RBS SCOTTISH CUP
STUART CAMERON reports from Poynder Park
THE biggest crowd of the season at Poynder Park certainly got their money’s worth as Kelso caused something of an upset against Hawick in this RBS Regional Cup match.
The Tweedsiders proved last week against Gala that they are a formidable force on their home patch, only losing by two points against the team who were top of the table in Premier One up until a couple of weeks ago.
The Hawick boys were certainly up for this one. They were out to impress new coach Phil Leck and back up the long-awaited win against Selkirk seven days earlier – and they certainly gave their new boss a dream start, going ahead on four minutes through an interception try by flanker Keith Davies. Neil Renwick converted.
In contrast, it was a nightmare start for the homesters, losing key kicker Greg Ponton after just 17 seconds to a leg injury.
Former Hawick YM back row man Lewis Mallin soon drew the Tweedsiders to within two points, however, with a try of his own which Mark Chester goaled on eight minutes before Renwick restored the Hawick lead with a long-range penalty.
On the 20-minute mark one of the best moves of the game resulted in a try for Michael Robertson – in for Bruce McNeil who was ill – putting the Greens eight points clear and looking good.
But while Kelso have had big problems this season on the road with no wins at all, they have been very good at Poynder Park, and they were having a fair amount of success in the scrum against their opposition. Just before the break they fought back for a well-deserved touchdown from ex-Hawick back row man David Lowrie which was converted by Chester for the hosts to go in at the break just a point adrift.
It was another Lowrie – this time Stuart – who put Kelso in front for the first time in the match after the restart, driving over for a try created by the pack, and with Chester adding his third conversion, the Tweedsiders were beginning to get on top.
Hawick’s defence did look shaky at times and you could almost sense the confidence growing from Kelso’s players as they continued to find gaps in the opposition defence.
Renwick reduced the deficit with a penalty, but on 56 minutes Gregg Minto darted in for a bonus point try. Chester added the extras once again and followed it up with a crucial penalty before Keith Davies scored a try in the corner on the 80-minute mark (converted by Renwick) to make things interesting for the remaining three minutes of stoppage time.
But Kelso held on to the ball well and closed the game down.
Kelso, Hawick, Selkirk and Jed-Forest have all won one out of two games so far, leaving Gala unbeaten in their opening two matches. Melrose will start their RBS Cup campaign on Saturday against Kelso at The Greenyards, but on this performance that result is by no means a foregone conclusion.
Hawick have some tweaking to do, and coach Phil Leck will certainly be looking to plug those defensive gaps as soon as possible – but with Rory Hutton and Neil Renwick now back in place the future looks a bit brighter for the Mansfield Park men.
Kelso: G. Ponton; F. Robson, R. Minto, K. Utterson, G. Minto; M. Chester, A. Tait; K. Cooney, C. Riddell, S. Lowrie, S. Carnegie, D. Seed, I. Wallace, L. Mallin, D. Lowrie. Subs: J. Farries, A. Marshall, L. Mitchell, N. Trotter.
Hawick: N. Renwick; S. Bouglas, G. Johnstone, G. Hogg, N. McColm; R. Hutton, G. Cottrell; S. Muir, M. Landels, R. Sutherland, K. Willison, B. Keown, N. MacTaggart, K. Davies, M. Robertson. Subs: L. Gibson, H. Scammell, L. Armstrong, S. Anderson.