A View from the Touchline – Premier League: 21.12.19.

Selkirk RFC 13 pts (t 2, p g 1) v Currie Chieftains 11 pts (t 1, p g 2)

The weather and ground conditions can be a great leveller, and the cold, wet, slippery morass of the playing surface over the past four weeks has not favoured the Chieftains’ aspirations. Of course, it is the same for both teams, and although recent results have been very disappointing for Currie, for the opposition to humble their opponents who were expected to beat them, this is the silver lining that these rain-laden clouds can deposit. I imagine the Souters’ success will be the joy and topic of sporting conversation in Selkirk’s High Street over the festive period; Currie were in this position a few years ago!

As could be expected on a dreich day, the shortest day of the year, it was almost dark as players and spectators assembled for a minute’s silence in memory of Selkirk President, Gus Boag, who died a few days ago. Like most rugby people, particularly those of the Borders, he delighted in giving something back to a rugby club that had given him so much pleasure.

The good floodlights certainly illuminated the pitch, but within a very short time it was quite difficult to discern the strips of both teams, and the ball, as sticky mud began to coat everything. After a brief opening spell in the Chieftains’ half, the ball changed hands, and Rhys Davies led a charge deep into Selkirk territory. Following several attractive advancing phases, when the visitors confidently moved the ball and edged towards the Selkirk line, Archie MacLean was put into space and on 6 minutes he scurried over for a try wide out.

Gregor Hunter could not convert the difficult kick, but after nearly twenty minutes of stalemate that was mainly played in the Selkirk half, he did land a penalty goal, which was small consolation for the pressure and frustrations that the visitors were experiencing. In places the pitch was cutting up badly, and frequently the referee had to move the scrum to more solid ground. It was still messy, but the Souters were revelling in the conditions, and for almost 10 minutes a succession of chaotic, unattractive scrums, midway in the Chieftains’ 22 only produced more penalty scrums; finally Aaron McColm elected to kick for goal which gave his battling Selkirk team some points before the imminent break.

Halftime score – Selkirk 3 pts, Currie Chieftains 8 pts.

In the slippery conditions it was clear that mistakes and a loose ball could turn the match into a bit of a lottery. Selkirk pumped a number of high kicks into the Chieftains’ half, but they were always well fielded by the dependable James McCaig, who delivered a sound performance throughout the afternoon. Another 20-minute period of unedifying midfield slip-and-slide ended with Selkirk profiting from a penalty lineout 10 metres from Currie’s goal line. They secured the ball and a steaming black mass of humanity slowly slithered over for the try. Aaron McColm’s conversion hit the upright, but the Souters and their supporters now had their tails up.

With the ground and ball becoming increasingly slippery, and a vociferous crowd willing their team forward, Currie’s luck, once again, deserted them; a couple of speculative kicks into space saw the ball move from one 22 to the other, turning the Currie backs in the process. The roaring crowd and Currie’s desperate chase back was palpable; fullback, Henry Bithray fractionally won the race for the touchdown. The try was not converted but in two minutes the match had been turned on its head.

Try as they did, the Chieftains could not gain a foothold in the Selkirk half, and at every opportunity the home team, who knocked over anything that tried to move forward, walloping the ball back into the visitors’ 22 whenever it came their way. Mistakes were thick and fast from both teams, with the Souters missing a couple kickable penalties, which would have probably been converted on a more clement day.

Even with almost 10 minutes of extra time for stoppages, which included the referee having to count the number of players in each side, as identification became almost impossible, the Chieftains could not muster the power or acumen to snatch the points required for a win.

December has not been a good month for the Malleny team, and the festive break will, no doubt, give them a chance to recharge before the rigours of the Premiership start again in the new year on January 15th, away to Edinburgh Accies.

A Happy Christmas and New Year to everyone and may all your club rugby wishes come true.

I.J.S – 22.12.19.

Currie Chieftains Team v Selkirk –

15 James McCaig, 14 Cameron Meager, 13 Steven Hamilton, 12 Adam Hall, 11 Archie MacClean,

10 Gregor Hunter, 9 Gregor Christie, 8 Rhys Davies, 7 Wallace Nelson, 6 Mike Vernel, 5 Sam Edwards,

4 Matt Poole, 3 Reece Patterson, 2 Roy Vucago, 1 Graeme Carson.

Bench – Matias Argiro, Grant Williamson, Hamish Ferguson, Ewan Blair, Fraser Sayers.

Match Officials –

Referee – Michael Todd

AR 1 – Ewan Clipston

AR 2 – Dean Lythgoe