Selkirk take top-four place despite having an off day with the boot

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Selkirk 15

Hamilton 9

PREMIER DIVISION TWO

LAING SPEIRS reports from Philiphaugh

WITH three quarters of the territory going their way, Selkirk had the freedom of Philiphaugh.

And they didn’t miss the chance to offer their strong support the pleasure of watching three good tries on a dreich day for rugby.

Hamilton’s play overall was so lacking in enterprise that it was no surprise to see Selkirk nudging ahead of them in Division Two and securing the fourth place that will be so vital when the split comes at the end of the month.

All they have to do now is to hold on to it – and a repeat of this sort of play would be good enough.

The Souters put together a really solid team performance, their forwards always showing a willingness to take on a much heavier but much less mobile pack. And with a back division ready and willing to handle all the way through the first half and in the final quarter, the home side’s showing was one of their best of the season.

Hamilton were sizeable, but far from nimble. They carried some big men, among them being the younger brother of Scotland’s Richie Gray. They struggled to cope with Selkirk’s pace and eye for an opening, and when the game became a bit niggly later on they couldn’t find a way out of their problems, some of them self-made.

But they did have the kicker that Selkirk lacked, with centre Ross Inglis booting the three penalties that kept them in the hunt until late on.

Overall, however, there was never any anxiety about Selkirk’s chances, even if Scott Hendrie had an off day with the boot.

At half-back, Michael McVie and Gavin Craig were neat and organised, and Fraser Harkness was happy to join in some of the attacks.

But it was up front, where Neil Darling, hooker Stuart Forrest and the experienced props, Rob Taylor and Gordon Paterson, were often prominent, that the battle was won and lost.

Good hands, a sense of knowing what was worth trying, and some intelligent support work all helped the Selkirk cause.

Coach Ewen Robbie recognised and appreciated the good work of the forwards, and his only concern was that they perhaps took on the pick and drive just once or twice too often. That, he said, would be looked at in this week’s training.

Variety was the feature of the early play, and it was not long before the first strike, Darren Clapperton getting the score far out after crisp handling swung the ball around the field.

So much Selkirk pressure followed that tries seemed inevitable, but it took until just before the break for Callum Marshall to add the second, fittingly enough after some more sturdy work by the pack.

Inglis had managed a penalty goal for Hamilton, but that was only a minor blot on Selkirk’s first half performance.

The hosts went into the second period in the same high gear, but penalties by Inglis in the 10th and 15th minutes presented the Souters with a challenge on the scoreboard if not on the field.

A few errors excepted, the home side kept the tempo high and Clapperton rounded off a good day with a try far out in the corner following some more enterprising work by the home backs.

Selkirk: F. Harkness; D. Clapperton, S. Hendrie, R. Nixon, C. Beattie; G. Craig, M. McVie; G. Patterson, S. Forrest, R. Taylor, C. Marshall, R. Aglen, N. Darling, C. Johnston, A. Renwick. Subs: R. Banks, P. Forrest, M. Waldron, R. Crockatt.