Edinburgh Accies 17
IAIN MORRISON @ Raeburn Place
THE hosts probably needed to win this one to keep their hopes of a play-off place alive so the two points that the visitors took back to the Borders on Saturday evening would suggest that they were the real winners on the day.
The game see-sawed one way and then the other,” said Kelso co-coach Kevin Utterson after the final whistle. “It’s always a tough ask coming up here to beat a team that has been top four for many years now.
“It was a game of two halves in some ways. We were good in the opening 40 but they were a different side after the break with the wind at their backs.
“We had a few opportunities immediately after the break which we butchered so that was disappointing but overall we are happy to take two points away from here.”
Both sides ended the game with the same scorecard – three tries, one conversion – but this was not a classic match. The conditions were difficult for both sides with a sticky pitch and slippy ball. The contest was dominated by defences and, as a result of that, there was a lot of kicking from both sides with Kelso winning the battle comfortably in the first half and Accies doing the same after the break.
The Borderers scored two tries in the opening 40 and the fact that they both went to props with a combined total of approximately three and a half inches covered tells you all you need to know about this arm wrestle.
Dwain Patterson was unable to convert either attempt although one hit the posts if that counts for anything?
Both tries came from Accies indiscipline whereby the visitors got the opportunity to kick to the corner and, if only after umpteen attempts, they burrowed their way over the line, eventually.
Accies attempts to counter were stymied by their line-out which malfunctioned all afternoon and by Ben Appleson’s kicking from hand. It was exceptionally good when looking to keep the ball in play and pressure Kelso’s back three. It was a bit ordinary when aiming at the sidelines. Admittedly he was kicking into the wind but his forwards needed a bit more than 10 or 15 metres he was biting off each time.
Kelso could have had another score just before the break when a hack ahead opened the door for Patterson only for the referee to spot a trip on the last Accies defender.
Instead it was the home team who, against the run of play, and despite rather than because of their line-out, managed to give themselves a lift by scoring with the last move of the first half.
It was simplicity itself. For once Accies kept the ball in hand and their forwards ran hard, straight lines, making good ground each time, until Struan Whittaker’s unstoppable momentum took the big lock over the line. It could easily have been a penalty try, it probably should have been, since he was collared high in the act of scoring and Appleson’s conversion didn’t trouble the posts.
Having done next to nothing for almost the entire first half, Accies were still in this game, and things got better in the third quarter, but only after another fright. Kelso kicked ahead and only some quick thinking and even quicker running by Robbie Chalmers prevented an early score for the visitors.
Instead, Accies broke from defence and when Chalmers, again, was tackled in the Kelso red zone the defence slowed the ball deliberately and Kelso skipper Frankie Robson saw yellow for his troubles.
Accies took the tap-penalty quickly and a couple of plays later flanker Kieran Slingsby levelled the scores and Appleson`s conversion edged Accies into a lead they scarcely deserved.
Kelso rolled up their sleeves and went to work, aided by the fact that Accies apparently presumed a two-point lead would suffice. Visiting flanker Murray Woodcock might have scored with the line looming but he was unable to hold onto the ball.
But, eventually, after countless one-out pass-and-drives, Kelso pressure was rewarded when skipper Robson dived over from short range after his forwards had done all the softening-up work. Patterson added the extras, a rare event on the day, and Kelso had a five point lead with 15 minutes left on the clock.
Accies were up for the challenge. The home side set up camp inside the Kelso red zone and used the exact same tactics, one-out passes, that had brought the Borderers all three of their scores.
The Rseburn Place men earned penalties, set scrums and more penalties. They banged away at a stubborn Kelso defence that only conceded a try when Appleson nonchalantly dropped the ball onto his foot to grubber it in behind the Kelso defenders, and it sat up perfectly for centre Robbie Kent to score.
Appleson missed the simple conversion, despite loud cheers from the stand trying to persuade the referee otherwise, and the match stayed at 17-17 despite Kelso getting to within five metres of the Accies line only to knock on when it seemed they must score.
Ironically Kelso’s last chance of the afternoon went west when they lost a line-out throw, the very first of the afternoon.
“I think we lost nine line-outs in that game and it’s difficult to end up in the top four places without a functioning set-piece,” said try scorer Robbie Kent, and it’s difficult to argue with the centre’s succinct summary of the afternoon’s events.
Edinburgh Accies: R Chalmers; F MacNeill, R Kent, N Armstrong©, M Wallace; B Appleson, P Ritchie; R Dunbar, C Davies, C Imrie, R Thompson, S Whittaker, G Napier, K Slingsby, A Wood. Subs: F McAslan, A Hain, W Catterall, B Jackson, C Allan.
Kelso: A Barbour; J Thompson, D Patterson, F Robson©, R Tweedie; M Hastie, A Tait; G Shiells, E Knox, T Logan, C Thompson, K Melbourne, C Brown, M Woodcock, B McNeil. Subs: A McGregor, A Asante, J Glendinning, E Thompson, N Stingl.
Referee: Michael Todd.
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Whittaker, Slingsby, Kent; Cons: Appleson.
Kelso: Try: Shiells, Logan, Robson; Cons: Patterson.
Sequence of scoring (Edinburgh Accies): 0-5; 0-10; 5-10 (h-t) 10-10; 12-10; 12-15; 12-17; 17-17.
Man-of-the-Match: Kelso full-back Archie Barbour kicked like a dream in the first half, taking advantage of the wind, and lock Keith Melbourne was his usual industrious self throughout. Both Kelso props grabbed key tries in the opening 40 but tired after the break. For Accies, Robbie Chalmers was good in defence if a little quiet with the ball in hand, but the heroes were in the forwards were Alistair Wood, who got through a ton of tackling, and flanker Kieran Slingsby, who gets the award for his tireless work on both sides of the ball.
Talking point: In a tight game, every conversion was crucial and Accies could claim that their first half score should have been a penalty try (which is an automatic seven points) instead of a score wide on the right which Ben Appleson failed to convert. The try scorer Whittaker was tackled around the neck with some force, an obvious penalty/yellow-card in the pro game … nothing to see at club level!