NORMAN ANDERSON reports from West Lodge
KELSO travelled along the M8 for the second successive week for their first visit to Whitecraigs.
Following on from a win last weekend, their tails were up, despite the loss through injury of regular scrum half Andy Tait.
A win guaranteed national rugby next season, whereas Whitecraigs knew that they were in a dogfight with Hillhead/ Jordanhill for the fourth place in the group.
They opened the scoring after only four minutes when their backs cut the Kelso defence open with a fine move which resulted in giant winger, Steven Whittet, galloping in at the post. Ryan Moffat converted.
In turn, Kelso got the scoreboard ticking when Keiran Wilkinson converted a penalty after a Whitecraigs offside. This score was immediately negated by a Moffat penalty after Kelso were caught committing the same offence.
On 25 minutes, Richard Minto finished off a good Kelso move after the ball was moved very quickly to the left. Wilkinson stroked over a fine conversion from far out to level the scores.
Wilkinson failed with another penalty but redeemed himself shortly after when Mark Chester was late-tackled and Kelso took the lead for the first time.
Half-time score: 10-13.
Early pressure by the hosts in the second half stretched the Kelso defence before a clever chip-through by Chester was picked up by Gregg Minto and play was taken up to the home team’s line.
A scrum led to a pick-and-drive, and eventually the ball was passed to the left where Chester allowed Kevin Utterson to explode through the gap to score at the posts for Wilkinson to convert.
The home forwards looked as if they were tiring. That illusion was soon put out of mind, however, when, from a line-out, their big pack moved up to the Kelso line and Ross McDonald was driven over.
Kelso continued to push and, following a superb break by Murray Hastie, replacement Craig Renton dropped a smart goal after quick ruck ball.
Moffat kicked another penalty to put Whitecraigs into bonus-point territory and they spent the last few minutes pressurising the Kelso line, which was protected by some solid tackling.
Kelso: K. Wilkinson; L. Mallin, R. Minto, K. Utterson, G. Minto; M. Chester, M. Hastie; K. Cooney, C. Riddell, A. Marsh, S. Carnegie, D. Seed, R. Henderson, J. Stevenson, D. Lowrie. Subs: K. Cooney, A. Frame, A. Haig, C. Renton.