Selkirk 33 Kelso3

Selkirk dig deep for morale-boosting win

FOLLOWING their nightmare league opener against Murrayfield Wanderers, Selkirk bounced back in the best possible style against Border rivals Kelso at Philiphaugh on Saturday. Putting their injury worries to one side, the purposeful Souters turned up the heat on an inexperienced Tweedsiders team to run in five top-notch tries, so securing their second consecutive bonus point of the campaign.
With skipper Cammy Cochrane and flankers Billy Gentleman and Craig Forster all sidelined, Selkirk’s selectors were forced to ring the changes both fore and aft. Fred Stevenson, returning after injury, switched to number eight, while Neil Darling and Dwayne Jackson swopped places in the second and back row. In the threequarters, Fraser Jack pulled on the No. 15 jersey, with Kiwi Karl Saunders lining up at inside centre.
Kelso, meanwhile, also found themselves shuffling their starting line-up. Skipper Adam Roxburgh was forced to sit out the match after sustaining a broken nose against Biggar the previous weekend, while full-back Morris and prop Bob Hogarth were also hors de combat.
The game started brightly for Selkirk, with Guy Blair landing two penalties from his first three attempts at goal to give the home team a deserved 6-0 lead. However, the Philiphaugh faithful became restless when their side failed to turn pressure into points — one spell on the visitors’ try line producing a stream of tap penalties but no breakthrough.
All this changed just before halftime, when 18-year-old wing Craig Hunter latched on to a loose clearance kick just inside the Kelso half, and proceeded to weave his way past a clutch of bemused defenders to touch down in the corner, giving the Souters an 11-0 halftime lead.
After the break Selkirk finally began to hit their stride, helped in large measure by Aussie Matt de Franck’s towering performance at the front of the line-out, where he managed to churn back a steady stream of ball irrespective of throw-in. It wasn’t long before Michael Jaffray increased Selkirk’s lead with a try in the corner after his forwards had put Kelso on the back foot from a rolling maul.
Although the Tweedsiders’ New Zealand fly-half Todd Donaldson managed to cut the deficit with a penalty (his first success from four attempts), there was no holding the fired-up home team, with hooker Darren Hoggan giving his pack an inspired lead, and Fred Stevenson and Dwayne Jackson taking the game to Kelso at every opportunity.
In the 57th minute Karl Saunder’s took full advantage of de Franck’s clean line-out take to carve his way through Kelso’s midfield for a cracking try. Craig Hunter’s then bagged his second try of the day — bursting over in the corner, knocking Langholm touch judge David Devlin for six in the process. To his credit, the official quickly composed himself and confirmed to referee Matt Stevenson that Hunter had not put a foot in touch.
With both sides making a string of changes, replacement Jim Ross set theseal on a satisfying afternoon’s work for Selkirk when he ran under the posts for his team’s fifth try, which Blair converted with the last kickof the game. Selkirk must now be relishing the visit of old rivals Gala this coming Saturday, in a match which has been switched from Netherdale to Philiphaugh because of Gala’s pitch improvement work has not yet been completed.

SELKIRK - F. Jack (rep. N. Brown), M. Jaffray, D. Cassidy, K. Saunders,

C. Hunter, G. Blair, S. Tomlinson, J. McDonald (rep. P. Lyons), D.

Hoggan, M. Martin, D. Jackson, M. Barnett (rep. J. Ross), N. Darling, M.
de Franck, A. Stevenson.

referee - M. Stevenson (Stirling Co.).