Selkirk 14, Kirkcaldy 15

Selkirk pay penalty as Fifers soak up pressure

AFTER the previous week’s heady victory over Dundee HSFP, Selkirk were brought crashing back to earth by a dogged Kirkcaldy team at Philiphaugh on Saturday. Played in continuous rain, and with underfoot conditions worsening by the minute, the home side held the upper hand in terms of possession and territory, but couldn’t translate this advantage into points. To compound matters, Selkirk also spurned several kickable penalties, but each of these try-scoring attempts foundered on the visitors’ solid defence, leaving the jubilant Kirkcaldy players whooping with delight at the final whistle.
In the absence of Scotland Under-19 representatives Michael Rutherford and Steven Renwick, Selkirk switched Ewen Robbie to loosehead prop and started Ian Walling at hooker, with Guy Blair reclaiming the No. 10 jersey.
Things could hardly have got off to a worse start for the home side, for it took the Fifers just two minutes to open their account. Centre Rob Dewey capitalised on some indifferent marking by the home threequarter line, scampering over for a surprisingly simple try at the corner flag. Two successful penalties from the boot of Guy Blair in the 15th and 19th minutes gave Selkirk the lead, before Hawick referee David Douglas was
forced to retire to the sidelines with a back strain, handing his whistle to Gala’s David Dods, who officiated for the rest of the match.

TIME OUT. Selkirk coach Mick Craig talks to his players during the halftime interval at Philiphaugh on Saturday, as the home team prepare to take the game to Kirkcaldy after the break.

Before halftime Selkirk came close to scoring on two occasions. On the half-hour mark blindside flanker Matt de Franck cleverly stole a loose ball from under the nose of Kirkcaldy scrum-half Barry Jones, and immediately set off on a 50-metre sprint to the try line. Unfortunately the Aussie’s legs couldn’t quite get him past visiting full-back Andrew Easson, who saved the day with a last-ditch tackle in the corner. Soon afterwards wing Allen Jamieson went close after fly-hacking the ball over the Kirkcaldy try line, but was just beaten to the touchdown by Colin Harvey. Shortly before the interval Jones kicked a penalty for Kirkcaldy to give the Beveridge Park team an 8-6 interval lead. With the rain increasing in intensity, Selkirk went ahead again in the 56th minute. Guy Blair’s towering up-and-under caught the Kirkcaldy centres at sixes and sevens, and three phases later Matt de Franck found space wide on the left to dummy his way past two defenders and dive over in the corner for a fine individual try. Four minutes later Ewen Robbie limped from the field with a groin injury, allowing replacement prop Grant Ruthven to take the field for his fourth senior appearance of the season.
In what was to prove almost their only foray into Selkirk’s territory in the entire second period, Kirkcaldy made their presence count with a score from lock Steve Mitchell after a sustained assault on the home try line. Jones added the conversion to give the Fifers a 15-11 advantage. In the remainder of the contest Selkirk came close to breaching the Kirkcaldy defence on several occasions, with Fraser Harkness and Craig Hunter both making probing runs along the stand touchline. Powerful bursts up the middle by Martin Murray and Alistair Lyall also gained significant yardage, but all the home side could show for their efforts was a third penalty goal from Guy Blair. Deep into injury time it looked as though Selkirk might steal the points when a tap penalty was switched open, but a knock-on in the monsoon conditions turned possession over to the visitors. Referee Dods’ whistle blew for no-side soon afterwards — the signal for Kirkcaldy’s players to begin their Christmas celebrations early, having ended a run of four successive defeats with this hard-earned win in the Philiphaugh rain.

SELKIRK — F. Harkness, C. Hunter, D. Rumney, A. Lyall, A. Jamieson, G. Blair, S. Tomlinson, E. Robbie (rep. G. Ruthven 60 mins), I. Walling, M. Murray, D. Jackson, N. Darling, M. de Franck, A. Heatlie, M. Taylor.

Referee — D. Douglas, Hawick Wanderers (replaced after 25 mins by D.Dods of Gala).