This game had to be classed as a basement battle and it was unlikely that champagne rugby would flow due to the high stakes.
In the end, Peebles were none too concerned that winning ugly was more important than entertaining.
That could be left to the All Blacks later in the day!
The teams had already played this season and that was a close run affair with Peebles snatching a losing bonus point at the end of the game. This game, which also acted as a Bookers Border League match, was played on a fine autumn afternoon in excellent conditions.
Kelso made the better start with pressure exerted in the Peebles half of the field. A couple of penalties against Kelso kept them at bay. A penalty kicked into touch by the visitors brought an early chance from a driven line out. A knock on spoiled that attempt but the medicine was repeated on the other side of the field after good play by Lewis Mallin, Mark Wilson and Andrew Skeen. This time the driven lineout brought success as Ewan Ford was left with a big overlap to cross for the opening try. The conversion was missed.
Peebles, through full back Greg Raeburn, closed the gap with a penalty after Kelso were caught crossing in defence. Kelso had a great chance to increase the lead when Arran Jackson seemed likely to score but was undone by a strong covering tackle. Play was quickly switched to the other end of the field and only good defence kept Peebles out, but not for long, as the visitors were pinged by the referee for entering the ruck from the side. Raeburn slotted the kick to take Peebles ahead. Kelso were being hammered by the referee for offences in the lineout and this allowed Peebles to break down field to earn another penalty which was missed by Mitch McGahan, as Raeburn had retired injured by this point.
Just on half time, there was a very long stoppage for a worrying injury to the Kelso captain, Chris Riddell, who was stretchered off. Whether the delay and concern unsettled the Kelso players was debatable but, from the resulting scrum, Callum Anderson was allowed to dodge round the blind side for the try to take the hosts 11-5 ahead at half time.
Peebles made the better start after the break and after being held up over the line twice, the Kelso defence was breached by Richard Harrison running a good line for the unconverted try.
Kelso were stirred into action by this and a try soon followed when a penalty was quickly tapped and the ball was fed out to Rocky Johnstone who switched in to Mark Wilson to go over for his try. Skeen converted to keep Kelso in contention on the scoreboard.
The next phase of the game was a stop-start affair until the last 10 minutes when a succession of penalties against Kelso allowed a big rumble by the Peebles forwards from a line out. The maul came down; the yellow card came out and off went Ewan Ford. Spotting a weakness, Peebles used the same tactic to produce another yellow card against Kieran Dunbar this time. Change of plan for the hosts, with a scrum against 6 forwards coming up: the pressure exerted was enough for the Kelso pack to disintegrate and the penalty try was awarded. McGahan converted to take Peebles out of sight.
Kelso did have one last throw of the dice, when they worked the ball out to Lewis Mallin but he was tackled into touch and that was game over.
All in all, a big disappointment for Kelso and concerns in terms of injuries!
Kelso: Mark Wilson, Lewis Mallin, Ewan Ford, Gary Johnstone, Arran Jackson, Andrew Skeen, Andy Tait, Henri Boshoff, Ross Henderson, Blair Robertson, Stef Carnegie, Ian Wallace, Chris Riddell, Conway Pretorius and Gavin Blair. Subs: Stuart Lowrie, Alasdair Fagan, Kieran Dunbar, Ally Johnston, Louis Wichary. All played.
Scorers: Andrew Skeen con. Ewan Ford and Mark Wilson tries.