Sat 9th Sept 2017 - Kelso 1st XV V Musselburgh (24-18)
Kelso Cougars Mascot Aidan Richardson
Pictured With Captain Andy Tait
Match Ball Sponsor
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Kelso 24 Musselburgh 18 (HT 10-15)
Kelso entertained Musselburgh in their first home match back in BT National 1. It was Ladies day at Kelso and the theme was Halloween, so plenty of Ghosts, witches and ghouls were on the prowl and there to cheer on the black and whites.
This was always going to be a tense affair and it was a frantic start to the match with defences being on top. Kelso were strong around the ruck and both Kevin Dryden and Angus Common started the game extremely well.
It was nip and tuck and no quarter was asked or given and any side really struggled to gain any territory, which was a credit to the way both sides were defending.
Kelso were the first team to get points on the board when string winger Iain Sim received the ball out wide and he smashed his way over the line. The try was created from some very strong forward play and they sucked in the defenders to give Sim the chance to drive himself over the line with two defenders in tow! Greg Ponton missed the conversion from out wide.
The Kelso try really gave Musselburgh a kick up the backside and immediately they took the game to the Tweedsiders. Ex Hawick player John Coutts was a constant threat to the Kelso defence and it was his break that took play to the Kelso 5 metre line, Andy Tait decided to slow things down illegally and referee Mike Hurdley issued Tait with a yellow card. Burgh stand-off Gareth Pritchard stepped up and slotted the penalty between the uprights to get the men from East Lothian on the scoreboard.
Musselburgh were in the ascendency at this point and were right back into the Kelso 22. Burgh were playing simple but effective Rugby and some strong running was complimented by a back line who were always keen to throw the ball wide. Musselburgh full back Greig Leitch then found too many holes in the Kelso defence and he danced this way over for the try. It was no more than the visitors deserved as they definitely were the better side in the 1st half. Pritchard added the conversion.
The Kelso penalty count was rising and this would be a concern for Head Coach Gary Stevens, high tackles, scrum penalties and not rolling away in the ruck were losing territory for the men in black and white.
Kevin Dryden made a superb break and he took play into the Musselburgh half and Kelso should’ve had a penalty for a deliberate knock on but the officials all seemed to miss it.
The Poynder Park crowd were in fine voice when Iain Sim went over for his second try. The winger took the ball on the Burgh 10 yard line and he beat off 5 tacklers and showed outstanding strength to score a brilliant individual try. Ponton missed the extras but Kelso were back level at 10-10.
Musselburgh sprung to life again and came storming back at Kelso. Cory Vella decided to have a go himself and he shimmied and danced his way through 3 Kelso tackles to score a very good try. Pritchard missed the conversion but Musselburgh took a lead into the 2nd half.
It was a very similar start to the 2nd half in that both sides were going at it hammer and tong. Musselburgh started the better of the two sides and extended their lead when Pritchard slotted a penalty after Kelso were penalised for not rolling away in the tackle.
The Kelso forwards were starting to dominate in open play and definitely at the scrum. The home side spent a long period in the Burgh 22 and after 2 penalties against the visitors, it looked like Kelso were in for the try but the pass from Josh Irvine couldn’t find the hands of Ross Cooke and the chance went begging.
Kelso were right back at Musselburgh and again were spending time in the Burgh 22, more penalties were conceded by the visitors and referee Hurdley had enough and sent Gareth Pritchard away for a ten minute rest.
It wasn’t long before Kelso got themselves right into the match and after constant pressure by the forwards, the ball was fed to Gregor Mein and he went over for the try. Ponton added the extras and Kelso were only a point behind.
The black and whites smelt blood and after a bulldozing run from hooker Ross Henderson, the ball was fed to veteran Andrew Skeen and he went over to the delight of the witches and blood stained nurses!!!!!!! Ponton added the extras.
The remaining minutes were very tense and Musselburgh tried to get themselves back into the match but Kelso held on and probably just deserved the win.
It wasn’t pretty but this was a vital win for Kelso. Musselburgh were dogged and they will cause teams some problems this year but Gary Stevens will have the Kelso squad focused on their long trip to Aberdeen next Saturday.