RBS BORDERS REGIONAL CUP
NORMAN ANDERSON reports from Mansfield Park
THE important aspect of this game was that it was played. The recent frosty weather has left the rugby calendar fairly void of entertainment and, as late as Wednesday night, it was unlikely that this match would take place.
Both teams, however, agreed to play the game on the 3G pitch at Netherdale, thanks to Gala Wanderers giving up their booking for their own semi-junior match against Langholm Colts, who were struggling to field a team.
But a sudden thaw left Mansfield Park playable and some hard work and several phone calls allowed the game to go ahead there, although it was somewhat firm in patches of the ground. Interestingly, the SRU championship committee allowed both teams to use up to seven replacements in the interest of players getting game time.
Kelso played some really good rugby in the first half.
They were in control of their set piece and Murray Hastie controlled things well at stand-off by kicking the visitors into the right areas of the field.
He opened the scoring as early as the fourth minute with a penalty for offside. He was fairly instrumental in the Kelso try after nine minutes when he opened up the Hawick defence – after his team had gone through a few phases – with a dummy run, fed Andrew Wallace, who thought the easiest thing to do was to dummy the Hawick full back and stroll in under the posts for a try. Hastie converted, as he did with a penalty four minutes later, to take the Tweedsiders into a 13-0 lead.
At this point, Kelso lost Ewan Ford, who had been knocked on the windpipe and they had to withstand a good spell of pressure from Hawick. But the visitors went back upfield and created mayhem at a Hawick throw-in and, from the resultant ruck, Hastie was able to kick another penalty.
Desperate rearguard action allowed Kelso to clear their lines with a monster kick by William Massey and, just before half-time, the bounce of the ball favoured Kelso as the Hawick winger was deemed to knock on in the act of scoring a try.
Both sides made changes at the break, but it was the Teries who settled quicker. Only poor Hawick handling kept the Kelso line intact and it was they who scored next with another Hastie penalty.
The Green Machine became a potent force as they pressed the visitors’ line. They were called back for crossing as a try was about to be scored.
However, the touchdown did come when Rory Hutton dummied his way into the Kelso 22 before his pass was taken on by Neil Renwick to score left of the posts, but he missed his conversion.
A line-out catch and drive on 64 minutes was taken up to the Kelso line for Hugh Scammell to burst over for a converted try.
There was no question that Kelso were hanging on as the penalties against them increased. Renwick kicked a penalty after Gregg Minto was penalised for not releasing and, with 13 minutes left, we had a big game on our hands.
Despite the obvious panic in the visitors’ ranks, Hawick were unable to land the winning score.
Kelso: W. Massey; D. Buckley, R. Minto, A. Alexander, G. Minto; M. Hastie, T. Wilson; K. Cooney, C. Riddell, A. Marsh, A. Wallace, D. Seed, E. Ford, S. MacColl, D. Gillespie. Subs: S. Lowrie, R. Tinlin, K. Flannigan, R. Nelson, F. Strachan (all played).
Hawick: J. Coutts; N. McColm, L. Armstrong, G. Hogg, S. Anderson; R. Hutton, G. Cottrell; S. Muir, L. Gibson, M. Landels, C. Smith, K. Willison, S. Graham, N. Mactaggart, D. Lowrie. Subs: L. Launders, H. Scammell, B. Keown, G. Johnstone, N. Renwick.