GHA arrived at Philiphaugh buoyed by their tremendous performance against Gala last week. The home side had lost narrowly to pace setters Edinburgh Accies and viewed this match as an opportunity to return to winning ways. A dull overcast day greeted both sides and a strong wind blowing down the valley suggested that handling would be difficult in such conditions. Cadets from the Royal Regiment of Scotland were on hand to assist with raising funds for the annual Poppy Appeal.

Both sides prepared thoroughly ensuring that all players were warmed up to cope with the biting wind. The visitors kicked off and immediately Seitaro Usuda took possession of the ball and drove forward with support from his pack. A scrum on the home twenty two metre line allowed the Selkirk half backs to clear the immediate danger up to the their own ten metre line. In these opening exchanges , Selkirk were intent on taking the ball into contact, tying in the GHA forwards before releasing their speedy backs. Steven Hamilton made a superb break and cut through the visiting defence. Selkirk were awarded a penalty on half way and Rory Banks with a good touch kick took play up to the visitors twenty two metre area. Despite winning the resulting lineout, GHA gave possession away to Selkirk who seized the opportunity to launch Steven Hamilton who broke several attempted tackles to go over. Thus the score after five minutes was: SELKIRK 5 GHA 0.

The conversion attempt failed . GHA restarted and gave away possession to Selkirk. A probing kick by Rory Banks was gathered by Andrew Gillman inside his own half and he fed David Corbenici who took the ball into contact. A penalty to Selkirk as GHA were adjudged to have wandered offside allowed the home side to choose a scrum. Clearly the home side were settling to their task and forcing the visitors on to the back foot. As Selkirk attempted to pass the ball through hands a superb tackle by Andrew Goudie forced the home player to knock the ball on and give a scrum to GHA. There was a strange lack of cohesiveness from the visitors which the home side began to exploit. Selkirk were moving the ball between forwards and backs with purpose and another mid field break by the home side was stopped by a thumping tackle from Ben Addison. Selkirk gave a penalty away by not releasing. It was becoming a feature of the match even this early that both sides were trying to force the pass or making basic errors which resulted in moves and plays breaking down. Selkirk gathered the ball from an attempted touch kick and their backs ran at the visiting defence. In an excellent piece of handling the home backs with forwards in support committed the visiting defence before passing out to Clinton Wagman who found a gap and went through to score to great acclaim from the home support. With Rory Banks converting the score after seventeen minutes was: SELKIRK 12 GHA 0.

Pressure from the home side and a strangely misfiring GHA defence had allowed the home side to establish a period of control in the match. As they have continually demonstrated all season, GHA did not panic but tried to put their frustration at a catalogue of errors behind them and stormed back into the match. As we approached the half way mark in the first half, the visitors began to show greater continuity and drives by messrs, Scott, Usuda, Corbenici and Barnett began to ask questions of the home defence. Several breaks by James Sutherland in an auxilliary centre position exploited gaps in the home defence and lifted the spirits of the visiting side.It was Selkirk’s turn to make errors and the home side was penalised for hands in the loose. Andrew Goudie engineered a kick into touch at the Selkirk twenty two metre line. A resulting incursion by messrs Angus and Corbenici was stymied by the home defence but the resulting recycled ball allowed Andrew Goudie to craft a grubber kick through the home defence which caused panic. The visiting side tore through the gap and scott Carson led the charge, regaining possession as the visiting forwards arrived at the home five metre line. This was a concerted effort by the visitors but just as it seemed that such pressure could bring a score, GHA lost possession in the loose to Selkirk . Ross Nixon in an attempt to find space for Josh Welsh threw a wild pass which was seized upon by the visiting side. The ball had gone forward and GHA were now on the home side’s five metre line. GHA fed the ball out through the backs and Sean Murray saw the line open up before him only to be recalled for a forward pass. Selkirk lost the scrum and amidst some confusion in home ranks a clever dummy by James Sutherland allowed him to go between the posts to loud cheers from the visiting support. Andrew Goudie converted to make the score after just under twenty five minutes SELKIRK 12 GHA 7.

Scott Carson gathered the restart and fed the ball to Andrew Goudie whose long kick went out on the full and brought play right back to deep inside the GHA half. Selkirk forwards gathered the ball in from the lineout and attempted to muscle their way forward. GHA were penalised for again straying offside and Rory Banks with an excellent kick pushed the score after thirty minutes to SELKIRK 15 GHA 7.

