Selkirk RFC v Currie Chieftains, 20 November 2021

It was an early start for the Chieftains team and their supporters for the fifty-odd mile journey to Philiphaugh. Although the autumn-coloured Border hills glistened in morning light, there were ominous signs of rain in the misty clouds gathering before the 11.00 am kick off. Because of players’ work commitments Head Coach, Mark Cairns could not confirm his selection until the last minute, and the team that took the field had a slightly unfamiliar look.

However, the visitors gelled quickly, with passages of fine attacking rugby which confined the home team deep in their half of the pitch. Several over-ambitious passes could have caused Currie embarrassment, but despite the cold swirling wind and a solid defensive display from the home team, the Chieftains eventually broke the stalemate. A penalty lineout was secured, and the visitors edged forward with multiple phases which were halted close to the goal line. With little success at these breakdowns against a weighty Souters pack, Paddy Boyer decided on a different approach, he raced to the blindside and went over unopposed. Adam Hall, playing at standoff, splendidly converted from wide out.

A further 15 minutes passed before Selkirk made one of their rare visits into the Currie 22 with a display of polished handling that required the Chieftains’ full attention. The danger was cleared, and Currie continued their assault at the opposite end. A scorching run down the left touchline had Iain Sim scoring another try in the corner; once again Adam Hall converted. As halftime approached, the visitors were dominating possession, and a fine passage of open play stretched the home defence. The quick hands of DJ Inness, Gregor Scougall and Fergus Scott quickly moved the recycled ball to Rhys Davies who carried for 10 metres to score under the posts. The try was converted by Gregor Hunter who had by that time was on the field to pull the Chieftains’ strings. Halftime score: Selkirk 0 pts, Currie Chieftains 21 pts.

After the break Selkirk looked a different outfit, and within 5 minutes Ryan Southern needed to pull off a tremendous tackle and prevent them scoring. The reshuffled back division brought Joe Reynolds into Currie’s attack and exciting midfield play ensued; DJ Innes, Fergus Scott, Wallace Nelson and Hamish Ferguson were at the centre of the action. Charlie Brett made an excellent run, but his kick ahead was well covered, and Selkirk counter-attacked from deep, creating a three-to-one overlap. Although the Chieftains’ defence stopped the first charge, Selkirk retained possession and continued to press. Their varied play included deceptive short throws to the front of the lineout, and slick handling which gave their backs room to manoeuvre, and create overlaps.

As the tempo of the game increased, so did the tension, with play moving from one end to the other. The Chieftains appeared to have the measure of their opponents. However, a clever short midfield pass from the Souters’ standoff opened Currie’s defence; and the Selkirk wing steamed through the gap to score an unconverted try.  This set up an exciting finale and  in the closing minutes of the game a lineout drive resulted in a second Selkirk try. As the on-target conversion sailed over, the referee’s whistle blew for full time.

After a wholly dominant first half, the Chieftains somehow mislaid their mojo and they would have been rather disappointed not to achieve their best of performances in the second half. They were mainly undone by handling errors when close to scoring, perhaps being too eager to gain the bonus point try. A determined Selkirk second half performance matched most things the visitors tried, but the light rain and greasy surface proved difficult for both sides. The final score was a fair reflection of the game overall.

Fulltime Score: Selkirk 12 pts (t 2 c 1) v Currie Chieftains 21 pts (t 3 c 3)

I.J.S – 21.11.21.