Kelso 24, Musselburgh 18
Kelso entertained Musselburgh in their first home match back in BT National 1.
It was Ladies’ Day at Kelso and the theme was Halloween, so plenty of ghosts, witches and ghouls were on the prowl and
there to cheer on the black and whites.
It was always going to be a tense affair and there was a frantic start to the match, with defences being on top.
Kelso were strong around the ruck and both Kevin Dryden and Angus Common started the game extremely well.
Both sides really struggled to gain any territory, which was a credit to the way they were defending.
Kelso were the first team to get points on the board when string winger Iain Sim received the ball out wide and smashed his way over the line.
The try was created from some very strong forward play and they sucked in the defenders to give Sim the chance to drive himself over the line, with two defenders in tow. Greg Ponton missed the conversion from out wide.
The Kelso try really gave Musselburgh an impetus and immediately they took the game to the Tweedsiders. Ex-Hawick player John Coutts was a constant threat to the Kelso defence and it was his break that took play to the Kelso five-metre line, Andy Tait decided to slow things down illegally and
referee Mike Hurdley issued him with a yellow card.
‘Burgh stand-off Gareth Pritchard stepped up and slotted the penalty between the uprights to get the men from East Lothian on the scoreboard.
Musselburgh were in the ascendency at this point and were right back into the Kelso 22. ‘Burgh were playing simple but effective rugby and some strong running was complimented by a back line which was always keen to throw the ball wide. Musselburgh full back Greig Leitch then found too many holes in the Kelso defence and he danced this way over for the try. It was no more than the visitors
deserved as they definitely were the better side in the first half. Pritchard added the conversion.
The Kelso penalty count was rising and this would be a concern for head coach Gary Stevens. High tackles, scrum penalties and not rolling away in the ruck were losing territory for the men in black
Kevin Dryden made a superb break and took play into the Musselburgh half. Kelso felt they should have had a penalty for a deliberate knock on but the officials missed it.
The Poynder Park crowd were in fine voice when Iain Sim went over for his second try. The winger took the ball on the ‘Burgh 10 yard line and he beat off five tacklers and showed outstanding strength to score a brilliant individual try. Ponton missed the extras but Kelso were back level at 10-10.
Musselburgh sprung to life again and came storming back at Kelso. Cory Vella decided to have a go himself and he shimmied and danced his way through three Kelso tackles to score a good try. Pritchard missed the conversion but Musselburgh took a lead into the interval and started the second half the better of the two sides and extended their lead when Pritchard slotted a penalty after Kelso were penalised for not rolling away in the tackle.
The Kelso forwards were starting to dominate in open play and definitely at the scrum. The home side spent a long period in the ‘Burgh 22 and, after two penalties against the visitors, it looked like Kelso were in for the try. But the pass from Josh Irvine couldn’t find the hands of Ross Cooke and the chance went begging.
Kelso were right back at Musselburgh and again were spending time in their 22. More penalties were conceded by the visitors and referee Hurdley had enough, sending Gareth Pritchard away for a 10-minute rest.
It wasn’t long before Kelso got themselves right into the match and, after constant pressure by the forwards, the ball was fed to Gregor Mein, who went over for the try. Ponton added the extras and
Kelso were only a point behind.
The black and whites scented blood and, after a bulldozing run from hooker Ross Henderson, the ball was fed to veteran Andrew Skeen, who went over to the delight of the witches and blood-stained nurses! Ponton added the extras.
The remaining minutes were very tense and Musselburgh tried to get themselves back into the match but Kelso held on and probably just deserved the win.
It wasn’t pretty but it was a vital win for Kelso and Gary Stevens will have them focused on their long trip to Aberdeen this Saturday.
Kelso – Greg Ponton, Iain Sim, Ross Cooke, Gregor Mein, Pierre Ebah, Andrew Skeen, Andy Tait, Blair Robertson, Ross Henderson, Sam Karlsen, Paudie Lawlor, Angus Common, Heino Gaiser, Josh Irvine, Kevin Dryden. Subs – Kieran Cooney, Cata Graur, Ian Wallace, Phil Hume, Angus Thomson.