Having lost several players from last season’s squad, Kelso’s competitive season did not start well at the Gytes on Saturday.
A great deal was expected in the scrums by the Tweedsiders, but their supremacy was constantly offset by a hard working Peebles side.
In the early stages all that Kelso got for their pressure was a penalty for a Peebles offside. Murray Hastie slotted the goal.
The hosts in turn butchered opportunities to score tries, the first chance with men spare outside the ball carrier and then when they kicked the ball over the dead ball line with the Kelso defence nowhere. However, they did draw the scores level when Greg Raeburn landed a straightforward penalty after 11 minutes.
As half time approached Peebles lost Kenny Clyde to the bin for persistent infringement with Kelso’s Chris Keen following him shortly after, on the advice of the assistant referee, at a collapsed scrum. Raeburn slotted the penalty to take the local side 6-3 ahead at the break.
The second half started well for Peebles when a good kick by Raeburn took play into the Kelso area. From a line out, replacement Devyn Smith, with his first touch of the ball in a Peebles jersey, scythed through the Kelso defence to score at the posts. Raeburn converted to take Peebles 13-3 ahead.
Again pressure by the hosts forced Kelso into conceding a scrum five after sharp play by Jack Harrison. Peebles were denied at the first time of asking, but the try soon followed when Matty Carryer was driven over after a No 8 pick up was taken to the visitors line.
Kelso had to score at least three times to get the win.
Unfortunately, this did not seem likely, but, following what looked like a bad injury to replacement Rhys Wilson, Kelso won a penalty which Andrew Skeen nudged into the corner. The visitors won the line-out and drove the Peebles pack over for a score by Chris Keen, for Andrew Skeen to convert.
It was, however, Peebles who finished the stronger side and secured the victory with another try when Kenny Clyde was at the end of a rolling maul from a line-out. The conversion was missed, but the game was up for Kelso.
They tried manfully, but their efforts came to nothing.
To rub salt into the wound, there was time for Ian Wallace to receive his marching orders after an off-the-ball incident and for Craig Russell to be called back following a crossing in the middle of the field.
So a win for Peebles by 23-10 and, to be honest, after the mauling their scrum suffered in the first half, not many in the crowd, or on the field for that matter, saw this one coming.