Selkirk 41, Peebles 10
Selkirk gave their fans food for thought ahead of the new league season with a powerful victory over Peebles in the Border League.
Sustain success has been an elusive thing for Selkirk in recent years. Such a history has left the Souters faithful thrilled during a season packed full of lofty peaks and, simultaneously, a bit wary that the good times might end whenever a new campaign rolls around.
Selkirk were not outstanding during the BT National League Division One race last season but they did enjoy long stretches of sustained success in a division stocked with Premiership-calibre sides.
The season will be marked in history as a success, which means, for pessimistic Selkirk fans, regression is usually not far off.
On Saturday at Philiphaugh, however, Selkirk show last season’s performances will not be a precursor to a middling, sub-par campaign. The Souters dumped 41 points on to an aggressive and determined Peebles outfit, who were restricted to just a converted try and penalty, to open their 2018-19 Brooker Border League campaign with a victory.
“It’s a really pleasing performance against a side who are very physical and like to control the game,” said Selkirk assistant coach, Michael Jaffray.
“We were a bit apprehensive going into the game as Peebles had just played and beaten a strong Gala side last week, so we didn’t really know what to expect from them.
“They gave us a good challenge and, overall, it was a good result for us. Not a flawless performance by any means but one that shows we are on our way to being in top form and ready to improve on last season.”
Selkirk’s philosophy - control possession with a forward-heavy approach and lean on a defence capable of rending opponents one-dimensional - that worked so impressively last season was on full display on Saturday.
The Souters were never behind over the duration of the contest and were only under pressure when Josh Welsh found himself in the sin- bin midway through the first half for a deliberate knock-on.
Peebles utilised their man advantage to pull within two points with a converted score and penalty, after Welsh and Darren Clapperton, with Aaron McColm adding a conversion, had handed Selkirk an early 12-0 lead.
That would be the closest Peebles would get to upsetting their hosts, as Scott McClymont would add a third Souter try before the break, followed by a second-half onslaught that secured Selkirk the Border League points.
Scores from Luke Pettie, David Anderson and a brace from Clapperton, while Clark added a pair of conversions, completed the home side’s points.
“Defensively, I think we could have been better but, throughout pre-season, we have been improving and I’m confident we are well on track to hit good form ahead of the new season,” added Jaffray, who admitted the upcoming National One season will be one of the most important league campaigns for his club in recent years.
“It is important we hit the ground running when the season starts, as this year is going to be one of the most important in recent memory for National One because of all the league changes looming with the introduction of the Super 6. Teams know if they finish in the top six, they are likely to be included in whatever the top amateur division is next.
“Everyone wants in and that means every game will be very competitive, and we need to be ready for it.”
In other Border League developments, Melrose clinched the 2017-18 Border League title with a 50-22 victory over Jed-Forest on Friday night at Riverside Park.