|KIRKCALDY 10 PEEBLES 62
George Mangalo scores The Blues' only points of the first half
The new floodlights may have beamed brightly down on the Beveridge Park pitch at the end of this Championship League B match but it was nothing compared with the gloom which descended amongst Kirkcaldy supporters after a humbling defeat from an excellent Peebles team which scored ten tries and had the bonus point in the bag as early as the eleventh minute.
This was the second consecutive game in which Kirkcaldy have been thoroughly outplayed by a side in the upper reaches of the divisions and highlighted weaknesses in every department of the team. With one or two exceptions this was the strongest side Kirkcaldy could field and a huge gulf separated them in terms of fitness and technique from the winners.
As was the case when the sides met at the Gytes in September the man of the match was undoubtedly Peebles centre James Hemara. His pace and handling skills allied to a baffling side step placed him in a class which the Kirkcaldy backs could only dream about.
Signs of things to come surfaced in the third minute when the visitors opted to kick two penalties to touch. The results of these line-outs put pressure on the Kirkcaldy defence and as Peebles played through another penalty advantage Hemara skipped his way to the opening try. The Blues failed to secure the re-start ball and Peebles quickly transferred it to the right where once more Hemara’s pace saw him fly past some despairing Kirkcaldy tackles. Stand off Greg Raeburn added the conversion points.
The Peebles backs impressed with their ability to find the gaps with some very accurate passing and with their pack dominating possession the game could flow in only one way. Two tries in quick succession from winger Ruaridh Clinch and full back Martin Cruickshank and another Raeburn conversion took the score to 24-0 with less than twelve minutes being played.
Mark Wallace makes a rare break through the Peebles defence
Seldom can any Kirkcaldy side of recent times have been so thoroughly outplayed. Mistake followed mistake, Only Shaun Orr and Stuart Porter of the forwards earned pass marks in a lamentable display.
Full back Kurt Littlejohn had the misfortune to see an attacking kick charged down at half way, returning possession to the visitors who simply moved the ball away from any contact and swept in for their fifth try from Hemara, converted by Raeburn.
A chink of light for the beleagured Blues came nine minutes before half time when Peebles flanker Connor McCann was carded for an innocuous offence. The extra man eventually paid off for the home side who made the most of a five metre line-out as prop George Mangalo crashed over.
The Blues lack of fitness really showed up in the second half as their punishment continued. Further tries from Cruikshank and Hemara in the space of two minutes added to the Kirkcaldy woe. As the home team persisted in kicking the ball away it was eagerly swept up and handled through the backs against the flimsiest of defences,
The rout continued as Peebles took their tally to the half century mark with a Raeburn try. Then the Kirkcaldy ineptitude was encapsulated in a single move in the Peebles half. Having been awarded a penalty they decided to tap, only to cough up the ball within a few metres of the mark. Peebles gratefully accepted this gift and raced past some dithering defenders to give No 8 Warren Kearney the easiest of tries.
The teams under the recently installed floodlights
There was some respite for the Blues ten minutes from the end which earned scrum half Gavin McKenzie a try but that was quickly cancelled by the tenth Peebles score from winger Conor Blyth.
No Kirkcaldy team has ever conceded as many as sixty two points in a league game previously. This stemmed from a catastrophically high error count with no player exempt. Apart from missed tackles, inaccurate kicks and passes, Kirkcaldy reactions were pitifully slow. Every one should now consider what he could do to prevent the side sliding further down the table. To start with, the appropriate levels of mental and physical fitness would help to prevent further disasters.
Kirkcaldy:- K Littlejohn, G Welsh, J Moffat, M Wallace, C Mann, C Letham, G McKenzie, M Thomson, G Wallace, G Mangalo, S Orr, R McNab, G Brooksbank, D Guthrie, S Porter Replacements:- D Turner, G Neilson, Q Sanft, R Low
Peebles:- M Cruickshank, C Blyth, C Scott, J Hemara, R Clinch, G Raeburn, D Anderson, A Clark, M Carryer, R Milne, A Warnock, K Clyde, C McCann, D Hall, W Kearney Replacements:- R McConnell, A Brown, G Hogarth, D Wills
N Kearns (ERRS)
3 Shaun Orr
2 Stuart Porter
1 Gavin Welsh
22 Harvey, 14 M Wallace, 10 Neilson, 8 Turner, 5 Orr, Porter, 4 Letham, 3 Mann, Littlejohn, G Wallace, Gray, 2 Fisher, Girdler, Thomson, Brooksbank, Guthrie, 1 Oliver, Harper, Wilson, McKenzie, Mangalo, Welsh