Cartha QP 19, Selkirk 3

Cartha take the wind out of Selkirk's sails

NO WAY THROUGH. Simon Murdoch, Selkirk's livewire Kiwi wing, keeps going forward despite being heavily outnumbered by Cartha Queen's Park defenders at Dumbreck Road on Saturday.

DIVISION Two newcomers Cartha Queen's Park utilised the conditions at windswept Dumbreck Road far more astutely than opponents Selkirk on Saturday, and recorded a clear-cut victory as a result.

With the strong, gusting breeze behind them in the first half, the city team wasted no time in pumping the ball into the corners to set up a series of line-outs on the visitors' try line, but Selkirk kept their nerve and possession to drive their way back up the field.

In the fourth minute Michael Rutherford struck a fine penalty kick low into the teeth of the gale, and was unlucky to see the ball bounce back off a post. Cartha took full advantage of this let-off, and soon afterwards the Selkirk defence was caught short of numbers on their left flank, allowing flanker Ian Cook to run in unopposed for the opening score, converted by Michael Loakman.

Selkirk appeared unfazed by this setback, and some slick passing saw David Cassidy underline his return to fitness with a 30-metre burst, only to be penalised for not releasing. Another siege-gun kick put Cartha back in Selkirk's 22.

Quick thinking by first Scott Hendrie (who intercepted a pass on his own line) and then Alistair Lyall (who tackled Loakman into touch inches from the corner flag), denied the home team certain scores, but further Cartha pressure produced a try for Andy Lamont after 28 minutes to put Cartha 12-0 up.

Selkirk continued to handle their way out of trouble, first Rutherford and then Ryan Crockatt making breaks which had the city team's defence at full stretch. Cartha weathered the storm, however, and a missed tackle at a scrum then allowed replacement number eight Ricky Brown to charge downfield and put the visitors on the back foot yet again.

On the stroke of halftime Cartha struck a telling blow when their big pack steamrollered its way over the line from a line-out, with Damian Chaney emerging from under the pile of bodies to claim the try. Loakman's conversion made the interval score 19-0.

With the elements now behind them, Selkirk needed a quick score to get back into the game. Unfortunately a combination of turnovers, errors and penalties prevented the visitors from building up any kind of momentum, and even against the wind Cartha's positional kicking was proving superior to Selkirk's wind-assisted efforts.

A successful penalty kick by Rutherford after 52 minutes provided a glimmer of hope, but on the hour-mark number eight Scott Jeffrey was yellow-carded for pulling down a line-out maul, and in his absence the lighter Selkirk eight found life increasingly difficult against Cartha's solid pack.

A typically elusive run by Simon Murdoch almost brought the Kiwi wing a try in the final five minutes of the contest, but by this time the writing was well and truly on the wall for Selkirk, and the Glasgow club had deservedly picked up its second Borders scalp in as many weeks.

Coaches Brian Cassidy and Steve Scott will be working their players doubly hard in training this week to avoid any repetition of such a below-par performance against Glasgow's other league newcomers, Hillhead-Jordanhill, this Saturday.

SELKIRK - C. Beattie, S. Hendrie, A. Lyall, D. Cassidy, S. Murdoch, M. Rutherford, M. McVie, B. Rawcliffe, D. Hoggan, M. Murray, N. Darling, S. Renwick, R. Crockatt, D. Rumney, S. Jeffrey. Replacements (all used): G. Patterson, R. Taylor, D. Vevers, C. Hunter.

Referee - A. Hepburn (Lenzie).