Sat 6th Oct 2018 - Kelso 1st XV v GHA (36-31)
Tennant’s National League Division 1
Kelso 36 GHA 31 half time 21-14
On a beautiful Autumn day, we had a clash of top v bottom in the National Division 1. GHA came fresh from their 87-3 demolition of Kirkcaldy whereas Kelso was a team lacking confidence after a string of defeats and full of changes due to injury. On the plus side for Kelso, they were able to welcome back Angus Roberts after his brief sojourn to Hawick.
As it happens, GHA opened the game in the same form as they displayed last week with a try after only 2 minutes when the ball was shipped out to left wing, Ben Addison, who made the running for full back, Cameron King who sailed over near the posts for a try and an easy conversion by George Baird. Kelso, however, hit back straight away after a fine break by Cormac Izuchukwu, (henceforth to be referred to as Izzy continued by Craig Dods who took the ball up to the line and Kris Mein forced his way over. Dods converted but shoddy defence by Kelso allowed Charlie Lonergan to slip a few tackles and run in from 35 metres for another straightforward conversion by Baird.
Amazingly we had 3 tries before the first scrum of the match and even more staggering was the fact that all this had happened before the first penalty. That would change as the game progressed, however.
Kelso won a 5 metre scrum and from that Dods sidestepped his way over for the try which he also converted to tie the game.
The next 10 minutes belonged entirely to the visitors with a heel against the head and a stolen line out but after 35 minutes, strong work by Dods and Izzy allowed Angus Roberts to take a deft pass and sprint along the touchline for a 40 metre try which Dods converted. Kelso had a strong period leading up to half time which came with the score 21-14 in their favour.
The second half started with a bang as GHA immediately reduced the deficit with a try in the corner by the flying Ben Addison. The conversion failed but this start had to worry the hosts.
The game ebbed and flowed with mistakes on both sides resulting in a few penalties coming into the game.
After 55 minutes, Kelso exerted some pressure on the visitors line and after moving the ball along the line to the left then the right, replacement prop, Gareth Clark, found himself in open prairie and for a millisecond he looked as if he was going to pass to his right but then went for the glory try, with the hint of an Ash Splash as he went over. The conversion failed but Kelso had the try bonus point secured.
Kelso had a let off at one end when GHA knocked on as they seemed to be going over the line. Immediately, Roberts broke out and raced 60 metres only to lose his support . A few strange penalties took play into the Kelso danger area and sure enough, following a driven line out, No 8, James Sutherland went over for the try. The kick to tie the game was missed. As Kelso entered the finishing straight, they scored another good team try after Arran Jackson and Kevin Wilson made ground for Izzy to gallop 30 metres for his well deserved try, converted by Dods.
As we went into injury time, pressure by the visitors paid off when they were awarded a penalty try after some ‘cynical play’ by Andy Tait. Tait got doubly punished as he was also yellow carded. Kelso hassled the GHA team in their own 22 and just did not allow them to make any ground. GHA eventually coughed up a penalty which Dods duly converted and finished off the game with an excellent 36-31 victory.
So Kelso took part in a 10 try thriller with the tries equally shared out. This was not a prospect that the Ponder faithful would have been predicting before the game. It raised them level with Cartha in the league table, but, more importantly it raised the confidence level greatly for the next few games against Gala, Hamilton and Cartha QP.
The victory came from fine support play and, at times, resolute defence.
Kelso team: Murray Hastie, Ryan Ford , Angus Roberts , Kevin Wilson, Arran Jackson, Craig Dods, Phil Hume, Michael Downer , Charlie Marshall, Blair Robertson, Robert Hastie , Cormac Izuchukwu, Kevin Dryden, Cameron Brown, Kris Mein
Replacements: Gareth Clark, Gregor Millar, Jack Walker, Andy Tait and Connor Gillon
Kelso scorers: Kris Mein, Angus Roberts, Gareth Clark, Cormac Izuchukwu and Craig Dods 1 try and 4 con and 1 penalty