Sat 2nd Sept 2017 - Jed V Kelso 1st XV  (27-20)

Kelso made the short trip to Riverside Park for their first match back in BT National 1. It’s never an easy match and a typical blood and thunder battle was witnessed by a decent crowd who were greeted by glorious sunshine at kick off.

Kelso were without a few regulars but it was great to see new players Pierre Ebah, Ross Cooke, Gregor Mein, Josh Irvine, Heino Gaiser, Cata Graur, Sam Karlsen, Kieran Cooney and Iain Sim in the squad.

Jed started the game at a frantic pace and Kelso were on the back foot from the off. Jed were into the Kelso 22 after just around 5 minutes but fantastic goal line defence from the black and whites kept Jed out.

It was the home side who crossed the white line first through big Second Row forward Clark Skeldon. Jed were hammering at Kelso through their big pack and Skeldon was driven over the line by his team mates. Initially Referee Ross Mabon said he was held up but Veteran AR David Changleng stepped in to confirm that the ball was grounded, it certainly looked a try from where I was standing! Ewan Scott just missed the conversion.

Kelso tried to get into the game but they seemed a bit frantic when they had the ball and a lot of passes didn’t go to hand. Jed were ferocious in defence and were putting Kelso under pressure.  Kelso had a great chance to get their first try when they had an overlap but the pass to Ross Cooke was a shocker and the ball was knocked on, Iain Sim was alone on the wing and it was a certain try.

The visitors came into the game more and some string running from the like of Kris Mein was getting Kelso into Jed territory. The Tweedsiders had their best chance of a try when a thumping kick from Craig Dods gave Kelso a line out very close to the Jed line, sadly the lineout was a disaster and the ball was won by Jed and the danger was cleared.

With the first half drawing to a close it was Kelso who were on top and they got their first points on the board through a Dods penalty. Dods then scored a great try for the visitors when he finished off a move after a fine break by Pierre Ebah. The Frenchman took play into the Jed 22 and when the ball was fed along the back line, Dods was on hand to finish it well. Unfortunately Dods couldn’t add the extras.

It was fair to say that both sides had a lot of chances in that first half but a few handling errors and good defence meant that the scores were close at half time.

Jed started the second half like they did the first and were soon level after a penalty from Ewan Scott. Kelso were penalised for not rolling away in the tackle.

Jed soon extended their lead when Lewis Young was the beneficiary of a gift from the visitors. The ruck ball was very scrappy and Kelso managed to get a boot to the ball but all that happened was the kick went straight to Jed Centre Scott and he fed the ball along for Young to score in the corner.

Jed were on top at this point and Kelso’s plight wasn’t helped by a Yellow card for josh Irvine.  A pretty cynical late tackle wasn’t seen by Referee Mabon and the former Gala man was sent for a ten minute rest.

Jed capitalised on the extra man and Lewis Young was over again. Some pretty strange defending from Kelso and missed tackles gave the former Professional 7s man a try under the posts. Scott added the extras and Jed were 12 points clear.

The men from Riverside Park went straight back at kelso and when they were looking very dangerous, it went all wrong. The ruck ball spilled out and Kelso Stand Off Andrew Skeen set off down the park, Skeen was looking for support and Pierre Ebah was on hand and he outpaced Callum Young to score.  Dods couldn’t add the extras but Kelso were back in the match.

Robbie Shirra-Gibb then extended Jed’s lead when he skipped through some pretty tired defence and  he scored close to the posts. Scott added the extras and Jed were back to being two scored in front.

The Poynder Park men had scrum dominance and this proved too much for Jed when the Kelso pack were rewarded with a Penalty Try after one too many misdemeanours. This got Kelso to within 7 points of Jed.

The clock was ticking down and neither time had any time to get further scoring chances.

I am sure that Kelso coach Gary Stevens would be pleased with the commitment of his players. This was a typical Border derby when no backward step was taken by any of the players.

Next up for Kelso is a clash with Musselburgh at Poynder Park.