| KELSO 36 KIRKCALDY 12
Photos by Ken Dunn
While Kelso's championship aspirations may have gone in recent weeks they were still strong favourite to claim the second promotion place when Kirkcaldy arrived at Poynder Park.
Kirkcaldy coach Quintan Sanft was forced to make several late changes with prop Ross Girdler injured in the warm up and centre Josh Laird not having recovered from a dead leg sustained the previous Saturday. With four other experienced props unavailable the Blues began with Gerard Queen and Marcus Salt, with only a handful of starts between them, in the front row.
Although the Blues came within a score of claiming a losing bonus point in the final quarter two late converted tries gave Kelso the margin of victory their overall superiority deserved. Kirkcaldy had to struggle all through to win a reasonable share of the ball but its slow delivery regularly blunted the attack.
As was the case against Peebles the previous week, aimless kicking from hand constantly gave away hard earned possession and presented Kelso with opportunities to counter-attack Unforced errors also did not help the Blues with several penalties conceded when they were within striking distance of the Kelso line.
While the Tweedsiders were worthy winners and should now retain second place in the table their performance was far from flawless and on this showing may well struggle in a higher division. Their error count may not have been as high as Kirkcaldy's but they exposed themselves to counter-attack which a stronger side would have punished.
Photos by Ken Dunn
The home side made the most of their kick-off ball pinning the Blues into their 22 for several minutes before stand off Andrew Skeen placed a neat cross kick in the path of winger Gregg Minto who easily out jumped his opposite number in the corner to claim the first try in the fourth minute.
Kirkcaldy had their chances to score in these early stages but coughed up the ball when within striking distance on two occasions. Kelso looked dangerous whenever in possession and Kirkcaldy had to defend strongly for lengthy periods. When a relieving penalty failed to make touch the ball came back at pace for a second Minto try converted by Phil Hume.
The Blues made amends for earlier fluffed chances on the half hour mark with lock Connor Wood emerging from a driven line-out to claim a try converted by Craig Letham. Any chance of the visitors further decreasing their deficit disappeared when Kelso winger Arran Jackson won a hotly contested kick and chase to win the touch for his side's third try converted by Hume making the score 19-7 which stood until half time.
Although Kelso had the better of things in the third quarter while increasing their lead with a fourth try from lock Donald Seed, the game was punctuated with all sorts of errors, particularly from Kirkcaldy, and presented a fairly unconvincing spectacle.
The visitors had centre Kurt Littlejohn binned after a series of infringements in their own 22 but managed to claw back a try in the 65th minute from in form winger Finlay Bruce.
For a brief period it seemed that a third Kirkcaldy try would take them within losing bonus point territory. A fine scoring chance occurred in the 70th minute after some good ball retention only for a Blue forward to be penalised a a ruck inches from the home line.
Kirkcaldy received a second yellow card with Michael Harper binned in the closing minutes and while his side were short handed Kelso ran in two more tries taking their tally to thirty six points and a well deserved win against a Kirkcaldy team which hardly left the starting block
Kelso: G Ponton, A Jackson, A Roberts, P Hume, G Minto, A Skeen, A Tait, B Roberton, J Chambers, R Morgan, A Wallace, D Seed, K Mein, A Johnston, I Wallace
Replacements:- A Ford, T Wichary, B Waddell, A Haig
Kirkcaldy:- J Moffat, F Bruce, K Littlejohn, C Littlejohn, O Bonner, C Letham, G McKenzie, G Queen, Jack Pow, M Salt, C Wood, M Harper, R Bonner, R Brown, James Pow
Replacements:- S McLean, J Barclay, S McKervell
C Clark (WSRRS)
3 Michael Harper
2 Connor Wood
1 Rhys Bonner
19 Michael Harper
17 Rhys Bonner, Connor Wood
14 Greg Wallace
10 James Pow
9 Kurt Littlejohn
8 Finlay Bruce
6 Liam Neilson, Craig Letham
5 Owen Bonner, Josh Laird
4 Gavin McKenzie, Finlay Smith
3 Conar Littlejohn, Steve Mitchell, Stuart McLean
2 Jack Pow
1 George Mangalo, Danny Jennings, Rory Brown