Kelso 16, Jed-Forest 39
Kelso welcomed local rivals Jed Forest to Poynder Park for some Friday night rugby.
The home side were missing eight players through injury and unavailability, which made the task a huge one, against a Jed side which is flying high in second place in BT National 1.
Kelso started the game very well and took the actiojn to Jed through hard running by the forwards. They were rewarded when Jed were penalised for not releasing in the tackle. Craig Dods stepped up and slotted the three points.
This sparked Jed into life and they scored a very simple try from winger Robbie Shirra-Gibb. Missed tackles, a thorn in Kelso’s side a few times this season, were to blame, but take nothing away from the powerful running by Shirra-Gibb. Ewan Scott couldn’t add the extras.
Jed stayed on top and extended their lead when Sean Goodfellow was on hand to take a pass from Darren Gillespie to score under the posts. The hard work was done by a powerful Jed scrum and Gillespie broke off and fed his scrum half to burrow over. Ewan Scott added the extras.
The Riverside Park men were in complete control, their fast-paced game was based around very quick ruck ball and their backs were always willing to throw the ball wide.
Jed were ruthless at the ruck and their back row was working wonders around the park.
Jed extended their lead when big Paulo Ferreira smashed his way over from close range. Jed were camped on the Kelso line but great goal line defence stopped phase after phase. Unfortunately, for the black and whites, there was no stopping Ferreira from such a short distance.
Kelso came right back into the game and started to build phases. This was a typical Kelso v Jed derby and the physicality was incredible in the tackle and at the breakdown.
Kelso had a good spell of pressure on the Jed line and they scored a fine try from Ross Cooke. The back fed the ball along the line and some great footwork allowed Cooke to go over. Craig Dods added the conversion.
The match was now very tense and both sides were hammering into each other. The tackles were ferocious and there was clearly a lot of local pride out on the pitch.
Jed were next to score through Monty Mitchell. The Jed inside centre smashed his way over from very close range, and Scott added the extras.
The clock was ticking towards half time but Jed managed to get another try. This one would definitely have been referred to the TV cameras, if they’d been present.
A delightful Crossfield kick from Scott was caught and touched down by Darren Gillespie. It looked like the former Kelso man was in front of the kicker and also put into touch, but referee Steven Turnbull awarded the try. It was a very difficult decision for the officials.
There was still time for Jed prop Grant Paxton to get a yellow card. Referee Turnbull had seen too many penalties conceded by Jed and Paxton was sent for 10 minutes’ rest.
The second half certainly didn’t hit the same scoring rate as the first. Ewan Scott kicked a penalty early in the second half, when Kelso were penalised for not rolling away in the tackle.
Kelso then had the chance to claw back some points through a relatively simple chance for Craig Dods. The former Gala man couldn’t find the target and Kelso were trailing their rivals by 18 points.
Darren Gillespie scored his 32nd try from close range – the former Scottish 7s player had a very good night against his old club. Ewan Scott missed the conversion from in front of the posts but he was having a very good night overall. There was no further scoring in the match but both teams didn’t give up. Kelso tried to get back over the try line but both defences performed well in the later stages.
Jed ran out deserving winners and they retained the Kenneth Ballantyne Memorial Cup.
Kelso head coach Gary Stevens summed up afterwards: “Good to have Friday night rugby back at Poynder – unfortunately for us, Premier challengers Jed turned up with a well-executed game that stifled any go forward or scoring opportunities.
“We managed to stay close for 30 minutes and then their class shone through and jumped out to a handy half-time lead, which was never relinquished.
“We certainly showed glimpses of what can be achieved through front-loaded energy getting into structure, with plenty of line breaks. Unfortunately, patience and some basic errors ended a lot of chances where we needed to convert pressure into points.
“Consistency in performance is something we are trying to achieve, while challenging ourselves to reach our season objectives. With four more games remaining in the league, we look forward to returning to winning rugby.
“Howeverm this will only come with focus and commitment to training and game objectives.”
Kelso’s Craig Dods is heading off for some International Sevens coaching experience with Hungary Women, but the club wishes him well and looks forward to his return for the 2018-19 season.