Selkirk 17 Biggar 55

Biggar hold aces as 14-man Selkirk lose ground

 HIGH POINT. Selkirk flanker Neil Darling prepares to claim clean line-out ball during Saturday’s league match against Biggar at Philiphaugh.

THE men from Hartreemill have waited a long time to register their first victory at Philiphaugh, so Saturday’s convincing win over old enemies Selkirk was highly gratifying for the visitors. Of more immediate concern to Biggar’s players and their supporters, however, is securing a place in BT Premiership Division One next season. And judging by the kind of form they showed on Saturday, the Lanarkshire team are going to take a lot of stopping in their remaining four league games.
Selkirk’s young side found it hard to match the visitors’ pace and penetration, with Biggar’s veteran Kiwi lock Eddie Manawaitti in outstanding form up front, while equally influential was the centre pairing of Alistair Warnock and Warren Daley — the latter bagging four tries during the afternoon. The Souters’ cause wasn’t helped when they were reduced to 14 men after 31 minutes. Stand-off Guy Blair was red-carded by referee Peter Allan, after the Watsonian whistler’s attention had been drawn to alleged foul play by a touch-judge. Already leading 22-0 at this stage, from the resultant penalty Biggar were able to work the ball to Manawaitti, who peeled from the side of a maul and scored near the corner to secure a bonus point and effectively kill the match stone dead.
Selkirk’s reshuffled back division saw Michael Jaffray take over at scrum-half, with skipper Scott Tomlinson switching to the fly-half berth. Credit must go to the depleted home side for sticking so gamely to their task for the remainder of the match, and the fact they managed to score three tries helped soften the blow of their sixth straight defeat. Biggar’s superiority at the set piece meant a continuous supply of ball for their threequarters, and stand-off Quentin Sanft capitalised to the full by unleashing his pacy and creative threequarter line at every opportunity. In a blistering 20-minute opening spell, tries were scored in quick succession by Glasgow hooker Scott Lawson and Warren Daley (2), with Sanft adding two conversions and a penalty, as well as bringing out full points from Manawaitti’s touchdown. Just before halftime a powerful surge by Selkirk’s forwards saw the ball shipped right. Fraser Harkness came into the line from full-back, and dived on his own chip over the line to score his 10th try of the season.
In injury time Biggar re-established their 29-point margin thanks to a mazy run up the left touchline by Craig Sorbie, with the wing touching down near the corner to put the visitors 34-5 ahead. After the break Selkirk began to show more purpose and aggression. Dwayne Jackson, Alister Heatlie and Martin Murray all made telling breaks, while Kiwi flier Simon Murdoch (in his first game since arriving from Christchurch) showed the home crowd he had lost none of his old spark with a couple of typically elusive bursts. In the 55th minute a quickly taken tap penalty saw Murdoch make ground on the left, and Jim Ross was up in support to send Heatlie over for a well worked try. Just as the home side was beginning to build up a head of steam, a mix-up in the threequarters allowed Biggar to launch a 60-metre counterattack, and three phases later Daley was able to slice open the home defence for his hat-trick.

TOUGH CALL. Selkirk hooker Ewen Robbie gets treatment for a head knock from home team physio Mick Craig in Saturday’s BT Premiership match against Biggar at Philiphaugh.

Straight from the restart Biggar again swept back down the length of the field, and more slick handling allowed Manawaitti to touch down, with Sanft adding the conversion. By now the home team was visibly tiring, and a fourth try from Daley pushed the visitors past the 50-point mark. Selkirk did have the consolation of scoring their third try deep in injury time, when Murdoch wriggled his way over the line close to the posts. Tomlinson’s successful drop-kick conversion was the signal for the final whistle to blow.

SELKIRK — F. Harkness, M. Jaffray, D. Rumney (rep. N. Brown, 68 mins), A. Lyall, S. Murdoch, G. Blair, S. Tomlinson, J. Macdonald (rep. S.
Renwick , 51 mins), E. Robbie (rep. I. Walling, 51 mins), M. Murray, D. Jackson, M. Barnett, J. Ross (rep. K. Connor, 75 mins), N. Darling, A. Heatlie.

Referee — P. Allan (Watsonians).