Selkirk mount superb second-half display to carve out a win in the Granite City
Aberdeen Grammar 14, Selkirk 16
There was a definite sense of déjà vu at Rubislaw on Saturday, where the Philiphaugh side’s hard-fought victory over Aberdeen Grammar was almost a carbon copy of their win against Glasgow Hawks a fortnight previously.
In both matches, Selkirk scored a try on the stroke of half time to reduce the home team’s lead, before edging ahead in the second half and then putting in a massive defensive shift in the closing stages to seal victory.
However, Selkirk’s third successive road win would not have been achieved without the tactical awareness and goal-kicking accuracy of young fly-half Callum Anderson.
With the wind at the visitors’ backs after the break, the 18-year-old’s positional kicking kept the home side pinned in their 22 for long periods, while his trusty left boot sent over three sweetly struck penalties (two from the 10-metre line) to cap a fine individual display.
“Having missed our last two matches, Callum showed real character to manage the game so confidently,” said Selkirk head coach Scott Wight. “He’s been working hard on his goal kicking all season and we reaped the benefit of that.”
The coach also paid tribute to the Selkirk players’ defensive effort in the final 10 minutes.
“The boys didn’t give an inch during that whole period, absorbing the pressure and making sure we didn’t concede any penalties.” said Wight.
“The buzz among the players after the final whistle showed just what it meant to the whole squad and it was great to see all the celebrations at the end.
“This weekend’s game against Hawick is going to be huge for us. They’ve won their last four games and we’ve won our last three, so both teams are in good form and it should be a great contest.”
In Saturday’s game, Aberdeen’s early dominance at the set piece saw the home side open the scoring in the ninth minute when number eight Greig Ryan scored a pushover try following a five-metre scrum.
Ten minutes later, Aberdeen flanker Nat Coe crossed for another home try, following a series of drives by the pack, with Tom Aplin’s second successful conversion putting the city men 14-0 ahead.
The introduction of vice-skipper Luke Pettie saw the visitors finally exert some pressure on the home team.
On the half-hour mark, wing-forward Josh Mackay capitalised on a gap in the Aberdeen defence to score under the posts without a hand being laid on him. Anderson’s conversion made the score 14-7, which was how things stood at the interval.
In the second half, Selkirk kept their hosts on the back foot for long stretches, with Callum Anderson’s three successful penalties proving just reward for the visitors’ monopoly of territory and possession.
Although Aberdeen went all-out for the winning score in the game’s final, frenetic minutes, the Souters players kept their nerve and shape to repel their hosts’ attacks and secure another knife-edge victory.
Selkirk: H. Bithray, J. Welsh, L. Berte, R. Nixon, R. Cottrell, C. Anderson, L. Merolle, S. Rankin, J. Bett, B. Riddell, P. Forrest, A. Mackay, J. Mackay, S. McClymont, E. MacDougall. Replacements: D. Nichol, L. Pettie, L. Cassidy, C. McNeill, F. Anderson.
Referee – Ruairidh Campbell (SRU).