Sat 6th Jan - Kelso V Aberdeen 3pm KO (14-12)
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Kelso 14 Aberdeen Grammar 12 (HT 14-0)
Kelso welcomed Aberdeen Grammar to Poynder Park with the visitors on a 5 game winning streak on the road. It was great to see Rugby being played with the Black and Whites playing their 1st match since 5th December!
Conditions underfoot could’ve been worse with the Poynder Park pitch being in tremendous condition given all the rain that we had experienced in the week leading up to the match. The stage was set and a decent crowd welcomed both sets of players into the battle arena.
The match started in a real typical blood and thunder confrontation with both sets of forwards smashing into each other from the off. It was clear that this was going to be a very tough encounter and a game where defence was going to be on top.
The home side had the first chance to get points on the board when Craig Dods had a penalty attempt from the 10 yard line. Unfortunately for the Poynder park faithful it felt just short, it was hit well but not a great day weather wise for the kickers.
Kelso then had another great chance when Dods kicked a penalty into the corner. Poynder Park expected a try from a line out pick and drive but unfortunately the throw in was wonky and Grammar cleared the danger.
It wasn’t long until Kelso finally made the breakthrough when Heino Gaiser scored a fine try. An excellent break from Dods took play into the Grammar 22 and when the forwards tried to pick and go, the ball was then fed to Gaiser who smashed through a hole and went over for the try. Dods added the conversion.
Kelso nearly undone all the good work when they knocked the ball on in the backs and Grammar attacked. The ball was fed to winger Grant Walker and he took off towards the Kelso 22, he kicked on but thankfully a fine piece of defensive work from Phil Hume managed to clear the danger.
Kelso were playing some excellent expansive Rugby albeit they were up against a real stubborn defence.
Andrew Skeen then produced some magic which took play into the Grammar 22 again. A delightful chip and chase was collected by Skeen and play was heading towards the Grammar try line. Just when the forwards could sniff the whitewash the ball was knocked on and again Grammar cleared the danger.
With the clock close to the 40 minute mark Kelso managed to score try number two from Catain Andy Tait. Aberdeen were penalised for not rolling away in the tackle as Kelso were inside their 5 metre line. Quick thinking from Tait was key and he took a quick tap penalty and burrowed his way over. It was no less than Kelso deserved as the 1st half performance was arguably their best performance on the season. Dods added the extras.
Referee Steven Turnbull blew his whistle and it was half time.
Aberdeen started the 2nd half strongly and really took the game to Kelso. The Kelso defence was pounded and pounded but Aberdeen couldn’t break through. The Kelso bodies were well and truly put on the line and that must’ve been very pleasing for Coach Gary Stevens.
The visitors then managed to get their first points on the board. An overthrown lineout was collected by Prop Rob Ellinson and he caught the Kelso defence off-guard. Bryn Perrott missed the conversion but Grammar were back in the game.
The rain was now on and the temperature was dropping but it wasn’t having any real negative effect on the match. The hits were still going in and both teams were trying to play expansive Rugby.
Both sides were desperate to create opportunities against strong defences. Turnovers were a plenty and both sides were enjoying a bit of possession but neither team could really gain much territory.
Grammar were desperately trying to get another score which would give them a losing bonus point and with the clock ticking down, Alex Ratcliffe managed to get through a very tired Kelso defence. Perrott added the extras and everyone expected referee Turnbull to blow for full time but there was more to play!
The home side managed to work the clock down and Turnbull ended the match with 49 minutes and 29 seconds on the clock!
To be fair to Aberdeen they certainly deserved something from the game but Kelso were deserved winners. An excellent performance from everyone in the squad ensured the 1st victory of 2018.
I asked Kelso head coach Gary Stevens for his thoughts:
This was the first game in a while was a great test of character for the team who outworked our opponents to grind out a good win. The weather threatened to slow us down but we are a team playing with confidence and trust in each other, with our systems, so we were able to move the ball around and create scoring opportunities. The winning of the game was defence regardless of their two relatively easy tries. The effort to get off the ground and get in line was pleasing and rewarded. Everyone contributed from 1-20 and a lot of sweat and energy was left on the pitch. It was a very good win against a staunch opposition, showing that we should be further up the table and can certainly take that confidence into the upcoming matches.
Next up for Kelso is a tough trip to Dundee who are one place above the Tweedsiders in BT National 1.
15 Craig Dods
14 Iain Sim
13 Phil Hume
12 Gregor Mein
11 Ross Cooke
10 Andrew Skeen
9 Andrew Tait
1 Sam Karlsen
2 Ross Henderson
3 Blair Robertson
4 Paudie Lawlor
5 Heino Gaiser
6 Josh Irvine
8 Kris Mein
7 Kevin Dryden
16 Charlie Marshall
17 Kieran Cooney
18 Ally Johnston
19 Kevin Wilson
20 Angus Roberts