Sat 1st Dec - Kelso V Kirkcaldy - 3pm KO (22-10)
Tennant’s National League Division 1
Kelso 22 Kirkcaldy 10 half time 15-10
The game earlier in the season resulted in a resounding win for Kirkcaldy by 41-14 but since then, there is no doubt, that Kelso is a much improved side, having moved from the bottom of the league to 8th in the space of a few weeks after 4 bonus point winning games.
It is, however, important to win against the teams around you in the league. After 10 minutes, this was not looking likely for Kelso as, firstly they lost Charlie Marshall in the space of 30 seconds from kick off and secondly, they shipped an easy try after only 6 minutes when Michael Harper was driven over following a line out near the Kelso line. Finlay Smith converted to take the Fifers 7 points clear.
After 17 minutes, Kelso transgressed and conceded a kickable penalty which Smith slotted.
It was 20 minutes before Kelso was awarded its first penalty and following that, they got a toehold on the game. Murray Hastie kicked a penalty after 25 minutes after the visitors’ backs had been caught offside. There followed a bad tackle by the Fifer’s scorer when he hit Phil Hume after a line out. The tackle was late, high and with no arms. Apart from that it was the perfect tackle. Surprisingly, it was a penalty only with the Poynder Park faithful questioning the referee’s level of eyesight.
Kelso continued to exert pressure and it was awarded when Gregor Mein broke through up to the posts where Kirkcaldy centre, Josh Laird, tried to slow down the ball but it was quickly recycled and moved out to replacement Kevin Dryden who crashed over. Between the try and the conversion, Laird was invited to take a break as he was yellow carded. Hastie converted to bring the game level.
Kirkcaldy’s Owen Bonner was next to be binned and during that time Kelso increased the lead with a driven maul from a line out, with Blair Robertson getting the touchdown. The visitors had a chance to reduce the leeway with a 40 metre penalty but that was ill directed leaving Kelso ahead by 15-10 at the interval.
Kirkcaldy made the better start in the second half but Kelso weathered the storm and moved up a gear to gain control of the match. The Kelso coach was asking for an increase in tempo to the hosts’ game and that was exactly what he got. The only reason Kelso did not increase the lead was because of indiscretions, mainly in handling, although they were pinged at scrum time for an early engagement. Their continuity play and support was encouragingly good and at times, they were in full rampage mode by playing a game which was just too fast for the tiring visitors’ forwards.
Good hassling by Angus Roberts and a crunching tackle by Kevin Wilson took the play into the Kirkcaldy danger area, but the try was just not coming. The Kirkcaldy defence, at times, was exemplary under extreme pressure. They were conceding penalties so much so that they lost Struan Robertson, who took one for the team after all the misdemeanours. The Kelso scrum was now dominating affairs and they opted for a succession of scrums from penalties until just on full time, a Kris Mein pick up was rewarded when Michael Downer, who was now the third hooker of the day for Kelso, crashed over, for Murray Hastie to convert and take Kelso to a 22-10 victory.
It was an encouraging win for Kelso in view of the fact that the two teams will meet in the quarter final of the National Cup, with Kelso again having the home advantage. The additional bonus was that the teams below Kelso all lost today so giving a little more clear water between them and the lower echelons of the league. It was the Christmas Lunch at the club today and this was a fine way to extend the celebrations.
Kelso team: Arran Jackson, Gregor Millar, Gregor Mein , Angus Roberts , Kevin Wilson , Murray Hastie, Phil Hume, Michael Downer, Charlie Marshall, Blair Robertson ,Derek Welsh, Angus Common , Robert Hastie, Cammy Brown, Kris Mein,
Replacements: David Leitch, Kevin Dryden, Mark Wilson, Gareth Walker and Alex Thompson
Kelso scorers: Tries Kevin Dryden, Blair Robertson and Michael Downer tries and Murray Hastie 2 cons and 1 penalty