Selkirk 17 Gala 31

Selkirk caught cold by fired-up Maroons

THOSE Selkirk supporters who thought their team might gain an advantage from Saturday’s match being switched from Netherdale to Philiphaugh, had their expectations cruelly shattered by a rampant Gala side. Indeed so dominant were the Maroons for long periods in the game, that it looked to all intents and purposes as though it was Gala’s players who were performing on home soil.
It was obvious right from the start that the Maroons were keyed up for this local derby, and that harsh words must have been exchanged on the Gala training field this week following the previous weekend’s shock
defeat by Biggar. Selkirk, on the other hand, looked a pale shadow of the side which had run five tries past Kelso last Saturday, and struggled to match their opponents in almost every department. With a bit of luck Watsonians might feel the backlash this coming Saturday at Philiphaugh. For if the Souters do give such a lacklustre display against the men from Myreside, then they can be assured of another drubbing every bit as comprehensive as last season’s 29-10 defeat.
It was Gala’s livewire back division who stole the show on Saturday, skipper David Gray demonstrating the kind of form in midfield which made him a regular in Scotland’s sevens squad last season. Gray it was who
set the tone for the afternoon as early as the third minute, when he surged over for the game’s opening try.
To their credit Selkirk raised their game and David Cassidy set off on a 50-metre run which came to nothing when he ran out of support. Next a bulldozing charge from Marcus Barnett took play tantalisingly close to
the Gala tryline, but Matt de Franck just failed to hold the final pass with a touchdown beckoning. With both defences giving nothing away, it wasn’t until the half-hour mark that Selkirk cut the deficit through a
Guy Blair penalty, but there were some worried faces on the standtouchline when pack leader Darren Hoggan limped off with a rib injury after taking a sold hit following a tap penalty.
The biggest cheer of the day came when teenage wing Craig Hunter appeared in midfield to take Blair’s pop-up pass on the loop and sprint over for a try near the posts, which Blair duly converted to put the Souters 10-5 ahead. This was Hunter’s fourth try in his last three games.
Gala were not to be denied for long, however, and when Fraser Jack’s attempted chip over the head of Gala’s left wing was caught by the player, this allowed the Maroons to pressurise Selkirk’s line, and they were eventually rewarded with a penalty which visiting fly-half Andy McLean duly kicked. The same player repeated the feat soon afterwards, giving Gala a narrow 11-10 lead at the interval.
Instead of raising the tempo after the beak, Selkirk were once again punished for failing to clear their lines: de Franck being penalised for not releasing, allowing McLean to slot his third penalty of the afternoon. Things now started to go from bad to worse for the home side, who were caught flat-footed by several Gala counter-attacks, one of which resulted in visiting No. 8 Jason Fale — Gala’s most influential player — touching down near the left-hand corner.
With Selkirk’s players beginning to lose heart, two more lightning break-outs by the Maroons — who ironically were down to 14 men in this period of the game following a sin-binning — resulted in runaway scores
for hooker Ian McCall and livewire scrum-half Ian Wilson, the latter converted by McLean, putting the visitors out of sight at 31-10.
In the dying seconds Selkirk managed to score a consolation try through lock Marcus Barnett, converted by Blair, but this couldn’t disguise the disparity between the two sides, with Gala’s players always appearing
the sharper, hungrier, and less error-prone of the two teams.
It goes without saying coach Mick Craig won’t be mincing his words at Philiphaugh this week as he battles to focus Selkirk’s players’ minds on this Saturday’s equally tough assignment against unbeaten Watsonians.

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

Referee — G. Davies (Fettes College).