Murrayfiield Wanderers 17 Selkirk 10
THEY say misfortunes always happen in threes. And
if you donít think this is so, then ask anyone watching Selkirkís opening day defeat at the hands of Murrayfield
Wanderers in the capital, where no fewer than threeof the visitorsí key players had to leave the field injured.
However, even allowing for the disruption this state of affairs undoubtedly caused, the Souters didnít do themselves any favours by allowing a hungrier Murrayfield side to capitalise on unforced errors at critical periods of the game. Too often Selkirkís most promising moves foundered, either because a wrong option was taken or because of lack of support for the ball carrier. Wanderers, on the other hand, looked more confident and aggressive when in possession, and almost always crossed the gain line.
Both sides had to contend with a strong cross-field wind, and it wasSelkirk who took the lead in the sixth minute when Carl McWilliamís clearance kick was charged down by Billy Gentleman. The flanker fly-hacked the ball towards the home try-line, and Guy Blair deftly picked it up returned it inside for Gentleman to score. Blairís hooked his conversion kick wide under pressure from an advancing Murrayfield player.
Shortly afterwards Selkirk suffered their first major setback when flanker Craig Forster, who has been in outstanding form so far this season, was forced to leave the pitch with a troublesome back injury, his place going to Aussie newcomer Matt de Franck.
Murrayfield took the lead in the 17th minute when the home threequarters launched a counterattack deep in their own half and, having sucked Selkirkís backs into the middle of the field, full-back Ian Henderson found himself in acres of space on the right wing. His mazy 50-metre solo run was rewarded by a try near the corner, which McWilliam coolly converted.
With Selkirkís composure badly shaken, Murrayfield went further ahead when de Franckís hurried clearance kick was charged down by McWilliam, who collected the ball and dived over for a score, which he again converted.
Selkirkís second injury blow came when a clash of heads saw Billy Gentleman helped to the sidelines. With only three Selkirk replacements on duty, scrum-half replacement Fraser Jack was pressed into service at wing-forward. Just before the interval Selkirk finally began to put some phases together, with Martin Murrayís bulldozing run allowing David Cassidy to slip his marker and make a powerful break upfield. When stopped, Craig Hunter had the presence of mind to come off his wing and carry Cassidyís inside pass over the line for the visitorsí second score. Blairís conversion flew wide, making the halftime score 14-10 in Wanderersí favour.
After the break, and with the elements now in their
favour, Selkirk had several chances to grab the lead, but simply couldnít find the killer touch when it mattered.
The Soutersí most sustained spell of pressure on the home try-line came to a shuddering halt when skipper Cammy
Cochrane was stopped in his tracks by a double tackle, the impact of which badly buckled his right knee, leaving
the centre lying in agony on the ground. A stretcher was called for, and the player taken down to the BGH, where
medial ligament damage was later diagnosed, necessitating a lengthy lay-off. Cochraneís departure meant another
formation change for the visitors,
this time John McDonald coming in on the loosehead, with Darren Hoggan switching to blindside flanker. Although Selkirk threatened a comeback on more than one occasion in the final stages, it was Murrayfield who had the final say when McWilliam slotted a penalty to make the score17-10 in the city teamís favour.
Referee David Douglas
from Hawick lines up the front rows,