Kelso ended Aberdeen’s away game-winning run that dated back to September as they won 14 – 12 in a hard-hitting, gritty game at Poynder Park.
Aberdeen won the last encounter at 44 – 24, yet Kelso were the better side in a game that saw both teams hammer their oppositions defensive lines.
Both teams came out and looked rusty with passes being dropped on both sides. Kelso were the first to strike. Capitalising on multiple Aberdeen mistakes, lock forward Gaiser punched over the try line on the 20th minute.
The second quarter saw Kelso with the majority of territory and attacking opportunities coming from their strong defence and hard-hitting forwards pounding the Aberdeen defence. The home side doubled their lead on the half-time whistle with scrumhalf and captain Tait finding a gap between two Aberdeen front rowers to take Kelso, deservedly, into a double-digit lead.
Half-Time Kelso 14 – 0 Aberdeen
The break seemed to have changed little with Aberdeen straight on the defensive for the first 5 minutes. A switch seemed to finally flick on for the men from Rubislaw winning a scrum against the head in the 45th minute. Subsequent line breaks from Jake Gray and Greig Ryan lifted the men in white further.
The remainder of the quarter saw both sides elevate their game. Time was spent inside both oppositions 22’s with key attacking opportunities being repelled by steadfast defences.
The 20 minutes saw the game reach fever pitch. The tension was palpable and Aberdeen were finally linking together well and holding onto the ball. Prop Rob Ellinson finally found a hole in the Kelso defence on the 72nd-minute mark off the back of an Aberdeen lineout. Then captain Alex Ratcliffe, at the death, found a pair of forwards out of position to slice between and cross the whitewash untouched gaining Aberdeen a losing bonus point. Brynn Perrott's conversion brought the visitors to within 2 points of Kelso and with it the end of the game.
Full-time Kelso 14 – 12 Aberdeen
Aberdeen coach Ali O’Connor after the whistle said: “A little bit disappointing but credit to Kelso, I think they were the sharper team and deserved their victory. We lost a bit of shape in attack and we weren’t able to dominate collisions to get our off-loading game going and weren’t able to get over the advantage line because Kelso were very very good around the contact. They defended heroically today when we had the ball and we had to work really hard for our tries.
We should have kicked and played more territory in the first half with the wind behind us, however, the players that we have are very good with the ball in hand and that showed in the second half when we put phases together we actually scored from our own try line.”
He added: “Our defensive showing from players like Aaron Robertson and Calum Reddish was outstanding. We gave Kelso the ball for a long long time during the game, so to only concede 14 points and keep them scoreless in the second half, with the wind, is a testament to the defence effort we put in.”
Next Saturday Aberdeen take on top of the table and undefeated Edinburgh Academicals at Rubislaw.
Kelso RFC: C. Doods, I. Sim, P. Hume, G. Mein, R. Cooke, A. Skeen, A. Tait (c), S. Karlsen, R. Henderson, B. Robertson, P. Lawlor, H. Gaiser, J Irvine, k, Dryden, K. Mein
Replacements: C. Marshall, K. Cooney, A. Johnston, K. Wilson, A. Roberts
Aberdeen Rugby: Doug Russell, Grant Walker, Alex Ratcliffe (c), Murray Mitchell, Matt Arnold, Bryn Perrott, Jake Gray, Callum Reddish, Matthias Shosser, Rob Ellinson, Aaron Robertson, Drew Whitehead, Alec Dravitski, Will Alton, Greig Ryan
Replacements: Pete Gillies, Colin Neilson, Ewan Stewart, Dom Wallen, Bailey Walsh