Preston Lodge 15, Kelso 30
League Division 2 leaders Kelso faced their shortest away trip of the season when they travelled on Saturday to play Preston Lodge.
The home side had seen an improvement in form of late, so this looked like a decent test for the Poynder Park men.
Kelso started the game in a very fast pace and were immediately into the opposition 22, thanks to some fine pick and go work from the forwards.
Kelso were awarded a penalty in front of the posts but elected to take the scrum rather than take the points. Kelso won the scrum but then lost the ball in contact. From the resulting scrum, Kelso turned the ball over and, after a few pick and go drives from the forwards, Rhys Morgan took three men with him as he powered his way over the line.
The New Zealander has been in very impressive form all season for the black and whites, and Phil Hume added the extras.
PL were next on the scoresheet when scrum half Bryan Walls kicked a penalty after Kelso were guilty of handling on the ground at the ruck. This was the first time PL had managed to get into the Kelso half,
Kelso were reduced to 14 men when captain Dom Buckley was given a yellow card for a ruck misdemeanour. This only seemed to spur Kelso into action and they scored a very good try through Gregg Minto. Craig Dods started things off with a fine run intro the PL 22. Dods found support from Nick Hart, who took the ball into contact. The ball was then fed along the back line and Ian Wallace drew his man and gave Minto the run in.
The try was nothing more than Kelso deserved after a pretty dominant first 30 minutes, although Hume missed the conversion.
Kelso were relentless and were over the line soon afterwards.
Colin Arthur was the last man up after the visitors mounted a driving maul from the 22. The Kelso pack really dominated their hosts in the first half. Hume missed the extras.
The Tweedsiders were immediately back into the PL 22 and were awarded a penalty after PL handled on the ground in the ruck. Phil Hume slotted the three points.
PL then dominated the last five minutes of the first half. Some desperate goalline defence stopped PL number 8 Allan Whittingham, who was just about to ground the ball over the line, but the Kelso defence somehow managed to dislodge the ball and it was knocked on.
Whittingham was PL’s best player, with some powerful running and some ferocious tackling all afternoon.
Kelso didn’t seem to take note of the words from head coach Adam Roxburgh at half time, as they were quickly cut to 14 men when Andy Tait saw yellow for knocking the ball out of his opposite number’s hands while offside.
Kelso also started to throw some pretty wayward passes, particularly in good positions.
PL started to take the upper hand in the scrum and they were awarded a penalty when Kelso broke out of the scrum under pressure. Bryan Walls stepped up and slotted the three points.
Kelso went straight back at PL and scored a good try through Angus Roberts. A fantastic break by Andrew Skeen was finished off by the flying young Kelso winger, who is definitely one to watch for the future. Hume added the extras.
The match was end to end at this point and it was PL who were next on the scoreboard with an individual try by Robbie Griffin. The flying standoff jinked and weaved his way through the Kelso tacklers to score. Bryan Walls added the extras.
Walls then added a drop goal when PL had the penalty advantage. The home side were far better in the second half after a fairly poor first period, but were reduced to 14 men when open side flanker Pete Johnstone incurred the referee’s wrath for one too many penalties around the ruck.
Kelso then came very close to what would have been a great try. A fine move involving backs and forwards ended with Arran Jackson flying in at the corner, but last-gasp PL tacklers managed to get him into touch.
This was a good five-point away win for Kelso and kept their good run going. There’s plenty to work on for coaches Adam Roxburgh and Darren Cunningham but they would be pleased by the way Kelso run with the ball and always looked a threat out wide.
Next up for Kelso is a home match on Saturday against Biggar, the only team to have beaten the black and whites in the league this season.