Selkirk 23 .....Jedforest 24

Jed snatch defiant victory in dying seconds

GAMES between these two clubs are always tense, close-run affairs, but Saturdayís encounter will go down as one of the most dramatic of recent times.
With only 12 minutes to go the visitors had two players off the field on yellow cards, and trailed Selkirk by 23 points to 14. It looked all over for the Royal Blues. However, a series of mistakes and wrong options by Selkirk left the door ajar, and Jed took full advantage to score two tries ó the clincher coming from Jamie McCraw in the final seconds of injury time. The win underlined the never-say-die spirit of Gary Hillís side, and showed how the return of New Zealanders Mark Fitzgerald and Jason Gill has raised the performance level of the whole team. Once again Selkirkís players were left to reflect on what might have been. The Philiphaugh side certainly showed flashes of inspiration throughout the contest, but failed to tighten the screws when in a game-winning position.
Of more immediate concern after the game was the condition of Selkirkís teenage fly-half Michael Rutherford, who had to be taken by ambulance to Borders General Hospital for precautionary tests after taking a couple of fierce hits during a typically bruising Border derby.
It was Jed who opened the scoring in the ninth minute, when Kevin Amos kicked a penalty after Dwayne Jackson had been penalised for coming in from the wrong side at a ruck. Rutherford missed a penalty kick at goal soon afterwards, but made no mistake from a similar award in the 20th minute, after Gillís late challenge was spotted by referee Matt Stevenson. For the rest of the half both sides managed to get themselves into try-scoring positions, but on each occasion unforced errors and turnovers allowed the defending team to clear their lines. The deadlock was finally broken in the 39th minute, when Amos kicked his second
penalty to put the visitors 6-3 ahead at the interval, following a call of obstruction against Selkirk.
What this match needed more than anything else was a try, and the crowd didnít have long to wait. After Jamie McCraw had been squeezed out at the corner flag by Fraser Harkness after being put in space by a superbly weighted pass from Amos, Selkirk worked their way back up the field.
Allen Jamiesonís neat chip to the try line was fly-hacked dead by Norman Laing, and from the five-metre scrum Alister Heatlie picked up and drove forward. Two phases later the ball was sent out to Martin Murray, and the prop burst through two despairing Jed tackles to score. Rutherfordís conversion attempt was almost charged down, and slid wide.
Selkirkís lead was short-lived, and after the strong-running Gill had been stopped just short of the home try line, the visiting threequarters created an overlap on the left which allowed the impressive Fitzgerald just enough time to dot the ball down wide out for a smartly taken try.
A break by Harkness and Denver Rumney then gained significant territory up the grandstand touchline, but a succession of needless penalties against them marched the home team back down the field, and Amos kicked his third penalty to increase his sideís lead to 14-8.
Just when it looked as though the game was slipping away form Selkirk, the Royal Blues appeared to hit the self-destruct button. Scrum-half Ross Godfellow was yellow-carded following a ruck infringement, and he had hardly left the field when Selkirk wing Allen Jamieson nipped in for an opportunist score, converted by Rutherford, to put Selkirk back in front.
A penalty miss by Rutherford followed soon afterwards, but the stand-off made no mistake when Jason Gill was yellow-carded for not releasing a tackled player, Rutherfordís penalty putting Selkirk 18-14 ahead.
With Jed down to 13 men, the home side took full advantage. Wing Craig Hunter broke up the right hand touchline, and managed to kick ahead for Harkness to pounce on the ball over the line and score his seventh try of the season.
The home supporters began to believe this was going to be their day, but almost immediately after returning to the field Ross Goodfellow burrowed his way over the line for a try which seemed to have caught Selkirk napping. Minutes later Gill returned from the sidelines, and soon afterwards Selkirk were awarded a penalty. Opting to kick for touch close to the Jed try line, a mix-up at the line-out saw the visitors steal possession, and wing Roy McFarlane was able to slip his markr and run the length of the field before being stopped just short of the line. Selkirk had the put-in, but were unceremoniously shunted off their own ball by the Jed eight, and seconds later Jamie McCraw gleefully dived over the line for a sensational winning try.
In their meeting earlier this season, Selkirk managed to emerge victors by a single point, and on Saturday Jed-Forest repaid the compliment. The decider will be staged on February 22 at Riverside Park, when the two clubs lock horns in the fifth round of the BT Cup. Perhaps we ainít seen nothiní yet!

CLEAN TAKE. Selkirk lock forward Dwayne Jackson safely pockets a
restart kick, while team-mate Matt de Franck gets ready to lend support
in Saturdayís division two cliffhanger against Jed-Forest.

SELKIRK ó F. Harkness, A. Jamieson, D. Rumney, A. Lyall, C. Hunter M. Rutherford, S. Tomlinson, S. Renwick, E. Robbie, M. Murray, D. Jackson,
N. Darling, J. Ross, M. de Franck, A. Heatlie. (Injury replacement: N. Brown for A. Jamieson, 24 mins).

Referee ó M. Stevenson (Stirling County).