Sat 2nd Dec - Kelso V Stew Mel (35-30)
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Kelso 35 Stewarts Melville 30 half time 14-18
A fine, sunny day welcomed the teams to Poynder Park, where Kelso needed the points to stay clear of the bottom pack, whereas Stewarts Melville were of equal need to close the gap on those above. With 5 minutes to go, it looked as if the good ship Kelso had foundered on the Inverleith rocks but a wonder try by Ian Sim from his own half brought home the points for Kelso.
It was a pulsating game with the lead changing hands 8 times as each team strove to get the win. There were penalties aplenty. There were some less than clever plays by both teams and there were moments of sheer folly as Sam Karlsen was yellow carded after only 7 minutes. Stew Mel drew first blood whilst Karlsen was in the bin with an interception and 70 metre sprint by centre, James Ferguson. Stand off, Gregor Porteous missed the conversion.
Kelso had a passage of possession and power and, although Josh Irvine had retired through injury, they won a line out on the stand side and moved the ball left for Ian Sim to burst through in the centre to feed the flying Angus Roberts to score wide out. Craig Dods struck a well directed conversion to take Kelso into the lead.
Unfortunately, the victors scored virtually straight away when the young wing, Jack Blain came in off his wing and cut a good running line to go over for Porteous to add the extras. A few minutes later he added a penalty after Kelso infringed at a scrum.
After retaining the ball for over 12 phases of play Kelso came close but were penalised for crossing. The try for the hosts was not too long delayed as Ian Sim finished off a good move to go in for a try and to allow Dods to close the gap to a single point. Although he had been back on the field for 20 minutes after his yellow card, Karlsen allowed the referee, Kevin White, to enter into the spirit of Christmas by delivering another card. A second yellow for a deliberate trip resulted in a red card and now Kelso had an uphill struggle on their hands as they were now short-handed and down to 14. Porteous kicked the resulting penalty for Stew Mel to go into the break at 18-14 ahead.
An early interception by Kieran Cooney followed by a slipped ball to Andrew Skeen took Kelso close to the Stew Mel line but the pressure was relieved when they conceded a scrum penalty. However, after 50 minutes, replacement Kris Mein finished a good passage of play for the hosts with a try at the posts. Second row, Jamie Sword, continued the card theme as he was involved in foul play on the try scorer. Dods converted and the game restarted with the penalty to Kelso.
A sharp break by scrum half, Charlie Simmonds took play up to the Kelso line. Kelso conceded an offside penalty. The city side, although also down to 14 men, kicked for touch and won the line out to drive up to the Kelso line and David Stoddart crashed over. Replacement, Freddie Roddick converted .
Kelso responded with a great run by Angus Roberts to take play into the Stew Mel red zone and Blair Robertson barged over for the bonus point score for Dods, again, to convert.
An injury to Cooney resulted in uncontested scrums but Kelso slipped up at the first of these when a clearance kick was charged down by Roddick for the lead to change hands yet again after 74 minutes.
And then came the wonder try, when Stew Mel kicked down town only for the ball to be fielded by Sim on his own 10 metre line. As he gathered momentum by bursting through a few tackles, the defence opened up for him and he scored at the posts for Dods to again convert.
Kelso just had to hang on and do nothing silly as they played down the last few minutes for a heart stopping win for 5 precious points and a move up the league table.
Kelso team: Craig Dods, Ross Cooke, Ian Sim, Gregor Mein, Angus Roberts, , Andrew Skeen, Andy Tait, Sam Karlsen, Ross Henderson, Blair Robertson, Keiran Dunbar, Heino Geiser, Kevin Dryden, Liam Tait and Josh Irvine
Replacements: Charlie Marshall, Kieran Cooney, Kris Mein, Phil Hume and Kevin Wilson
Scorers: Ian Sim 2, Angus Roberts, Blair Robertson and Kris Mein tries with Craig Dods 5 cons