RBS PREMIER TWO
KENNY PATERSON reports
IT is rare to see a rugby coach smiling after a missed penalty in the sixth minute of injury time consigns his new team to defeat, but Selkirk coach Ewan Robbie maintained a positive appearance at the final whistle.
Yes, he had seen his team throw away a second-half lead and David Cassidy fail with a late, late kick at goal, in his and Ally Dickson’s first competitive match in charge of the Souters.
But Robbie’s young side, missing three key players – Michael McVie, Darren Clapperton and Gavin Craig – showed plenty of their trademark spirit.
And there were flashes of quality – particularly from young half-back pairing Rory Banks and Mike Davies – which indicate they could yet make an impression in Premier Two.
Robbie said: “I am disappointed with the loss, but it is not a bad starting point.
“There were plenty of positives from the game. Our attitude was spot-on and we were unlucky not to get that kick at the end.
“We are still trying to put our own stamp on things and it will take time.
“It was a hard start against Watsonians, who will be up at the top end of the table, but there is nothing to fear next time we play them.”
In a match so topsy-turvy it would have made a Blackpool rollercoaster seem like a Dutch motorway, Selkirk appeared sluggish for the first half-hour.
Despite the presence in their pack of two new European signings – huge Georgian lock Jaba Kikvidze and French prop Clement Lacour – the homesters struggled against ’Sonians front eight early on.
Former Selkirk prop Danny Moussa dropped the ball just a metre from the hosts’ tryline after a rolling 20yd maul, before Ben Di Rollo’s penalty on 12 minutes made it 3-0.
Moussa did score on 16 minutes after a break from halfway by flanker Chris Scott, as dropped passes and cheeky chat to referee Iain Ramage left Selkirk requiring binoculars to see the Watsonians’ tryline.
They finally got on the scoreboard through Cassidy’s first pop at the posts a minute before the break, and the centre could have had another, but missed following stand-off Banks’ great jinking run.
Cassidy did close the gap and then gave Selkirk the lead with a thumping 40yd penalty, but also missed a third kick at the start of the second half.
The pressure on the away team led to more foul play, as Moussa decided to take out Banks with his considerable body mass when the fly half had kicked through.
The prop’s yellow card left the Edinburgh side a man short in the pack, and Selkirk took full advantage.
A rolling maul brought Selkirk to within touching distance of five points on 61 minutes, and Davies’ brilliant “Toony flip” pass – possibly inspired by a famous former Gala stand off – allowed Andrew Renwick to flop over to score.
At 14-8 ahead, Selkirk looked ready to pull away for an opening day victory.
Instead, mistakes allowed the impressive Di Rollo to kick a penalty and then winger Matt Henderson to score in the corner for a 18-14 Watsonians lead.
Cassidy pulled the Philiphaugh side to within a point of their visitors with eight minutes remaining, but his injury-time effort drifted well wide.
Selkirk: F. Harkness, N. Godsmark, D. Cassidy, R. Nixon, S. Hendrie, R. Banks, M. Davies; A. Renwick, C. Marshall, N. Darling, J. Kikvidze, R. Aglen, C. Lacour, S. Forrest, G. Patterson. Subs used: J. Hendrie, R. Taylor, E. MacDougall.