Spectacular show by Selkirk humbles
IN CONTROL. Selkirk
prop Martin Murray presents skipper Scott Tomlinson with clean possession in Saturday’s electric Premiership clash
with league leaders Dundee HSFP at Philiphaugh.
THIS result might have sent shock
waves around the Scottish club scene on Saturday afternoon, but supporters who witnessed an epic contest at Philiphaugh
know full well that the better team won on the day. Just as they had done against Biggar in the recent BT Cup tie,
Selkirk’s players turned the form book on its head to gain sweet revenge for a previous humiliation — November’s
79-10 drubbing by Biggar having been turned into a 19-14 victory, while September’s 50-12 humiliation in Dundee
was transformed into a richly deserved 29-23 triumph.
At the heart of the home side’s victory lay the kind of pride and passion which can change a rugby team from being
gallant also-rans to inspired winners. For having suffered the agony of an injury time defeat against Jed the previous
weekend, Selkirk looked hell-bent on ensuring lightning wasn’t going to strike twice.
In a match which demanded that Selkirk’s more seasoned performers give a lead to their less experienced team-mates,
it was two of the home team’s youngest players who ultimately made the biggest impact on proceedings. Wing Craig
Hunter (19) was nothing short of a revelation, scoring both of Selkirk’s tries and exhibiting the kind of confidence
that is making him one of the most exciting threequarters on the Borders scene. His interplay with Fraser Harkness
down the right flank helped keep the visitors at full stretch, and his brace of touchdowns make it eight for the
season: edging him ahead of his former Youth Club team-mate, who has scored seven to date. No less influential
was Michael Rutherford. The Scotland under-19 player displayed a remarkable degree of poise, given the fiery Border
League baptism he had undergone seven days previously, and which resulted in him wearing a scrum cap David Humphreys-style
for this match. The talented stand-off missed only one of eight goal-kicks, ending up with a personal haul of 19
points (taking his tally to 49 from seven appearances).
However, it is perhaps unfair to single out individuals for praise in what was an outstanding team effort, with
every Selkirk player prepared to put their body on the line. Prop Martin Murray carried the ball to telling effect
despite suffering a painful ankle knock after the break, while lock Neil Darling’s work rate continues to rise
with each senior appearance.
Borders pro. player Matt Taylor showed he is fast approaching full match fitness following a protracted recovery
period from his foot injury, while the Aussie’s fellow countryman, Matt de Franck, turned in yet another five-star
display both in attack and defence. Number eight Alister Heatlie is now fulfilling the promise he showed at semi-junior
level, before a spate of injuries disrupted his senior playing career.
Behind the scrum skipper Scott Tomlinson was in inspirational form, his booming left foot pile-drivers keeping
the visitors hemmed in their own
half for lengthy spells. Outside him player-coach Denver Rumney threw down the gauntlet with a crushing tackle
on Lindsay Graham in the early exchanges, thereafter showing the kind of single-minded commitment that helped
keep Dundee’s much-vaunted back line in check. Ironically it was Dundee who made the more positive start. After
only four minutes a wayward pass from Rutherford landed in no-man’s land, and Dundee wing Dougie Gray fly-hacked
the ball 70 metres downfield to pick up and score. Fellow wing Jon Petty’s conversion sailed over. Rutherford cut
the deficit from a penalty, but on the 15-minute mark a wonderfully silky break by Dundee’s Kiwi fly-half Mike
Kerr saw the No. 10 weave his way past four Selkirk players and run virtually the full length of the pitch to score
a sizzling try, which Petty again converted.
Having elected to play against the elements in the first half, and despite leaking these two scores, Selkirk began
to exert more control on proceedings, keeping the ball in hand and driving upfield through Dwayne Jackson and Steven
Renwick. Rutherford eventually kicked a second penalty to make the score 14-6 in the visitors’ favour. In the 22nd
minute Hunter brought the crowd to its feet. Skilfully catching an awkward pass wide on the right, the lanky wing
deftly cut inside and scythed through the Dundee defence to scorch over under the posts for a fine solo try. Rutherford’s
conversion was a formality, and despite another penalty from Petty — after referee Jimmy Graham had words with
Ewen Robbie, Taylor and Dundee’s Ireland u-21 lock Neil McComb — the home team were still in the hunt at halftime,
with the score 17-13 in Dundee’s favour.
With the wind now at their backs, the home players stepped up a gear. A successful penalty kick by Rutherford was
countered by a smartly taken Kerr drop-goal, and soon afterwards Dundee flanker Chris Cumming was yellow-carded
for persistent infringement. Rutherford’s penalty left Selkirk a single point in arrears. This was the signal for
all-out attack, and after Tomlinson had cleverly stolen Dundee’s scrum ball, visiting hooker Dougie McLaren was
unceremoniously yellow-carded by the referee. Since the penalty award was slap-bang in front of the goal-posts,
an attempt at goal looked a certainty. Michael Rutherford had other ideas, however. Taking a quick tap, he transferred
the ball right to Tomlinson, and the Selkirk captain found Hunter wide out. Despite having two men to beat, the
gutsy wing switched on the after-burners and blazed over at the corner for a try which had the fired-up home crowd
roaring its appreciation. Rutherford’s magnificent touchline conversion put Selkirk ahead for the first time in
To their credit, the league leaders threw everything into attack in the remaining minutes, Petty reducing the deficit
to 26-23 from a penalty. This time, however, Selkirk’s players were in no mood to surrender victory, and restored
their six-point lead thanks to Rutherford’s fifth successful penalty of the of the afternoon.
What seemed like an eternity of injury time was then played out, as sheets of rain whipped across Philiphaugh.
By then none of the home supporters could care how soaked they became — Selkirk’s team of young heroes had battled
their way to one of the upsets of the BT Premiership season.
Craig Hunter — his
proved crucial for Selkirk.
at goal kept team in touch.
SELKIRK — F. Harkness, C. Hunter, D. Rumney, A. Lyall, A. Jamieson (rep. G. Blair 55 mins), M. Rutherford, S.
Tomlinson, S. Renwick, E.
Robbie, M. Murray, D. Jackson, N. Darling, M. de Franck, A. Heatlie, M. Taylor.
Referee — J. Graham (Gala).