Selkirk take the glory, but it’s
still Boroughmuir’s day
IN one of the most pulsating, passionate and gripping
cup ties ever witnessed at Philiphaugh, Selkirk outplayed first division leaders
Boroughmuir in every department except the one that ultimately matters the most - putting points on the board.
For 70 minutes of Saturday’s electrifying encounter, the livewire Souters had the highly fancied visitors on the
rack. The heroic home pack monopolised possession right from the kick-off, driving relentlessly around the fringes
and quickly gaining the upper hand in the scrummaging battle. Behind them, ‘Muir’s slick threequarters were stopped
dead in their tracks time after time by Selkirk’s gutsy back division, who refused to give an inch of ground.
Every single Selkirk player, from No. 1 to 15, performed as if his life depended on it. The home supporters also
played their part, with the decibel level in the stand and along the touchline rising to fever pitch as it became
increasingly likely a cup shock of major proportions was on the cards. In fact the tone of the afternoon was set
by the 82 boys and girls of Selkirk Rhinos’ mini-rugby section who, after playing a series of demonstration matches
prior to kick-off, formed a cheering, waving guard of honour on the field as skipper Scott Tomlinson led his team
out on to the pitch. In the 80 minutes that followed, the youngsters could hardly have witnessed a more inspirational
display. Ignoring the pain of a recurring ankle strain, hooker Darren Hoggan gave a spirited lead, full of running
in the loose and always covering back to add his weight in defence. No less committed were flankers Matt de Franck
and Craig Forster, whose work rate and commitment in the ferocious close quarter exchanges were above and beyond
the call of duty. Indeed the same could be said of the entire Selkirk pack, who met fire with fire and never allowed
their heavier and more experienced opponents to settle. As it was, lock Marcus Barnett was named Selkirk’s “Man
of the Match” by the Rhinos players and coaches. Scott Tomlinson, at inside centre, also had a cracking game, his
big hits and thumping line kicks ensuring Selkirk kept the visitors on the back foot. Full-back Karl Saunders,
in his last game for the club before travelling to Spain to work in a ski resort, retired hurt in the third minute
with an eye injury, but managed to rejoin the game later in the first half.
Despite having all the pressure in the open9ing 40 minutes, Selkirk failed to turn this into points, with Guy Blair
sending three penalty attempts narrowly wide of the posts.
After the break the goal-kicking duties were switched to Tomlinson, but he, too, couldn’t manage to get his side’s
first points on the board
from two penalty attempts. Selkirk’s best try-scoring chance came in the 63rd minute, when a typically bulldozing
run from prop Martin Murray close to the Boroughmuir line looked as though it would breach the city side’s defences.
However, Murray was stopped just short, and couldn’t manage to get the ball out to the supporting de Franck. As
so often happens in sport when one team has dominated proceedings without tangible reward, Boroughmuir took the
lead from a rare attack into Selkirk territory. From quick line-out ball wing Rory Coupar appeared in midfield
and burst through the home side’s first line of defence. At the resulting ruck Selkirk were deemed offside, and
Ally Warnock stepped up to send his first penalty attempt of the afternoon straight between the posts.
Worse was to follow in the game’s final minutes, when a series of rolling mauls ended with ‘Muir skipper Ben Fisher
peeling from the final
surge to crash over for the deciding score. Warnock’s conversion proved a formality. In injury time Selkirk battled
on gamely to try and salvage a consolation score, but it was not to be. At the final whistle both sets of exhausted
players shook hands, each side recognising the depth of character such no-holds-barred cup encounters expose.
Selkirk may be out of the BT Cup, but the way the young Rhinos boys and girls swarmed around the home players to
get their autographs after the match, showed exactly who they believed were the real heroes of the hour.
SELKIRK — K. Saunders (rep. G. Lyall),
A. Jamieson, M. Jaffray , S.
Tomlinson, S. Murdoch, G. Blair, F. Jack, P. Lyons (rep. J. McDonald),
D. Hoggan, M. Murray , M. Barnett, D. Jackson, M. de Franck, C.
Forster, F. Stevenson.
Referee: J. Steele (Dumfries.).