welsh. Kissick secured possession at the line-out, and several phases later Angus Duckett was able to burrow his way under a pile of bodies to score near the left-hand corner flag.

Just before the interval Callum McColm was replaced by Lewis MacLennan, with Banks moving to fly-half. MacLennan was quick to make an impact, slipping his marker to dash up the stand touchline. However, the move was snuffed out by the hard-tackling visitors, leaving the halftime score at 10-0 in Selkirk’s favour.

With McColm reappearing after the break, for the first five minutes of the second half Selkirk pressed deep into enemy territory - runs by McColm, Duckett and Craig MacDougall giving the crowd plenty to shout about. GHA remained unruffled, securing turnover ball to race back up the field.

The city side should have put their first points on the board in the 43rd minute when fly-half Andrew Goudie hooked his penalty attempt left of the posts from point-blank range. Selkirk then brought on Gordon Patterson for Cata Graur, and Scott McDonald for Ewan MacDougall.

A strike against the head by visiting skipper Donald Malcolm underlined GHA’s determination to get back into the game, and for the next 10 minutes Selkirk had to pull out all the stops to keep the Braidholm men at bay.

When clearing his lines following an intense period of GHA pressure, Mikey Davies limped to the sidelines with cramp, his place at scrum-half being taken first by Banks and then by McColm. More changes saw Mitch Utteridge replace John Everitt and Ewan MacDougall resume in place of Scott McDonald.

GHA continued to call the shots after Selkirk conceded a brace of penalties at set scrums, and a slick touchline break by Peter Jericevich stretched the home defence almost to breaking point. In the 66th minute Davies returned to the fray, and a booming line kick by Banks took play down to GHA’s 22.

A dazzling inside break by Scott Hendrie was followed by Duckett almost forcing his way over in the left-hand corner. The point of no return eventually came two minutes into injury time when Callum McColm jinked his way past two GHA defenders before off-loading to Josh Welsh, who scampered over the line for his second try. Banks’ conversion put Selkirk out of sight at 17-0.

Even with the points now secure and only seconds left on the clock, Selkirk never took their eye off the ball. The Souters’ out-and-out commitment was epitomised by number eight Callum Marshall, who made a bone-crunching tackle on a GHA attacker just short of the Selkirk try line to stop the ball-carrier dead in his tracks - a Cincinatti Bengals line-backer could not have done better.

With Bruce Riddell coming on for James Bett, GHA had the final word when replacement threequarter James Edgar sliced through for the city side’s only try of the game in the 86th minute, bringing the curtain down on another famous day for the Philiphaugh club.

The Four Seasons Forestry ‘Selkirk Man of the Match’ award went to inside centre Craig MacDougall.

SELKIRK - J. Welsh, R. Banks, S. Hendrie, C. MacDougall, D. Clapperton, C. McColm, M. Davies, K. Cooney, J. Bett, C. Graur, J. Everitt, M. Kissick, E. MacDougall, A. Duckett, C. Marshall. Replacements: L. MacLennan, G. Patterson, B. Riddell, M. Utteridge S. McDonald.

G.H.A. – A. Gillman, R. Jericevich, C. Binnie, N. Cassie, E. Greer, A. Goudie, P. Jericevich, S. Carson, D. Malcolm, M. Robertson, C. McGeough, A. Barnett, A. Auld, R. Angus, G. MacDonald. Replacements: J. Malcolm, S. Gallacher, P. Harkins, M. MacFarlane, J. Edgar.

Referee – Cammy Rudkin (Hawick).