Selkirk 18, Dundee HSFP 10

Tries from Crombie and Harkness enough to take Selkirk to hard-fought victory over Dundee

SUCCESS ON A PATE! Selkirk prop Gordon Patterson evades the clutches of Dundee fly-half Barry Jones to charge up[field in Saturday's game against Dundee. Up in support are team-mates Martin Murray, Callum Johnston and Neil Darling.

ANOTHER wholehearted display saw Selkirk stretch their unbeaten Premier One run to four matches, as the never-say-die Souters edged out Dundee HSFP in a pulsating contest at Philiphaugh on Saturday. The win consolidates Selkirk's eighth position in the league, and will boost the team's confidence for the remaining seven league fixtures.

"I was impressed by the players' workmanship today," Selkirk coach Kevin Barrie told the web site after the final whistle. "Each performance like this helps build the side's momentum, as well as increasing the players' self-belief and confidence.

"There was plenty of energy throughout the whole team, and it was especially pleasing to see young players like Jock Renwick and Darren Clapperton making such a positive contribution. It was also good to see Fraser Harkness back doing what he does best: pressurising the opposition and scoring tries.

"But really the whole squad deserves a mention, from number one right through to number 20, as they all played their part. I'd also say the enthusiasm of the big home support also helped us. Next up is Melrose, so the players know they will have to replicate the same level of intensity for what will be a very tough challenge."

Saturday's game against Dundee was played in a thin haze of fog, although visibility never deteriorated to the point where referee Ted Coutts might have considered calling a halt to proceedings. The fog did make the fielding of high garryowens quite problematic, however, and following an early flurry of knock-ons, Dundee's back three found themselves under constant bombardment for the remainder of the contest.

Visiting full-back Alan Hay had a particularly fraught afternoon in this respect, although his clean catch and sprint upfield in the opening minutes set up a drop-goal attempt for Barry Jones, with the fly-half's attempt going wide - allowing Jason Hendrie to clear the danger.

Selkirk suffered a setback in the 14th minute when No. 8 Scott Tomlinson had to limp from the field with a knee injury. This saw Callum Johnston come on at openside flanker, with Neil Darling switching to blindside and Andrew Renwick reverting to the number eight position.

At this stage Dundee's powerful scrummaging was posing real problems for the home pack, but handling errors by the visiting threequarters prevented the Mayfield side from taking advantage. The breakthrough for Selkirk came on the 20-minute mark, after Dundee were penalised at a scrum just outside their '22'.

Michael McVie took a quick tap and fed out to Neil Darling, who made ground towards the visitors' goalposts. The ball was quickly recycled, this time McVie finding half-back partner Michael Rutherford, who delayed his pass long enough to allow Sean Crombie to pick his angle and burst through Hay's challenge to score the game's first try. Rutherford atoned for an earlier penalty miss by landing the conversion.

At this stage the home side suffered another setback when Jason Hendrie was sidelined by a shoulder injury, his place being taken by the ever-reliable Alistair Lyall, who hardly put a foot wrong for the remainder of the match.

In the 29th minute Selkirk's hard-working lock Rory Aglen was yellow-carded for a high tackle on Dundee wing Stuart Coleman, although there appeared to be no malicious intent and the player was quick to apologise.

Rutherford missed a second penalty soon afterwards, and although the home eight continued to have a torrid time of it in the scrums, they were more than holding their own in the loose, where the back row of Andrew Renwick, Callum Johnston and Neil Darling were in particularly pugnacious form.

With Aglen just back on the field and halftime approaching, Dundee were penalised for not releasing. Rutherford drilled his kick within 10 metres of the visitors' try line, and Aglen's clean take saw the home pack launch a concerted drive for the line. When the ball was not forthcoming Selkirk were awarded a scrum.

A quick heel saw Andrew Renwick pick up the ball and feed Michael McVie, who in turn found Fraser Harkness steaming up on the blind side. The full-back stepped off his right foot to surge past the challenge of Hay and score his side's second try. Rutherford's conversion drifted wide, leaving the halftime score 12-0 in Selkirk's favour.

Three minutes after the restart Selkirk stretched their lead to 15-0 following a well struck penalty from the boot of Scott Hendrie, after Dundee had been penalised for not rolling away at the breakdown.

The home supporters' cheers had hardly died down when the visitors hit back in determined fashion. A penalty against Selkirk was kicked to the corner by Jones, and a drive from the resultant line-out saw visiting skipper Richie Hawkins powered over the line by his team-mates for a try. Jones added the conversion.

Shaken by this reversal, Selkirk's players struggled to contain a rejuvenated Dundee team, with their cause not helped by the concession of a series of back-to-back penalties. One of these was successfully kicked by Jones on the 56-minute mark, putting the visitors just one score behind at 15-10.

The introduction of hard-working Kiwi lock Jon Smyth helped settle the home side, as did the re-introduction soon afterwards of prop Martin Murray, whose imposing presence helped shore up Selkirk's scrum.

With their composure regained, Selkirk's players proceeded to patiently go through the phases and march Dundee back towards their own line. Some towering kicks from Fraser Harkness (whose hard-hitting tackling proved one of the game's highlights) spread uncertainty in the visitors' defence.

When Andy Dymock was penalised for a deliberate knock-on at a scrum in the 70th minute, the rock-steady Scott Hendrie stepped up to send the penalty kick straight between the posts, extending his team's lead to 18-10.

This time Selkirk were in no mood to relinquish their hard-won advantage, and a great cover tackle by Callum Johnston typified the home players' determination to stifle any Dundee fightback.

With the minutes ticking away a clever interception by Andrew Renwick kept play deep in Dundee territory, and soon afterwards referee Ted Coutts' whistle brought proceedings to end, signalling a deserved and hard-fought victory for Selkirk's rapidly improving side.

ON TARGET. Scott Hendrie's two successful penalty kicks proved vital to Selkirk's cause on Saturday. The wing has now amassed 67 points this season. (Photos: Grant Kinghorn)

SELKIRK - F. Harkness, J. Hendrie, S. Hendrie, G. Craig, D. Clapperton, M. Rutherford, M. McVie, G. Patterson, S. Crombie, M. Murray, R. Aglen, S. Willet, N. Darling, A. Renwick, S. Tomlinson. Replacements (all used): A. Lyall, J. Smyth, C. Johnston, D. Moussa, S. Forrest.

Referee - Ted Coutts (Watsonians).