Laing Speirs reports from Poynder Park
PRE-SEASON games are supposed to iron out many problems, but Saturday’s run-out left both Kelso and Gala with a lot to work on before the opening of the Premiership.
Gala were the livelier and faster, but their forward control was never total, with Kelso standing up well until they ran out of steam late on.
The game introduced lots of new faces on both sides to a healthy crowd.
One, Gary Lowrie from Hawick, had a purposeful game for Gala, with a turn of speed that will do well in the Maroons’ pack. Another back row man, New Zealander James Stevenson, should help Kelso compensate for some summer player losses.
Alastair Marsh and Lewis Mallin have moved from Hawick sides to Kelso and the return of Richard Minto from Watsonians, though he missed this game, will be a much needed boost.
Kelso will certainly need more penetration in the threequarter line if they hope to compete seriously in Premier Two.
The Maroons turned out 26 players, with virtually a complete turnaround at the interval, and of their backs, three new centres, Craig Borthwick from Peebles, Chris Auld from Dumfries, and New Zealander Bryce Turner could all bid for regular places.
The young Langholm hooker Russell Anderson who has already played Scottish representative rugby, was another Gala player who had a useful outing in the second half.
Gala took a while to take control and led by only two points at the interval. But it was less the personnel changes that turned the game thereafter, rather more Kelso’s failure to contain Gala’s pace as they ran in four more tries to add to their earlier brace.