Kelso 19-15 Stewart’s Melville

Kelso RFC's Stef Carnegie
Kelso RFC's Stef Carnegie

On a very pleasant winter’s afternoon, Kelso and Stewart’s Melville locked horns in a potential relegation battle at Poynder Park.

For Kelso it was a chance to redeem themselves after last week’s defeat in the capital, shipping 6 tries in the process.

A decent crowd was there to see that happen.

Kelso had a great first half and, arguably, could have had the game won by half time but for some rather slipshod finishing as they entered the visitors’ red zone. Kelso’s worry was in the scrum, where they seemed to be on the back foot most of the game and they had to thank Stef Carnegie on several occasions for his good work at the base of a retreating scrum with his astute pick ups.

Kelso had the first chance to open the scoring but Andrew Skeen missed a not too difficult penalty. They did take the lead, however, after 20 minutes when they popped a penalty into touch in the corner and from the driven line out, Stuart Lowrie was forced over for a try in the corner. Skeen slotted from far out.

It was all Kelso as they kept the pressure on Stew Mel with some fine combinations and support play between backs and forwards. A visitors’ breakout took Stew Mel upfield to win a penalty which stand off Andrew Warnock missed. Kelso promptly marched downfield and a good kick chase by Ewan Ford and Andy Tait put the city side under pressure. The try followed instantly with a clever break by Skeen who fed on to Rocky Johnstone who slipped a delightful pass into Arran Jackson to sail in near the posts for Skeen to convert to take Kelso to 14-0 at the break.

The half time team talk seemed to be won by the Stew Mel coaches as they made a very promising start to the second period. A Ross McCann break led to interference at the ruck by Kelso and a penalty was kicked by Warnock. A long period of stalemate, with only a missed penalty by Skeen, to write about was followed up by another splendid Kelso try when Andy Tait put in a clever box kick which was gathered on the bounce by Greg Ponton who fed replacement, Lewis Mallen, who raced in from 30 metres. Although Skeen missed the conversion, it appeared that Kelso were home and hosed with just over 10 minutes to go.

Stew Mel had other ideas and after Stef Carnegie was yellow carded when the exchange referee, Hamish Smailes, lost patience with the Kelso pack for the plethora of penalties conceded, up stepped Ross McCann who scored two sparkling tries. The first of these was from a scrum and the second was after a thundering run by replacement and Swedish international Alex Rappestad when he skittled the Kelso defenders and fed McCann. Warnock converted the first of these tries.

The clock was now showing 80 minutes but there was a period of injury time which Kelso had to endure with the main aim to get the ball off the field to end the game. There was a slight worry that they were going to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory but they held on for their first win since early October.

Kelso: Mark Ponton, Arran Jackson, Gary Johnstone, Louis Wichary, Mark Wilson Andrew Skeen, Andy Tait, Henri Boshoff, Ross Henderson, Stuart Lowrie, Ian Wallace, Andrew Wallace, Gavin Blair, Ewan Ford and Stef Carnegie. Subs: Michael Barber, Blair Robertson, Matt Hall, Lewis Mallen and Kevin Wilson.

Scorers: Andrew Skeen 2 con, Stuart Lowrie, Arra Jackson and Lewis Mallen tries.