Kelso hoping for sixth win in seven games away to Glasgow Hawks in rugby’s Scottish Premiership

Kelso beating Glasgow Hawks 29-14 at home at Poynder Park in September (Photo: Brian Sutherland)Kelso beating Glasgow Hawks 29-14 at home at Poynder Park in September (Photo: Brian Sutherland)
Kelso beating Glasgow Hawks 29-14 at home at Poynder Park in September (Photo: Brian Sutherland)
Kelso are hoping to pick up where they left off as they resume their first Scottish Premiership rugby campaign since 2000 this coming weekend after a three-week festive break.

The Poynder Park outfit ended 2023 with a 48-24 victory at home to title challengers Marr back on Saturday, December 16, notching up their second win on the trot and fifth in six games, the odd one out being a 28-20 loss hosting defending champions and table-toppers Hawick in November, and that’s a run of form Neil Hinnigan, their director of rugby, wants to see them continue into 2024.

Their win against Marr not only made amends for a 48-14 defeat in the reverse fixture in South Ayrshire at the end of September but has also put them within reach of the premiership’s play-off places and that’s an opportunity Hinnigan hopes they can seize.

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Their first game of the new year is away to Glasgow Hawks this Saturday, with kick-off at Balgray Stadium at 2pm.

Kelso head off on that away-day, rescheduled from November due to the Glaswegians’ pitch being frozen at the time, sitting fifth in the table, level on 40 points with sixth-placed Musselburgh but, having played 14 fixtures, they’ve got a game in hand on the East Lothian outfit and also on fourth-placed Heriot’s Blues, on 44 points from 15 matches, with neither in action this weekend.

Second-from-bottom Hawks, on 23 points from 13 fixtures at present, were the first team Kelso won against this season, at the fourth time of asking, by 29-14 at home in September, but Hinnigan has issued a warning to his team that they’ll be a different proposition on home turf.

Kelso’s try-scorers that time round were captain Frankie Robson, James Thompson, Keith Melbourne, Charlie Marshall and Hamish Tweedie, with Dwain Patterson adding two conversions, and on the scoresheet for the Glaswegians were Lewis Stewart and Max Crumlish with tries converted by Liam Brims.

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“We’re looking forward to it,” said Hinnigan ahead of this weekend’s return to action.

“It poses a different challenge, having had three weeks off and then starting again, but we’ve stayed focused over the Christmas period to build on where we left off and try to get a result at Hawks and keep our progression going.

“Obviously, league table-wise, it would be great to get up into that fourth position.

“We took five points off them at home and that was our first premiership win, so it kind of broke our duck and helped get us on the run we’re on now.

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“I think at home they’ll be a different animal, though. They’ve had some good results at home.

“We’ll need to be nearer to our best than we were against them last time to get a result, but there’s no reason why we can’t be.”

Hinnigan’s been heartened by the turnound in the Borderers’ fortunes demonstrated by wins against the likes of Marr, Heriot’s Blues and Musselburgh after beginning the season with two draws followed by a 61-7 thumping at Hawick, saying: “That’s probably the most pleasing thing.

“We lost 48-14 away to Marr and now we’re beating them 48-24 at home, so there’s a massive turnaround there.

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“At that point, having a lot of younger players in our squad, we were a little bit unsure of ourselves, but since we’ve got a bit of confidence and belief that we can compete at this level, we’ve just gone from strength to strength.

“We’ve improved week on week over our last six or so games and we’re now at a point where we think we can beat anyone in the league.

“In our last six games, we’ve only lost one and that was narrowly to Hawick.

“Form is there for us and that’s pretty good.”

Only one other premiership match is being played this weekend, also rescheduled due to a frozen pitch and kicking off at 2pm, and it sees Hawick away to third-placed Currie Chieftains.

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The Greens, currently four points clear of Marr at the top of the table with a game in hand, go into that trip to Edinburgh on 61 points from 14 fixtures and looking to claim a winning double against the capital outfit, having beaten them 35-13 in the reverse fixture at Mansfield Park in September.

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