EoS FIRST DIVISION
JOHN SMAIL reports from Victoria Park
SELKIRK sailed to fourth spot in the league following a gutsy performance played in atrocious conditions.
Heavy overnight rain had left the Philiphaugh surface unplayable in places, but Selkirk Youth Club saved the day by giving permission for the match to be switched to the Victoria Park venue. Despite persistent rain and a cold, blustery wind throughout, both teams made light of the slippery surface and served up a gripping contest.
With the breeze at their backs, it was the visitors who made the early running, keeping the Selkirk’s defence at full stretch. Selkirk were penalised for obstruction after a clearance kick had been charged down, and Gus Twaddle made no mistake with the resulting place-kick.
Hills doubled their lead from a second Twaddle penalty before Scott Hendrie cut the deficit to 6-3 soon afterwards when flanker Dougie Crichton was judged to have strayed offside at a ruck.
Angus Duckett was yellow-carded for a late challenge midway through the half, but his absence had the effect of galvanising the home pack as the Glasgow team laid siege to Selkirk’s try line.
With half-time looming, the homesters struck a decisive blow. Rory Banks carried on a Selkirk attack, and in textbook fashion drew the last defender before sending Darren Clapperton over in the corner for the game’s only try. Hendrie’s conversion sailed over to put Selkirk 10-6 ahead at the interval.
In the second period, the visitors continued to pile on the pressure, but heroic defending by each member of the Selkirk team managed to stifle the Hillhead thrusts. A high tackle on Lewis MacLennan gave Hendrie the chance to stretch Selkirk’s lead in the 57th minute, but his penalty kick drifted left.
On the hour-mark a powerful burst by Clapperton saw the wing run past a clutch of defenders, and although Gavin Craig and Matt Kissick were up in support to maintain the momentum, Hillhead managed to keep their line intact.
Selkirk stretched their lead to 13-6 following a second successful penalty by Hendrie, but Hillhead’s players never once gave up the fight and continued to press for the equalising score.
Four minutes from time a flare-up resulted in Andrew Renwick being yellow-carded, and for the remainder of the match the home players had to fight tooth and nail to preserve their narrow lead.
The final whistle blew to set the seal on another hard-fought Selkirk victory, but full credit goes to both sides for producing such a spirited game of rugby in such trying conditions.
Matt Kissick was later named as the Four Seasons Forestry ‘Selkirk Man of the Match’.
Selkirk: R. Banks; C. McColm, S. Hendrie, R. Nixon, D. Clapperton; G. Craig, M. McVie; S. Renwick, S. Forrest, C. Graur, C. Lacour, M. Kissick, N. Darling, A. Duckett, A. Renwick. Subs: L. MacLennan, J. Bett, C. Johnston, E. MacDougall, E. Turner.