Whitecraigs RFC (18) vs Kelso RFC (23) - RBS Premier 2 - Stage 2
Whitecraigs 18 Kelso 23, half time 10-13
Kelso travelled along the M8 for the second successive week to Glasgowfor a first ever visit to Whitecraigs. Following on from a win last weekend, their tails were up despite the loss through injury of regular scrum half, Andy Tait. A win guaranteed Premier 2 rugby next season whereas Whitecraigs knew that they were in a dog fight with Hillhead/ Jordanhill for the probable 4th place in the group. The home side was further buoyed by the news that their former teammate, John Welsh, had just won his first cap forScotland. Their joy was unconfined when they opened the scoring after only 4 minutes when their backs cut the Kelso defence open with a fine move which resulted in giant winger, Steven Whittet, galloping in at the post. Ryan Moffat converted to put the men from the west 7-0 ahead.
A good attack by Kelso finished up short when they were bundled into touch. They did, however, get the scoreboard ticking when Keiran Wilkinson converted a penalty after a Whitecraigs offside. This score was immediately negated by a Moffat penalty after Kelso were caught offside.
On 25 minutes, Richard Minto finished off a good Kelso move after the ball was moved very quickly to the left. Wilkinson stroked over a fine conversion from far out to level the scores.
A loose clearance by Kelso allowed the home side to attack the Kelso line but fine defence held them out. Kelso enjoyed a fine passage of play taking them into the Whitecraigs half. Wilkinson failed with a penalty but he had a chance to redeem himself shortly after when Mark Chester was late tackled. Kelso took the lead for the first time but, as half time approached they had an element of luck when Whitecraigs were called back for a forward pass.
Early pressure in the second half by Whitecraigs stretched the Kelso defence but they were awarded two penalties in quick succession to enable them to clear their lines. A clever chip through byChesterwas picked up by Gregg Minto and play was taken up to the home team’s line. The ball was quickly recycled and Kelso almost got over in the right hand corner. The ensuing scrum led to a pick and drive by Kelso and eventually the ball was passed to the left whenChesterallowed Kevin Utterson to explode through the gap to score at the posts for Wilkinson to convert to take Kelso to 20-10 ahead.
There was a feeling that this was all Kelso needed to start to go away from Whitecraigs especially as the homesters forwards looked as if they were tiring. That illusion was soon put out of mind when they broke upfield and, from a line out, their big pack drove up to the Kelso line and Ross McDonald was driven over. The kick was unsuccessful but the game was back in the melting pot at 20-15. Worse was to follow for Kelso when Mark Chester was led off with a hamstring problem. He was replaced by Craig Renton. Wilkinson missed a kick at goal but following a superb break by Murray Hastie, replacement Renton dropped a smart goal after quick ruck ball.
The onus was all on Whitecraigs and they put in an almighty effort near the end of the game. Moffat kicked another penalty to put them into bonus point territory and they spend the last few minutes pressurising the Kelso line, which was protected by some solid tackling, for a 23-18 win and Premier 2 rugby next season.
The match was well refereed by Rob Warburton, an exchange referee fromLondon.
Kelso team: Keiran Wilkinson, Lewis Mallin, Richard Minto, Kevin Utterson, Gregg Minto, Mark Chester,Murray Hastie.
Kieran Cooney, Chris Riddell, Ali Marsh, Stef Carnegie, Donald Seed, Ross Henderson, James Stevenson, David Lowrie
Replacements: Kieran Cooney, Allan Frame, Alan Haig, Craig Renton
Scoreres: Richard Minto 1 try; Kevin Utterson 1 try Keiran Wilkinson 2 cons and 2 penalties:
Craig Renton1 drop goal