Selkirk go down fighting in cup thriller

Jed-Forest 30 Selkirk 20

UP FOR IT. Selkirk lock Marcus Barnett secures line-out ball in Sunday’s BT Cup tie against Jed-Forest at Riverside Park.

A BITTERLY cold wind may have swept across Riverside Park on Sunday afternoon, but the heat generated by Jed-Forest and Selkirk in a passionate BT Cup fifth round tie helped keep the crowd well insulated against the freezing conditions. Having elected to play against the elements in the first half, it looked as though the home team might come to rue their decision, as a fired-up Selkirk side battled to a 20-5 lead with halftime fast approaching. However, in the space of three minutes the game turned dramatically in the Royal Blues’ favour. A missed penalty in front of the Jed posts was compounded when, in the next passage of play, Kiwi centre Mark Fitzgerald blasted his way past two defenders from 65 metres to sprint under the posts for a blistering score. Kevin Amos’ conversion pegged the visitors’ interval lead to 20-12, puncturing Selkirk’s earlier confidence at a stroke. Even so, the Souters showed commendable spirit throughout the contest, and their dogged resilience allowed them to hang on to the lead until five minutes from the final whistle, when replacement scrum-half Robin Laing pounced for an opportunist try, after which there was no way back.
Both sides appeared evenly matched in some no-holds-barred early exchanges, with Jed fly-half Chris Richards’ clever line-kicks low into the wind gaining sizeable chunks of territory. The visitors managed to weather the storm, however, and two well-struck penalties by Guy Blair put Selkirk 6-0 up after 15 minutes.
The visitors then lost the services of Denver Rumney with a hip injury, his place on the right wing going to Craig Hunter. Almost immediately Jed hit back through number eight David Forster, who was driven over for a try following a line-out close to the home line. A high tackle on Ally Lyall then allowed Blair another shot at goal. His attempt fell just short, but full-back Kevin Amos carried the ball over his own line to touch down, and Selkirk were awarded a five-metre scrum. A quick strike allowed skipper Scott Tomlinson to spin the ball left, with Fraser Harkness hitting the line at full tilt to score. Blair’s conversion sailed over.
Six minutes later the visitors stretched their lead in spectacular style. Jed’s quickly taken tap penalty just outside Selkirk’s 22 was knocked on, and the ball was quickly shipped to Craig Hunter. The long-striding wing eluded the clutches of opposite number Roy McFarlane, and proceeded to sprint 70 metres up the field for a superb individual try. Blair’s conversion put Selkirk 20-5 in front.
Just before halftime came that penalty miss and Fitzgerald’s power-packed touchdown, leaving the Royal Blues just eight points adrift, with the gusting wind now at their backs for the remainder of the match. Hard as Selkirk tried to stem the Royal Blue tide — and their players strained every sinew to keep Jed at bay — two successful penalties from the boot of Amos put the home team within touching distance of their opponents. With John Szkudro and Simon Murdoch on the sidelines following yellow cards from referee John Brownlee, it was left to replacement scrum-half Robin Laing to put Jed ahead for the first time in the match with a try five minutes from time, converted by Amos. Moments later Forster scored his second touchdown of the match in almost identical fashion to his first, ending Selkirk’s dream of BT Cup glory for another season.

SELKIRK — F. Harkness, D. Rumney (rep. C. Hunter, 17 mins), A. Lyall, M. Jaffray , S. Murdoch, G. Blair, S. Tomlinson, J. Macdonald, E. Robbie
(rep. I. Walling, 75 mins), M. Murray, N. Darling, M. Barnett, J. Ross, R. Crockatt, A. Heatlie.

Referee — J. Brownlee (Gala).

Fraser Harkness and Craig Hunter — their first half tries boosted Selkirk.