Selkirk 27 Kirkcaldy 3

Kirkcaldy suffer the blues, as Selkirk show true colours.

THE nerves, and patience, of Selkirk’s hard core of supporters have been sorely tested over the past three weeks... so much so that Saturday’s home fixture against Kirkcaldy saw the Souters’ whole season go on the line. A fourth consecutive defeat would not only put the side’s slim chances of promotion way beyond reach, it would send a message to the rest of the clubs in Premiership Division Two that Selkirk’s pre-season ‘dark horse’ tag must have been some kind of elaborate hoax. Thankfully the players kept their nerve in Saturday’s showdown with the Kirkcaldy Blues, showing the kind of gritty determination and team work ethic which has been so noticeably absent in their three previous matches. Even the late call-off of top try scorer Craig Hunter, who strained a calf muscle in midweek playing for the Reivers under-19 team, failed to put Selkirk off their stride. In short, Selkirk rediscovered their pride on Saturday, and boy didn’t the Philiphaugh faithful appreciate it!
For once the home threequarters all appeared to be ‘on message’, with Fraser Jack positively revelling in his return to the base of the scrum, while skipper Scott Tomlinson’s switch to inside centre allowed Kiwi utility back Karl Saunders to let the Selkirk supporters see his pace. David Cassidy also seemed to appreciate his return to full-back, and his frequent intrusions kept the visitors’ defence at full stretch.
Up front the return of flanker Craig Forster from injury gave a huge boost to the home eight’s performance. Not only did ‘Fozzy’ tackle himself almost to a standstill, but his instinctive support play and speed to the breakdown meant Kirkcaldy’s fringe players were never allowed so much as a foot over the gain line. In fact Forster’s back row pairing with Aussie wing forward Matt de Franck looked a real match-winner on Saturday, and their five-star display allowed No. 8 Fred
Stevenson to come more into the game as an attacking force.
Kirkcaldy’s Irish centre Derek McCombe opened the scoring with a fourth minute penalty for the visitors, but within minutes of the restart Selkirk took the lead. Dwayne Jackson, who is proving to be one of Selkirk’s most consistent performers, won clean line-out ball, and after Martin Murray had made ground in the loose, the ball was quickly switched blind to teenage wing Neil Brown, who gleefully touched down in the corner for his first senior points for the club. Guy Blair’s conversion into the still breeze sailed straight between the posts.
Despite keeping up the pressure for the remainder of the half, a string of missed opportunities meant that Selkirk had to be content with a 10-3 interval lead - Blair having kicked a penalty 10 minutes before the halftime whistle. At this stage Neil Darling replaced Matt de Franck, who had taken a knock, but the Aussie was able to return to the fray after a few minutes on the sidelines
Immediately after the break the home side increased their lead. A neat sidestep by Karl Saunders saw the Kiwi breach the visitors’ defence, and the centre immediately pinned his ears back and raced over for his team’s second score.
A crucial line-out take by de Franck inside Selkirk’s ‘22’ allowed Scott Tomlinson to relieve the pressure with a raking line kick, but Kirkcaldy’s blond centre Rob Dewey was starting to find gaps in the home defence, and only some last-ditch tackling kept Selkirk’s try line intact. Indeed the Souters had something of a let-off soon afterwards when Damian Petre’s drop-goal attempt (which looked spot-on) was disallowed.
Selkirk brought on replacements John McDonald and Ewen Robbie for Paul Lyons and Darren Hoggan, but it was the home side’s fourth replacement of the day - utility threequarter Alan Jamieson coming on for Michael Jaffray - who was to prove Selkirk’s secret weapon.
A great turnover tackle by de Franck allowed Fraser Jack to break up the right touchline, and the scrum-half drew his man perfectly before sending Jamieson diving over in the corner for a great try. Moments later it was Fred Stevenson’s turn to give the scoring pass to Jamieson - the ex-Hawick player selling a handful of dummies before releasing Jamieson for his second touchdown in the space of five minutes. This not only sealed victory for Selkirk, it also gained the team a precious bonus point.
This was a hugely important win for Selkirk, and lets the players go into this weekend’s league fixture at Biggar with their heads held high. However, Scott Tomlinson’s side cannot allow any complacency to creep into their game, and the players will have to work even harder if they are to come away with the right result from Hartree Mill. Nothing less than 80 minutes of hard graft will suffice.

Go for it, Selkirk!

SELKIRK — D. Cassidy, M. Jaffray (rep. A. Jamieson), K. Saunders, S.
Tomlinson, N. Brown, G. Blair, F. Jack, P. Lyons (rep. J. McDonald), D.
Hoggan (rep. E. Robbie), M. Murray, M. Barnett, D. Jackson, C. Forster,
F. Stevenson, M. de Franck (rep. N. Darling).

Referee — I. Heard (Gala YM).

CLASS ACT. Kiwi centre Karl Saunders had his best game for Selkirk on
Saturday. He is pictured trying to escape the clutches of Kirkcaldy
centres Rob Dewey (left) and Derek McCombe, while team-mates Scott
Tomlinson and Darren Hoggan await developments. (Picture by Clapperton
Studios, Selkirk).

ON THE BALL. Selkirk scrum-half Fraser Jack, in top form on Saturday,
breaks up the blind side, with openside flanker Matt de Franck in
support. (Picture by Clapperton Studios, Selkirk).