Premiership: revenge is a dish best served cold for Kelso versus Selkirk

Visitors bounce back after last gasp home defeat to Border rivals earlier in the season

Kelso were big winners over Selkirk at Philiphaugh. Image: Stuart Cameron
Kelso were big winners over Selkirk at Philiphaugh. Image: Stuart Cameron

Selkirk 0

Kelso 27

DAVID BARNES @ Philiphaugh

KELSO harnessed the frustration of their last gasp home defeat to Selkirk earlier in the season and executed a shrewd game-plan with precision to secure this convincing win, with the bonus-point secured by a try from replacement second-row Euan Thompson in the final play of the match.

The fact that the visitors managed to prevent their hosts from bothering the scoreboard operator was just reward for their unrelenting performance both sides of the ball.

“The emotional thing was big but we also knew we couldn’t get too caught up in that,” said talismanic player coach Bruce McNeil afterwards. “We know that teams will beat us, it is not the end of the world, but sometimes it is how you get beat … the big thing for us was how we were going to react to that, and I’d say we did that pretty well out there.

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“We were tactically good, but it was the stuff without the ball I was really pleased with,” he added. “For 25 minutes in the first half we didn’t have any possession but we managed to keep them out, then we went up their end and scored twice, and then we locked them out again when they had some pressure at the end of the half.

“I thought Andrew Tait at nine was really good at putting contestable kicks up, and any 50-50s we were on it  we wanted to be there and wear the jersey for the 80 minutes.

“Last time we played them we wanted to be there for the first half but then we switched off and didn’t show Selkirk the respect they deserve, which we paid for because they came at us with a phenomenal second half to take the win. So, that really hurt us, and we made sure in the changing room this time that it wasn’t going to happen again and that we stayed switched on.”

After a scrappy first nine minutes, Kelso took the lead through a Dwain Patterson penalty awarded against a Selkirk offside, but the visitors then found themselves hemmed back inside their half for almost all of the rest of the first 40. However, apart from two line-breaks  one from skipper Scott McClymont and one from centre Ben Pickles off full-back Callum Anderson‘s clever pass  the hosts lacked penetration.

Home scrum-half Hugo Alderson really should have got Selkirk off the mark but he rattled the right post with a penalty from directly in front of the sticks.

Kelso, in contrast, were ruthless when they got a sniff and extended their lead when the excellent Cammy Brown burst from a scrappy Selkirk line-out to get his team into the strike zone, before McNeil ramped up the pressure with a quick-tap-penalty, which created the opportunity for Grant Shiel to plough over from close range.

A second try soon followed when Selkirk coughed up possession inside their own 22 and a powerful surge from Cammy Thompson was quickly followed up by a blast from Terry Logan running a tight line, before the ball was sent wide to Archie Barbour who had pace to spare as he outflanked the final Selkirk defender without any need to risk a pass in the treacherous conditions to the two further attackers waiting on his outside.

An excellent kick into the corner from Aaron McColm meant Selkirk finished the half battering at Kelso’s line – picking up two close-range penalties and gaining a man advantage when Murray Hastie was sin-binned for backchat – but they couldn’t find a way through.

And when Kelso secured a holding-on penalty to prompt the half-time whistle, they celebrated with the same enthusiasm as they had their earlier tries, knowing that there is an awful big psychological difference between trying to turnaround a 15-0 rather than a 15-7 deficit.


No sooner were Kelso back to full strength with the return of Hastie than they lost another player to the naughty step, with Patterson seeing yellow for slapping the ball out of Alderson’s hands as he attempted to recycle quickly following a break from McClymont.

The second half was a bit of a slog, if truth be told, with no lack of endeavour and intent but attacking intent generally being bogged down by the soggy underfoot conditions.

Eventually, however, Kelso broke the stalemate when Keith Melbourne rampaged from midfield all the way into the opposition 22, swatting away tacklers like flies, and when the giant Irishman was eventually brought down the ball was sent rightwards for Nik Stingl to squeeze over in the corner with just under 10 minutes to go.

Now it was a question of whether Kelso were going to be able to secure the bonus point they undoubtedly deserved, and it would have been justice if Brown had been the man to get that all-important fourth try, but the ball stuck in the mud and he wasn’t able to gather Hastie’s cross-kick with the line at his mercy.

The bonus point did eventually come in the last play of the game, when Kelso stuck it up their jumper and rumbled it home, with Thompson emerging from the heap of bodies grasping the ball.

“We were second best,” conceded Selkirk head coach Gordon Henderson. “They made less mistakes, their discipline was better, their set-piece functioned better than ours, and when they got in the right areas they scored.

“We didn’t win the emotional battle and we need to have a look at ourselves. I’ve just said to the boys that we have four games left so don’t be worrying about whether we are safe or not, we need to be fighting for every game to show that the first half of the season wasn’t what we’re about.

“It starts Tuesday, then Thursday, then we move on to Musselburgh, so let’s see a reaction.”


Teams –

Selkirk: C Anderson; F Wheelans (A Grant-Suttie, 60), B Pickles, R Nixon, J Welsh (L Ferguson 65); Aaron McColm, H Alderson; L Pettie, J Bett (B Riddell 56), Z Szwagrzak (J Millburn 61), C Turnbull (L Cassidy 56), A Cochrane, Andrew McColm, S McClymont, K Westlake.

Kelso: A Barbour (M Wilson 72); N Stingl, D Patterson, F Robson, R Tweedie; M Hastie, A Tait; G Shiells, J Glendinning (E Knox 53), T Logan (A Asante 41-69), C Thompson (A Common 41), K Melbourne (E Thompson 70), L Tait, C Brown, B McNeil.

Referee: David Young


Scorers –

Selkirk: No scorers

Kelso: Tries: Shiel, Barbour, Stingl, Thompson; Con: Patterson 2;  Pen: Patterson

Scoring sequence (Selkirk first): 0-3; 0-8; 0-10; 0-15 (h-t) 0-20; 0-25; 0-27.


Yekllows cards –

Kelso: Hastie (39 mins), Patterson (52 mins)


Man-of-the-Match: Plenty of candidates in the visiting squad, especially in the pack, but openside Cammy Brown just edges it for a performance which combined powerful carrying, fierce competitiveness at the breakdown and some elegant line-out work in tough conditions.

Talking point: SRU President Colin Rigby was at the game to open the recently refurbished grandstand, which is the latest piece of infrastructure to be added to the Philiphaugh campus following the construction of a new weights room, a new fitness suite/changing rooms and an astroturf training surface during the last decade. Plus, Selkirk’s clubhouse is less than 20 years old, built after the flood of 2004. Murrayfield take notice: this – not professional player wages – is what strategic investment really looks like.

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About David Barnes 4026 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.