KELSO REACH BORDER LEAGUE PLAY-OFF FINAL AFTER VICTORY AT RAIN-SOAKED PHILIPHAUGH


Kelso lock forward Keith Melbourne looks to be in with a shout during Monday night’s game.

Andrew McColm gets ready to contest a line-out during Friday’s mud-fest at Philiphaugh.

Scott Clark hovers behind his pack, seconds before Selkirk were awarded a penalty try.

Replacement scrum-half Ryan Legge prepares to get Selkirk’s threequarter line moving.

Selkirk prop Zen Szwagrzak attempts to break through the tackle of Kelso centre Dwain Patterson.

[Photos – GRANT KINGHORN PICS]

SELKIRK 10, KELSO 20

THE long-awaited Border League game between Selkirk and Kelso finally took place under the Philiphagh lights on Friday night. Kelso had everything at stake, knowing a win would see them through to their first Border League final since 2009.
It was the visitors who were fastest out of the traps. Straight from the whistle Archie Cowens took advantage of miscommunication by the Selkirk back three who failed to tidy up a messy ball. Dwain Patterson was happy to slot the conversion making the score 0-7 within the first few minutes.
The game then settled down and with a series of steady scrums and building of phases Selkirk got themselves back into a close, physical game. Selkirk’s ill-discipline cost them when Dwain Patterson successfully kicked a penalty to put the Tweedsiders 10-0 ahead.
The home crowd sprung into life when Selkirk’s Ben Pickles, who took a pass from Callum McNeill and made a fantastic break from inside his own half, was finally dragged down inside the Kelso’s 22.
This was the last input from Ben Pickles who had to come off with a fractured thumb, but this meant an early debut appearance for young Cameron Easson, who comfortably slotted in at outside centre.
Selkirk kept a hold of the ball well and built up the phases which frustrated Kelso, leading to prop Allan Frame being sent to the bin.
Selkirk took advantage of the extra player in the pack and called for the scrum, which saw Kelso’s Bruce McNeil stepping up from back row to pack down as prop. Kelso struggled with the dominance of Selkirk’s scrum and referee Sean Niven had seen enough infringements from the visitors and awarded a penalty try, bringing Selkirk right back into the game making the score 7-10 at the halftime interval.
Kelso began the second half with the same physical intensity, but it was Selkirk who got the first points on the board after 10 minutes when Callum Anderson kicked a successful penalty, bringing the scores level at 10-10.
Kelso hit back almost immediately with an opportunistic try by Mark Wilson, who charged down Ethan McVicker’s box kick, showed some fancy football skills to get the ball over the line and dot it down. Dwain Patterson stepped up to kick the conversion, giving Kelso the lead again at 10-17.
It was looking like another game where Selkirk couldn’t convert pressure into points as Kelso’s defence kept out the Souters, eventually turning over the ball and clearing their lines. The opportunity came for Dwain Patterson to once again step up when Kelso were awarded a penalty, and his trusty left boot didn’t let him down and he slotted the kick pushing Kelso’s lead to 10-20.
Selkirk emptied their bench bringing on Kieran Thomson, Ruaraidh MacKessack-Leitch, Liam Cassidy and Ryan Legge in the hope some fresh legs would boost the tempo. And it did for a while as Selkirk’s players got past the gain line with each run.
The Souters were gaining plenty of territory, but each time they got into promising positions Kelso’s dogged defence emerged triumphant and pushed them back.
With the clock in the red and Selkirk’s scrum inside their own half there was still some optimism but with a knock on at the base of the scrum saw the final whistle blowing seeing the game ending Selkirk 10, Kelso 20.
After the game Selkirk’s captain, Ewan MacDougall, said: “We have done that a few times this year, started a game quite slow and invited the other team on top of us, but we responded well and there were a few younger boys in that squad.
“All you can ask for from youngsters in their first Border derby is that stick in and, the Selkirk boys certainly did that. Border derbies are something that we need to talk about, especially in the Borders, as they are definitely good to be involved in.”
Selkirk: S. Cockburn, C. McNeill, B. Pickles, R. Nixon, A. Penman, C. Anderson, S. Clark, B. Riddell, M. Francis, Z. Szwagrzak, C. Turnbull, A. McColm, J. Bett, S. McClymont, E. MacDougall. Replacements: L. Cassidy, K. Thomson, R. MacKessack-Leitch, R. Cook, E. McVicker, C. Easson, R. Legge.
Kelso: M. Wilson, R. Tweedie, D. Patterson, F. Robson, A. Roberts, M. Hastie, A. Tait, R. Toogood, C. Marshall, A. Frame, K. Melbourne, K. Dryden, B. McNeil, B. McNeil. Replacements: M. Thomson, R. Wight, K. Gibson, G. Cessford, B. Lyall, A Jackson, G. Walker.

Referee – Sean Niven (Gala).

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