Blake Cullen on his way to scoring a try during Selkirk's Scottish Premiership season-ending 33-10 defeat at Heriot's Blues on Saturday (Photo: Grant Kinghorn)Blake Cullen on his way to scoring a try during Selkirk's Scottish Premiership season-ending 33-10 defeat at Heriot's Blues on Saturday (Photo: Grant Kinghorn)
Blake Cullen on his way to scoring a try during Selkirk's Scottish Premiership season-ending 33-10 defeat at Heriot's Blues on Saturday (Photo: Grant Kinghorn)

Kelso and Selkirk end regular Scottish Premiership rugby season with away defeats ahead of return to Border League action

​Kelso and Selkirk are hoping to get back to winning ways in rugby’s Border League this week after wrapping up their Scottish Premiership campaigns with defeats on the road on Saturday.

Kelso lost 17-15 at Glasgow Hawks and Selkirk were beaten 33-10 at Edinburgh’s Heriot’s Blues.

Those results leave the Poynder Park outfit fourth in Scottish club rugby’s top flight, on 53 points from 18 fixtures, and their Philiphaugh rivals third from bottom, on 35 from 18.

The Souters could end up dropping a place, however, as second-bottom Hawks are only a point behind them with a game left to play, away to basement side Jed-Forest on Saturday, March 2.

Five penalties kicked by Dwain Patterson accounted for all of Kelso’s points at Balgray Stadium, with Torquil MacLeod scoring an uncoverted try for their hosts and David McCartney adding four penalties.

Blake Cullen and Josh Welsh scored unconverted tries for Selkirk at the capital’s Goldenacre playing fields, with Cammy Meager and Harry Hitchens at the double and Graham Wilson touching down for Heriot’s and Wilson adding four conversions.

Kelso and Selkirk are both in Border League action tthis Friday against Scottish National League Division 1 opposition, the former away to Gala and the latter at home to Melrose. Both games kick off at 7.30pm.

Kelso and Selkirk have eight points apiece in the regional league, with the Souters sitting second to Hawick by virtue of points scored. They’ve also got a game in hand, having played three to third-placed Kelso’s four.

Melrose are fourth, with four points from one fixture, and Gala fifth, without any points following that one National 1 double-header loss by 53-31 at the Greenyards in September.

Both Kelso and Selkirk are planning to give new faces a chance during the remainder of their Border League campaigns.

Kelso have won two and lost two of their games in the regional competition so far, three of them premiership double-headers, leaving them eight adrift of Hawick, so they now accept, even if it’s not yet quite mathematically impossible, that a sixth title is almost certainly out of reach this time round and they’ll be treating their two remaining fixtures as a chance to give game-time to members of their squad not called on much or at all during their top-flight campaign, says Neil Hinnigan, their director of rugby.

“Because we’ve been on such a good run in the league, some players haven’t been given a fair opportunity to show us what they can do, so this is a chance for them,” said Hinnigan.

“Some of our youngsters going up to senior rugby from Kelso Sharks will maybe get an opportunity to do that.

“We’ll probably put out a good mixture of players.

“We’ll be trying to finish that campaign on a high as well.

“I think we’re too far behind to try to win the league after losing to Hawick and Selkirk, so it’s more of an opportunity to get some good game-time and experience.”

Selkirk head coach Gordon Henderson is of like mind, saying: “The boys enjoy playing in the Border League and it’ll maybe give us an opportunity to give games to a couple of guys who’ve been playing well in the Selkirk A team. We’ll probably make two or three changes for the Melrose game.

“The Border League’s important to us but it’s an opportunity as well to blood some youngsters and I’ll be looking to do that.

“We’ll be going out there to win games but we’ve also got to take opportunities and for one of them, against Gala, we’ve got a few guys away anyway watching Scotland play Italy in Rome in the Six Nations. That gives us opportunities to try out other players who’ve been knocking on the door but not got into the first XV yet.”

​Gala also concluded their latest league season at the weekend, losing 35-27 away to Highland.

That defeat, their 11th of this campaign, saw them finish third from bottom of the table, on 39 points from 18 fixtures.

Aaron McLaren and Douglas Weir scored tries for the Galashiels side in Inverness, with Russell Kerr adding a conversion and five penalties.

Highland’s try-scorers were Dan Corr, Hugo Crush, Adriu Muritoki, Grant Jamieson and Calum MacPherson, with Scott Fraser adding two penalties and two conversions.

Melrose – the region’s only other representatives in National 1 for now, though they’ll be joined by Jed-Forest next time round and potentially Peebles too – have got one game left to play, away to Glasgow Academicals, and that’s provisionally scheduled for Saturday, March 16, with kick-off at 3pm, but it might well be moved to avoid playing two games in the space of 20 hours.

The Greenyards outfit go into that season finale sitting fifth in the table, with 51 points from 17 fixtures.

Both Gala and Melrose have got four Border League fixtures to go after this Friday.

Gala’s are away to Peebles on Saturday, March 2, at 3pm; at home at Netherdale to Selkirk on Friday, March 8, at 7.30pm; and at home to Hawick and away to Jed-Forest on dates yet to be fixed.

Melrose’s are away to Peebles on March 8 at 7.30pm; at home to Jed on Friday, March 15, at 7.30pm; at Hawick on Saturday, March 23, at 3pm; and hosting Kelso on a date to be fixed.