Kelso 59, Howe of Fife 17
A break from the rigours of league action proved rather less enjoyable for Kelso’s Fife guests than for the home team, with the black and whites enjoying a resounding win in this BT National League Cup second round clash at Poynder Park.
Kelso head coach Gary Stevens gave Kelso Harlequins back row forward Cameron Brown his first start for the first XV and his team mate Matt Kindness was named on the bench.
The home side started the match in very positive fashion and were clearly going to play a fast and expansive game.
A cracking break by home stand off Craig Dods nearly created an opening for Andrew Skeen – the newly-formed scrum half received the pass from Dods and his kick through unfortunately went into touch.
Kelso were on the scoreboard very early in the match when Paudie Lawlor dived over after a driving maul from the forwards. An excellent interception from Dods took play into the Howe 22 and the forwards did the rest. Dods added the extras.
Howe came straight back at their hosts and scored a try through flanker Connor Dow. The black and whites were penalised for going into the
ruck from the side. Howe kicked the penalty to touch and, from the resultant lineout, Kelso managed to steal the ball. They somehow then managed to lose the ball and Dow went through a hole to score. Cameron Ellison missed the conversion.
Howe were then reduced to 14 men when Andrew Steven was shown a yellow card from referee
Kelso were then dealt a huge blow when Paudie Lawlor was forced off with what looked like a sore knee injury. The big Irishman has been a real force in the Kelso engine room of late.
The Cupar side then took the lead with a try through William Wardlaw. A huge hole in the Kelso defence allowed Wardlaw to go through unchallenged, and Ellison added the extras.
This was the wake-up call and Kelso moved back in front through a try by Ross Cooke. A fantastic break by Iain Sim created the line break and Sim fed Cooke, who scored under the posts. Dods added the extras.
Kelso extended their lead when Ross Henderson went flying over in the corner. A thumping run by Cata Graur took play into the Howe 22, after which the ball was then fed along the back line and Henderson finished it well.
The Fifers managed to end the half on a high when Connor Crawford went flying into the corner. The
hooker showed some impressive pace to score a good try, but Ellison couldn’t add the extras.
Kelso started the second half well and were immediately taking the game to their visitors. Some of the Poynder Park faithful had barely finished their half time cuppa when Liam Tait went over for a neatly-worked try. A fine kick from Gregor Mein was collected by himself and the former Gala man fed Tait, who finished well. Dods added the extras and Kelso had their tails up.
Angus Roberts was the next man on the scoresheet when he went through a huge hole on the Howe of Fife defence – and the youngster showed a lot of pace to finish in style, with. Dods added the two points.
Iain Sim then finished off a very well executed back line move, looping around his team mates and finishing well from 25 metres.
He scored again in stoppage time, when he went through some pretty tired Howe of Fife tackling, while Dods added the extras.
Andrew Skeen then finished off well after a fine run by Liam Tait. Dods added the extras and everyone expected referee Smith to blow for full time.
However, play continued and Angus Roberts managed to score again. The winger has been working hard to get back to full fitness after his ankle injury and Howe of Fife had no answer to his pace and stylishfinish. Dods added the extras and, this time, the refereee signalled the game was over.
Afterards, head coach Gary Stevens said: “It was a good win to progress through to the third round of the BT National 1 Cup. A depleted Howe of Fife
turned up with plenty to prove and we probably read too much press about how easy this might be.
“We spoke about respect and I don’t think in the first half we respected ourselves, the ball and the opposition enough to warrant a two-point lead. Howeverm it was good to take the break ahead in points.
“I am not known for ranting but I managed to express a few stern words which may have been the catalyst to sparking the second-half revival. Discipline on defence at times was average –however, we managed to keep them scoreless in the second half, and so kudos for that.
“Not the perfect dress rehearsal for Melrose – however, it was 80 minutes of rugby we can learn from and keep us competitive this Friday night.
“It was great to continue to blood the young lads into senior rugby with good contributions from Matt (Kindness), Conor Gillon and, particularly, Cammy Brown putting in an energetic 80 minutes.”
Kelso were looking forward to Friday’s Borders League meeting at home to Melrose and challenging their won mental and physical fortitude.
Kelso: 15 Ross Cooke, 14 Iain Sim, 13 Phil Hume, 12 Gregor Mein, 11 Angus Roberts, 10 Craig Dods, 9 Andrew Skeen, 1 Sam Karlsen, 2 Charlie Marshall, 3 Kieran Cooney, 4 Paudie Lawlor, 5 Heino Gaiser, 6 Cameron Brown, 8 Josh Irvine, 7 Kevin Dryden. Subs – 16 Ross Henderson, 17 Cata Graur, 18 Liam Tait, 19 Matt Kindness, 20 Connor Gillon.