RBS PREMIER TWO
GEORGE LYALL reports from West Lodge
WHITECRAIGS officials had billed this match as the most important game in their entire history and they had reason to be optimistic after an excellent start to the season – a fine bonus-point win against Peebles the previous Saturday.
The opening quarter belonged to Selkirk, however, with the hosts very much on the back foot, and it was only solid defensive work that kept the scoreboard blank.
Pressure finally began to tell on the Whitecraigs players and stand-off Rory Banks scythed through for a fine try under the posts, leaving defenders in his wake, and David Cassidy easily converted.
After the first half-hour, Whitecraigs had rarely threatened as an attacking force, but once they reached the Selkirk 22 they gave the Souters a torrid time for the remainder of the first half.
With credit to Selkirk, the scramble defence covered well.
Ciaran Beattie had to be alert to race back over the line to prevent a score from a charged-down clearance kick and scrum half Michael Davis was up to the task of defensive chores.
Even when Selkirk were reduced to 14 men after Neil Darling was sin-binned for an infringement at the breakdown, the home team were unable to turn pressure into points.
The second half started at a frantic pace and Selkirk’s Jaba Kikvidze was brought down just short of the tryline after a barging run.
At the other end, Whitecraigs No 10 Ryan Moffat opened their account with a penalty, although this was quickly cancelled out by a similar score from Cassidy. Whitecraigs cause was not helped by the yellow cards dished out to skipper Graeme Fisher and No.6 Nicky Blamire, and a penalty attempt by Moffat was pushed wide, leaving Selkirk with a 10-3 advantage.
Gillies brought the vocal home support to life with a clean break through the Selkirk defence and an excellent tackle by Harkness prevented the try.
Both kickers added another three points going into the final 10 minutes and, despite a valiant Whitecraigs attempt to push for a try, the Selkirk defence did not panic. The final whistle came as a relief to the Souters, who, over the period, deserved this valuable away win. Whitecraigs were certainly worthy of a consolation bonus point and their performance suggests that they will cause a few upsets on their home patch this season.
Selkirk: F. Harkness; S. Hendrie, D. Cassidy, R. Nixon, C. Beattie; R. Banks, M. Davis; R. Taylor, S. Forrest, C. Lacour, R. Aglen, J. Kikvidze, N. Darling, C. Marshall, A. Renwick. Subs: N. Godsmark, P. Forrest, S. Renwick, E. MacDougal.