Weakened Linden show admirable strength

Selkirk's number 10, David Cassidy, with the ball (picture by Bill McBurnie).
Selkirk's number 10, David Cassidy, with the ball (picture by Bill McBurnie).

Hawick Linden 35, Selkirk ‘A’ 45

It was a points-fest under the Volunteer floodlights on Thursday night as Hawick Linden lost out to

Selkirk 2nds in their Border Junior Cup Pool A match.

The home team took huge credit as they were severely under strength, with more than a whole pack of forwards unavailable.

There were some great performances from those coming into the line-up – Michael Boyle and Lewis

Stormont on their first competitive starts, Ryan Ali in his first game since August and Aaron

Fletcher on debut from the bench.

A Matthew Mallin break set up field position and Rory Graham’s dummy enabled the Linden

skipper nip through a gap to score the first try of the night on 10 minutes with Kieran Murphy

converting.

Five minutes later, a quick tap from a scrum penalty set Rory Banks racing through a gap. As he was pushed to the touchline, the full-back’s inside pass went loose but was picked up by a fellow Souter to touch down.

Murphy slotted a penalty goal before the Royal Blues were caught asleep at a penalty and

Selkirk plunged over from short range to tie the scores at 10-10.

Stormont secured a penalty at the breakdown, allowing Murphy to kick the Linden back into the lead.

A Selkirk cross kick looked to be covered but two Linden defenders left it to each other and the ball bounced up

for the visitors’ winger to accept the gift for his second try of the night, which David Cassidy converted.

Another super break by Mallin almost took the No. 8 to the line. A series of penalties in the

danger zone resulted in a yellow card to the visitors.

Although the Linden were forced back, another penalty was then marched on 20 metres for backchat but the kick at goal

slipped wide.

Frustratingly, the home team had nothing to show for their extended period in the ascendancy.

The half ended with a cheap score from a Royal Blue perspective. They kicked straight into

touch, giving away territory, and then weak tackling enabled the Souters to keep driving until

over the line.

Banks’ two points from the tee put Selkirk 24-13 ahead at the interval.

Some patient play from the home team eventually saw the ball go wide and Murphy crossed at the corner, with Kris Rowley unlucky to hit the post from the touchline.

Cassidy was tackled just short of the line but his forwards were in support to pick up and touch down, with Banks converting.

Poor tackling allowed Selkirk out of their own half and they made it all the way to the try line, where Cassidy spun out of the tackle to dot down.

The extras from Banks meant the Linden were 20 points behind at 18-38 and staring down the barrel of a big defeat.

They came back following a Boyle charge and Mallin broke a tackle and raced over.

Almost straight away, though, Selkirk peeled from a line out to secure their seventh try, which Banks

converted and, once more, the deficit was 20 points as the Souters led 45-25.

The game was end to end and, when Linden replacement Ryan Renwick was taken out, the visitors were once again down to 14 for 10 minutes.

The home team almost took advantage from a Rowley kick ahead but he knocked on in the act of picking up, with the line at his

mercy.

A score did come, though, as the Linden pushed Selkirk off their own scrum 5 and Stormont, who had moved to No. 8, picked up to score his first Linden try.

Five minutes later, Mallin went flying up the touchline. His inside pass was low but Liam Sharkey did extremely well to

hang on and continue his scoring vein, with try number five of the season.

Somewhat surprisingly, there was no further scoring in the last six minutes plus added time.

The Souters probably deserved their win, thanks to some running that was more direct than

the home team.

The Linden, however, can be proud of staying in the hunt right to the end, especially in light of so many missing personnel, which augurs well for the future.