PREMIER C/RBS REGIONAL CUP/ BORDER LEAGUE
STUART CAMERON reports from Poynder Park
KELSO have belief and confidence in abundance these days, and once again they put on a display which just about ensures they will be in the Top 20 of Scottish club rugby next season.
This was a clinical, well-managed performance from the Tweedsiders, who have only lost two games this season at home, and right from the off they meant business, building on the end-of-year results which have put them in this excellent position.
Luckless Peebles, who are at the bottom of Premier C with a long list of injured players, face a mountain to climb if they’re to survive in national rugby next season, but their boys grafted hard and never gave up for the whole match, showing bags of character.
But it wasn’t good enough to derail a streetwise Kelso team who scored two tries either side of the break to take care of not just the win, but the bonus point too.
They closed the gap on Selkirk at the top of the table, and with the two rivals going head-to-head for a third time this season on February 18, that game could decide who finishes top, although there is no promotion at stake. Both need to stay in the top four positions in Premier C to ensure their place in the second division of club rugby next season.
The 29-3 scoreline was a little harsh on Peebles who were still in the game at half-time, but they were always playing catch-up rugby from the moment Gregg Minto powered his way over the try line for the first touchdown after only three minutes. A Kieran Wilkinson penalty in front of the posts stretched the lead to eight before a period of Peebles pressure resulted in a Greg Raeburn penalty being popped over.
The Kelso defence was superb. They protected their try line well and were dangerous on the counter-attack. Peebles’ defence was good, but with wave after wave of attacks from the home side they simply ran out of bodies to tackle.
Kevin Utterson crossed the whitewash when Mark Chester broke through, but his pass was slightly forward and the score was ruled out. It was only a matter of time, though, before Ian Wallace scored his first try of the season four minutes from the break, and with the conversion from Wilkinson successful, the Tweedsiders turned round 12 points in front.
Peebles were competitive in the next quarter, stopping Kelso from adding to their total, but Gareth Riddell went over for his side’s third try with 15 minutes to go (converted by Wilkinson) and when Gregg Minto smashed his way over on the 80-minute mark for the bonus-point try, his teammates went crazy. They deserved all five points and Wilkinson’s third conversion of the afternoon was the icing on the cake. The only black spot for Kelso was a leg injury to Mark Chester – hopefully he will be back playing soon.
Kelso’s Utterson said: “We were a little frustrated at half-time because we never really got going, but overall we’re delighted to get the four tries and the five points, and it’s good to start off with a win.”
Peebles coach Gerry McGuinness contemplated his ninth defeat on the trot.
He told TheSouthern: “We were still in it into the second half, but when we conceded another soft score the writing was on the wall.
“We defended well and in attack we put good phases together, but not in the danger zone.”
You can watch all four tries from the game on Borders Rugby Television at www.BordersRugby.net
Kelso: K. Wilkinson; F. Robson, R. Minto, K. Utterson, G. Minto; M. Chester, A. Tait; K. Cooney, C. Riddell, A. Marsh, I. Wallace, D. Seed, G. Riddell, J. Stevenson, D. Lowrie. Subs: S. Lowrie, J. Farries, C. Renton, L. Mallin.
Peebles: G. Dodds; D. Anderson, A. Smellie, T. Walsh, N. Hogarth; G. Raeburn, D. Clancy; A. Brown, M. Carryer, T. Mapuilesua, K. Clyde, J. Serex, D. Hall, E. Jackson, J. Forrester. Subs: R. McConnell, A. Clark, A. Nowlan, M. Clyde.