Bulls come up short again in the Borders
By JIm Browning
Kelso 39, Hamilton 8
Tennant’s National League Division 1
Kelso 39 Hamilton 8
Once again, Hamilton had an unsuccessful foray into the borders coming up short against National League one’s bottom club. The first quarter however showed the spirit and skill with which Hamilton approach the game and they were largely in control during that period. Despite falling behind to a Dods penalty, the bulls hit back with an excellent try by debutant winger Max Priestly
in the 8th minute. A deft kick into the Kelso 22, and great work at the lineout to take their ball, gave the backs the chance to feed Priestly who burst through a couple of ineffective tackles to scamper in from 20 meters. Bulls seemed to be in complete control, until a loose pass in midfield turned over possession giving Kelso easy territory and possession leading to their first try by Dods who converted. Kelso’s 2nd came after a break by Jackson and some good handling giving Mein the easiest of scores under the posts.
Despite this set back, Hamilton took control again, especially at the lineout, and they had the upper hand in the forward exchanges pushing deep into Kelso territory, rewarded by an Owen McLeish
penalty to reduce the gap. Kelso’s Angus Roberts saved them from further Hamilton scoring with a stunning last ditch tackle to prevent Priestly picking up his second. Hamilton would come to rue their failure to capitalise on this sustained period of dominance.
The second half did not begin well for the Bulls, with Kelso’s forwards playing a quick offloading game. They gave away possession cheaply 3 times in the opening exchanges and once again Bulls’ indiscipline cost them, Brodie to the bin and a penalty into the corner. A man down meant defending the driving maul was impossible and Hume forced his way over for a simple conversion. Dods then added another three points from the boot and with the lead extended to 27 – 8, Kelso began to relax and play some confident rugby. Their Bonus point try came in 58 minutes. The strong wind took hold of a high kick by Dods and Hamilton’s defence did not deal with it, Kelso’s forwards taking control of the loose ball. It was left to Roberts to flop over the line for the bonus and an easy conversion. It was Roberts again on 68 minutes who dived over having been involved twice in a slick handling move who finished the scoring in this pulsating match. Hamilton did launch a typical assault on the Kelso line, but they kept the ball close to the breakdown which Kelso defended with ease, while there were acres of space out wide, a source of genuine frustration for coach David Gemmell.
“Our errors cost us in confidence and affected our game again. Kelso were cleaner in their execution of their plan throughout and deserved their win. Can we stay positive under pressure and force our game to prevail over our opponents? We’ll certainly try!”