West of Scotland went down 34-15 to a strong Kelso side in their latest BT National Division 2 match at Burnbrae on Saturday.
This time last year there was a two-league gap between Kelso, who were relegated from National 1, and West, promoted from National 3 - and in thefirst half it showed.
The touch judges were visiting referees from Leicester who were in Glasgow to see the Tigers game and, with both teams’ consent, they ran the line and had a fourth official with full wireless communications.
However, at the start of the game they had little to do, Kelso being utterly dominant.
First a break off the back of the lineout by no 8 Ian Wallace scored and was converted; then, after Richie Tran was yellow carded, prop Colin Arthur rumbled over the line, again converted by Phil Hume.
An accidental clash of heads saw Ross MacAulay leave the field with a bad nosebleed, requiring stitches and he didn’t return, forcing West into a makeshift midfield.
Kelso’s other prop Rhys Morgan ran in after a series of pick and drives, this time unconverted, and Kelso had the bonus point in the bag when a well angled run from Ian Wallace saw him score his second try.
Ian Hume converted the try and added a penalty and Kelso were leading 29-0.
A high tackle gave West a penalty and Blair Smith scored to make the half-time score 3-29.
The second half saw Kelso pick off where they left off with a smart passing move finding winger Arran Jackson who scored in the corner.
But that was Kelso’s scoring done for the afternoon, and it was West making all the headway after that.
Mark Sim had looked West’s best player all match and his powerful break out of defence went through the hands to eventually find Alex Fisken on the wing to touch down in the corner.
A Kelso player said something to the referee, the touch judge being neutral was allowed to report it and a red card resulted. Blair Smith hit the post with the conversion.
Another series of smart passes found Blair Smith on the overlap. He rounded the defence, scored under the posts and drop kicked his own conversion.
West were trying to get back in the match and two more Kelso players were yellow carded, but Kelso’s 12 men held out for what in the end was a convincing win, despite the second half dramas.
The defeat leaves West 10th in the 12-team table after two wins and five defeats. Next up on Saturday is an away match at Aberdeenshire.