RBS NATIONAL LEAGUE
NORMAN ANDERSON reports from Poynder Park
Last year saw Kelso travel to Hamilton for the first game of the new season and they were sent home with a 52-17 thrashing.
But 12 months on, Tweedsiders put home advantage to good use to run in five tries for a well-deserved bonus-point win.
A few changes improved the Kelso team as Dom Buckley, Ian Wallace and Michael Robertson returned from injury and unavailability. Stuart Lowrie also made a remarkable recovery from his injury the previous week against Selkirk and was included.
The line-out presence of Donald Seed proved a mightily potent weapon for Kelso and the driven line-out was used successfully throughout the game. It was from such a move that Kelso opened the scoring as from a catch and drive, Ian Wallace was propelled over the line on nine minutes.
Owen McLeish reduced the leeway with a penalty after 13 minutes, but after Scott Whitelaw was yellow-carded, Kelso made their numerical advantage count as a five-metre scrum saw Kelso shove the visitors over their own line for Darren Gillespie to touch down and Murray Hastie to convert.
McLeish reduced the half-time arrears to 12-6 with a penalty.
However, the second half opened with a pick-up at the base of the scrum by Gillespie, who fed Andy Tait and released Frankie Robson to dive over in the corner.
McLeish’s boot kept Hamilton in with a chance at 17-9 down, but Richard Minto’s converted try and Hastie’s first penalty made the game safe for Kelso.
A Kelso drive near the Hamilton line allowed Stuart Lowrie to go over from his usual distance for a fifth try, while a Whitelaw score proved merely to be a consolation effort.
Only seven of the starting home team played in the last league game of last season, but the new faces did well, with Roy Maxwell making perhaps the shortest Kelso debut as a two-minute blood replacement for skipper Chris Riddell.
Kelso: W. Massey; F. Robson, R. Minto, D. Buckley, G. Minto; M. Hastie, A. Tait; P. Grahamslaw, C. Riddell, S. Lowrie, I. Wallace, D. Seed, M. Robertson, E. Ford, D. Gillespie. Subs: A. Frame, R. Maxwell, A. Wallace, J. Stewart, M. Wilson.