Selkirk salvage a draw in near-impossible conditions

Musselburgh 12, Selkirk 12

By Sports Team
Monday, 17th February 2020, 10:50 am
Updated Monday, 17th February 2020, 4:42 pm
Bruce Riddell, hidden among a mass of muddy bodies, touches down for Selkirk's first try (picture by Grant Kinghorn)
Bruce Riddell, hidden among a mass of muddy bodies, touches down for Selkirk's first try (picture by Grant Kinghorn)

Both sides were able to salvage something from Saturday’s physically draining encounter at windswept Stoneyhill, where the worsening conditions meant it was hard to distinguish between the two sets of mud-caked players in the game’s later stages.

The result allowed Musselburgh to move above Glasgow Hawks in the Tennent’s Premiership table, while Selkirk jumped back into the play-off places following Aberdeen Grammar’s loss to Currie.

“The conditions were horrendous – in fact, some of the worst I’ve ever played in,” admitted Selkirk skipper Ewan MacDougall.

“In the first half, Musselburgh harnessed the strong wind at their backs and played the corners, confining us to our own half for almost the whole period.

“That said, the boys really defended well and, going in at half time 12-0 down, having played into the elements, wasn’t too disappointing.

“In the second half, we drew level within the first 10 minutes and, at that stage, everyone probably thought we’d go on to get the win.

“However, conditions became so bad we found it hard to hold on to ball and hard to secure any worthwhile line-out possession. Even the scrum ball we managed to win was difficult to turn into pressure.

“As the match progressed, the bad weather really began to take hold. Although both sides had a chance to win it in the dying minutes, at the end of the day, I think each team would probably settle for the draw.”

Turning to the club’s Premiership run-in, the Selkirk skipper felt positive about the Philiphaugh side’s prospects.

“This draw takes us a point above Aberdeen, so qualifying for the play-offs is now very much in our own hands.

“The boys can now work towards the Edinburgh Accies game, and we’ll see where we are after that.”

The only tries of the first half came from Musselburgh forwards Luke Hutson and Paddy Brown, the former being converted by Danny Owenson to give the home side a 12-0 interval lead.

After the break, Selkirk positively flew out of the blocks. Prop Bruce Riddell burrowed over for the visitors’ first try in the opening two minutes, before wing Callum McNeill burst down the touchline on an electrifying 50-metre run to score wide out.

Aaron McColm kicked the tricky conversion to level things up at 12-12.

With Storm Dennis finally beginning to match the Met Office’s dire predictions, the Stoneyhill pitch was transformed into a mud bath, with late penalty attempts by Owenson and Callum Anderson both being blown wide.

Selkirk’s Peter Forrest was named the visitors’ man of the match, although he must have been pushed all the way following another tremendous shift by his second row partner Sean Rankin, who had to watch the closing stages of the match from the bench after being yellow-carded for a high tackle.

Selkirk – H. Bithray, F. Anderson, R. Cottrell, R. Nixon, C. McNeill, A. McColm, L. Merolle, L. Pettie, J. Bett, B. Riddell, P. Forrest, S. Rankin, A. Mackay, S. McClymont, E. MacDougall. Replacements – J. Mackay, G. Robertson, C. Anderson, J. Welsh, L. Berte.