HOWE OF FIFE 38 KIRKCALDY 24 (after extra time)
Perfect underfoot and overhead conditions greeted the new rugby season at Duffus Park with the first round of the BT National League Cup.
Kirkcaldy had early dominance in the set pieces and after a try had been chalked off for a knock on the returning Dayle Turner touched down in the 12th minute following a push over with Craig Letham converting.
The referee regularly pulled up both teams for ruck offences but Kirkcaldy continued to hold the upper hand territorially. Number 8 Matt Harvey excelled at this stage. Following a one handed line-out take he then strolled through the Howe defence to set up Turner for his second try in the 28th minute and give Kirkcaldy a 12-0 lead.
Towards the interval gaps began to appear in the Kirkcaldy defence with some of the tackling less than solid. Howe failed to capitalise on several scoring chance before winger Ben Mitchell opened their account three minutes before the break and as the Blues recovered replacement Conor Dow added another try which left the score 17-17 at the break.
Both Howe props had to retire following concussive injuries and as they had inadequate cover on the bench the referee ordered that scrums be uncontested. This largely removed much of the Blues’ forward advantage. Nevertheless they were away to pull with a try from lock Connor Wood after strong running from Harvey.
No sooner had Howe’s Grant Henderson been yellow carded for throwing a punch the Blues lost co-captain Gavin McKenzie for a high tackle The Cupar side drew level again with a Fraser Ellison try. At the conclusion of the regulation eighty minutes the sides were level at 24-24. The Canadian referee had failed to acquaint himself with the procedures to be followed in the event and this led to a hasty phone call to Murrayfield to establish how this equality had to be resolved. As almost everyone on the ground believed there had to be extra time in the first instance.
Kirkcaldy then suffered a series of injuries with Rhys Bonner, Josh Laird, Dayle Turner, Iain Gillies and Marcus Salt all having knocks of varying severity. This effectively Kirkcaldy has a competitive force and in the first period of extra time Howe pulled away with two more tries from Willie Wardlaw and Callum Harris, both converted by Fraser Ellison.
After the match Kirkcaldy’s Director of Rugby Mark Henderson commented “There wasn’t much between the sides in the first eighty minutes and it as a hard fought draw. Ultimately we too may injuries in extra time and that was the difference. When Howe come to Beveridge Park next Saturday we will be expecting to take the points”
Howe of Fife:- D McIntyre, B Mitchell, W Wardlaw, S Lathangi. C Gray, F Ellison, L Christie, S Player, C Crawford, Grant Henderson, R Milne, George Henderson, J Douglas, C Harris, C Mann
Replacements:- C Dow, C Redpath, R McLean, A Steven, C Ellison
Kirkcaldy:- C Littlejohn,F Bruce, I Gillies, J Laird, O Bonner, C Letham, G McKenzie, M Salt G Wallace, G Mangalo, D Jennings, C Wood, R Bonner, D Turner, M Harvey
Replacements:- G Queen, S Laing, F Smith, R Murphy and W Robertson
I Morrison (CRRS)
3 Connor Wood
2 Marcus Salt
1 Matt Harvey