THE back pitches at Murrayfield continue to be a graveyard
for Selkirk’s hopes, with the visitors suffering their third successive defeat at the venue in Saturday’s opening
Premiership Division Two fixture.
ONE JUMP AHEAD. Aussie
flanker Matt de Franck secures valuable line-out
ball at Murrayfield on Saturday.
One player who has more unpleasant memories than most about the fixture is Selkirk centre Cameron Cochrane. Last
season, when skippering the side, he had to be stretchered off with torn medial ligaments, sidelining him for the
next five months. And the injury jinx struck the strong-running threequarter again on Saturday, this time a broken
finger forcing Cochrane from the field.
Perhaps the omens were against Selkirk from the start. Straight from the kick-off loosehead prop Ian Purvis was
injured — a team-mate having accidentally struck the bridge of his nose, which required three stitches. Scotland
under-19 squad member Steven Renwick came on as replacement to make his senior debut.
Despite this early setback, the visitors quickly regrouped, and an eighth minute penalty from the boot of Guy Blair
put the first points on the board. A surging run by player-coach Denver Rumney then took play deep into Wanderers’
territory, but when the centre ran out of support it was Murrayfield who reacted the quickest by launching a counter-attack
the length of the field. Only a saving tackle by Cochrane and a towering clearance by captain Scott Tomlinson kept
Selkirk’s line intact.
A second Blair penalty put Selkirk 6-0 ahead, and shortly afterwards the same player dropped a smart goal after
Purvis had expertly gathered in a sharp pass right off his boot laces to keep the move alive.
Halftime arrived with no further scoring, although
Selkirk were forced to make another change when flanker Neil Darling limped from the field with an inflamed leg.
His place was taken by ex-Murrayfield Wanderers player Dave Lithgow, who had already played a full game for the
A XV the previous evening.
Two penalties were missed by Blair in the opening minutes of the second half, before Wanderers punished a mix-up
at the base of Selkirk’s scrum. Aussie number eight picked up the ball and drove close to the visitors’ line, allowing
fly-half Farquharson to slip his tackler and score close to the posts, adding the conversion for good measure.
This try took the wind out of Selkirk’s sails, and a series of turnovers by the Philiphaugh men allowed the home
team right back into the game.
Even so it was the visitors who struck the next blow. A great line-out steal and charge by Alister Heatlie took
play into the Murrayfield half, and the ball was taken on by Rumney and Ewen Robbie to set up a promising position
just outside the home 22.
A clean-out take by Dwayne Jackson was driven forward by Matt de Franck, and when the ball came back to Blair the
fly-half shaped up to drop a goal. However, the Selkirk No. 10 found his way blocked, and to the delight of the
visiting supporters he proceeded to dummy his way past five Wanderers defenders to score a great solo try wide
on the left. Tomlinson’s conversion bounced back off the post, leaving the score 14-7 in the visitors’ favour.
Sadly this was to be the last bright spot in the contest for Selkirk. Straight form the restart the home side camped
outside the visitors’ 22, and another scrum base disaster saw Farquharson take the ball and dive under the posts
to level the scores.
By now Selkirk’s earlier confidence had evaporated, and with the Souters unable to secure their own line-out ball,
Murrayfield’s forwards began to dictate play in the set pieces. It came as no surprise when Wanderers replacement
Samparamadu bulldozed his way over the line for the clinching score.
Just before this try Cochrane had left the field injured, his place being taken by another senior debutant, centre
Alistair Lyall. In a frantic final five minutes, Selkirk managed to prevent another Murrayfield touchdown, thereby
securing a consolation bonus point.
Coaches Mick Craig and Denver Rumney certainly have plenty of work to do before their team takes on Jed-Forest
at Riverside Park this Sunday.
Selkirk — D. Cassidy, F. Harkness,
D. Rumney, C. Cochrane (rep. A. Lyall), C. Hunter, G. Blair, S. Tomlinson, I. Purvis (rep. S. Renwick),
E. Robbie, M. Murray, D. Jackson, M. Barnett, M. de Franck, N. Darling(rep. D. Lithgow), A. Heatlie.
Referee: D. Jack (Madras).