Match Report v Kelso RFC : Saturday 21 November

Match Report v Kelso RFC : Saturday 21 November

Kelso RFC 19 – 15 Stewart’s Melville RFC

Among the 14,676 Bristolians who were enrolled as foetuses in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children in 1991, those who became goths were the most depressed by the age of 18.

Should any of those foetuses have developed and become followers of Stewart’s Melville they would have given the goths a run for their money on the depression front at full time at Poynder Park on Saturday.

Familiar failings in the line out, in spite of a height advantage, saw us starved of ball in the first half. The realities of the league table mean we are now in a relegation ‘dog fight’- an area that our hosts have inhabited for a few years but for us this scrapping is unfamiliar territory.

Wintry storms abated in time for the 3pm kick-off and the conditions were good for running rugby. We kicked off playing away from the changing rooms and although there was no lack of effort, the occasion seemed to get to our young team and the progress evidenced over the last three weeks juddered to a halt.

The reason for our eventual demise was not lack of ability or guts but lack of accuracy. Lack of accuracy in three areas

  1. The line out – after a gradual improvement in previous weeks it was back to square one.
  2. Line kicking – touch was missed both from penalty and from hand.
  3. After taking the tackle, ball was lost on contact particularly in the second half when we threw caution to the wind.

The score line was blank after twenty minutes and that was a minor triumph for our defence but a rolling maul from a line-out enabled Stuart Lowrie to touch down and Skeen atoned for his earlier penalty miss by nailing the touchline conversion. The scrum was an area of dominance for us but Kelso craftily used the fact that our back row was engaged in pushing, to pick up and countering by breaking the first line of defence.
With an abundance of ball the Kelso backs and forwards started to enjoy themselves but unfortunately for them lost hooker Henderson to a leg injury – Kelso like us can ill afford to lose players with the league only at the half-way point. The game started to get a little more even and Andrew Warnock missed a penalty – Andrew is a talent and once he gets used to the pace of the game he will be fine – but one chip near the end of the half demonstrated that every play will not end in a try and sometimes the pragmatic approach is preferable to the speculative. Bowie provided a rare glimpse of our attacking prowess by successfully running back a loose kick. Kelso broke away, however, and Skeen (think McCashin for game management) saw the gap to allow Jackson eventually to touch down under the kindling for Skeen to goal.

Half Time: Kelso 14 Stewarts Melville 0.

Half-time is a strange thing – why should a side that is getting beaten turn things around just because there is a few minutes break in play? The introduction of Campbell and Croy certainly helped and gradually we started to get line out ball. A Warnock penalty was scant reward for a ten minute period of dominance. Then followed the games defining moment a missed touchline penalty found Tait who punted down the touchline the ball bounced awkwardly, for us, back into the hands of Ponton who released Mallen for a clear run in. The gap was now 16 points with 12 minutes to go. Kelso looked for their bonus but McCann –who else – found his way over the line for Warnock to convert. The yellow card for Carnegie provided further evidence of the change of momentum. We had a few more chances but the aforementioned lack of accuracy in contact let us down. With full time looming Alex Rappestad broke up the middle and eventually that man McCann touched down to give us the bonus point.

The stadium clock said 80 minutes were up but the referee allocated a further few minutes injury time. For speed Warnock attempted a drop goal conversion, the miss meant we needed a try rather than a penalty in injury time. Kelso were by now thoroughly rattled but we could not keep hold of the ball in attack and Skeen kicked out to put an end to proceedings.

If we are to get out of this scrap a lot will depend on our seasoned players and Howie was outstanding in this match. Next week then, Howe of Fife away, we know how they play and we have already beaten them so no reason why we can’t do it again.

Full time: Kelso 19 Stewart’s Melville 15.

Gavin Calder

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