Selkirk 31, Marr 10


Lock Jordan McGowan keeps Selkirk on the front foot in Saturday’s 31-10 victory over Marr at Philiphaugh.

Darren Clapperton beats Marr’s last defender to score his second try of the match.

James Bett somehow manages to touch the ball down for his second try, supported by Ewan MacDougall.

Selkirk number eight Callum Marshall launches another attack from deep in his own half.

Selkirk captain Ross Nixon tries to shake off an opponent, with team-mate Lewis MacLennan up in support.

Scrum-half Mikey Davies is caught just short of the Marr try line as Selkirk turn the screw.

Props Gordon Patterson and Cata Graur are all smiles at the end of the game.

Twin brothers Felix & Oscar Baxter were the Selkirk mascots on Saturday, seen here with skipper Ross Nixon. [Photos: GRANT KINGHORN]

NEWLY promoted Marr put up a battling display in their first-ever visit to Philiphaugh on Saturday, but found BT National League Division 1 leaders Selkirk in no mood to surrender their unbeaten league record.

The Souters ultimately proved to have too much firepower both forward and aft for the Troon visitors, although Selkirk’s eighth victory on the trot was anything but plain sailing. Marr fought tooth and nail for every scrap of possession and every yard of territory, a fact acknowledged after the game by Selkirk head coach Peter Wright.

“Full marks to Marr for pushing us hard, particularly at the contact area, where we experienced probably the toughest contest of any match we’ve been in this season. That said, I thought we kept our shape and composure throughout the game, and took our chances when they came our way.”

No-one epitomised Selkirk’s drive and commitment more than hooker James Bett, later named the Four Seasons Forestry ‘Selkirk Man of the Match’. As well as scoring two of the home team’s five tries, the 21-year-old forestry worker was singled out for a special mention by his coach.

“James is a bit of a ‘buzz-bomb’,” said Wright, “and his work rate around the field is fantastic. He’s very strong defensively and is keen to improve his game. He’s also a team player, and that’s exactly the kind of attitude every side needs its players to have - teamwork is at the heart of everything we do.”

In the first half home skipper Ross Nixon elected to play with the gusting wind in his side’s favour, but it soon became apparent the Selkirk players preferred to keep ball in hand rather than boot it downfield - fly-half Callum McColm launching a series of handling attacks from inside Selkirk’s 22.

The breakthrough came in the 10th minute, following sustained Selkirk pressure created by strong runs from Ross Nixon, Jordan McGowan, James Bett and Matt Kissick. At one point it looked as if Kieran Coney would score in the left-hand corner, but a timely tackle by Marr flanker Fraser Grant saved the day.

From the resulting line-out the visitors failed to clear their lines, and Angus Duckett’s first-up tackle forced Danny Clark to spill the ball. Thrusts up the right flank by Nixon and Mikey Davies led to a penalty for Selkirk, and Cata Graur’s quickly taken tap was carried forward by Cooney.

The ball was then switched left, with McColm and Callum Marshall providing the link for Darren Clapperton to scamper over for a try in the corner. Josh Welsh’s conversion kick soared over from the touchline to put Selkirk 7-0 up.

Marr took the fight straight back to Selkirk, and only a timely tackle by McGowan prevented the visitors from setting up a scoring position. Drives upfield by Marshall and Clapperton then forced Marr back on the defensive, and Bett almost managed to squeeze over the line but was held up.

Selkirk’s dominance at the set piece saw Ross Nixon opt for two scrums rather than kick for goal, but Marr demonstrated their resilience by forcing a turnover and lifting the siege. Two more penalty goal chances were turned down by Selkirk in favour of scrums, but again the visitors’ defence held firm.

In the 31st minute Selkirk did manage to increase their lead. After Davies had been tackled into touch at the corner flag, Ross Nixon punished another Marr knock-on by collecting the loose ball and bursting clean through. The home skipper off-loaded to James Bett, who in turn found Darren Clapperton in space on the left touchline, and the wing sprinted in for another try. Again Welsh’s conversion split the posts.

Four minutes before halftime Selkirk struck a decisive blow when strong carries by Marshall, McGowan and Craig MacDougall led to a line-out close to Marr’s try line. Matt Kissick’s clean take set up a rolling maul, and it was James Bett who touched the ball down for Selkirk’s third try, once again converted by Welsh.

Three minutes into injury time Marr had the chance to put their first points on the board, but Rory McGee’s penalty attempt drifted wide, making the halftime score 21-0 in Selkirk’s favour.

With the strengthening wind at their backs in the second half, the visitors soon had Selkirk under the cosh. A series of pick-and-go drives by the Marr pack stretched the home defence to bursting point, and number eight Ben Johnston broke down the blind-side to score Marr’s opening try.

Selkirk hit back almost immediately. Another fine run by Clapperton looked to have been in vain when his off-load was knocked on, but moments later Duckett’s electrifying speed to the breakdown forced a turnover. McGowan’s line-out take was carried forward by Cooney, and Bett somehow managed to stretch over the line for his second (and Selkirk’s fourth) try.

In the 54th minute Callum McColm put the result beyond doubt with a fine individual try - the stand-off selling a neat dummy before ghosting through the Marr midfield on a diagonal 35-metre run, scoring wide out on the right without a hand being laid on him.

In the final quarter Marr’s determination and persistence were rewarded when right wing Scott Bickerstaff scored a well taken try, and the visitors finished the game camped deep in Selkirk territory.

This was another morale-boosting win for Selkirk, who continue to set the pace at the top of the division. However, Ross Nixon’s men can expect a hot reception at Riverside Park this Saturday, for what will be the Souters’ first league outing against Border opposition.

SELKIRK – J. Welsh, R. Nixon, L. MacLennan, C. MacDougall, D. Clapperton, C. McColm, M. Davies, K. Cooney, J. Bett, C. Graur, J. McGowan, M. Kissick, E. MacDougall, A. Duckett, C Marshall. Replacements: R. Wilson, G. Patterson, S. McDonald, R. Wilson.

MARR – R. McGee, S. Bickerstaff, C. Sturgess, J. McClung, A. Gault, G. Ness, G. Baird, P. Siave, S. Adair, F. Ferguson, D. Rowe, K. Kirk, F. Grant, D. Clark, B. Johnston. Replacements: W. Farquhar, O. Rossie, C. Craig, A. Mill, A. Walker.

Referee – Cammy Rudkin (Hawick).