Grangemouth 19 Selkirk 29

Second half fightback seals Selkirk victory

ANY casual spectator watching the first half of Saturday’s match between Grangemouth and Selkirk at Glensburgh, would have been forgiven for thinking it was the visitors, rather than the home team, who had been relegated to BT Premiership Division Three. For despite securing ample possession and working themselves into promising positions, a combination of basic errors, slack marking and the concession of needless penalties saw Selkirk hand the early initiative to a fired-up Grangemouth team.
And while Selkirk over-elaborated and struggled to put two consecutive phases together, Grangemouth’s more direct approach constantly had the visitors on the back foot, with the home threequarters looking especially dangerous each time the ball was moved wide. Playing into the sun and with the breeze in their favour, Selkirk took the lead in the eighth minute when Guy Blair was successful with his second penalty attempt. This was to prove the team’s only success in a nightmare first half showing.
Twice it looked as though breaks by Kiwi wing Simon Murdoch would lead to scores, but on each occasion the try-scoring chance was squandered. Worse was to follow, for having set up camp on the home try line, Selkirk contrived to concede three penalties in quick succession, allowing play to switch to the other end of the field.
From a scrum outside Selkirk’s 22, Grangemouth full-back John Campbell came into the line, dummied his way past a defender and sent out a try-scoring pass to left wing Mike Parsons, who touched down near the corner. With Selkirk’s play still failing to show any kind of urgency, home
skipper Donald Hughes caught the visitors napping by quickly taking a penalty to himself and then bursting over the line from 10 metres out with barely a hand being laid on him. The try was converted by Halliday, giving Grangemouth a deserved 12-3 lead at the interval.
A halftime tongue-lashing by coach Mick Craig appeared to jolt Selkirk’s players back to reality, but no sooner had the second half got under way than Grangemouth stunned the visitors with another try. A Selkirk player was adjudged to be in front of the kicker at a 22 drop-out, and from the resultant scrum Parsons beat Fraser Harkness to Arnold’s chip over the line to score his second try of the match. Now trailing 19-3, ironically it was the mystifying yellow-carding of visiting skipper Scott Tomlinson — followed soon afterwards by an off-the-ball rammy in which Neil Darling appeared more sinned against than sinner — that at last galvanised Selkirk into action. Stand-in scrum-half Michael Jaffray started the ball rolling in the 62nd minute when, from a scrum close to the Grangemouth line, he somehow managed to squeeze his way past three defenders to score. Tomlinson then made an immediate impact on his return to the fray six minutes later. A powerful break by the scrum-half upfield culminated in him drawing his man in textbook fashion before slipping the ball to Blair, for his half-back partner to score under the posts and add the conversion. Two minutes later Selkirk finally went back in front, after good lead-up work by Murdoch and Alistair Lyall (one of the visitors’ best performers on the day) saw Blair break clear and send Harkness over for a try. Blair’s conversion made it 22-19.
In the dying moments of the game it looked as though Grangemouth might still have the last laugh, as they pressed hard on the visitors’ line. Fraser Harkness had other ideas, however, with the full-back intercepting Arnold’s pass inside his own 22, and then running the length of the field for Selkirk’s fourth try and a bonus point.
Blair’s successful conversion brought the curtain down on a remarkable Selkirk fightback, which cements the club’s eighth position in the league with only one premiership game (away against Kelso) to play.

SELKIRK — F. Harkness, C. Hunter, A. Lyall, M. Jaffray , S. Murdoch, G. Blair, S. Tomlinson, J. Macdonald (rep. S. Renwick, 61 mins), I. Walling
(rep. E. Robbie, 47 mins), M. Murray, N. Darling (rep. G. Ruthven, 79 mins), M. Barnett, J. Ross, R. Crockatt, A. Heatlie.

Referee — G. Duncan (Ellon).

UP AGAINST IT. Grangemouth’s double try scorer, Mike Parsons, prepares
to kick upfield as the Glensburgh side keep Selkirk under pressure in
the first half of Saturday’s BT Premiership fixture.

PASS MARKS. Selkirk skipper Scott Tomlinson finds number eight Alister
Heatlie up in support, as Selkirk begin to claw their way back against
Grangemouth at Glensburgh on Saturday.