RBS NATIONAL CUP
FIONA SCOTT reports from Philiphaugh
FAILURE to take their chances and missed opportunities saw Selkirk pushed out of the National Cup competition by a much more streetwise Melrose outfit on Saturday.
Looking at the scoreline, it would be hard to believe that with six minutes remaining, the hosts were still in with a grain of a chance of causing an upset, but it wasn’t to be as Melrose clinically closed down the match with an impressive try against the run of play, by the much understated workhorse Ross Ovens.
Melrose prop Gary Holborn put the victory down to hard work and commitment from his team. He said: “We’ve not had the best of seasons, but when you set the benchmark high you have to work even harder to keep hitting it.
“Today’s game showed what an entertaining spectacle the Cup can be, especially when two local teams are involved. It’s always tough playing at Philiphaugh and everyone is really pleased to be coming away with a win.”
Entertaining it certainly was, and a delay to the start of this game, due to a clash of strips, only served to increase the anticipation for the 1,000 or so spectators who turned out to witness the game.
Melrose started brightly with an Andrew Skeen penalty denting the scoreboard after two minutes, but the hosts remained calm and a jinky break from Fraser Harkness at the other end almost saw Ewan MacDougall cross the Melrose line. His attempt was stopped short by a resolute Rose defence, but a penalty award saw Mike McVie level the scores.
Melrose looked determined to take the game be the scruff of the neck and for a spell it looked as if they would. Skeen missed a penalty, but shortly afterwards Callum Anderson ran in the first try for the visitors and Skeen’s conversion gave them a seven-point cushion.
For the remainder of the half Melrose retained the lion’s share of the possession, despite losing Skeen to the sin bin for a 10-minute spell, but they still failed to shake their hosts off. Two more McVie penalties sandwiched one from Joe Helps to leave a half-time score of 9-13.
It was Selkirk who came out fighting in the second half, but the much-needed score continued to evade them. They tried everything in a desperate attempt to overtake their Premiership opponents. McVie missed a penalty and a push over the line resulted in a turnover for Melrose.
With 10 minutes remaining, the Greenyards men increased the gap again when a rare visit into the Selkirk half ended in a pushover try for Gary Holborn converted by Skeen.
Selkirk wasted no time in launching their counter attack and a McVie penalty gave the large gathering of home supporters a grain of hope, but once again the visitors were ruthless and a defence splitting try from Ovens, converted by Skeen, sealed the win.
Selkirk: F. Harkness; R. Banks, S. Hendrie, R. Nixon, D. Clapperton; G. Craig, M. McVie; C. Lacour, S. Forrest, C. Graur, A. Renwick, J. Everitt, E. MacDougall, A. Duckett, R. Crockatt. Subs: L. MacLennan, M. Robertson, S. Renwick, J. Bett, K. Mitchell.
Melrose: F. Thomson; C. Anderson, B. Dick, J. Helps, A. Dodds; A. Skeen, B. Colvine; C. Keen, R. Ferguson, G. Holborn, P. Eccles, G. Dodds, J. Dalziel, R. Ovens, R. Miller. Subs: W. Mitchell, S. Lowe, A. Nagle, S. McCormick, R. Mill.