Kelso 36 GHA 31
A beautiful autumnal day greeted visitors to Kelso’s ground nestling in the tidy surrounds of Poynder park. An excellent playing surface provided a perfect platform for rugby. Local officials were quick to point out that they feel results have not reflected the ability of the home town squad and were determined to climb the table to a healthier position. GHA arrived here on the back of a record breaking win from last week. Both sides went through a programme of preparation with GHA intent on removing any stiffness in muscles with a thorough warm up.
GHA kicked off and immediately Kelso ran the ball back at them. A midfield turn over resulted in the visitors running the ball back at Kelso. A clever series of accurate passes between forwards and backs led to Ben Addison making huge inroads through the Kelso defence before off loading to the close supporting Cameron King who went over to score after two minutes. George Baird converted to give the visitors the lead. The score after two minutes was: KELSO 0 GHA 7.
Despite this early set back, the home side came straight back at GHA forcing them into their own half with a combination of forward drives and passes through the back division. A huge break by Cormac Izuchukwu broke through the GHA defence and caused alarm in visitor ranks. To huge applause from the local support the ball was passed to Robert Hastie who shot over the line to score. Craig Dods (son of Peter) converted to make the score after five minutes KELSO 7 GHA 7.
The next few minutes saw some indecisive play with both sides electing to kick into space in an attempt to gain territorial advantage. This merely led to play spreading across the large pitch with little forward momentum. As we moved toward the tenth minute, GHA began to seek advantage by drives from Michael Scott and James Sutherland. Carefully recycling the ball, the ball was swept out to Charlie Lonergan just inside the Kelso ten metre area. With great resolve, he broke through several tackles to score. The try was converted to make the score after ten minutes: KELSO 7 GHA 14.
Despite this flurry of tries there was no set pattern to the match. Both sides were making mistakes which were being punished. The match was swinging from one end of the pitch to the other without either side being able to establish dominance. Both sides were running the ball with every opportunity . In the seventeenth minute a huge kick by Craig Dods from his own half took play up to the GHA five metre line. Roared on by the home support, Kelso galvanised their efforts to win the ball and deliver a superb pass to Craig Dods who neatly sidestepped the visitors defence to score. An excellent conversion by Craig made the score : KELSO 14 GHA 14.
After twenty minutes the pressure was now on the visitors. After an explosive start, the GHA side had given away scores to the opposition whose confidence began to grow dramatically. Despite this set back the visitors returned to the task in hand and several incursions required stout defence to hold the Kelso line. A superb break by Ben Addison whose breaks worried the home defence all afternoon was only stopped by a desperate tap tackle with the line in sight. As we reached the half hour mark, Kelso diligently worked the ball back into the GHA half with a series of forward drives and quick releases to the backs. An astonishing break by Cameron Izuchukwu broke several mistimed tackles and allowed him, running with the ball like a Fijian sevens player to offload to Angus Roberts who ran through to score. Another excellent conversion by Craig Dods made the score after thirty six minutes: KELSO 21 GHA 14.
Several missed tackles by the visiting side had given the home side a real lift and they began to attack the visiting side from every angle with the ball carrying talents of messre Brown and Izuchukwu to the fore.As we approached the interval, Kelso seized the initiative and forced the visiting side to defend desperately. Wave after wave of attacks descended on the visiting side who were really stretched to hold the line. However the interval arrived to allow both sides to regroup after what had been a fast paced if error strewn first half. Failure to put a man down in the first tackle had led to scores for both sides and the loss of possession in key areas of the pitch had allowed Kelso to begin to dominate the match.
The second half began with a surge by GHA to gain territory. A break by Michael Scott forced the home side back . A penalty award to the visitors allowed George Baird to take play up to the Kelso ten metre area. As we reached the fifth minute of the half, a superb piece of driving and recycling turned the Kelso defence and allowed the ever alert Ben Addison to go over in the corner to score. A superb attempt by George Baird to convert the try just failed and the score was now Kelso 21 GHA 19.
