Selkirk 24, Boroughmuir 29

Boroughmuir take maximum advantage of below par performance by Selkirk

LEE GLEE. Wing Lee Jones keeps Selkirk in the game as he sprints over for the Souters' first try at Philiphaugh on Saturday.

THE excitement generated by Selkirk's successful return to Premier One last year was not repeated at Philiphaugh on Saturday. Boroughmuir's victory gave the Souters a short, sharp reality check, with the visitors managing to breach 'fortress Philiphaugh' - so impregnable last season - at the first time of asking.

The home side's cause wasn't helped by a string of errors and an exasperatingly high penalty count, the latter flaw bordering on the suicidal with a goal-kicker of Stephen Ruddick's proven ability on the field. The visiting full-back only missed one out of seven attempts, bagging a personal haul of 19 points. He proved just as accurate with his line kicking, keeping Selkirk pinned in their own 22 for long periods of the first half.

However, it was in the contact situation where the Meggetland men proved more effective than their hosts, forcing Selkirk to concede a glut of turnovers at the breakdown, which not only prevented the Philiphaugh side from developing any rhythm, but invariably starved the home threequarters of possession in prime attacking positions.

Playing with the wind at their backs in the first half, Boroughmuir made immediate inroads into their opponents' territory, a surging run by centre James Fish almost resulting in the game's opening try. The visitors took the lead in the eighth minute through a Ruddick penalty, but this was cancelled out by a superb 40-metre effort into the breeze by David Cassidy - the centre happily back to full fitness following the injury he suffered in last season's corresponding fixture.

After 15 minutes another turnover by Selkirk allowed 'Muir to launch a quick counter-attack down the left flank, and Malcolm Clapperton was on hand to touch down the visitors' first try for a 10-3 lead.

Hardly had the game restarted than Selkirk were level. Cassidy's clever interception saw the centre break upfield and off-load to Fraser Harkness, who in turn managed to get the ball to Lee Jones, despite being tackled in the act of passing. The Scotland club internationalist beat opposite number Tom Bury for pace and burst up the left touchline to score near the corner. Cassidy's conversion sailed over to level the scores at 10-10.

This lifted the Selkirk players, as well as the home crowd, and a clever box kick by Selkirk skipper Michael McVie, following Andrew Renwick's clean line-out take, took the Souters deep into enemy territory. Unfortunately Jones then had the ball knocked out of his hands when cutting inside, and Ruddick followed up his own siege gun clearance kick with a successful penalty to restore his team's lead.

Boroughmuir went further ahead when captain Euan Matheson rounded off a spell of intense pressure by burrowing over the try line for a score, but soon afterwards a second Cassidy penalty reduced the deficit, with visiting flanker Lynton Brinck being yellow-carded right on the halftime whistle.

Another Cassidy penalty early in the second half in the wake of a strong run by Andrew Renwick, took Selkirk to within four points of the visitors at 20-16. However, two more misdemeanours by the home side allowed Ruddick to send over two more penalties to stretch Boroughmuir's lead to 10 points.

Home coach Kevin Barrie introduced teenage forwards Stuart Forrest and Callum Marshall to the fray, with prop Rob Taylor and blindside Neil Cruikshank re-taking the field after a spell on the sidelines.

Now 26-16 in arrears, Selkirk captain Michael McVie turned down a kickable penalty, instead getting Cassidy to kick for a line-out on the visitors' 5-metre line. Although this move didn't produce instant results, a quickly taken tap penalty saw Harkness burst toward the right corner flag, before somehow transferring the ball to Lee Jones for the wing to notch his second try of the afternoon.

By now the home supporters were sensing a typical come-from-behind win by their team, as Selkirk only trailed by two points. With the tension rising, both Ruddick and Cassidy sent penalty attempts wide, before Ruddick managed to atone by kicking his fifth penalty of the match.

The final five minutes of the contest saw Selkirk camped on Boroughmuir's try line, but despite a series of surges by the home forwards, Boroughmuir's defence held firm, and it was the Meggetland men who were left celebrating at the final whistle.

Selkirk's trio of newcomers, Neil Cruikshank, David Grieve and Daniel Moussa, all got valuable game time as they bid to assimilate themselves into Selkirk's style of play, but the team as a whole knows a far more disciplined and dynamic approach will be needed in the coming weeks, if they are to put the smile back on their supporters' faces.

SELKIRK - F. Harkness, S. Hendrie, D. Cassidy, R. Armstrong, L. Jones, G. Craig, M. McVie, G. Patterson, D. Grieve, R. Taylor, R. Aglen, S. Willet, N. Cruikshank, C. Johnston, A. Renwick. Replacements: S. Forrest, C. Marshall, S. Tomlinson, D. Moussa, R. Nixon.

Referee - Gary Gordon (Hillfoots).

ONE STEP AT A TIME. Scott Hendrie tries to wrong-foot the Boroughmuir defence on Saturday, with fly-half Gavin Craig on hand to offer support. (Photos: Grant Kinghorn)