BOTH sides gave it their best shot in Saturday’s
“Southern Reporter” Border League match at Philiphaugh, but in the end it was Hawick’s superior fire-power up front
which proved the decisive factor. Selkirk did have the consolation of scoring the most exciting try of the afternoon
(if not of the whole season) through their talented 18-year-old centre Alistair Lyall, who proved one of the home
team’s top performers, and typified the Souters’ resilience under pressure. Although this was Hawick’s first Border
League fixture of the season, under the competition’s new format only Jed-Forest now realistically stand between
the Mansfield Park club and a place in the play-off decider.
Ironically in the early stages of the match it was Selkirk who made all the running. However, home fly-half Michael
Rutherford was only able to convert one of three penalty attempts in the opening 11 minutes to put his side 3-0
up, and with 18 minutes on the clock Hawick struck a telling blow. At a line-out five metres from Selkirk’s 22,
Greens hooker Graham Scott threw short to front jumper Ian Elliot, who in turn flipped the ball straight back to
him, allowing Gray to scramble over for a try in the corner without a finger being laid on him. To their credit
it took the home side less than three minutes to regain the lead. Despite losing their own line-out throw, Selkirk
managed to regain possession at a ruck in midfield. When the ball reached Denver
Rumney, the former Ulster centre sliced clean through the visiting defence, before drawing the last defender in
textbook fashion and sending out a perfectly weighted scoring pass to Fraser Harkness. The young wing duly touched
down for a neatly worked try. Rutherford’s conversion kick drifted wide, leaving Selkirk just 8-5 ahead. After
this setback Hawick’s forwards stepped up the pace, with number eight Barrie Keown and South African flanker Fergus
Pringle making deep inroads into enemy territory. Something had to give, and just before halftime an all-out assault
on the home try line resulted in Pringle forcing his way over in the corner for a try, converted by Colin Murray,
making the interval score 12-8 in the visitors’ favour.
With the lighter home pack visibly tiring as they struggled to contain the Greens’ more powerful eight, Hawick
stretched their lead to 24-8 with tries from tighthead prop Willie Blacklock and openside flanker Jamie Parker
— both scores stemming from concerted line-out drives. Murray converted the second.
Far from letting their heads go down, Selkirk’s players answered in the best possible fashion. A mazy run by Craig
Hunter saw the wing run round his opposite number before passing inside to the supporting de Franck. The Aussie
number eight made ground before slipping the ball to Blair, who in turn found Rutherford at his elbow. The Scotland
under-19 player had little room in which to work, but managed to off-load to Lyall, who needed no second invitation
to dive over the line for a breath-taking try. Shortly afterwards Selkirk lost the services of Rumney with a leg
knock as Hawick hammered away on the home try line. Replacement Allen Jamieson had hardly had time to take the
field before Bruce McNeill bulldozed his way over for the Greens’ fifth try of the match, putting the game out
of Selkirk’s reach at 29-13. In the final 10 minutes home skipper Scott Tomlinson and Hawick’s Fergus Pringle were
both yellow-carded as tempers boiled over at a ruck, while former Selkirk number eight Fred Stevenson ran out on
to his old stomping ground (only this time in a Greens jersey) as one of the visitors’ replacements. It was left
to Hawick centre Craig Neish to apply the ‘coup de grace’ by capitalising on a mix-up in the home threequarter
line to scoop up the loose ball and saunter over for the game’s final try, which he converted for good measure.
So Selkirk ended their seventh successive home fixture on a losing note, but with the consolation of knowing that
the club’s newly reseeded Philiphaugh pitch has withstood such an extended period of use remarkably well. And any
side which can conjure up tries of the quality of Alistair Lyall’s, deserves its field of dreams.
SELKIRK — G. Blair, C. Hunter, D.
Rumney (rep. A. Jamieson 58 mins), A. Lyall, F. Harkness, S. Tomlinson, I. Walling (rep. E. Robbie 41 mins),
L. Carrick, D. Jackson, N. Darling, J. Ross (rep. M. Barnett 70 mins), M. Taylor, M. de Franck.
Referee — I. Heard (Gala).