Kelso hold on to register first league victory of the season

Craig Dods (library image by Gavin Horsburgh)
Craig Dods (library image by Gavin Horsburgh)

Kelso.................................31

Heriot’s Blues....................28

The muddy patch near the Kelso try line in the second half gave a fairly clear indication where the action was in the second period of this game, reports Norman Anderson.

There was a succession of scrums from which Heriot’s expected to strangle the Kelso pack into submission and, from that, the win would come.

It was not to be, however, as the home team, to a man, defended with great resolution.

Defence and some first-class goal kicking from Craig Dods laid the foundation to Kelso’s win.

It was not a great day for playing rugby, following a night’s heavy rain but, at the start of the game, the pitch was in great order.

Heriot’s came calling with a big side and lying second in the league. All of this would point to another tough match for the hosts, who were low in confidence after a succession of six league defeats – albeit, they had been very competitive, especially in their home games.

Indeed, it was Kelso who opened the scoring with a penalty after four minutes when Heriot’s were caught not releasing after a tackle.

The lead was short-lived when Craig Robertson finished off a move by the visitors after Kelso were shoved off their own ball in a scrum and just ran out of players to make the tackles. Graham Wilson converted.

A penalty awarded for a high tackle allowed Kelso to get into the opposition 22. A mistake in the defence allowed Cammy Brown, showing an exceptional turn of pace, to just get to the ball before the dead ball line. Dods missed the conversion.

Things got worse for Heriot’s when they lost second row, Sean Johnstone, to the sin bin for a second high tackle in a short space of time.

A succession of penalties against the visitors and some inventive play by Kelso took them upfield and Dods was able to slot another penalty for a deliberate knock on.

On 34 minutes, a smart back line move with captain, Murray Hastie, coming into the line, allowed Matt Kindness to go over for a try which, on this occasion, was converted by Dods.

He made yet another mark on the game with an interception wide out and raced 40 metres for a try, which he converted. Kelso, as the interval approached, were ahead 25-7.

There was still time for the Blues to exert pressure on the Kelso line and, after a couple of conceded penalties, a scrum option was preferred and the referee had no choice but to award a penalty try against Kelso, to take the score at the break to 25-14 for the hosts.

It was at the start of the second half that Kelso really started to suffer in the scrums but they held out for about 10 minutes until stand off Dom Martin jinked through at the posts for Wilson to add the extra two points.

Kelso hit back immediately when Heriot’s were caught offside from the kick off and Dods slotted a 30-metre penalty. It was rearguard action for the next 20 minutes but, despite losing scrum half Andy Tait to the bin for a deliberate knock on, it looked like the home side would hold out.

On 78 minutes, replacement winger, Finlay Hutchison cut a good line and waltzed through a tired-looking defence to score at the posts and, with Wilson converting, the scores were level. Kelso would be annoyed at losing this try, as they had defended so well leading up to this point.

On 80 minutes, Heriot’s were caught offside at a ruck and a nerveless Dods slotted a 42-metre penalty to take Kelso ahead by 31-28 and a win.

But there were still six minutes overtime to play – and that was all in the Kelso end of the pitch.

Heriot’s tried hard but Kelso held them out for their first win of the season.

There was much relief at Poynder Park with the long awaited win but there is still a long way to go to catch up on the teams above them in the league.