Stewart's/Melville FP 22, Selkirk 30 

Selkirk players rediscover winning habit in crucial basement battle at Inverleith

TALL ORDER. Selkirk lock Andrew Renwick rises high above the Stewart's/Melville forwards to secure line-out possession at Inverleith.

SELKIRK notched up their first Scottish Hydro Premier One win of the season at Inverleith on Saturday. In a predictably tense encounter, it was the visitors' steely determination which eventually prevailed, and even the concession of two late tries couldn't take the gloss of such a vital victory.

No-one was more relieved to see the Souters' five-match losing streak come to an end than coach Kevin Barrie. "It's good to get a win under our belts, and this will do a lot for the players' confidence and self-belief. This was a huge game for both sides, and all credit to the Selkirk players for a much improved performance."

The coach singled out double-try scorer Rob Taylor for special praise, as well as fellow forward Andrew Renwick. "Rob's loose play was tremendous, while I thought Andrew Renwick had an outstanding afternoon. Behind the scrum, Scott Hendrie and Alex Dunbar both turned in great performances, and I thought the team as a whole kept its shape far better than in recent weeks."

However, the coach is under no illusions about the size of the challenge ahead. "I was disappointed that we let them off the hook in the closing stages, and we're still leaking far too many tries. The boys can take a lot of positives from this match, but they know as well as I do just how much effort it's going to take to start climbing back up the table."

With pack leader Rory Aglen attending a family wedding in the south of England and hooker David Grieve out of action with a calf strain, Simon Willet partnered Andrew Renwick in the second row, with Stuart Forrest starting at hooker.

It was Stewart's/Melville who got off to the more convincing start, openside flanker Harry Bonn scoring after just eight minutes. Not long afterwards Selkirk drew level when blindside flanker Neil Darling (who had a fine game) drove up the middle, and Rob Taylor was on hand to take the off-load and dummy his way past a home defender for a try.

The Kiwi prop repeated the feat in the second quarter of the game, this time being up in support of a Gavin Craig break to the home side's five-metre line, where he gratefully latched on to the fly-half's scoring pass to crash over. David Cassidy converted and also kicked a penalty to give Selkirk a 15-5 interval lead.

The gale-force wind whipping across the Inverleith pitch seemed to intensify after the break, as did the visitors' hunger for more tries. Another Cassidy penalty increased Selkirk's lead, before Scott Hendrie fielded a high ball on his own 10-metre line, side-stepped his way past a couple of Stewart's/Melville players before diving over in the right corner for a superb solo try.

Shortly afterwards Alex Dunbar used his power and pace to cross for Selkirk's bonus point try. However, the Colleges players stuck to their task and managed to snatch a losing bonus point thanks to tries from Sam Blackwood, Ben Leathes and James Allan, with Stuart Ker adding a conversion.

This weekend Selkirk will again take the A7 north to Edinburgh, where unbeaten league leaders Currie lie in wait at Malleny Park.

GREAT SCOTT. There's no stopping wing Scott Hendrie as he dives over in the corner to score Selkirk's third try at Inverleith. (Photos: Grant Kinghorn)

SELKIRK - F. Harkness, S. Hendrie, D. Cassidy, A. Dunbar, L. Jones, G. Craig, M. McVie, G. Patterson, S. Forrest, R. Taylor, S. Willet, A. Renwick, N. Darling, D. Gray, S. Tomlinson. Replacements: D. Moussa, M. Murray, P. Forrest, K. Connor, M. Rutherford.