Aberdeenshire 10, Selkirk 26

 Passionate display by Aberdeenshire teaches young Selkirk side a cup lesson


TRIBUTE. The Selkirk and Aberdeenshire players line up for a minute’s silence before Saturday’s cup tie at Woodside Park, in memory of a local official who had died earlier in the week.

SUPPORT ACT. Selkirk lock forward Neil Darling gets ready to take the ball off team-mate Martin Murray as the Philiphaugh side put pressure onAberdeenshire during Saturday’s cup tie at Woodside Park.

MAKE no mistake, a cup upset looked a possibility in the closing stages of Saturday’s BT Cup third round tie at Woodside, as the home team staged a rousing recovery that left the visitors within a conversion kick of narrowing Selkirk’s lead to seven points. It wasn’t until fly-half Michael Rutherford — making his senior debut for Selkirk — put the issue beyond doubt with a smartly taken try in the 78th minute that the small band of visiting supporters could breathe easy once more. Fielding one of their youngest-ever teams, with no fewer than nine players under the age of 20, Selkirk’s lack of experience was compounded by the absence of several key regulars, including skipper Scott Tomlinson and Aussie flanker Matt de Franck.
This is not meant to take anything away from a truly spirited display by the National Division Three club, whose players showed a passion and commitment in the closing stages of the contest which their Premiership opponents could not replicate. It had all looked so very different in the early exchanges, with utility threequarter Bruce Armstrong slicing through the home defence in the 10th minute to touch down Selkirk’s first try, after good leading-up work by Allen Jamieson and Alister Heatlie. Rutherford added the conversion.
A nicely angled touchline break by Neil Brown set up the visitors’ second try eight minutes later, with Jamieson on hand to take the full-back’s inside pass and jink over near the corner. Just before the interval Selkirk scored their third try. Ryan Crockatt took a quick tap penalty just outside the visitors’ 22, and the ball moved through several pairs of hands before Jamieson made the decisive break and dived over for his second touchdown of the afternoon. Rutherford’s successful conversion gave the Borderers a comfortable 19-0 interval lead.
However, far from pressing home their advantage, Selkirk lost direction in the second half, conceding a stream of set piece turnovers which allowed the heavier home pack to grow in confidence,and eat up large chunks of territory thanks to the astute line kicking of Aberdeenshire full-back Mark McMillan.
Tries in the final 20 minutes by Dermot O’Sullivan and Ben Gardner — both of which resulted from well controlled rolling line-out mauls — allowed Aberdeenshire’s hungrier players a sniff of glory, and it wasn’t until Rutherford’s face-saving try two minutes from time that the tie was finally put beyond the gutsy home side’s reach.
Selkirk’s youngsters will undoubtedly benefit from the experience of their trip to Woodside Park, where Keith Connor became the eighth, and final, player from this season’s Selkirk Youth Club intake to make his debut for the Philiphaugh 1st XV (replacing lock Dwayne Jackson with 10 minutes to go).
In the clubhouse after the game, Rutherford and O’Sullivan were named ‘Men of the Match’ by their respective clubs, with both players then being obliged to stand on chairs to see who could down a pint of beer from a special silver tankard the fastest.
The Aberdeenshire player won the contest, to great acclaim from his team-mates. After the lively display the home had given earlier in the afternoon, this mini-triumph was the very least they deserved.

SELKIRK — N. Brown, C. Hunter, B. Armstrong, C. Cochrane, A. Jamieson (rep. D. Reive 58 mins), M. Rutherford, M. McVie, S. Renwick, I. Walling (rep. E. Robbie 65 mins), M. Murray, D. Jackson (rep. K. Connor 69 mins), N. Darling, J. Ross, A. Heatlie, R. Crockatt.