Biggar 20 Selkirk 15

So near, yet so far, as Biggar have final say

ONCE again Selkirk came away from a game they could, and should, have won, with only a bonus point to show for their efforts. By now coaches Mick Craig, Keith Amos and Simon Murdoch will be wondering just what they must do to tighten up the team’s game. For after controlling the opening 20 minutes at Hartree Mill on Saturday, two missed tackles allowed Biggar to score two tries and get right back into the game at a time when Selkirk were calling all the shots.
Even so, the visitors still had plenty of opportunities to regain the initiative, but either frittered away hard-won possession, or turned over the ball when within spitting distance of the home side’s try line. That said, over the 80 minutes Biggar’s players probably shaded their
opponents in terms of passion and hunger for the ball. Equall worrying
was the way Selkirk’s threequarter line looked a pale imitation of the formation which had blasted four tries past Kirkcaldy just seven days ago.
The Souters certainly gave their faithful band of travelling supporters plenty to shout about in the opening exchanges, with Guy Blair slotting three penalty kicks in quick succession to put Selkirk 9-0 up. The last award came about when flanker Matt de Franck was punched right in front of the referee, although the Biggar culprit only received a verbal warning, and not the yellow card many felt would have been appropriate in the circumstances. Later at the Borders General Hospital, de Franck had to have five stitches inserted into his eye wound.Things started to go wrong for Selkirk when a missed first-time tackle in midfield allowed Brown to burst clear and send Murray Thomson over for a score, and just before halftime another lame tackle allowed Ewan McAlpine allowed to touch down and put Biggar ahead for the first time in the match (Kevin Wilson adding both conversions).

AUSSIE RULES. Matt de Franck showed impressive line-out skills at Biggar
on Saturday, and is becoming an influential figure in the Selkirk pack.

What could have proved the games's turning point came midway through the second period, when Selkirk somehow managed to resist intense Biggar pressure on their own try line for a fraught 15-minute spell. Three times the home team crossed the Selkirk line, but on each occasion the player in possession was unable to ground the ball thanks to some truly heroic defending by the Selkirk pack.Eventually the siege was lifted, and a fourth Blair penalty reduced the deficit to just two points. It then looked as though the visitors would score a runaway try when Michael Jaffray charged own his opposite number's kick, gathered the ball cleanly and raced for the corner flag. Unfortunately he was tackled just a few metres short, and the chance was lost.
With the game approaching injury time it looked all over for Selkirk. However, one last rolling maul by the forwards took play deep into Biggar territory, and when the home team was penalised, Blair somehow managed to thread his exceptionally tricky penalty kick between the posts, putting Selkirk 15-14 ahead with only seconds left on the clock.
Just as the visiting supporters were preparing to hail a miraculous escape, straight from the restart a Selkirk forward was penalised for illegally holding back a Biggar player. Up stepped Wilson to put the home team back in front. Moments later Craig Hunter was penalised for playing the ball on the deck after a tackle, and Wilson again thumped the ball over the bar to stretch Biggar's lead.
The last throw of the dice came when Selkirk kicked for touch following yet another penalty award. With the line-out only 10 metres from the Biggar try line, it seemed as though Selkirk might still save day. Alas, although the ball was cleanly taken, it somehow went to ground and Selkirk's control of the situation - and the match itself - was lost.
If Selkirk's players, who undoubtedly have ability, started to believe in themselves a bit more, and kept their heads (as well as possession) in tight corners, then more consistent results would surely follow.

SELKIRK — D. Cassidy (rep. A. Jamieson), M. Jaffray , K. Saunders, S.
Tomlinson, C. Hunter, G. Blair, F. Jack, P. Lyons , D. Hoggan, M.
Murray (rep. J. McDonald), M. Barnett, D. Jackson, C. Forster, F.
Stevenson, M. de Franck (rep. N. Darling).

Referee — K. Montgomery (Dollar).

BLAIR KICK PROJECT. Selkirk stand-off Guy Blair slots home the third of
his five successful penalty kicks at Hartree Mill on Saturday.
(Pictures J.Smail)