RBS NATIONAL LEAGUE
FIELDING seven changes from the side that had lifted the RBS Border Regional Cup the previous weekend, Selkirk were always going to have their work cut out against a home side desperate to escape the drop zone.
Playing on a slippery surface, Selkirk gained a foothold in the early stages, only to be stripped of possession and ultimately punished when Hamilton openside flanker Andy Hill peeled from a rolling maul to go over for the game’s opening try.
A penalty by McLeish stretched Hamilton’s lead and minutes later the hosts were awarded a penalty try by referee Kevin White after a scrum infringement and McLeish’s conversion put Hamilton ahead by a healthy margin.
With half-time rapidly approaching, Selkirk’s players finally got their act together to turn the game on its head. Fraser Harkness broke down the touchline before releasing Rory Banks for a try near the corner and Michael McVie’s superb conversion split the posts.
Straight from the restart McVie sent a towering kick back into Hamilton territory. The ball was spilled by a home player, allowing Darren Clapperton to fly-hack it towards the Hamilton try line, gather and crash over for an opportunist score. McVie’s touchline conversion narrowed Hamilton’s lead to a single point, putting the Souters right back in the game.
The second half had hardly got under way when Selkirk struck again in remarkably similar fashion. Successive high kicks kept the Hamilton defence at full stretch, and another spilled ball allowed Clapperton to gather and race under the posts for his second try of the match. McVie converted to put Selkirk ahead for the first time in the contest.
Clearly stung by this sudden turnaround, Hamilton’s players threw everything in their armoury at the visitors. The thin blue line somehow held fast thanks to some stuffy defence by Duckett, Ewan MacDougall and Steven Renwick.
The game’s turning point came in the 67th minute, when Selkirk lock Clément Lacour was shown a red card by the referee following an altercation under the shadow of the visitors’ posts.
Six minutes later, after relentless pressure, Hamilton’s forwards launched a rolling maul towards the Selkirk try line, resulting in a second touchdown for openside Andy Hill and Hamilton fly-half Owen McLeish held his nerve to send the touchline conversion over the bar and put his side 22-21 ahead.
The battle raged on with no quarter given and the relief of the vociferous home supporters at the final whistle was palpable.
Selkirk: F. Harkness, R. Banks, M. Rutherford, C. MacDougall, D. Clapperton, G. Craig, M. McVie, S. Renwick, J. Bett, C. Graur, C. Lacour, E. Turner, J. Everitt, A. Duckett, E. MacDougall. Reps: C. McColm, S. Forrest , M. Waldron, M. Robertson, K. Mitchell.