Sat 10th Feb - Kelso RFC V GHA 3pm KO (28-26)
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Kelso 28 GHA 26 (HT 14-19)
Kelso welcomed GHA to Poynder Park in a BT National Cup Quarter Final which was also a double header with BT national 1. The teams shared nearly 100 points when they met earlier in the season at Braidholm and with both sides preferring attacking Rugby; you just never know how this match would end up. Both sides came into the match on decent runs of form, so it was guaranteed to be a cracker and it didn’t disappoint.
Kelso kicked off on what was a dry but very cold day at Poynder Park. The pitch was in excellent condition for this time of the year and running Rugby was very much an option.
It was the visitors who started the better and it seemed like Kelso were caught a bit cold. GHA were very close to scoring a try with just 2 minutes on the clock. Stand Off Andrew Goudie kicked a penalty into the Kelso 22 and GHA drove the resulting lineout towards the Kelso try line. Only incredible work from the Kelso pack stopped the ball short and they even managed to turn the ball over.
The men from the West were straight back at Kelso and were camped on the hosts’ line, they tried and tried to get over the line and just when it looked like Kelso had managed to stem the tide, GHA prop Scott Carson bulldozed his way over the line and Goudie converted.
Kelso were sparked into life and were very keen to play fast expansive Rugby. Andrew Skeen made two fine trademark breaks but they eventually came to nothing. You could tell that this was going to be a ding dong battle up front as the physicality in the early encounters was brutal and neither defence was keen to give anything away.
GHA then doubled their lead when a cross kick from the very impressive Goudie was collected by winger James Edgar, he then fed inside to Chris Binnie and when the ball was recycled from the ruck, Centra Max McFarlane went over untouched for the try. Goudie converted and the silence in Poynder Park was a huge concern.
Andrew Goudie continued to run the show and he created another chance for the visitors when he collected his own little chip kick through, thankfully GHA knocked the ball on when it looked like they were in or try number three.
Kelso were throwing everything at GHA but the stubborn defence wasn’t letting the Tweedsiders gain much territory.
The home side did get on the scoreboard when a lineout was won by Kelso and the resulting drive by the forwards created the easiest of trys for Ross Henderson. It was excellent work by the Kelso pack to execute to perfection and give Ross the try. Dods added the conversion.
GHA then hit back, Winger James Edgar found some pace outside and he sped in for the try. It was fair to say that he caught the Kelso defence asleep. Goudie missed the extras.
Kelso then finished the half strongly and were rewarded by a try from Gregor Mein. The ex-Gala player finished well after a great burst by Kelso Prop Blair Robertson. Dods added the extras.
The home side started to get some domination up front and particularly in the scrums. Amazingly no penalties were forthcoming when it was clear that the GHA tighthead prop couldn’t take the strain and had to collapse twice.
Kelso then had the chance to claw their way back at GHA when the visitors were penalised for being offside at the ruck. Craig Dods stepped up but narrowly tweaked his effort at goal.
GHA were then reduced to 14 men when Prop Michael Scott was shown a yellow card for infringing inside his own 5m line. Kelso took full advantage of that as they opted for the scrum from the resulting Penalty. GHA collapsed it and again the black and whites went for a scrum, when GHA broke the scrum up this time, Referee Ian Kenny had no option but to award Kelso with a penalty try. Kelso were in front!
GHA then hot back and it really did look all too easy when Scrum Half Andrew Gillman evaded three Kelso tackles to score. Goudie added the extras and suddenly the clock was not in Kelsos favour.
Kelso were immediately into the GHA 22 and were desperate to get the try to earn them the try bonus. They were trying and trying but the GHA defence was incredible. The accuracy and patience that Kelso were showing under severe pressure would be very pleasing for Head Coach Gary Stevens. After more than 20 phases and numerous attempts at crossing the line, the ball was fed to Winger Kevin Wilson and he scored in the corner to a huge roar in Poynder Park. The conversion was a difficult one with the scores tied but Craig Dods slotted an absolute corker of a kick to put Kelso in front with very little time left.
Everyone was nervous inside Poynder Park as the clock hit 80 minutes but credit to the players who managed to see the game out. The Poynder Park faithful were in fine voice again when Ian Kennys whistle blew for full time!
This was a very tough match for both sides but credit to both teams for producing an excellent entertaining match in front of a good crowd. Kelso gained 5 valuable League points and also go into Wednesdays draw for the Semi Final of the BT National Cup.
I asked Kelso head Coach for his comments on a fine Kelso win:
The added bonus of playing for both league points and cup placing was obvious motivation for the boys to perform. However the team wanted to play for our Kelso rugby family and stakeholders first and foremost and try build a respect for Poynder our home turf.
The team may have been over aroused at kick off and strayed from the game plan trying to score from every play and push the pass under pressure when it wasn’t on. However after giving away the initial 14 point lead we got back to business on the back of some great defence and smart attacking options.
The team has become very familiar with our structures and processes and when they commit to them the outcome is success. Our first half tries showed glimpses of long standing potential with speed and accuracy stretching the GHA defence for two fine tries. This was matched by our patience shown to grind out the 15 plus phases to score the match winning try and give Dodsy the easy conversion from the side line.
The character of the team and strong culture within shone through in the second half, where we stuck to task and trusted each other to push past a determined GHA for the win. A proud coach moment to see the boys see the appreciation and reward for the time spent on the little aspects of our game.
Everyone contributed to a great game and the team are very much looking forward to Selkirk this Saturday.
15 Craig Dods
14 Kevin Wilson
13 Ross Cooke
12 Gregor Mein
11 Angus Roberts
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 Cameron Brown
19 Angus Common
20 Connor Gillon
21 Matt Kindness