Selkirk 20, Cartha Queen's Park 15

Selkirk stand tall to derail Cartha Queen's Park juggernaut

PRIDE, passion and dogged determination took Selkirk to a stunning victory over high-flying Cartha Queen's Park at Philiphaugh on Saturday. The measure of the Souters' achievement can be gauged from the fact that this was only Cartha's second defeat in their previous 12 matches.

Selkirk's players had a point to prove after three successive losses, and they did just that. Refusing to give an inch to their heavier and more powerful opponents, the home side persevered with the brand of expansive running rugby which has won them so many plaudits (not to mention matches) this season.

Under intense pressure in the scrums, the toughest examination of the home eight's resolve came from the giant Cartha pack's trademark line-out mauls. This tactic was used to telling effect in the opening exchanges, as Cartha thrice turned down easy kicks at goal in favour of line-outs on Selkirk's five-metre line. On the fourth penalty award, the visiting packs' power and technique proved too much for the Selkirk forwards, and lock Ricky Brown was driven over for the first try of the afternoon.

Despite this setback, the home side quickly regrouped, and after 21 minutes a superb 35-metre break by young fly-half Gavin Craig took Selkirk deep into Cartha territory. However, the home eight were then pushed off their own scrum ball, and the danger was cleared.

Soon afterwards Selkirk hit back in decisive fashion. A quickly taken tap penalty by Martin Murray (who had an excellent comeback game) was switched left, and Craig's pass found full-back Fraser Harkness steaming up in support. He backed himself to beat the two defenders blocking his way to the line, and then hauled himself over in the corner for a brilliant try, despite two other Cartha players desperately trying to halt his progress.

This was just the encouragement Selkirk needed, and a thumping clearance kick by David Cassidy gave the home team good field position. Soon afterwards a clever box kick by scrum-half Michael McVie turned the screw still further, and when Cartha were penalised at the next ruck, Ciaran Beattie stepped up to land the penalty kick and put his team 8-5 ahead.

With halftime approaching, a crunching tackle by Denver Rumney forced a turnover, and a well judged grubber kick by McVie put Cartha on the back foot. However, an incident at a ruck saw referee Willie Anderson reverse the penalty and send No. 8 Alister Heatlie to the sin bin, allowing Cartha to clear their lines.

After the break both teams redoubled their efforts, with Cartha's Kiwi hooker Tommy Gray increasingly influential in the loose, and Selkirk's Scott Jeffrey making a series of powerful cover tackles.

Good breaks in quick succession by Murray, Cassidy and Guy Blair were all repulsed by Cartha. It took a fine tackle by Scott Tomlinson to nip a dangerous Cartha advance in the bud, and seconds later the flanker retrieved the loose ball to set up a Selkirk counter-attack.

In the 53rd minute the home side increased their lead when Harkness gathered a Cartha clearance kick and made a 40-metre burst down the stand touchline. He found David Cassidy up in support, and the outside centre beautifully jinked his way past two defenders for a breath-taking try. Beattie's conversion put Selkirk 15-5 ahead.

Soon afterwards visiting scrum-half John McCrossan made a scorching break up the stand touchline, and a series of five-metre scrums had Selkirk on the rack. The home forwards kept their nerve, however, and eventually Tomlinson's towering line kick cleared the danger.

Now it was Selkirk's turn to put some heat on the Cartha eight, and a 20-metre rolling maul had the visitors under pressure after skipper Darren Hoggan had opted for a kick to touch rather than a goal attempt.

In the 72nd minute Gavin Craig's delicate chip behind the Cartha defence was gathered at full tilt by Guy Blair, whose flamboyant try-scoring dive in the corner was the signal for the home supporters to rattle the rafters with their cheers.

Ahead by 15 points with only three minutes to go, everything looked done and dusted for the Souters. However, the visitors were never going to give up without a fight, and after Denver Rumney had been yellow-carded at a scrum close to the home line, Cartha took advantage to score a pushover try through Ross Gillies.

In injury time Cartha's threequarters stretched the Selkirk defence to breaking point, allowing full-back Alan Howie to secure a losing bonus point by running over at the corner for his side's third try.

What a match, what a result!

POINT TAKEN. Selkirk wing Ciaran Beattie successfully kicks the penalty that ultimately proved crucial in Selkirk's 20-15 victory over Cartha Queen's Park at Philiphaugh on Saturday. (Picture: Grant Kinghorn)

MARKED MAN. Cartha Queen's Park scrum-half John McCrossan is shadowed by Selkirk blindside flanker Scott Tomlinson in Saturday's match at Philiphaugh, as No. 8 Alister Heatlie gets ready to pounce. (Picture: Grant Kinghorn)

SELKIRK - F. Harkness, G. Blair, D. Cassidy, A. Lyall, C. Beattie, G. Craig, M. McVie, B. Rawcliffe, D. Hoggan, M. Murray, S. Renwick, S. Jeffrey, S. Tomlinson, D. Rumney, A. Heatlie. Replacements: M. Jaffray, R. Crockatt, G. Patterson, R. Taylor.

CARTHA QP - A. Howie, A. Black, A. Gibbon, S. Denny, G. Grant, R. Moffat, J. McCrossan, R. Harvey, T. Gray, A. Lamont, R. Gillies, R. Brown, I. Cook, N. Smylie, E. Smith. Replacements: N. Robertson, A. Melville, S. Armstrong, P. Leslie.
Referee - W. Anderson (Waid Academy).