West of Scotland 29 Selkirk 3

BT Premiership Div. 2

Selkirk’s slide continues as West break duck

AFTER 16 straight league defeats, West of Scotland’s players were entitled to jump for joy at the final whistle. That the Burnbrae men also managed to pick up a try-scoring bonus point was no less than their efforts deserved, for they had looked the more committed side throughout Saturday’s match.

RUN OF PLAY. Selkirk number eight Alister Heatlie runs out of defence in Saturday’s BT Premiership match against West of Scotland at Burnbrae

Selkirk’s loss of form is all the more puzzling given that 13 members of Saturday’s team were in the starting line-up against West at Philiphaugh in October, when the Souters ran five tries past their Burnbrae opponents. In stark contrast, Saturday’s return fixture was the first match this season in which Selkirk has failed to score a try. By any yardstick, this was a hugely disappointing display by the Souters. Unforced errors, turnovers and missed tackles were compounded by the concession of a continuous stream of penalties — this lack of discipline allowing West to grow in confidence as the match progressed.
Unable to secure clean possession at the breakdown, lack of support for the ball carrier also cost the visitors dear, with Matt de Franck and Alister Heatlie regularly finding themselves isolated after promising drives.
Selkirk nevertheless made a positive start to the game, with their line-outs and scrums more solid than in recent weeks. However, it was West who made the all-important breakthrough. After the visitors had been penalised for not releasing the ball, scrum-half Dean Moeahu took a quick tap and headed straight for the Selkirk ‘22’. Some close inter-passing followed, and a missed tackle allowed West lock Andrew Kennedy to collect a scoring pass and touch down under the posts. Nick Craig converted. In the build-up to this try Selkirk fly-half Michael Rutherford aggravated a neck injury, and had to leave the field. A check-up at the BGH later revealed that the Scotland under-19 player had damaged ligaments. His place was taken by Bruce Armstrong, who moved to the wing, while Guy Blair switched to stand-off and Fraser Harkness took over at full-back.
Soon afterwards Selkirk managed to set up camp on the West try line, but the visiting threequarters couldn’t generate enough momentum to break the home defence, and a penalty against de Franck for coming in from the side allowed West to lift the siege.
In the 36th minute the home team showed their opponents how to turn pressure into points, when a line-out turnover and yet another missed tackle allowed wing David Young to score under the posts. Craig’s conversion took the score to 14-0, which is how it stayed until halftime.
Stern words from coaches Mick Craig and Denver Rumney during the interval had an immediate effect on Selkirk, and a clean line-out take and drive by Neil Darling set up the position for Guy Blair to put his team’s first points on the board from a penalty. Darling turned sinner three minutes later when he gave away a penalty, allowing West to gain significant yardage from a quickly taken tap. Craig then missed a penalty kick after an infringement by Heatlie, but the West full-back made no mistake from a similar attempt after the Selkirk number eight had again been penalised. The point of no return for the Borderers came in the 61st minute when Armstrong failed to hold a pass wide on the right flank, and Moeahu gathered the loose ball to sprint 30 metres up the touchline for an
opportunist try. With the Selkirk players’ heads now beginning to go down, West’s right wing Andy Park completed the visitors’ misery when he cut clean through for his side’s fourth try and a bonus point.
In the game’s final stages Selkirk were awarded two penalties in succession as they tried for a consolation score, but after opting for quick taps the ball was knocked forward on each occasion, which just about summed up the visitors’ day.

SELKIRK — G. Blair, N. Brown, M. Jaffray, A. Lyall, F. Harkness, M. Rutherford (rep. B. Armstrong 26 mins), S. Tomlinson, S. Renwick , E.
Robbie (rep. I. Walling 66 mins), M. Murray (rep. G. Ruthven 57 mins), D. Jackson, M. Barnett, N. Darling (rep. K. Connor 74 mins), A. Heatlie,
M. de Franck.

Referee — R. McKinnon (Marr).