Haddington 6, Selkirk 20

Selkirk tame fired-up Haddington for well deserved win

DURO'S BALL. Selkirk lock Neil Darling reaches skyward to win clean line-out possession at Neilson Park on Saturday, where the Souters came away with a hard-fought 20-6 victory.

A GUTSY defensive display in the second half saw Selkirk record their third consecutive league victory on Saturday, leaving hosts Haddington as the only Premiership Division Two side still without a win in the current campaign.
That said, the Neilson Park players showed enough aggression and spirit to suggest it won't be long before they break their duck, with the East Lothian team giving Selkirk's large band of supporters some anxious moments in the latter stages of the game.
Playing with the gusting wind behind them in the first half, early pressure by Selkirk resulted in Haddington scrum-half Douglas throwing a wild pass, and Denver Rumney was up in a flash to tackle the defender who retrieved the ball. The visitors won a penalty at the ensuing ruck, but Michael Rutherford's goal-kick drifted wide.
A series of penalty awards against Selkirk quickly followed, with referee Knox marching the visiting team 30 metres towards their own goalposts for unnecessary backchat. Haddington fly-half Ian Noble's penalty attempt missed its target, and the danger was cleared.
Play then moved deep into Haddington territory, and when a home player failed to release Fraser Harkness' chip to the line in the 26th minute, Rutherford made no mistake with his second penalty attempt to put Selkirk 3-0 up.
Four minutes later the visitors struck a decisive blow when a loose clearance kick by Haddington spiralled out to Alister Heatlie on the right-hand touchline, and the number eight made good ground before releasing back row colleague Rumney, who surged over for a try. Rutherford's long-range conversion was a peach.
A hamstring twinge saw Craig Hunter replaced on the left wing by Scott Hendrie in the 33rd minute. Just before the interval Noble made it third time lucky by finally slotting over a penalty following more Selkirk indiscipline, taking the halftime score to 10-3 in the visitors' favour.
With driving rain and a strengthening wind now blowing into their faces, Selkirk's players seemed grimly determined to hang on to their advantage, and two minutes into the half Rutherford increased his team's lead through a penalty kick awarded for offside.
This spurred Haddington to greater efforts, and things looked decidedly shaky for the visitors when Steven Renwick was yellow-carded for illegal use of the boot in the 50th minute. To compound matters, fellow lock Neil Darling was spoken to by the referee shortly afterwards, but on this occasion the official kept his card in his pocket.
Noble's second successful penalty cut the deficit to just seven points, and at this stage Rob Taylor replaced fellow Kiwi Ben Rawcliffe in the front row for his first senior appearance of the season.
After a typically mazy run up the right touchline, it looked as though Simon Murdoch had scored a great try for Selkirk in the corner, but the Christchurch flyer was called back for a foot in touch.
The visitors were not to be denied, however, and two minutes later a slick threequarters move saw Alistair Dickson cut inside his opposite number to release Ally Lyall, and the Scotland under-19 squad member needed no second invitation to scamper under the posts for a fine try. Rutherford's conversion put Selkirk 20-6 ahead.
To their credit Haddington threw everything at the visitors in the game's closing quarter, but courageous defending saw Selkirk's players hold their ground. Replacements Ryan Crockatt and Jim Ross did all that was asked of them in a frenetic climax to the match, with Scott Jeffrey and Denver Rumney rock-solid, as ever, in all phases.
The contest ended on a sour note when Rutherford received a late challenge from Haddington flanker Will Oldham, who received a yellow card from the referee for his troubles. The final whistle sounded soon afterwards, the signal for some deserved celebrations by the Selkirk players and supporters.

HADDINGTON: N. Watt, G. Crawford, S. Spence, G. Dykes, R. Thomas, I. Noble, A. Douglas, G. Glass, C. Harrison, J. Weddell, G. Waugh, R. Snodgrass, D. Thorburn, W. Oldham, M. Morrison.

SELKIRK - F. Harkness, S. Murdoch, A. Lyall, A. Dickson, C. Hunter (rep. S. Hendrie, 33 mins), M. Rutherford, C. Beattie, G. Patterson, D. Hoggan (rep. R. Crockatt, 65 mins), B. Rawcliffe (rep. R. Taylor, 56 mins), N. Darling, S. Renwick, S. Jeffrey, D. Rumney, A. Heatlie (rep. J. Ross, 74 mins).

Referee - G. Knox (Greenock Wanderers).