Stirling County 23, Selkirk 12

Selkirk take early lead in cup tie, but Premier Two leaders stage grandstand finish to reach quarter-finals

UNDER PRESSURE. Selkirk wing Darren Clapperton finds himself in the thick of the action in Saturday's cup tie at Bridgehaugh. Team-mate Fraser Harkness prepares to lend a hand. (Photo: Grant Kinghorn)

DESPITE leading 7-3 at halftime, Selkirk found it increasingly difficult to handle Stirling County's increased tempo after the break, eventually losing Saturday's Scottish Hydro Premier Cup second round tie 23-12. Selkirk become the second Premier One club to come to grief in the competition at Bridgehaugh, Glasgow Hawks having been defeated by County in the first round.

Even allowing for the fact Selkirk were without four regulars through injury and representative calls, the visitors still had plenty of chances to put the tie beyond the grasp of the Premier Two leaders, ultimately failing to turn pressure into points at key moments in the contest.

The Philiphaugh side's fate was sealed by three second half tries, one of which owed more than a little to good fortune when a Stirling clearance kick ricocheted off a Selkirk player, putting the home players on-side and leaving the way open for a simple score under the posts.

Selkirk's most enterprising player on the day was inside centre Ross Nixon, who showed up well both in attack and defence. It was Nixon who put the visitors' first points on the board from a well worked try, converted by David Cassidy, but before the interval Stirling cut the deficit with a penalty from the boot of Brian Archibald.

Other Selkirk players to shine included openside flanker David Gray, who turned in a typically dynamic performance and must now come into the reckoning for more 1st XV appearances as Selkirk bid to defend their first division status in the weeks ahead.

Another visiting forward to catch the eye was Callum Marshall, who came off the replacements bench when Jon Smyth sustained a gashed forehead which later required stitches. Marshall's handling, distribution and support play were out of the top drawer, and the university student looks to have an extremely bright future at Philiphaugh.

Selkirk outside centre David Cassidy also had to retreat to the sidelines with a thumb injury, with teenage fly-half Rory Banks taking over the No. 10 jersey, and Gavin Craig being switched to centre. It was Craig who scored Selkirk's second try, combining with Martin Murray and Gordon Patterson following a scrum on the Stirling 22 to dive over in the corner.

However, it was Stirling who had the final word, tries from Ben Addison, Colin Eadie and Rob McGowan proving enough to see off the Souters' challenge. Brian Archibald completed the scoring with two conversions and a second penalty.

SELKIRK - F. Harkness, J Hendrie, D. Cassidy, R. Nixon, D. Clapperton, G. Craig, M. McVie, R. Taylor, S. Forrest, M. Murray, R. Aglen, S. Willet, J. Smyth, D. Gray, A. Renwick. Replacements: R. Banks, G. Patterson, D. Grieve, C. Marshall.