West of Scotland 10
NORMAN ANDERSON reports from Burnbrae
KELSO have a habit of not travelling well and have only won one point away from home all season, but on Saturday they started against West at a tremendous gallop, scoring 14 points in as many minutes.
On a soft pitch, Mark Chester put in a delicate chip through for captain Richard Minto to gather and score after only three minutes. Shortly after, a high kick into the West half was misfielded by the hapless full back and again Minto was in the right place to collect and run in from 40m to touch down. Kieran Wilkinson converted both.
For much of the next 66 minutes, however, Kelso did their level best to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. They seemed to lose focus and after 20 minutes they lost points when West moved the ball left for wing, Mark Sim, to go over in the corner. Ross McCaulay kicked a fine conversion from the touchline.
The half continued with errors aplenty from both sides with a nervous Kelso and a desperate West – this defeat probably means pastures new for them next season.
The Kelso line-out was particularly disappointing and very rarely functioned well. West finished off the first half the better of the two teams, despite trailing 7-14, and that was how they started the second period.
The Tweedsiders had to defend desperately, but they were eventually caught offside at a ruck for McCaulay to narrow the gap to only four points.
Midway through the half, Kelso stirred themselves into action and increased the tempo of the game, and were rewarded for their pressure when West were caught offside and Wilkinson slotted a penalty from just outside the 22m line.
Richard Minto had a less satisfying end to his game when he was adjudged to have deliberately knocked on and spent the last few minutes in the sin bin.
Although shorthanded, Kelso weathered the West storm with sound defence and finished the game in best Munster fashion by running the clock down, going through many phases of possession, to win the game and probably to secure their place in Premier Two next season unless there are some very strange results in the closing stages of the league.
Kelso: K. Wilkinson; L. Mallin, R. Minto, K. Utterson, G. Minto; M. Chester, A. Tait; S. Lowrie, C. Riddell, A. Marsh, S. Carnegie, D. Seed, R. Henderson, J. Stevenson, D. Lowrie. Subs: K. Cooney, B. Thomson, A. Wolf, M. Hastie.