On a day when the obvious choice was to stay in with a good book, Kelso travelled to Dundee on a somewhat circuitous route as the Forth Road Bridge was closed.
The late arrival did not help the situation, nor did the rather unwelcoming biting wind down beside the River Tay. Kelso’s form of late has been very promising, but Dundee High had not played since just before Christmas when they took runaway league leaders Selkirk to the wire.
It was to be a day of firsts. Not only was it the first game of 2015 at a chilly, windswept Mayfield, but also an exchange referee from Japan encountered his first snowstorm while refereeing.
Welcome to Scotland.
Unfortunately, there was little else of note in a mediocre game which had all the hallmarks of rustiness from both sides. Indeed, it took a good 30 minutes for the Taysiders to reach the Kelso 22 as the opening half-hour had been punctuated by stoppages for penalties, injuries and handling errors, meaning neither side was able to offer any meaningful continuity.
Kelso – who had Frankie Robson, Andrew Skeen and Callum Rowlandson back in their starting line-up following their absence the previous week – played with the wind in the first half and had chances, but were unable to turn most of the pressure into points.
Andrew Skeen slotted a fine penalty for the visitors after only two minutes and repeated the feat on the quarter-game mark to give Kelso a 6-0 lead. In reply, Dundee scored a penalty through stand-off Harry Millar, and a try in the corner just before the break by winger Matt O’Sullivan after the hosts had created an overlap out wide. Half-time score: Dundee HSFP 8 Kelso 6
The second half did not start too well for Kelso when captain Chris Riddell was yellow-carded for a late tackle. Their troubles increased when Frankie Robson, Richard Minto and Gareth Riddell all retired through injury.
The hosts scored a further try when Donald Sangster was driven over and Millar kicked another two penalties.
Kelso tried gamely for the remaining 10 minutes, but Dundee’s defence was sufficient to prevent any danger arising. All the visitors came away with was disappointment and the knowledge that Biggar had closed the gap in the league with their away win in Glasgow, and Peebles had stretched the gap in the bottom half by gaining a losing bonus point.