1st XV vs Kelso: Match Report
‘O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us / To see oursels as ithers see us!’**
On Saturday, we were difficult to beat, as we tackled well and looked organised defensively.
We were switched on – we made far better use of the conditions, with Liam constantly thumping it into the home 22 as the second half was played out in Kelso territory.
Kelso were also worried that Mhairi Hay might be a bit lenient with her use of the whistle. They need not have worried in that respect, as she awarded 30 penalties (or ‘penas’ as BBC Alba calls them) in total, with 15 awarded against Kelso and 15 against Stewart’s Melville. Mhairi’s gender certainly provided easy fodder for the Kelso faithful, with one wag complaining that ‘she runs like a girl’. Mhairi, however, has young twin daughters, and full marks to her for the sacrifices she no doubt makes in order to further her refereeing career.
The pitch was, in racing parlance, ‘good to soft’- but still better than we have any right to expect for 5th January. Kelso suffered a couple of call-offs before the match, with Richard Minto an influential absentee. Both sides were locked on 24 points before the match, and both knew that a win would probably mean that they would avoid being sucked into the relegation dogfight.
Our hosts started with the wind and the clubhouse at their backs. Seb Trotter, looking reassuringly composed, settled early nerves with a well struck penalty into the strong wind. The lead was short lived, though, as three consecutive charge downs meant that we could not clear our lines and Murray Hastie bagged a couple of well struck penalties.
Kelso, through Lowrie and Cooney, had the upper hand in the scrum, but the wind was affecting the lineouts, and we benefitted from being quickest to react on a number of occasions. The scrums were strange, as rarely, this season, have we been in any trouble. Apparently, it’s all in the hit, and, certainly, there were some scrums where we were in the ascendancy – but we were generally indebted to Ben Manning for tidying up difficult ball. We were not helped, however, either side of half time when Phil Cringle took a yellow.
From a quickly taken penalty, space was engineered on the opposite side from the stand, then, following a couple of forward drives, the ball was quickly shifted and Adam Greig was on hand to dot down. Seb Trotter converted from the touchline into the wind – in the end, that conversion was the difference between the teams.
Shortly after that score, Donald Sangster appeared to gallop clear – only to be recalled by the ref as she had obstructed the Kelso tackler. Willie also had a tilt that had Kelso scrambling.
As half time approached, Hastie narrowed the gap with a penalty, and then, with Phil on the sidelines, Wallace forced his way over to give Kelso a 16-10 lead at half time. Once again we had conceded on the half time whistle, although, to be fair, we were a man down.
The idea was to play with the wind in the second half, as, with a bit of patience, the points would come – and so it proved. With a penalty advantage to come, Craig Marshall ran a good line to touch down and Seb converted to give us the lead. After another penalty advantage Liam popped over a drop goal, then Seb stretched our lead to 7 points with another penalty.
With full time approaching, Gillespie – who had been closely marked all day – led a charge from a lineout. A rolling maul ensued that marched play into our 22. A penalty award was indicated, but Kelso decided to pick and go until they got worryingly close to our line. They eventually ran out of forwards and the ball spun along the line to find Millar free on the wing. Hastie was left with the same kick that Seb had earlier converted to tie things up, but the attempt never threatened the posts.
In the cold light of day, Kelso should probably have taken the penalty and opted for a scrum that might have yielded a try closer to the posts, but hindsight is a great thing.
I urge anyone who has not watched our team regularly this season to get down over the next few weeks. The team works very hard and is starting to play with commendable spirit. We have Heriot’s, Boroughmuir, Hamilton and Watsonians, in that order, and the boys deserve your support.
** ‘Tae a Louse’ by Rabbie Burns – remember the Club’s Burns Supper (featuring Chris Damsteegt toasting the Lassies) on Saturday 19th at the Clubhouse. Tickets £25 from the usual sources!
Kelso match report here