Selkirk 21 Haddington 23

Fired-up Haddington catch Selkirk cold to win the day

NOT THIS TIME. Selkirk's Neil Darling and Alister Heatlie end up over the try line in Saturday's league game at Philiphaugh, but referee Rupert Henderson signals obstruction and disallows the try. (Picture: Grant Kinghorn)

HAVING continuously spiked the Philiphaugh pitch to ensure it was in a fit condition to allow Saturday's match to go ahead, Selkirk must have wondered if these efforts had all been worth it, after Haddington upset the form book to record a notable victory.
The home team's lacklustre performance in a disappointing first half ultimately cost them the game, and had it not been for some flashes of individual brilliance after the break, which produced three excellent tries, the Souters might not even have had the consolation of a losing bonus point.
Much to the consternation of the home crowd, it was the visitors who made all the running in the early stages of the contest. When not breaking round the fringes or getting first to the breakdown, Haddington's hungrier forwards pressurised Selkirk's players into a series of uncharacteristic errors.
Within the first 10 minutes Selkirk lost a strike against the head and their own line-out ball, before a defensive mix-up allowed Graham Dyke's high up-and-under to bounce loose. In a flash Haddington's Will Oldham secured the ball, and three quick passes later hooker Craig Harrison scampered under the posts for the game's opening score.
Player-coach Ian Noble, who minutes earlier had missed a penalty chance, made no mistake with the conversion to put the visitors 7-0 up.
Haddington continued to call the shots, with Selkirk grateful for two excellent clearance kicks from Scott Hendrie to keep their opponents at a safe distance from the home try line.
It wasn't long before Haddington increased their lead. A knock-on by Alistair Dickson as Selkirk launched their first real attack of the game allowed the visitors to regain possession. Moments later a wild pass from Michael McVie high over the head of half-back partner Michael Rutherford handed the initiative back to the visitors.
Almost immediately Selkirk were penalised for offside, allowing Noble to put his side 10-0 ahead. On the stroke of halftime Alister Heatlie illegally kicked the ball out of the back of Haddington's scrum, and up stepped Noble to knock over the penalty and secure a 13-0 interval lead for the visitors.
A no-holds-barred halftime team talk from coach Brian Cassidy left Selkirk's players in no doubt as to what was expected from them in the second period. However, another home knock-on and then a wheeled scrum saw Haddington march up the pitch, and Noble slotted his third penalty to make it 16-0.
After this setback, Selkirk finally got into gear. Replacement prop Gordon Patterson made good ground up the middle, before Scott Jeffrey broke down the right flank. Despite being smother-tackled, the number eight managed a superb off-load to Scott Hendrie, and the Scotland under-19 wing took a difficult ball superbly to jink past his opposite number and score a great try. Rutherford's conversion kick sailed over.
This good work was undone five minutes later, when Rutherford spilled a pass right on the home side's try line. The next phase of play saw Selkirk forced into desperate defence, until Noble appeared from nowhere to scoop up the loose ball and streak under the posts without a hand being laid on him, converting his try to put the visitors 23-7 ahead.
In the 60th minute a thumping penalty kick to the corner from David Cassidy gave Selkirk good field position. From the line-out, the ball was spun along the threequarter line, and Dickson's strong running sucked in two defenders, allowing Fraser Harkness to take the ball at full throttle, and power past three Haddington players on his way over the line. Rutherford made no mistake with the conversion.
Haddington lost Ian Noble with a painful cruciate ligament injury in the 73rd minute, and moments later conceded a third try, when a quickly taken tap penalty saw Murray and Dickson both make ground before McVie finally scrambled over for the touchdown. Rutherford's conversion took Selkirk to within two points of the visitors.
It looked as though the home side might snatch an improbable victory when Martin Murray powered down the stand touchline in the dying seconds of the match. Scott Hendrie carried on the move, but when tackled was penalised for not releasing. This allowed Haddington to kick the ball into touch, and start celebrating a hard-fought but thoroughly deserved victory.

SELKIRK - F. Harkness, G. Blair, D. Cassidy, A. Dickson, S. Hendrie, M. Rutherford, M. McVie, B. Rawcliffe, D. Hoggan, M. Murray, N. Darling, M. Barnett, S. Tomlinson, A. Heatlie, S. Jeffrey. Replacements (all used): G. Patterson, E. Robbie, S. Renwick, C. Beattie.

HADDINGTON - I. Henderson, G. Crawford, D. Snodgrass, C. Mark, G. Dykes, I. Noble, S. Johnston, J. Weddell, C. Harrison, G. Glass, G. Waugh, R. Snodgrass, D. Thorburn, W. Oldham, T. Campbell. Replacements (all used): C. Samuel, P. Brown, N. Watt, A. Douglas.

Referee - R. Henderson (Edinburgh RS).