Kelso 41, Whitecraigs 12
Kelso welcomed Whitecraigs to Poynder Park and impressively continued their winning streak in BT National 2.
It had been a tricky match through at Newton Mearns earlier in the season and the home side knew they’d be in for a tough afternoon.
Preparations were not ideal because of injury and availability, and coach Darren Cunningham also lost second row Paudie Lawlor, who was injured in the warm-up.
Kelso started the game well and were moving the ball about through the backs and causing Whitecraigs some issues out wide.
They went ahead very early when Phil Hume kicked a penalty after Whitecraigs were penalised for handling at the ruck.
Whitecraigs were given a great chance when Ally Johnston’s weak kick fell into the arms of full back Brandon Boshi and he went on a fantastic run but, thankfully, Greg Ponton brought him down just five metres from the Kelso line.
Whitecraigs were awarded a penalty as Kelso handled on the ground and they kicked that resulting award to touch. The lineout was won by Whitecraigs and their forwards were driving towards the Kelso line.
Kelso then collapsed the ruck and Whitecraigs were awarded another penalty. Again, the visitors kicked for the corner but, this time, Kelso won the resulting lineout and cleared the danger.
Whitecraigs were having the better of the game, with their forwards gaining some good yards. Kelso were conceding a lot of penalties as they tried their best to contain the direct running of the opposition’s forwards.
But the black and whites extended their lead when full back Greg Ponton went over for a try. A box kick from Ally Johnston looked comfortable for Whitecraigs full back Boshi but a horrible bounce resulted in the ball landing in Ponton’s hands, and he raced in from 25 metres. Phil Hume kicked the conversion.
The try was just what Kelso needed and it sparked them to life – they scored again just minutes later when hooker Jack Chambers found himself at the back of a well-executed driving maul by the Kelso forwards. Hume missed the extras.
The home side started the second half on the front foot and extended their lead when stand off Andrew Skeen floated a delicate kick over the Whitecraigs defence and Greg Ponton grabbed his second try when he won the footrace to the ball. Hume added the extras and the home crowd at Poynder Park breathed a sigh of relief.
Kelso were then reduced to 14 men when flanker Kris Mein incurred the wrath of referee Fergus Hollins. Whitecraigs then got themselves on the scoresheet when big prop Ross McDonald bulldozed his way over the line, with Sam Adair adding the conversion.
Kelso then spurned a couple of chances to get their bonus point try. A brilliant break by Phil Hume was ended when his pass to Greg Ponton was knocked on as the full back looked to be going in for his hat-trick.
Billy Waddell made a great break right through the middle of the Whitecraigs defence and his pass to Ally Johnston was also knocked on. But the Tweedsiders eventually got their try bonus when Andrew Skeen went on a jinky run and left his defenders baffled as he scored under the posts. Hume added the extras.
Ross McDonald then scored his second try of the match when he smashed his way over the Kelso line from a short distance. Adair missed the extras.
It was end to end stuff and Kelso were next to get over the whitewash. Some superb handling was on show as forwards and backs combined to create a two on one and Donald Crawford drew his man superbly, with Arran Jackson going over for the try in the corner. Hume missed the extras.
The last try of the match went to Kelso and it was a full-length scoring effort. Whitecraigs knocked the ball on inside the Kelso five-metre line and itwas fed along the line to young speedster Angus Roberts. There was no way anyone would catch him, and Hume added the extras right on the
While it certainly wasn’t a good first-half performance from Kelso, they scored some very good tries.
Coach Darren Cunningham said: “It’s all about the result at this stage of the season and we’re five points closer to where we want to be.”
The win came at a price, as Kelso lost captain Dom Buckley early in the second half. He has since confirmed he has a broken arm and has already had surgery. He will be a huge loss as Kelso look to win BT National 2 and the skipper has been in magnificent form all season, with everyone at the club wishing him well in his recovery.
Next up for Kelso is a massive match on March 25 away to League leaders Cartha Queens Park.
Kelso: Greg Ponton, Arran Jackson, Angus Roberts, Phil Hume, Gregg Minto, Andrew Skeen, Ally Johnston, Blair Robertson, Jack Chambers, Rhys Morgan, Tom Robson, Donald Seed, Ian Wallace, Dom Buckley (capt), Kris Mein. Subs: Andrew Ford, Nick Hart, Billy Waddell, Donald Crawford.