RBS SCOTTISH CUP/BORDER LEAGUE
ATHOLL INNES reports from
THEY came, they saw, they did not conquer.
But Kelso won many friends in an engrossing encounter held in wild conditions against the Border League holders and a side aiming for a fifth successive cup final appearance.
The gale and driving rain promised a typical match of two halves… although neither side really commanded the wind.
Kelso, after pushing Gala close and beating Hawick, would travel home with an air of disappointment and frustration, but of optimism for the future.
“Yes, it was disappointing,” said coach Eugene Murnane, “and I feel sorry for the boys, but the big picture is January. We have three Border derby games we are looking to win, no shadow of doubt.”
John Dalziel, on the way to recovery after breaking a collarbone while playing for the South, said: “There is a leveller for everything and the team with the wind were always going to be in the ascendancy.
“To turn round just 7-3 down was a fair result considering the conditions, but we did not use the wind in the second half as we should have done, and there is still a lot of work to do for the future.”
There was an international flavour around the ground with Romanian Petru Tamba beefing up the Melrose front row, scoring a late try, and French referee Alexandre Ruiz in charge – the latter dealing effectively with a Borders derby with the only bust-up coming deep into injury time.
He settled it with a word to both captains and a shrill final blast of the whistle.
Yet it was a Scot, Andrew Skeen, who proved the match-winner, kicking a penalty and chipping ahead for Jamie Murray’s try, as well as making both conversions.
Kelso, who also lost Ian Wallace to a yellow card, scored after Andy Tait sprung a gap for a try, converted by Mark Chester – and will test many other sides this season.
Melrose: F. Thomson; A. Dodds, J. Murray, B. Dick, J. Helps; A. Skeen, S. McCormick; C. Keen, R. Fergusson, P. Tamba, S. Johnson, P. Eccles, G. Dodds, D. Crawford, R. Miller. Subs: A. Walker, R. McLeod, G. Runciman, D. Crawford, R. Miller.
Kelso: K. Wilkinson; G. Minto, R. Minto, K. Utterson, F. Robson; M. Chester, A. Tait; K. Cooney, C. Riddell, A. Marsh, S. Carnegie, I. Wallace, G. Riddell, E. Ford, D. Lowrie. Subs: S. Lowrie, J. Farries, L. Malin, D. Seed.