Match Report v Kelso RFC Saturday 26 March 2016

Match Report v Kelso RFC Saturday 26 March 2016

This game was the last chance saloon for Kelso, for whom even a five point win would mean that the sword of Damocles would still hang suspended on its horse’s hair, depending on results elsewhere. Or, on Easter weekend, would it be a case of ‘Christós (Kelso) anésti ek nekrón’ – ‘Christ is risen from the dead ’. In other words, folks – Kelso had to go for it.

For Stewart’s Melville, thankfully, such machinations with calculators no longer apply, with our participation in National League One already secured for another season.

Injuries, Easter Holidays and Scottish under-19 participation all meant that our back division had an unfamiliar look, with both Jack Savage and Euan Bowen being handed starts on either wing. Our pack was, however, on familiar lines, with Howie the only absentee from our recognised starting line-up, although his replacement Lewis Scott suffered an early injury and was himself replaced by Max Campbell.

So, playing in the right areas and relying on our pack to ‘bring home the bacon’ seemed to be the way to go.

With 13 minutes gone Stewart’s Melville’s game plan had resulted in a successful early penalty and a converted Morrison try – what a reassuring presence Momo has become in our pack. During this period Kelso also lost the influential Tait to the ‘bin’. At this stage very little had been seen from the Kelso side – but, in our league, sides are evenly matched, and it is rarely one way traffic for long. Sure enough, with ten minutes of the first half remaining, Kelso took a scrum penalty in an attacking position. Kelso hadn’t read the script about our dominant scrum, and, with Kelso’s Howie introduced for extra bulk, they meant to do some damage. The immediate danger was averted – but not for long, as Buckley barrelled over for his try, converted by Crawford.

Savage then used his feet well to engineer space that allowed him to make the most of a long miss pass to touch down in the corner beside Inverleith RFC’s clubhouse. All in all, it was an encouraging debut for Savage, with a try saving dive on the ball in defence near the end amongst the highlights.

Kelso had the last word in the first half as they found space beside our clubhouse to allow Jackson to touch down under the posts, a try which was duly converted. Interestingly, during the first half, Crawford, the Kelso full back, attempted a ‘Hoggy’ – a penalty attempt from his own half – but it never really threatened the uprights.

Half Time: Stewart’s Melville 15 Kelso 14.

We had settled well and were playing well. Manson and Strachan were kicking intelligently and fielding the two scrum-halves meant that the ball was whistling back and forth. They are both brave rugby players, playing, in the modern parlance, ‘with their heads up’ (or good rugby players, if you are old school) and their enthusiasm is infectious.

The scoreline, in truth, did not reflect our excellent hands and recycling or our superiority in the set piece, and, when Berrisford rounded off a flowing move on the far touchline, it seemed we would pull away. Unfortunately Bowen then got caught in possession and Millar replied for Kelso to keep the gap at one point in our favour. About this time Trotter, who had marshalled the backs well in defence, retired, meaning Max Campbell was banished to the backs and Connor McKay appeared on the flank.

Kelso moved into the lead with a rather bizarre passage of play. Rappestad was tackled and one of our scrum halves span the ball to Buckley, who had positioned himself between our centres. Apparently, although it looked decidedly suspect, it was within the laws as no ruck had formed, and, hence, it was adjudged to be broken play. Buckley didn’t stop to argue his case but touched down under the posts to put Kelso in the lead. Thankfully, a few minutes later, Whyte came off his right hoof at pace three times to confuse the defensive lines and restored our one point advantage. Manson added the extras and a penalty.

McKay then delighted and confused his teammates with a fifty yard burst to give us a firm foothold in enemy territory, and, as Kelso tried to clear, they were forced to carry over. There followed a series of scrums where we threatened a push over, then, when it looked like a further scrum, Strachan took a quick tap to McKay, who rolled over the line under the posts.

Finally, Hugh Lindsay, who – as usual – popped up to good effect all day, scored after a ‘show and go’ (or dummy, if you are old school).

After the game, results elsewhere conspired to seal Kelso’s fate – but, for us, there is the prospect of beating a Marr side that needs a bonus point win to make sure of the play-off spot. 

Full Time Stewart’s Melville 44 Kelso 26

Gavin Calder

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