Selkirk took a giant step towards promotion to the BT Premiership with a towering victory over their nearest rivals at a freezing Philiphaugh on Saturday.
This was the Souters’ 16th consecutive win in BT National League Division 1, and coincidentally opens up a 16-point gap at the top of the table.
Earlier in the day the home players’ sterling efforts on the pitch had been matched by some equally fine work by the club’s officials and volunteers, who for the second time in a fortnight mounted a full-scale snow-clearing operation so the fixture could go ahead.
No-one was happier with the victory than Selkirk’s skipper on the day, Matt Kissick. Since arriving at Philiphaugh in August 2012, the popular Kiwi lock has proved one of the team’s key players, and clearly appreciated being handed the captaincy on Saturday.
“It’s a great honour and means a whole lot to me,” Matt commented after the game. “There’s no better feeling than leading your best mates, and I thought the boys performed incredibly well today.
“All credit to GHA though, who, as expected, proved a tough nut to crack. Their work rate, like our own, remained high throughout the game, and they threw a lot of things at us to try and get an edge. I’m glad we were able to throw it straight back at them.
“Getting this win was important in maintaining our momentum, and I’d just like to thank all our supporters for getting behind the boys. Week in, week out they give all of us a lift, and we appreciate it.”
As you would expect from a showdown between the league’s two top teams, Saturday’s contest proved a passionate, intense affair from the off.
The breakthrough came in the 24th minute when strong-running full-back Josh Welsh handed off the GHA wing before running outside him to cross wide out for Selkirk’s first try.
Ten minutes later the home team increased their lead when Angus Duckett burrowed his way under a pile of bodies to score in the corner, making the half-time score 10-0 in Selkirk’s favour.
After the restart GHA’s determination to get back into the game was evident and the Souters had to pull out all the stops to keep the Braidholm men at bay.
The point of no return came two minutes into injury time when Josh Welsh scampered over the line for his second try and Banks’ conversion put Selkirk out of sight at 17-0.
GHA had the final word when replacement three-quarter James Edgar sliced through for the city side’s only try of the game in the 86th minute.