Selkirk keep nerve to sink gutsy
SELKIRK reached the halfway mark of this season’s
BT Premiership Division Two campaign with a hard-fought, edgy but ultimately deserved victory over a spirited Grangemouth
team. In their last two league matches the Souters’ inability to turn scoring opportunities into points has cost
them dear, and for a while on Saturday at Philiphaugh it looked as though history was going to repeat itself.
A scintillating 65-metre break by Fraser Harkness in the 14th minute looked certain to produce a try, but Grangemouth
somehow managed to get enough numbers back in defence to close down supporting players Allen Jamieson and Matt
de Franck, and the chance was lost.
Minutes later a burst through the centre by player-coach Denver Rumney allowed David Cassidy to make further inroads
into enemy territory, but a turnover at the next ruck allowed the visitors to clear their lines.
Earlier fly-half Michael Rutherford had put Selkirk ahead from a ninth minute penalty, but the teenager’s next
effort from point-blank range rebounded off a post, leading home supporters to fear that once again this just might
not be their team’s day.
Despite their lowly league position, Grangemouth’s players had shown tremendous commitment from the word go, with
some astute tactical kicking by fly-half Paul Arnold (a former Instonians team-mate of Denver Rumney) keeping Selkirk
pinned in their own half.
A defining moment in the match came when visiting wing Michael Dodd burst clear on the stand side and sprinted
for the corner. Denver Rumney was the only player left to beat, and the Selkirk player-coach didn’t flinch from
the tackle — throwing himself at Dodd to stop the Grangemouth wing dead in his tracks, thereby preventing a sure-fire
Heartened by this let-off — and with a visiting flanker in the sin bin for persistently preventing release at the
breakdown — at the next scrum home skipper Scott Tomlinson cleverly switched the ball blind, and Harkness needed
no second bidding to burst past his man and stride over for a try. Rutherford’s conversion made the interval score
10-0 in Selkirk’s favour.
Straight from the restart Grangemouth had the chance to cut the deficit through a straightforward Arnold penalty,
but the stand-off hooked his attempt wide. Despite this let-off Selkirk continued to make life hard for themselves
by turning over the ball in promising situations, while yet again the home line-outs failed to deliver any possession.
Nevertheless the visitors’ growing confidence received a severe dent in the 52nd minute. Grangemouth’s new Kiwi
scrum-half, Stuart Hammond, attempted a box kick just outside his 22, only to see his kick charged down by Selkirk’s
livewire Aussie flanker Matt de Franck, who then brilliantly gathered the loose ball and streaked home for a sensational
score wide out.
In the 55th minute Arnold made up for his earlier miss by kicking a penalty, and soon afterwards Grangemouth clawed
their way back to 15-10 when full-back Mike Parsons exposed a huge gap in Selkirk’s defence on the right flank,
powering his way over for a try near the corner flag, superbly converted by Arnold.
Yet again the home side refused to be disheartened, and a spirited drive by lock Neil Darling — one of Selkirk’s
best performers on the day — was carried on by Allen Jamieson. The wing found Alister Heatlie at his elbow, and
the number eight needed no second bidding to crash over for a try, converted by Rutherford.
This was the signal for Selkirk to launch a series of attacks on the visitors’ try line, with Martin Murray, Jamieson
and Matt Taylor all being held just short. Eventually Rutherford put the game beyond Grangemouth’s reach with his
second penalty of the afternoon.
To their credit the Glensburgh players were determined to go down fighting, and right on full-time South African
number eight Mike Heyl scored a try in the corner, where only seconds earlier ex-Greens centre Donald Hughes had
been forced into touch.
Selkirk’s three try scorers — Fraser Harkness, Matt de Franck and Alister
Selkirk now have a run of six home games, which
should be a golden opportunity to lift themselves higher up the Division Two table.
SELKIRK — F. Harkness, C. Hunter,
D. Cassidy, D. Rumney, A. Jamieson, M. Rutherford (rep. G. Blair 78 mins), S. Tomlinson, S. Renwick,I. Walling,
M. Murray, D. Jackson, N. Darling, M. de Franck, A. Heatlie, M. Taylor.
Referee — J. Brownlee (Gala).