Stewart’s/Melville FP 23
RBS NATIONAL LEAGUE
LAING SPEIRS reports from Poynder Park
ONCE again Kelso lost a game that was theirs for the taking – and again by a narrow margin.
They had a promising, if not totally convincing half-time lead at Poynder Park, but surrendered it in a poor third quarter before storming back towards the end.
Over the piece, the visiting side – who started this National League match on level terms with their hosts – just deserved the win.
The Tweedsiders have a tough series of closing fixtures, but their pack looks strong, although there are a few queries over the line-out.
The Edinburgh backs were a nippy lot, carrying a bit more pace than the hosts, and they duly completed the double after their earlier win at Inverleith.
But Kelso had their moments – and some of them were heartening indeed for a crowd which included a good few supporters from other Border clubs. Once again, the unbalanced fixture list has seen little choice for neutral supporters.
Murray Hastie had an impressive afternoon, as well as a profitable one, from his boot, and Darren Gillespie was often the creator of Kelso’s attacks.
But a run of penalty awards against them during the second half saw the homesters’ best efforts thwarted.
It wasn’t the best of days overall for the home pack, who could have used a bit more consistency at the line-out.
Coach Eugene Murnane reckoned that Kelso got their tactics wrong, saying: “We didn’t use the elements right in the first half when we had the wind in our favour. And in the second period we might have kept the ball more in hand.”
The late score was a good one, but too far out in the corner to guarantee a successful conversion.
There was much speculation that Kelso could have profited from using a penalty on offer nearer the posts.
An early penalty goal from former Berwick man Seb Trotter for Stewart’s was countered by two successful kicks from Hastie. The Edinburgh side failed to release the ball and were given to straying offside.
The game needed a try and the first was produced for Stewart’s after the groundwork by the pack. When the ball went left, Adam Greig was in at the corner, and Trotter converted with a mighty kick which was to prove a major influence on the result.
Hastie served up a couple of breaks, popped over a penalty after half an hour, and then the strong Kelso pack set up a touchdown just on the interval for Ian Wallace, Hastie flighted the ball through for a 16-10 interval lead to Kelso.
The wind was against Kelso after the break, but the damage was done to their cause more by a run of infringements than the conditions.
Craig Marshall scored after a massive effort by his pack. Trotter converted, and the visitors’ confidence soared when full back Liam Steele dropped a goal from far out.
Kelso failed to get the message and continued conceding penalties. Trotter put one over, and it looked as though the locals were done for at 16-23.
A frantic last 10 minutes saw them grab a try back through Gregor Millar, but it was too far out for Hastie to get the equalising points.
Kelso: A. Alexander; G. Mulroy, D. Buckley, G.Minto, G. Millar; M. Hastie, T. Wilson; K. Cooney, C. Riddell, S. Lowrie, D. Seed, A. Wallace, M. Robertson, I. Wallace, D. Gillespie. Subs: A. March, S. Weir, S. McColl, F. Strachan, D. Redstone.