ALAN LORIMER @ Philiphaugh
SELKIRK opened their Premiership campaign with a bonus-point win over Musselburgh to provide generous compensation for having to miss their game last weekend because of Covid.
Yet, despite scoring four tries to Musselburgh’s two, there were still gaps in the Selkirk performance that coach Scott Wight put down to a fractured build-up. “It was just rustiness. We had a couple of pre-season games, but it was firsts and seconds mixed. So this was our first game as a first 15,” explained Wight, who was more than happy with his signing from Melrose, Thomas Brown.
“Thomas has fitted in very well since he came here. I thought he had some nice touches today,” came the praise from Wight, whose opposite number Graeme Paterson took a number of positives from a Musselburgh side that played well in patches.
“We came back strongly in the second half and actually had them on the rack for a spell. But Selkirk are a good side and particularly at home,” suggested Paterson.
Despite the game producing a total of six tries it was all penalty goals in the first quarter, two from Danny Owenson to one from Scott Clark that gave Musselburgh a 6-3 lead. The opening 20 minutes, however, did not set the tone for the rest of the game and shortly afterwards Selkirk showed the potency of their play, with a try from left-wing Ben Pickles after Andrew Grant-Suttie had knocked a dent in the Musselburgh defence to set up a second phase from which the home side moved the ball elegantly to create room for the score.
The Philiphaugh team’s lead was then wiped out with a third penalty from Owenson but, with half-time approaching, it was all change again when Selkirk engineered a quality score from a move started in their own 22. Stand-off Callum Anderson created it with a clever switch of direction before a powerful run by Brown and support from Frazer Anderson then Josh Mackay gave skipper Ewan MacDougall a clear run to the line, Clark converting for a 15-9 interval lead.
Selkirk were quickly into their stride just after the break, profiting with a solo try from Grant-Suttie after good approach work by back-row Scott McClymont to extend the home side’s lead to 22-9.
To their credit, Musselburgh, who for the most part had been impressive in defence, roared back into the game. Their efforts were rewarded with a try from a tap penalty by prop Colin Arthur, and the conversion by Owenson. That put them into a bonus-point position, only for a penalty goal by Clark to torpedo that gain.
As it was, Selkirk became the team chasing the bonus point, secured in style by stand-off Anderson, who collected his own deft chip ahead to race in under the posts and leave Clark with the simple conversion.
That might have signed off the match, but Musselburgh showed their resolve by hitting back with an unconverted try by wing Gregor Tait, to take some satisfaction from a game that never went their way.
Selkirk: R Cottrell; F Anderson, J Welsh, A Grant-Suttie, B Pickles; C Anderson, S Clark; L Pettie, J Mackay, B Riddell, T Brown, D Nichol, A McColm, S McClymont, E MacDougall©. Subs used: A Cochrane, K Thomson, Z Szwagrzak, R Nixon, C Young.
Musselburgh: R Hindhaugh; T Foley, L Brook, V Kacori, G Tait; D Owenson©, L Kotze; N McNairn, C Owenson, C Arthur, C Champion, J Haynes, M Crawford, J Lister, L Hutson. Subs used: A Forbes, D Hodge, C Pryde, M McMillan, C Veitch.
Referee: R Campbell.
Selkirk: Tries: Pickles, MacDougall, Grant-Suttie, Anderson. Cons: Clark 3. Pens: Clark 2.
Musselburgh: Tries: Arthur, Tait. Con: D Owenson. Pens: D Owenson 3.
Scoring sequence (Selkirk first): 0-3, 3-3, 3-6, 8-6, 8-9,13-9, 15-9 (ht) 20-9, 22-9. 22-14, 22-16, 25-15, 30-16, 32-16, 32-21.
Man-of-the-Match: A number of performances caught the eye and not least of them, that of Thomas Brown, whose all-round game was impressive. But ultimately it was the vision of stand-off Callum Anderson that brought Selkirk the bonus point and for that he is the man of the match.
Talking point: Selkirk laid down a marker that they will be hard to defeat at Philiphaugh. The Soutars have a strong enough forward pack to hold their own and an exciting back division that will only become a more efficient unit with exposure to top competition. For their part, Musselburgh showed good organisation in defence but will need their best players to be available every weekend.