Al Stewart at Poynder Park
BIGGAR'S trip to Kelso on Saturday was always going to be a very tough ask.
Kelso's only defeat this season was to Biggar on the second league Saturday back in September which gave the home side an extra incentive to win.
On Saturday in addition to being a physically much larger side, Kelso proved to be a more tactically aware with a very efficient back row led by Dom Buckley who scored a hat-trick of tries.
Biggar's young side in contrast, while showing some great enterprise, were unable to win sufficient tidy ball in the tight or to punch holes in the Kelso defence.
With the breeze on their backs Biggar opened well and took play quickly to the Kelso 22 but were unable to convert pressure into points.
Stand off Aird Jardine and centre Robbie Lavery both used a selection of kicks to turn the Kelso defence but these were often a tad too long to really create chances while on other occasions they resulted in scrum back as they drifted over the dead ball line.
After 16 minutes and in what was perhaps their first real incursion into the Biggar 22 a penalty gave the home side a chance to kick to the corner which they did.
A neat lineout move saw scrum half Andy Tait draw the Biggar defence before feeding prop Arthur who crashed over from 10 metres. Centre Phil Hume added the conversion for a 7-0 lead.
A Buckley break off the restart took play back into the Biggar 22 where after several probing attempts from the pack Tait shifted ball left to Buckley who crashed over for his first score.
Undeterred Biggar were quickly back in attack where an offside allowed Jardine to open Biggar's account with a penalty.
It was a Sanderson cover tackle the provoked the only flare up of the game as passions ran high after the Biggar flanker got back to tackle well. Ironically it was the Biggar man who seemed to suffer most in the mellee who was yellow-carded this apparently as he had deliberately knock3ed ball down after the tackle.
The resultant scrum provided another attacking opportunity and Biggar were marched back before Buckley touched down under no pressure for his second try. Hume's conversion taking the score to 19-3 and half time.
Despite an early setback when the restart was kicked straight into touch and the fact that they now faced the breeze, Biggar had as much of the ball and play – if not more – in this half.
They showed some real intent in their running and passing but did not have quite enough punch to break the Kelso defence consistently.
Biggar did score first however, this after a penalty for a high tackle by Arthur saw Jardine kick to the Kelso 22. Given their superiority in the forwards it would no doubt irk their coaching staff that Kelso were summarily marched backwards for all of those 22 metres with replacement flanker Andrew Orr at the foot of the pile up and claiming the try which Jardine converted to give his side some hope at 19-10.
A rare mix up in defence saw two Biggar players make a tackle on the stand off Skeen who nipped through the gap before off-loading to winger Arran Jackson who made it to the line. Hume's conversion took the score to 26-10.
Biggar continued to throw everything they had into attack, Andrew Jardine, Orr, Lavery, Thomas Steele and Jackson all making making ground but with their physical presence Kelso committed just enough to the tackle to slow Biggar down.
A lineout error provided an opportunity for Kelso and as they had been all day their clinical finishing saw Buckley rampage through the Biggar defence on a 40 metre run to the line to notch his hat-trick. The conversion was well off target but at 31-10 the home side had more than recorded another four try bonus.
Biggar managed to exert some real pressure in the closing period.
Some good play meant that Biggar made inroads into the Kelso 22 but errors – a couple of dropped passes – denied them the score until that is the last movement of the game which resulted in McDonald's try.
For the record Andrew Jardine collected Biggar's man-of-the-match.
Biggar: Thomas Steele, Alistair Sinclair, Robbie Lavery, Andrew Jardine, David Paterson, Aird Jardine, David Reive, Donald Voas, Ewan Stewart, Calvin Henderson, Jamie Orr, Zander Lyon, Ewan Sanderson, Alan Warnock, Andrew Dunlop . Reps:, Lewis McLinton, Andrew Orr, Ross Jackson, Craig McDonald.