On the restart Scott Derrick made a break but was thwarted by the home defence. George Baird whose quick passing and linking with Ross McCorkindale had asked questions of the Kelso defence sustained a painful injury and had to be replaced. Cameron King slotted in at scrum half and the visiting side continued to look for ways to press Kelso.However Kelso regained their momentum and forced GHA on to the back foot with a series of incursions all the time retaining possession of the ball. In eighteen minutes the home side furthered their advantage by winning a set piece inside the GHA twenty two metre area and passing the ball swiftly through hands to stretch the GHA defence and allow Gareth Clark to dive over to score amidst joyful celebrations from the home support. The try was not converted and the score was now: KELSO 26 GHA 19.
The visitors were now chasing the match as Kelso began to believe that the match was theirs to win. Despite this set back GHA garnered their efforts to strike back at Kelso. As we reached the twenty fifth minute of the half play raged across the midfield area as the ball was turned over or knocked on. The visitors put together a spirited response and drove play up to the Kelso ten metre area. An excellent catch and drive at the lineout allowed a coordinated incursion deep into the Kelso half.Despite desperate attempts to stop the momentum of GHA Jamie McCarthy got the ball over the line to score to the joy of his team mates. The conversion from a tight angle was missed and the score was now: KELSO 26 GHA 24.
It was becoming clear that as neither side was able to maintain dominance for very long that as we reached the last ten minutes, the side which could take their chances would win this encounter. Carefully and methodically, Kelso pushed the visitors back into their half creating frustration in the GHA ranks who dearly wanted to be at the other end of the pitch. A superb break inside by Arran Jackson broke the GHA defence and Cormac Izuchukwu whose runs had troubled GHA all afternoon was on his shoulder to take the pass and scamper over the line to huge celebrations from his team mates. The try was converted and the score with thirty six minutes gone was now: KELSO 33 GHA 24.
Despite this blow, GHA threw everything at Kelso in the dying minutes of the match. Sheer determination took the visitors to the five metre line of Kelso. The visitors were awarded a penalty try for illegal attempts to prevent a score and Connor Gillon was yellow carded. The score as we entered injury time was now: KELSO 33 GHA 31.
Kelso restarted with a long kick which forced the visitors to try and run the ball from deep. Individual drives by GHA were quickly swallowed up by a determined home defence. With seconds to go GHA gave away a penalty which Craig Dods converted to make the final score: KELSO 36 GHA 31. It had been an exciting match which was very close. The visitors had started brightly and would rue missed tackles and allowing opponents to run at them with the ball, gathering momentum and support along the way.
KELSO: M.HASTIE, R.FORD, A.ROBERTS, K.WILSON, A.JACKSON, C.DODS, P.HUME (c), M.DOWNER, C.MARSHALL, B.ROBERTSON, R.HASTIE, C.IZUCHUKWU C.BROWN K.DRYDEN K.MEIN – SUBS: G.CLARK, J.WALKER, A.TAIT, G.MILLAR, C.GILLON
SCORERS: T – CLARK, DODS, HASTIE, IZUCHUKWU, ROBERTS C – DODS (4) P – DODS
GHA: C.KING, S.DERRICK, C.LONERGAN, M.MACFARLANE, B.ADDISON, R.McCORKINDALE, G.BAIRD, M.SCOTT, D.EWING, M.FOX, J. McCARTHY, B.KASPAR, A.KERR, E.HARDIE, J.SUTHERLAND – SUBS: L.BARRON, S.CARSON, S.MULHOLLAND, R.FINDLAY, J.O’BRIEN
SCORERS: T – ADDISON, KING, LONERGAN, MCCARTHY, PENALTY C – BAIRD (2), PENALTY
REFEREE: MR C CLARK
ASSISTANT REFEREES : MR B EVANS MR D McKERVALE