Selkirk 22 Cartha Queen's Park 14 (Sat 19th January)

SAFE PAIR OF HANDS. Selkirk lock Eddie Gauché secures line-out possession during Saturday's Prem. 2 victory over Cartha Queen's Park at Philiphaugh.

Given Cartha's precarious position in Premier Division 2, Selkirk were prepared for a competitive tussle on Saturday. The threat of relegation brings out a fighting spirit that can easily upset the form book and the Glasgow team was desperate to bring the Souters' bandwagon to a halt. The Philiphaugh pitch was soft after heavy mid-week rain as the match kicked off on a cold dry day in front of a decent crowd. The opening passages of play were strewn with uncharacteristic Selkirk mistakes and the CQP players were settling into their stride much better than the home team. However, in the 15th minute, a typical break from deep by full-back Fraser Harkness opened up the CQP defences and his belligerent run culminated with winger Scott Hendrie racing in for a sparkling try thanks to good support play from Martin Murray and Ross Armstrong. David Cassidy, on his return from injury, stroked over the conversion to give Selkirk a 7-0 lead. To their credit, Cartha enjoyed a good spell of sustained pressure and territorial advantage as their well drilled pack moved into top gear. The home supporters were silenced when a CQP catch and drive move from a lineout 15 metres from the Selkirk line resulted in Gavin Robertson being driven over for the touchdown. Stand-off Andrew White brought the scores level with a successful conversion. Selkirk were stung into action after this upset and some excellent forward work was rewarded with a try for prop Martin Murray on the half hour mark. Cassidy added the conversion to give the Souters a narrow 14-7 lead.
Gavin Craig replaced Guy Blair in the stand-off berth for the second half and Selkirk strung together some exciting passages of running rugby that had the CQP defences stretched to the limit. Once again the never-say-die attitude of the visitors came to the surface and their pack produced a replica catch and drive move that ended up with Robertson forcing his way over for his second try. Perhaps an unattractive style of rugby to watch, but very difficult to defend against. White converted to level the scores as the game moved into the final quarter. The visitors were now sniffing the possibility of victory but from the restart a break by Hendrie looked as though a try was on the cards. However, he was stopped just short of the line and penalised for not releasing. A Cassidy penalty on the hour mark nudged the Souters back into a nervy lead. Selkirk's third try was worthy of winning any match and it stemmed from a bout of skilful handling which resulted in Harkness scoring in the corner. Following a long chat with his touch judge, referee David Walker sent Cartha's sub James Capell to the sin bin followed by Selkirk's Ian Walling. The final frantic minutes saw Selkirk going all out for a bonus point fourth try and they appeared to have succeeded when Lee Jones scampered over the line. However, the referee adjudged that the final pass to Jones was slightly forward. Rory Aglen and Eddie Gauche were also close to scoring but the final whistle dictated that they had run out of time. This was a difficult game for Selkirk but they have now strung together 7 league victories on the trot. The bandwagon rolls up to Aberdeen next Saturday for another tough encounter as the push for promotion to the top flight gathers momentum.

GREAT SCOTT! Centre Ross Armstrong congratulates try-scorer Scott Hendrie as Selkirk take an early lead in Saturday's match against Cartha Queen's Park at Philiphaugh.