Kelso 55, West of Scotland 17
Kelso went into this game, only their third BT National League Division 2 fixture since the New Year, without the injured Craig Dods and the unavailable Andy Tait.
It was dull but windy at Poynder Park, welcoming the teams for a game which had much greater importance to Kelso than West, as the hosts knew a good win was essential to keep the pressure on the league leaders, Cartha QP, and to keep some clear water between themselves and Peebles.
Despite making a mess of the first couple of lineouts, it did not take Kelso long to record a score when Nick Hart was driven over from a lineout. Phil Hume converted, despite the fact the ball fell as he started his run, but he had the presence of mind to pick it up and drop-kicked it over.
Paudie Lawlor increased the Kelso lead when he finished off a neat piece of inter-passing up the touchline with Andrew Skeen and Gregg Minto in support. The conversion, on this occasion, hit the post.
A moment of panic at a Kelso lineout produced a try for West when their captain, Jamie McAulay, finished off a fine move going to the left. Blair Smith succeeded with the conversion.
Normal service was quickly resumed when Gregg Ponton followed up a Rhys Morgan break and Hume converted.
Captain Dom Buckley raced a few metres to finish off a smart move to give Kelso the try bonus point after only 25 minutes.
The lead was increased following a tap penalty by Buckley to send Ponton off on a 40-metre sprint to the centre of the posts, giving Hume an easy conversion.
As half time approached, Kelso were twice called back for marginal forward pass and foot in touch decisions. It was, however, West who closed the first half with a try after electing for a scrum at a penalty. They spun the ball along the line and winger Fintan Cuthbertson crossed to take the
interval score to 31-12.
With the wind advantage in the second half, the Burnbrae side made a good start and forced Kelso into conceding a couple of penalties. Worse was to follow when Donald Seed was yellow carded for a high tackle.
Kelso, however, held their visitors out and, in fact, it was the hosts who scored the next try when Arran Jackson set off on a mazy run for Ally Johnston to cross near the posts, presenting Hume with another simple conversion.
Mark Davis had a bullocking run for West which was just stopped close to the line but, again, Kelso worked their way out of defence.
However, after another penalty was conceded, Lawlor was next in the sin bin.
This time, West took advantage of their superior numbers and drove their captain, McAulay, over from a line out.
Kelso increased their lead with a Hume penalty and another try through the hard-working Jackson, who took on the fine play by Lawlor, Hume and Colin Arthur. Hume converted, and then it was the turn of West to upset the referee, with James Harley sin-binned.
With only a few minutes to go, Kelso completed their scoring when Buckley went over for his second try for Hume to convert, giving him seven successful kicks out of nine attempted. There was still enough time for a third yellow of the day, against for Kelso, when Blair Robertson got a slightly early finish to his game.
The rustiness was clear in Kelso’s performance, despite a handsome-looking win.
Kelso: Greg Ponton, Gregg Minto, Angus Roberts, Phil Hume, Arran Jackson, Andrew Skeen, Ally Johnston, Colin Arthur, Nick Hart, Rhys Morgan, Paudie Lawlor, Donald Seed, Kris Mein, Dom Buckley (captain), Ian Wallace. Replacements: Jack Chambers, Blair Robertson, Andrew Wallace, Stuart Millar. Scorers: Tries – Ponton (2), Buckley (2), Jackson, Johnston, Hart, Lawlor. Penalty – Hume. Conversions – Hume (6).