Kelso 31, Cartha Queen’s Park 29
Kelso welcomed fellow promoted side Cartha QP to Poynder Park, with each team desperate for a win.
It’s fair to say both clubs haven’t found life in BT National 1 easy but a win for either would have given them a huge confidence boost leading up to the November break.
Some of the spectators had barely sat down when Kelso opened the scoring through flanker Kevin Dryden. It was a rip-roaring start from the home side and they were immediately into the opposition
22 after a thumping run from Paudie Lawlor, who had a very good day in the loose for the black and whites.
The forwards recycled the ball and it was fed out to Dryden, who finished like an outside centre, although Craig Dods couldn’t add the extras.
Kelso were not in the mood to let their visitors back into it and added a second try through second-row forward Kieran Dunbar. Quick thinking from captain Andy Tait, from a tap penalty, advanced the Poynder men
into the Cartha 22 and, when the ball was fed along the line, it was left to Dunbar to finish well. Dods missed the conversion.
The home faithful were delighted with the start but there as more to come and Kelso scored a try through outside centre Ian Sim. It was a near-on carbon copy of the Kelso try from Dunbar – again, the forwards got play into the Cartha 22 and the Kelso backs drew their men. Sim smashed his way over and continued his fine scoring run. Dods added the extras and Kelso found themselves three tries to the good after just 12 minutes.
Kelso were fortunate not to lose Craig Dods through injury after he was hit with a very late and no-arms tackle above the shoulders.
The black and whites then took their foot off the gas a bit and Cartha made them pay. Tries for Calum Dickson and Fraser Paul were soft tries and Kelso missed too many tackles.
Wayne Burrows added the conversions and the great Kelso start was wasted, with Cartha just three points behind.
Kelso managed to get another try before half time. Craig Dods kicked a superb ball into the corner and, from the resultant line out, the Kelso forwards drove for the line. Cartha held them just short but
captain Tait was on hand to burrow over. Dods added the extras.
Cartha started the second half well and were causing Kelso a few issues in defence. Wayne Burrows kicked a penalty for his side when Kelso were penalised for not releasing in the tackle.
The Glasgow men didn’t let up and scored a try through Johnny Campion. The scrum half danced his way through a few tackles and scored a fine individual try.
Burrows couldn’t add the extras but Cartha were only two points behind. However, they went down to 14 men when full back Andy Scott was penalised for a no-arms tackle on Kieran Dunbar.
Kelso then went for the kill and scored their bonus point try through Ross Henderson. The Kelso hooker isn’t famous for scoring tries but he can thank his forwards, as a fine rolling mall was
executed perfectly and he touched down for the five points, with Dods adding the extras.
Campion scored another fine try for his side – Kelso head coach Gary Stevens wouldn’t have been too happy with some of his side’s tackling, but take nothing away from Campion and his dancing feet.
The flying scrum half was injured while scoring and took no further part in the game. Burrows added the extras, setting the secne for a hectic finale.
The last 10 minutes were frantic, with both sides trying to get control of the ball.
Cartha had a great chance to go in front when Kelso were penalised for being offside. Burrows stepped up but narrowly missed the kick.
There was one almighty sigh of relief in Poynder Park, as Kelso managed to hold on and secure a very important five-point victory.
Afterwards, Gary Stevens said: “The game started at a hectic pace – with a weight of possession came three well-constructed tries. But the ease of these tries may have had an effect on our intensity and, as we have done before, we let in a couple of easy tries to keep them close.
“This trend stayed throughout the match and created the tense, see-saw match we witnessed.”
He added: “The team has grown well into the structures put in place on attack and defence, but now it’s time for them to focus on their individual responsibility within the systems. This will go a long way to
developing the game we want to play and control.
“But, in saying this, we are happy to get the points and steadily move up the table to where we want to be.”
Kelso: 15 Ross Cooke, 14 Angus Roberts, 13 Iain Sim, 12 Kevin Wilson, 11 Pierre Ebah, 10 Craig Dods, 9 Andy Tait, 1 Sam Karlsen, 2 Ross Henderson, 3 Blair Robertson, 4 Paudie Lawlor, 5 Kieran Dunbar, 6 Kevin Dryden, 8 Kris Mein, 7 Josh Irvine. Subs: 16 Kieran Cooney, 17 Cata Graur, 18 Liam Tait, 19 Andrew Haig, 20 Connor Gillon.