Premiership: pack power sees Selkirk home against indisciplined GHA

Hosts score three late tries during the final quarter when GHA lost both locks to the sin-bin

Selkirk's Finlay Wheelans is caught just short of the line by GHA's cover defence. Image: Grant Kinghorn
Selkirk's Finlay Wheelans is caught just short of the line by GHA's cover defence. Image: Grant Kinghorn

Selkirk 28

GHA 14

LEWIS STUART @ Philiphaugh

IN a game filled with mistakes, yellow cards made all the difference as GHA surrendered three tries in the final 15 minutes. It meant that after going into the finals quarter with a lead, they ended up getting nothing from the game and now have to worry about life in the bottom half of the Premiership table.

For Selkirk, however, it was a mixed bag. Even Scott Wight, their coach, was not totally sure what to make of the game. “The most pleasing thing is that the last few weeks we have been bad at kicking the points and keeping the scoreboard ticking over, but we did that in this game and in the end if proved crucual,” he said.

“It kept us in the game at 14-9 down, only one score away, and we did come good. The first half, though, was poor, discipline was poor, we didn’t look after the ball, probably the worst 40 minutes we have played all year. You then compare that with what happened at the end.”

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It had been a case of hanging on through most of the first three quarters of the match but once the home pack took control, they were able to drive two mauls over for tries and get a third when they destroyed a GHA scrum. After so much scrappy rugby, it was all about power.

All of which made it desperately frustrating for GHA, who probably deserved at least a losing bonus point but losing locks Sean Callaghan and Adam Kerr to yellow cards one after the other gave their opponents a chance to take a stranglehold on the match.

“We were good enough to win this game but just did not have the platform to attack off,” said coach Trevor Carmichael. “It’s seemed to be that any time we got penalised, it was a yellow card. You can question some of the decisions, but it is what it is.

“It was frustrating, we really want to push on in this league but it seems to be one step forwards, two back at the moment. The next two weeks will be crucial.”

It was the home side who drew first blood with Aaron McColm slotting an early penalty from a position which had been won by a combination of smart thinking out wide followed by the first signs of raw power from forwards.

On the whole, it was the Borders side who were dominating territorially and their Glasgow visitors who were defending, helped by a string of penalties

It took 25 minutes for GHA to make their first serious visit to the Selkirk 22 but when they did, unlike their hosts who has squandered a number of strong positions, they made it count. An offside penalty gave them the position, they secured the line-out and drove the maul, making a good 10 yards before hooker Archie Falconer broke off the back with acres of space to cross for the opening try.

With Chris Hyde adding the conversion, the side who had been defending most of the game until then were in the lead.

Selkirk were the first go go a man down when hooker Bruce Riddell was sent to the sin-bin as referee Tom French lost patience with their penalty count. Instead of hindering them, though, it seemed to inspire the hosts. They rediscovered their dominance and really should have claimed a try when flanker Andrew Grant-Suttie broke clear only for Finlay Wheelans to spill the pass under pressure with the line open.

Still, it gave the home side another three points and a chance to show what they could do when they had a numerical advantage when fly half Gregor Drummond was sin binned for the early contact.

Again, though, it was the short-handed side who seemed to benefit. A midfield scrum gave GHA the options and Charlie Lonergan, the centre, found space to cut clean through, with Dario Ewing doing what every good flanker does and pop up on his shoulder for the scoring pass. Again Hyde added the extras so that when the game went back to 15 versus 15, the visitors had an eight point advantage.

That was as good as it got for GHA, and when Callaghan was sin-binned for a professional foul at a ruck after Selkirk threatened to score, it spelled the beginning of the end.

First McColm brought his side within range with the penalty and when Kerr was sent to the bin for hauling down a maul as soon as Callaghan returned. The game turned full circle.

After kicking their earlier penalties, Selkirk went to the corner this time and drove the resulting maul into midfield with Riddell the man in possession as it rumbled over the line. McColm added the conversion that gave them the lead for the first time since the 26th minute.

Good was soon even better as another power scrum saw the ball squirt out and Monroe Job, the No8, was first to react, getting to the ball before any GHA defender for the score that gave his side a bit of a cushion going into the final stages.

By now, the home pack was in total control and the the third try was not long coming as they mauled another line-out and again Riddell was the man to get the touch down with McColm adding the extras to add a bit of a gloss the the final scoreline. It had been yard but in the end, their power and GHA’s yellow cards were good enough.


Teams –

Selkirk: A McColm; F Wheeelans, R Cottrell, R Godsmark, L Ferguson; R Nixon, J Hamilton; L Pettie, B Riddell, Z Szwagrzak, J Head, A McColm, C Smyth, A Grant-Suttie, M Job. Substitutes: J Turnbull, K Thompson, C Turnbull, C Easson, F Anderson.

GHA: L Bardelli; A Spowart, C Hyde, C Lonergan, A Caqusau, G Drummond, R MacFarlane; E Cavan; A Falconer, M Fox, A Kerr, S Callaghan; A Flynn, D Ewing; L McCutcheon. Substitites: C Stewart, F Faulds, S Plumridge, G Baird, K Dixon.

Referee: Tom French


Scorers –

Selkirk: Tries: Riddell 2, Job; Cons: Aaron McColm 2; Pens: Aaron McColm 3.

GHA: Tries: Falconer, Ewing; Cons: Hyde 2.

Scoring sequence (Selkirk first): 3-0; 3-5; 3-7; 6-7; 6-12; 6-14; 9-14; 14-14; 16-14; 21-14; ; 26-14; 28-14.


Yellow cards –

Selkirk: Riddell.

GHA: Drummond, Callaghan, Kerr.


Player-of-the-Match: In the end it was the sheer power of the Selkirk forwards that won this match. Though they were helped by yellow cards, the player who exemplified that was prop Zen Szwagrzak. When he was taken off for a rest, his side struggled but when he was on the field the Selkirk pack marched all over their opponents.

Talking point: Yellow cards are always crucial and there is a limit to how many any side can soak up. For most of this match, it seemed the side losing players was able to step up but in the final quarter losing both locks cost GHA too much as Selkirk’s forwards took control.

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About Lewis Stuart 77 Articles
Lewis has been writing about rugby for almost 40 years, the last 18 as a freelance based in Scotland bringing his wealth fo experience to just about every publication in the country. These days you can hear him as well by tuning in to his Wednesday night show on Rocksport Radio.