Stewart’s/Melville FP 27
Selkirk A 20
DESPITE a typically battling performance, Selkirk ‘A’ eventually had to give second best to an equally spirited Stewart’s/Melville FP 2nds side in Saturday’s entertaining, end-to-end BT Reserve League National 2 encounter at Inverleith.
Injuries to 1st XV players meant no fewer than three of the A team’s key forwards had to be moved into the senior squad, leaving the pack facing an uphill battle against the much bigger home eight.
The visitors’ predicament was such that centre Douglas Swinbanks - sidelined since breaking his right arm against the same opponents at Philiphaugh on October 15 - had to be switched to the second row, a position in which he had never played before.
“All teams encounter problems like this at some stage,” Selkirk ‘A’ head coach Brian Cassidy said after the game, “and you just have to get on with it. Dougie didn’t hesitate when asked if he could fill in at lock, and you can’t put a price on commitment like his. I was proud of him and the rest of the boys, who all gave it their best shot.”
Selkirk made the brighter start when Scott Hendrie’s inside break put Josh Welsh into space. The strong-running centre found skipper Ross Purves in support, with the number eight being held up over the line. From the scrum Callum McColm’s ‘miss’ pass found wing Kerr Gerrard, who scored in the left-hand corner. Welsh’s superb conversion put the visitors’ 7-0 ahead.
The home team drew level with a try from Ben Hay converted by Jack Calder, before taking the lead through an Andrew Manson try after a Selkirk clearance kick had been charged down. On the stroke of halftime Welsh kicked a penalty to cut Colleges’ lead to 14-10.
After the break Welsh’s penalty cut the deficit to a single point. However, at this point the visitors lost Ruairi Wilson with a groin strain, necessitating Ross Purves moving to hooker and scrum-half Jackson Wallace deputising at flanker.
Despite some magnificent defending by Selkirk on their own line, Oliver Williamson touched down the home team’s third try from a rolling maul, before a Rhys Gilroy try and Euan Brown penalty stretched the Stewart’s/Melville lead to 27-13.
However, in the dying seconds Selkirk had the final say thanks to a short-range try from prop Bruce Riddell, following which Josh Welsh successfully kicked a quite magnificent conversion – wide out and against the wind – to salvage a vital losing bonus point for the never-say-die Souters.
Selkirk A: R. Hamilton, R. Shiel, S. Hendrie, J. Welsh, K. Gerrard, C. McColm, J. Wallace, R. Reilly, R. Wilson, B. Riddell, D. Swinbanks, J. Turnbull, W. McClymont, J. Griffin, R. Purves. Replacements: R. Legge, A. Rutter, S. Tomlinson.