It’s farewell Darling as Souters clear path to promotion place

editorial image

Selkirk 8

Watsonians 6

RBS NATIONAL LEAGUE

FIONA SCOTT reports from Philiphaugh

FROM start to finish, Saturday was all about hard graft for Selkirk RFC’s players, members, officials and supporters.

And they grafted admirably.

A call for help to clear the pitch of a good three inches of snow was answered by around 100 bodies willing and able to get the job done.

The pressure was then put onto the team to win their game against league leaders Watsonians and keep them in with a chance of making their way up to the promotion spots.

They, too, got the job done.

And there was none more thrilled at the end of the game then Selkirk’s own workhorse Neil Darling, who was playing his last competitive match after 12 years at the club.

Affectionately known by his team-mates as the Lilliesleaf Legend, Darling, 29, is taking the leap to become self-employed as a mobile shepherd and will now be lambing from the middle of February to the middle of May.

He told TheSouthern: “It was brilliant. When I came down here this morning and saw all the people who had turned out to help clear the pitch so that we could get this game played, I was stunned.

“To see everyone getting stuck in there and helping out was great. That’s what Selkirk Rugby Club is all about and it has been a real privilege to play here.

“To go on and win the game has just been a perfect end for me.”

Playing in soft underfoot conditions, and with handling tricky, the game itself turned out to be a somewhat scrappy affair which called for another huge effort from utility forward Darling and the rest of the Selkirk pack.

Watsonians started the scoring with a Brian Walls penalty in the fourth minute and missed another long range effort shortly afterwards.

It took the hosts a good 20 minutes to warm up and when they did, forward pressure saw the Souters push their opponents over the Watsonians line only for Hawick referee Cammy Rudkin to adjudge that the ball had been held up.

Walls had missed another two penalties by the time Selkirk made a mark on the scoreboard but, much to the relief of their supporters, some more hard graft saw them back down in their visitor’s territory and this time Fraser Harkness carried the ball over the line to touch down for the first try of the game. Michael McVie’s conversion attempt bounced back off the posts and the scoring stood at 5-3 at the break.

Watsonians edged themselves back into the lead after the restart through a Walls penalty, but once again the hosts responded well and managed to take play back down into the visitors’ half of the pitch. McVie then missed a penalty but made amends soon after with a long range effort and moving into the final quarter Selkirk went two points in front.

In the dying minutes of the game Watsonians threw everything they had at the hosts, winning line-outs in the Selkirk 22 time and time again.

The determination shown by the Souters however was equal and more to anything their opponents had and a memorable victory was just reward for a mammoth effort from the whole club.

Selkirk: F. Harkness; J. Welsh, S. Hendrie, R. Nixon, D. Clapperton; G. Craig, M. McVie; C. Lacour, J. Bett, C. Graur, A. Renwick, M. Kissick, N. Darling, E. MacDougall, R. Crockatt. Subs: R. Banks, S. Forrest, S. Renwick, M. Waldron, C. Marshall.