From the restart Selkirk were adjudged to have players crossing and were penalised. GHA moved the ball quickly to their stand off who took play down to the home side’s five metre line with a deft touch kick. GHA tried to get over the line with Michael Scott and Adam Kerr being held up just short. The resulting scrum five saw the home side win the ball and a weaving break by Clinton Wagman cleared the immediate danger. As play moved to half way the visiting side won possession in the loose and immediately launched a spearhead of Cameron King and Sean Murray only to see their break stopped at the home twenty two metre line. However GHA maintained the pressure as carelessness in the loose by Selkirk allowed the visitors to gain possession. As Selkirk found themselves on the back foot, Ross Angus who had been working very hard in the loose, broke out with the ball and went over to score. As we approached half time the score was now:SELKIRK 15 GHA 12.

This was the score at the interval in what had been a first half where both sides had made a number of errors which led to scores.There had been no lack of effort during the half but neither side managed to establish dominance due to a number of unforced errors.

GHA began the second half with the intention of taking control of the match. The visiting side used a combination of two and three man forward drives to push Selkirk back on their heels. Ben Addison put in a clever chip through a gap in the Selkirk defence turning the home defence. Selkirk scrambled the ball away on their five metre line. However as play resumed James Sutherland gathered the ball and scored in the corner. From an acute angle and factoring in the wind against him, Andrew Goudie gave the visitors a real lift by converting the try. The score after five minutes of the second half was: SELKIRK 15 GHA 19.

The home side seemed to lose their concentration and GHA forced play back into the home half. Andrew Goudie was causing consternation in home ranks by making yardage with well timed breaks . As we approached the tenth minute an excellent break out by GHA led to Andrew Goudie drawing in the home defence before feeding Sean Murray who sliced through the remaining defensive players to score. The stand off converted to make the score: SELKIRK 15 GHA 26.

However Selkirk recovered their composure and took the game up to the GHA twenty two metre line with powerful driving and close protection of the ball by the forwards. As GHA were forced back James Bett broke several tackles to go over. The conversion was missed and the score was now: SELKIRK 20 GHA 26.

GHA were penalised after the restart and an increasingly confident home side put the ball in touch at the GHA twenty two metre line. The home side secured possession and Sean Nixon found time and space to go through the GHA rearguard to score under the posts. Rory Banks converted and after fifteen hectic minutes of the second half the score was now: SELKIRK 27 GHA 26.

The restart was knocked on by Selkirk and as GHA secured possession Andrew Goudie wrong footed the opposition to cut inside the defensive cover and to set up a break by Ross Findlay and Ross Angus. As the ball was swiftly recycled messrs Cook and Murray just failed to hold a pass. The game was very finely balanced and it was clear that the side who minimised their mistakes could carry the day. GHA continued to drive at the home side but each attempted breakthrough was met by effective defensive tackling which in several instances resulted in the ball being turned over to Selkirk who calmly played their way out of trouble. Both sides exchanged penalties for errors and as we moved into the final quarter of the match there was an increasing tendency by both sides to force the pass which resulted in a move breaking down through lost possession. GHA orchestrated by their half backs were moving across the pitch in an attempt to find space and time to cut through the Selkirk defence. In a moment which was typical of the day, GHA lost possession in their opponents half only to see Selkirk who had created an overlap knock the ball on to the groans of the home crowd. Both sides were trying to dominate and play became hectic and rather loose as we entered the last ten minutes of the match. There was a tendency to attempt long passes in very windy conditions with the result being that moves broke down as the ball did not go to hand. As we reached the thirty fifth minute GHA lost possession in their half and despite desperate cover defence by the visitors, Josh Mackay scored a very well worked try. The conversion was successful and with minutes left the score was: SELKIRK 34 GHA 26.

With time running out, GHA tried bravely to pull back the deficit with a huge effort which took them right up to the Selkirk five metre line. From the resulting scrum James Sutherland burst through to score. The conversion was missed and the whistle sounded the end of the match. The final score was: SELKIRK 34 GHA 31.

The match had seen a number of errors and attempted plays which did not come off on the day. As the visitors left the field there was the very real feeling that they could have won this match.






Photo Credit: David Nichol

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