Saturday 16th February
1stXV v Kelso - away, 2.30pm, National League Cup
Hard opening day for the Blues
Written by John Methven
Saturday, 01 September 2018
SELKIRK 43 KIRKCALDY 15
Kirkcaldy found the realities of National 1 rugby the hard way at Philiphaugh last Saturday, going down by a six try to two margin. The Borders team from the beginning had a pace about the field and speed of reaction which the Blues just could not match. No longer could they rely on their pack steam rolling the opposition and winning the break downs. In this game often found themselves easily dispossessed.
However Director of Rugby Mark Henderson was anything but despondent after the game. "43-15 seems to be a bit of a pasting but there was quite a bit in the match which suggests we will do better as the season progresses.They were obviously more experienced at this level and this showed in their reactions and ability to snap up chances. We will have to protect the ball better at the breakdowns and make sure we are not turned over. Our play improved the longer the the game went and we certainly created good scoring chances which in a better day would have brought tries."
Selkirk ended last season in the top half of last season's National 1 table, not too far off the play-off positions and on this form could well be amongst the challengers again. They were stronger in most positions and in stand off Aaron McColm had a real match winner.
While they might seek solace in this opening day defeat, Kirkcaldy need not be too depressed .The forwards worked well as a unit, especially in the second half, with their pick and drive tactic once more effective. However after gaining hard yardage they conceded too many penalties which took the pressure off the Selkirk defence. What really separated the sides was in the quality of finishing. The Souters were able to turn half chances into full blooded scoring opportunities and five pointers.
The game had hardly begun when Selkirk went ahead with McColm kicking his side into a three point lead which might have become six but for a second penalty striking a post and bouncing out. These early stages were punctuated with Kirkcaldy giving away a series of penalties and were perhaps fortunate not to have been given a yellow card. However they stuck to their defensive duties forcing several Selkirk knock-ons and forward passes.
It took the Blues the best part of a quarter of an hour to establish themselves in the Selkirk a half After a slow build and well taken line-out possession they won a penalty kicked by Finlay Smith to tie the scores. This equality lasted barely a minute. Selkirk re started with a long kick deep into the Kirkcaldy 22 from which they won a throw-in. Their forwards made little progress with the ball but they released it McColm flashed through for the easiest of scores, adding the extra points himself
In spite of this loss the Blues were far out of things and their pack began to show some control. A long build up in the home 22 eventually produced a smartly delivered ball for Josh Laird to scythe through with Smith conversion tying the scores at 10-10. At this stage Kirkcaldy were looking a good match for Selkirk but a 31st minute lapse gave McColm the easiest of routes to the try line for a score which he converted himself
By the interval the Blues had fallen further behind as they failed to cover a delicate cross kick and coming up at speed, full back Josh Welsh won the touch down for his side's third try with the conversion taking the score to 24-10.
The Blues had perhaps their best phase of the game in the third quarter with backs moving much more sweetly and providing the fodder for an unconverted Finlay Smith try Whatever hope the Blues had of rescuing the game soon disappeared. Excellent support work opened up the Kirkcaldy defence for replacement Nico Pavlovski to go in from 30 metres for a try which took the score to 29-15.
Although Kirkcaldy worked their way deep into the Selkirk 22 on several occasions composure was lacking as they tried to press home this advantage and in the closing stages the Philiphaugh side emphasised their superiority with two further converted tries from James Bett and Darren Clapperton.
A defeat of this magnitude may rankle with some but there was enough in this performance to suggest a first National 1 win may not be too far away.
Selkirk:- J Welsh. S Hendrie, D Clapperon, R Nixon, F Anderson, A McColm, S Tough, L Pettie, J Bett, B Riddell, A Renwick, A Mackay, S Nixon, S McClymont, D Nichol
Replacements:- P Forresr, R Reilly, J Houston, N Pavlovski, L Martin
Kirkcaldy:- F Smith, F Bruce, R Low, J Laird, C Carey, A Black, G McKenzie, D Jennings, G Wallace, M Salt, C Wood, S Robertson, R Brown, D Turner, J Pow
Replacements:- G Queen M Harvey, J Denton, C Hamiton
J Shaw (West of Scotland)
Fife Trophy Centre STAR CHECK
3 Josh Laird
2 Jack Pow
1 Finlay Smith
3 Josh Laird, Connor Wood
2 Jack Pow, Dayle Turner
1 Finlay Smith, Struan Robertson
This Week's Results
Saturday 26th January
1st XV 27 Hamilton 24
2nd XV 3 Blairgowrie 31
1stXV League Table
Tennent's National League Division 1
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View full league table on scottishrugby.org
sponsored by Match 8 v Cartha QP
FIFE TROPHY CENTRE
18 Links St, Kirkcaldy
3 Josh Laird
2 Finlay Smith
1 Dayle Turner
See Cumulative Stats for totals