Gala 40 Selkirk 11

Selkirk succumb to fired-up Maroons

A DESPERATELY disappointing performance saw Selkirk blown away by Gala at Netherdale on Saturday, the home side running five tries past the visitors. Indeed Selkirk’s supporters were left with a sense of deja-vu following this defeat. In the corresponding fixture at Philiphaugh back in September, Selkirk’s chances were also being talked up in the local press after their convincing victory over Kelso, while Gala looked to be in some disarray after going down to a surprise defeat against Biggar.
Prior to Saturday’s match, the same scenario existed: Selkirk had thrashed Murrayfield Wanderers at Philiphaugh, while Gala had again lost to Biggar, this time on their home turf. Sadly, the bullish noises coming from the Selkirk camp prior to Saturday’s contest were to prove as overoptimistic as they had done leading up to the September 14th fixture against the Maroons. On both occasions it has been Gala whose actions have spoken louder than words.
Ironically it was the Souters who made by far the more positive start, with the visiting pack taking the game to the Maroons in a series of tightly controlled drives. The first real scoring opportunity came when Selkirk lock Dwayne Jackson — the team’s most consistent performer this season — uncharacteristically failed to gather the ball cleanly just outside the home 22, with an overlap beckoning on his right.
Shortly afterwards disaster struck when hooker Darren Hoggan was left lying in the middle of the field with a painful leg knock. Unfortunately the visitors did not have a replacement hooker with them, so prop Paul Lyons was called off the bench to deputise. As luck would have it, the former Duns player had missed both training sessions during the week, after struggling to shake off a cold. And while Selkirk’s line-out play naturally suffered as a consequence of Hoggan’s absence, Lyons put in a power of work in both loose and set-piece play.
No sooner had the prop taking over hooking duties than Selkirk took the lead. Number eight Fred Stevenson picked up at the back of a scrum close
to the Gala line, and Billy Gentleman wrested the ball from him and burrowed over for a try. Guy Blair hooked his conversion attempt wide.
Sadly this was to prove the high point of Selkirk’s afternoon. In the 18th minute, full-back Karl Saunders couldn’t hold on to a pass as the visitors mounted a promising threequarters move, and Gala quickly swept up the loose ball and launched a counter-attack. Several phases later Maroons skipper John Dalziel found himself in space on the right, and sliced through for a try to level the scores. Jackson Berry added the conversion, and then extended his side’s lead from a penalty.
A brace of tries from Gala’s powerful Kiwi utility forward, Jason Fale (both scored in identical fashion wide on the right touchline), took the score to 20-8 at the interval, with Blair having kicked a penalty to keep the visitors in contention.
With Selkirk repeatedly losing their own line-out ball, the second half was always going to be an uphill struggle for the Philiphaugh men, and so it proved. Two Berry penalties and one from Blair put the Maroons 26-11 ahead, but it was the try scored by fly-half Andy McLean — who cut inside the Selkirk cover with barely a hand being laid on him — which signalled the beginning of the end for Selkirk’s hopes of a comeback.
Chris Dalgleish completed the visitors’ misery when he scored his team’s fifth touchdown six minutes later. To add to Selkirk’s worries, lock Dwayne Jackson was clearly struggling with a recurrence of his hamstring problem in the game’s closing stages, while Craig Forster also appeared troubled by a leg strain and was replaced by Neil Darling in the 70th minute.
This defeat puts an end to any hopes Selkirk might have entertained of challenging for the second division’s third promotion spot... and there will be no respite for the beleaguered Souters squad — an away fixture against league leaders Watsonians beckons next Saturday.

SELKIRK — K. Saunders, C. Hunter (rep. N. Brown, 69 mins), M. Jaffray ,
S. Tomlinson,, G. Blair, F. Jack, J. McDonald, D. Hoggan (rep. P. Lyons,
12 mins), M. Murray , M. Barnett (rep. D. Lithgow, 69 mins), D.
Jackson, W. Gentleman, C. Forster (rep. N. Darling, 70 mins), F.

Referee: D. Gemmell (Carrick).