RBS Regional Cup
Stuart Cameron reports from Philiphaugh
THERE were no trophies to play for at Philiphaugh when Selkirk met Melrose for the first tussle of this new year but if you thought this was going to be a match which didn’t matter to the players you were seriously wrong.
A Border derby is about bragging rights and there was plenty of commitment on the park despite the icy wind which made things very uncomfortable.
Selkirk had the wind advantage in the first half and it took them only six minutes to score when Fraser Harkness took a scoring pass, side-stepped Stuart Johnson and slipped over for his 11th try of the season. Michael McVie popped over the conversion for the perfect start.
Selkirk were well drilled in defence and frustrated their opponents. They won a penalty on 16 minutes, which McVie again struck well, to go into double figures.
An Andrew Skeen penalty narrowed the gap and Melrose showed they could defend too. At the break you wondered whether seven points would be enough.
The visitors looked confident at the turn and pummelled their hosts for the opening 15 minutes. Selkirk resisted. McVie landed a second penalty against the run of play before the hour mark, giving his side and the big crowd such a lift.
It was inevitable that Melrose would finally score and the try finally came when a long pass out to Bruce Dick let the young centre dive over the line.
Skeen missed the conversion and, with only five points separating the two, it was anyone’s game but this was the night of the Souters and they deserved this win.
Selkirk captain Neil Darling was thrilled. “This is what I play rugby for – results like this,” he told TheSouthern. “It was a hard battle and great to play in. Our defence hasn’t been the best recently but it was spot on and to restrict Melrose to eight points was very heartening.”
Melrose skipper Graeme Dodds said: “We’ve had a few bad experiences at Philiphaugh and we came down here wanting to win this game. But we let ourselves down and our game management was poor.”
Selkirk: F. Harkness; C. McColm, S. Hendrie, N. Godsmark, D. Clapperton; G. Craig, M. McVie; S. Renwick, J. Bett, C. Lacour, R. Aglen, A. Renwick, N. Darling, R. Godsmark, E. McDougal. Subs: R. Banks, B. Reid, G. Patterson, S. McDonald.
Melrose: F. Thomson; A. Dodds, J. Helps, B. Dick, C. Hardie; A. Skeen, S. McCormick; N. Little, R. Ferguson, G. Holborn, P. Eccles, S. Johnson, G. Dodds, G. Runciman, R. Miller. Subs: P. Tamba, C. Keen, R. Ovens, B. Colvine, C. Murray.
z Highlights from the game are online at www.BordersRugby.net