Peebles 3, Selkirk 33

New-look Selkirk pushed all the way by young Peebles side

SPECIAL DELIVERY. Selkirk scrum-half Ciaran Beattie sets his threequarter line in motion during Selkirk's game against Peebles at The Gytes on Saturday.

SELKIRK'S winning start to the new season continued at The Gytes on Saturday, where the visitors notched a hard-earned victory over Peebles in a friendly much closer than the scoreline suggests. Indeed it was the young home team who looked sharper and hungrier in the opening exchanges, with Peebles' fired-up pack posing Selkirk all manner of problems in the loose and set-piece, while scrum-half Stuart McCormack looks a worthy replacement for Biggar-bound Drew Moore.
However, the visitors held a clear advantage behind the scrum, where former Edinburgh and Borders pro. player Alistair Dickson was making a welcome re-appearance for the club, after last pulling on a Selkirk jersey in a division two game against Musselburgh in April, 2000. Also prominent in the Philiphaugh team's threequarter line were former Scotland under-18 and under-21 players Ciaran Beattie and Fraser Harkness, both of whom showed oodles of pace and penetration.
A painful hip knock in the 34th minute saw Beattie retire to the sidelines, and there were sighs of relief from Selkirk's sizeable travelling support when the 19-year-old student was able to return to the fray midway through the second half.
Selkirk opened the scoring after 14 minutes when a scrum pick-up by Beattie was cleverly switched to Harkness coming in on a diagonal run, and Alister Heatlie was up in support to take the full-back's inside pass and score under the posts. Michael Rutherford converted.
A penalty by Peebles fly-half Chris Evans then cut the deficit, but in the 20th minute Selkirk stretched their lead in spectacular style. Rutherford's break up the middle was carried on by Heatlie, before Denver Rumney burst on to the ball and drew the last man, allowing Guy Blair to touch down next to the posts. Rutherford's conversion made the halftime score 14-3 in the visitors' favour.
After the break Peebles continued to take the game to Selkirk. However, with the visiting pack now starting to get their second wind - Kiwi prop Ben Rawcliffe and number eight Scott Jeffrey both turning in impressive performances - it wasn't long before the scoreboard was once again ticking over.
Neil Darling started the move which led to the visitors' third try by stealing Peebles' line-out ball. Good support work by Dickson and Rumney then allowed Darling to finish what he'd started, with the indefatigable Lilliesleaf lock crossing for a well executed try near the posts.
A brace of gutsy tries by Harkness - the first of which saw the former Youth Club captain cross the line with three home defenders clinging to his back - brought the curtain down on a thoroughly enterprising contest.
Both teams have new coaches this season, Bruce McNaughton for Peebles and Brian Cassidy for Selkirk, and each will be able to take away many positives from this keenly fought encounter.

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

Referee - D. Changleng (Gala).