Selkirk 38 Murrayfield Wanderers 14

No-nonsense Selkirk put on their Sunday best.

‘WE should play all our games on a Sunday!’ a jubilant Selkirk supporter remarked to his friend, as the teams trooped off the Philiphaugh pitch after the final whistle had blown to end Sunday’s premiership fixture. And he had a point, for the born-again Souters were almost unrecognisable from the team who had lost so abjectly on previous Saturdays to sides such as Grangemouth, Biggar and Gala.
The home players certainly looked as though they wanted to expunge the memory of their nightmarish season opener against Wanderers at Murrayfield, where everything that could possibly go wrong, did just that.
No-one epitomised this transformation better than Kiwi utility threequarter Karl Saunders. In recent weeks the Christchurch High School Old Boys player has looked decidedly off the pace, but on Sunday - having been switched to his preferred position of full-back - Saunders gave a five-star performance, running in two tries and demonstrating genuine pace.

Selkirk scrum-half Fraser Jack makes a blindside break, watched by Matt de Franck and Fred Stevenson. (Picture - Clapperton Studios, Selkirk).

With a bit of luck this turnaround in form will rub off on his team-mates, so that Selkirk can finally rediscover the kind of consistency so essential to a belated promotion push. The home side’s other overseas player, Aussie blindside flanker Matt de Franck had another solid day at the office, while ex-Duns lock Dwayne Jackson anchored the home pack against a visiting eight who had clearly been primed for an all-out effort by coach Peter Wright. The only serious setback suffered by Selkirk came in the 24th minute, when wing forward Billy Gentleman had to retire with a badly cut lip, his place being taken by an equally gutsy character, Craig Forster.

Having allowed Wanderers back into the game at 17-14, with Selkirk’s points having come from a neat chip-and-chase try by Saunders plus four penalties from the boot of Guy Blair, Selkirk weathered a fierce fightback by the visitors and restored their two-score cushion when Craig Hunter galloped over in the corner for his ninth try of the campaign. Blair’s conversion from the touchline was a beauty.

This gave fresh heart to the home team, and soon afterwards a great drive upfield by the forwards, with Marcus Barnett and Fred Stevenson to the fore, saw Martin Murray burrow his way over the line for his first try of the campaign.
With injury time running out, the crowning moment of the afternoon came when Saunders gathered the ball from a miss move wide on the left touchline, and sprinted past the visitors’ defence for a glorious individual try, which not only sealed the match in style but earned Selkirk its sixth bonus point of the season.
Another committed display like this against Kelso on Friday night, and the good times might just be coming back to Philiphaugh.

SELKIRK — K. Saunders, N. Brown, M. Jaffray , S. Tomlinson, C. Hunter,
G. Blair, F. Jack, P. Lyons, D. Hoggan, M. Murray , M. Barnett, D.
Jackson, W. Gentleman (rep. C. Forster, 24 mins), F. Stevenson, M. de
Franck.

Referee: D. Dods (Gala).

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