RBS NATIONAL LEAGUE
SELKIRK made it three nail-biting wins in a row as they managed to hold onto their slender lead until the final whistle.
Despite a series of individual errors, the Souters showed character to hold off Hamilton to inflict the South Lanarkshire side’s second defeat in as many weeks in the Borders, after losing out to Kelso.
Selkirk played against the wind in the first half, and it was the visitors who deservedly went ahead on 11 minutes as a missed first-time tackle in midfield allowed centre Scott Whitelaw to coast home for the game’s first try. Owen McLeish’s conversion sailed over.
Soon afterwards, a strong charge upfield by Selkirk No8 Ryan Crockatt put Hamilton on the back foot, and when a defender was judged offside at a ruck, up-stepped Michael McVie to kick the penalty and cut the deficit to 7-3.
A wrist injury forced centre Lewis MacLennan to be replaced by Callum McColm, and after Selkirk were penalised for not retreating 10m, McLeish made no mistake with a sweetly-struck penalty to restore Hamilton’s seven-point advantage after 18 minutes. Selkirk’s forwards finally managed to put together a series of phases up the right side of the field, and when a long pass was floated out to Darren Clapperton wide on the left, the talented wing cleverly sidestepped his way past three defenders to score. McVie’s conversion levelled the scores.
After 26 minutes Selkirk took the lead for the first time. Another clever break by Craig saw the ball off-loaded to Ross Nixon, and the centre found Ryan Crockatt up in support. The home number eight backed himself to get over the line, and did just that to notch Selkirk’s second try.
Any hopes home supporters might have had of Selkirk, at 15-10 up and with the wind at their backs, ratcheting up the pressure in the second half were dashed within minutes of the restart.
Yet another knock-on by a Selkirk player saw the referee play advantage, and Hamilton wing Ross Inglis showed a clean pair of heels to the home defence for a try under the posts.
A second McLeish penalty, after Callum Johnston was penalised for not releasing the ball, allowed Hamilton to go 20-15 up.
With the seconds ticking away things were beginning to look bleak for the Philiphaugh team, but all that changed eight minutes from time when a Hamilton knock-on gave Selkirk a scrum outside the visitors’ 22.
A pick-up by Crockatt saw the number eight make ground on the blind before off-loading to Darren Clapperton, who showed pace and poise to sprint over for his second try and level the score at 20-20.
A 75th-minute penalty against a Hamilton tackler for not rolling away gave McVie the chance to put his side back in front, and just as he did at Hawick the previous week, the scrum-half kept his nerve to land the all-important kick.
A frantic final five minutes saw both sides battle hard for the decisive score. However, Selkirk’s players managed to hold on.
Coach Brian Cassidy was disappointed with his team’s showing.
He said: “That was one of our most disappointing performances I’ve seen in the last two seasons.
“I simply can’t understand why we made so many basic errors and why the players’ decision-making was so poor. There was a lot of talk out there, but not enough action.”
Selkirk: M. Rutherford, S. Hendrie, L. MacLennan, R. Nixon, D. Clapperton , G. Craig, M. McVie, C. Lacour, S. Forrest, C. Graur, A. Renwick, N. Darling, C. Johnston, A. Duckett, R. Crockatt. Subs: C. McColm, E. MacDougall, P. Forrest, G. Patterson, E. Turner.