Kelso 43, Ardrossan Accies 21
Kelso welcomed Adrossan Accies to Poynder Park, hoping to continue their fine run of form in National 2 this season.
The black and whites won the match at Ardrossan with the last kick of the game and were hoping to perform better than on that day.
It was sponsors’ day at Poynder and a large crowd was greeted by some fog at kick-off – this was to prove a real menace as the game progressed.
Kelso started the game very well and an interception by captain Dom Buckley immediately had the home side in the Ardrossan 22 but a knock on, which was picked up by an offside player, gave the Accies a penalty to relieve the danger.
The early exchanges were relatively tense and both defences really cancelled out any attack. But it was the visitors who has the first chance at points when stand off Jack Anderson missed a penalty from just outside the 22.
Kelso had scrum dominance, as has often been the way this season, and referee Burger Lategan penalised the Accies front row for collapsing. Kelso full back Craig Dods kicked the ball into the corner and, from the resulting penalty, hooker Nick Hart went over for what looked like the opening score. However, Lategan had penalised Kelso for crossing and Accies cleared the danger.
Accies number 8 Milan Marinkovic was shown a yellow card after a high tackle on Phil Hume, who was OK to stay on the field after treatment.
It wasn’t long before Kelso were back in the Accies 22 and, this time, the visitors were made to pay. Kelso set up the rolling maul from a lineout and flanker Kris Mein dived over for the try. Phil Hume missed the conversion.
The home side were right back at their west coast visitors and a fantastic run from Ally Johnston took play well into the Ardrossan 22. Johnston beat numerous tackles and a simple score was on the cards but, just as he tried to offload to his supporting runner Gregg Minto, he managed to knock the ball on.
Minto was soon on the scoresheet after a quick tap penalty was fed to the strong winger and he smashed his way over the line. Hume missed the extras.
Andt Tait added another try when he took advantage of an Accies knock on and kicked the ball through, winning the foot race to touch down. He showed a fine turn of pace to beat winger Calum McKechnie to the ball.
The home side were now rampant and scored two further tries before the break. The first came from the evergreen Andrew Skeen after a brilliant break by Andy Tait, which also involved Dom Buckley.
Rhys Morgan scored a bulldozing try right on half time and Craig Dods kicked the extras.
There was still time for Mariknovic to be shown a second yellow card for an off-the-ball incident. Two yellows make a red, so the number 8 was sent off by Burger Lategan.
At the break, Kelso president Jim Hewit presented ex-player Ross Ford with a painting to mark the fantastic achievement of Ross gaining his 100th cap for Scotland. It was a great moment for Ross and the Kelso crowd.
The second half really didn’t hit the heights of the first but Kelso were first on the scoresheet. After another fine break by Skeen, the ex-Melrose man drew his man and gave Craig Dods an easy run in for the try. Phil Hume added the extras.
Unfortunately for Accies, and the overall spectacle of the game, they had no front row cover after a few injuries, so the majority of the second half was played with uncontested scrums.
Kelso hit a period in the second half when they really lost their discipline and also their way in the game.
Buckley was shown a yellow card for a late tackle and this was followed by a try for speedster Calum McKechnie. He beat a few tackles on his way to the line and Jack Anderson added the conversion.
Andy Tait was then shown a yellow card when he kicked the ball away after referee Lategan had blown his whistle.
Accies then scored their second try through hooker Istok Titic. This was just what the visitors deserved after a short spell of pressure on the Kelso line. Anderson added the extras and the visitors’ tails were up.
Bruce Hunter was next on the scoresheet for Ardrossan in what was a fine individual try for the scrum half. Anderson added the extras and the visitors could see a light at the end of the tunnel. One more try would give them the try bonus point but also heap the pressure on the home side.
The fog was getting worse and it was difficult to see who was doing what – but one sight the Poynder Park faithful have enjoyed this season is that of Colin Arthur getting over the line. The big prop scored a great try after some fine work from speedster Arran Jackson. Phil Hume added the extras right on the full time whistle.
It was another bonus point win for Kelso but the second half performance is unlikely to have pleased head coach Adam Roxburgh.
Next up is a huge clash at home to Peebles on Saturday.
Kelso: 15 Craig Dods, 14 Arran Jackson, 13 Ally Johnston, 12 Phil Hume, 11 Gregg Minto, 10 Andrew Skeen, 9 Andy Tait, 1 Colin Arthur, 2 Nick Hart, 3 Rhys Morgan, 4 Paudie Lawlor, 5 Donald Seed, 6 Ian Wallace, 8 Dom Buckley (c), 7 Kris Mein. Subs: 16 Blair Robertson, 17 Andrew Wallace, 18 Tom Robson, 19 Greg Ponton.