Premiership: red card costs Kelso in stalemate with Heriot’s Blues

Newly-promoted Borderers draw for the second consecutive week

Kelso and Heriot's Blues fought out a draw at Poynder Park. Image: Charles Brooker
Kelso and Heriot's Blues fought out a draw at Poynder Park. Image: Charles Brooker

Kelso 24

Heriot’s Blues 24

ALAN LORIMER @ Poynder Park

FOR a second successive Premiership week, Kelso finished with a draw, this time matching Heriot’s Blues in total points scored but unable to equal the visitors’ bonus point earning quartet of tries. 

Yet, for much of the match and despite a shaky start by Kelso, the Poynder Park men look poised to finish winners when they led 21-12 midway through the second half only to see their chances crumble as quickly as an RAAC infested building with the sending off of their influential prop Terry Logan for what was deemed a dangerous head high tackle on Heriot’s flanker Innes Hill.

It was a momentum turning moment in the game, and in the event Heriot’s made sure that they would exploit the situation by making their extra numbers count and moving the ball well to conjure up two further tries for a 24-21 lead before being denied victory by a last minute penalty from the Kelso full-back Dwain Patterson. 

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Heriot’s coach, Phil Smith, was ambivalent about whether this was one that got away. “Yes in respect that we got ourselves back in the game and no in the sense that we didn’t deserve to win,” he reasoned. “We were pretty poor and out-muscled. Our set-piece didn’t function well but we kept working and getting back into the game.

“On the back of our win against Marr, we were hoping to come down here and put in a good performance in. But Kelso played their part by playing well and putting pressure on us. I didn’t think we responded very well. They were physical right across the field from one to 15.”

As for the result, in terms of Heriot’s ambitions this season, Smith reiterated his conviction: “We want to have a go this season and finish in the top four. We’ve still got a few boys to come back in and that will strengthen our position.”

In the home camp, player coach Bruce McNeil said that his side was in a good position to take the game. “I thought we had good control of the game in the middle part. The forwards kind of got on top of them and we stressed them out. We looked dangerous when we got some continuity. But the way Heriot’s come at you and their never-say-die attitude put us under pressure.

“Credit to our boys. We stuck in there. We’ll take the two points we got from this game and hope we can learn from the mistakes we make at this stage in the season.”

Heriots’ dynamic start to the match, their crisp handling and their speed of recycling suggested that the Blues were intent on piling up a huge score. In the event, Kelso, somewhat caught in the headlights in the opening couple of minutes, conceded a quick try, made by an accurate cross-field kick that fell sweetly into the hands of wing Paul Christie.

But thereafter in the first half, Kelso not only stemmed the threatened wave of points but slowly began to turn the tide, hitting back with a try off the back of five metre scrum by their former age-grade international Cam Brown, while Heriot’s were down to 14 men after losing No 8 Ali Johnston to the sin-bin.

Kelso then carved out a second try, this time from a driven line-out and a sustained maul that ended with their blindside flanker James Glendinning diving over for further points, enhanced by Patterson’s second conversion to give the Poynder Park men a 14-5 advantage that they held to half time.


A hesitant start to the second half by Kelso quickly cost the home side, Heriot’s profiting from the breeze to force a line-out 10 metres out from the try line. Johnston did the damage with a barging run before  Hill finished off with the follow-up.

This time, Graham Wilson converted to narrow gap to just two points. The margin soon widened again after Kelso’s forwards took the game to Heriot’s, before hammering at the line, the siege ending with McNeil forcing his way over for a Patterson-converted try.

Then the turning point in the game as the dreaded red card was shown to Logan for a head-high tackle on Hill. Heriot’s wasted little time in capitalising on their numerical advantage, and at the same time exploiting the psychological damage of the dismissal, by pressuring Kelso in their 22 to set up a short-range try for second-row Malachy Keough.

Heriot’s still needed more when they launched a sweeping attack in which Angus Hunter was a key runner, Christie was on hand to run through unguarded space for the Blues’ bonus point try, Wilson’s conversion giving his side a 24-21 advantage.

The drama, however, was not over. From the restart, Kelso used direct routes to gain ground, retaining the ball efficiently and eventually earning a penalty, coolly converted into points by Patterson to earn his side a draw in the final minute of play.


Teams –

Kelso: D Patterson; A Barbour, H Tweedie, F Robson©, R Tweedie; M Hastie, A Tait; G Shiells, E Knox, T Logan, C Thompson, C Brown, J Glendinning, M Woodcock, B McNeil. Subs: C Marshall, A Asante, E Thompson, L Tait, M Wilson.

Heriot’s Blues: T Soren; P Christie, R Steele, O Quinn, C Meager; K Kutsuna, G Wilson; M Bouab, L Forsyth, A Bogle, B Dineen, M Keough, R Kirkpatrick, I Hill, A Johnston©. Subs: D Westwood, N Doherty, D Yellowley, D Tomanek, A Hunter.

Referee: S O’Neill


Scorers –

Kelso: Tries: Brown, Glendinning, McNeil; Cons: Patterson 3; Pen: Patterson.

Heriot’s Blues: Tries: Christie 2, Hill, Keough; Cons: Wilson 2.

Scoring Sequence (Kelso first): 0-5; 5-5; 7-5; 12-5; 14-5 (h-t) 14-10; 14-12; 19-12; 21-12; 21-17; 21-22; 21-24; 24-24.


Yellow cards –

Kelso: McNeil (37 mins),

Heriot’s Blues: Johnston (15 mins)


Red card –

Kelso: Logan (59 mins)


Man-of-the-Match: Dynamic hooker-turned-bacx-row James Glendinning made the move from Gala to Kelso during the summer and is already looking the part. He has added power to the Kelso pack and that was evident against the Heriot’s eight.

Talking point: Kelso will be aggrieved at losing a match they had in their grasp and there was little doubt that the red card shown to Terry Logan was hugely influential. But even reduced to 14 men, the Borderers were still able to show physicality when it mattered. Their time in the Premiership will surely come. As for Heriot’s, their commitment to moving the ball wide paid off and if they can add a bit of hardness up front to the skills of the backline then they could indeed finish in the top four.

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About Alan Lorimer 360 Articles
Scotland rugby correspondent for The Times for six years and subsequently contributed to Sunday Times, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Scotsman, Herald, Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Herald and Reuters. Worked in Radio for BBC. Alan is Scottish rugby journalism's leading voice when it comes to youth and schools rugby.