KIRKCALDY 28 HOWE OF FIFE 17
When Howe beat Kirkcaldy in a National 4 fixture at Beveridge Park in the 1973-74 season, the first of league rugby, little did the Blues think then that forty four years would pass before their side beat the Cupar team in a national competitive game. Certainly the clubs were in different divisions for thirty-one years, though they did meet in local cup games and friendlies in which the Blues had more than their fair share of wins. This Kirkcaldy victory however marks the end of this period of Howe supremacy.
Nevertheless this bonus point win was a significant one for Kirkcaldy, giving them an ideal start to the new National 2 campaign. Captain for the day prop George Mangalo, leading his team for the first time in his lengthy career, bubbled with enthusiasm after the match “Even with a few players absent for different reasons we have to be pleased with our performance, dominating the forward exchanges and defending strongly when necessary”.
The game galloped along at a fair pace in the early stages with Kirkcaldy having the better of things territorially. However on limited rations Howe's back line carried a real threat and posing problem for the Kirkcaldy defence.
With ten minutes gone the Blues managed to steal a Howe throw in on their own ten metre line. Flanker Rhys Bonner broke strongly before feeding stand off Craig Letham His telling tactical kick found winger Finlay Bruce who sped in for the first try converted by Letham and a 7-0 home lead.
The Blues' progress however was regularly halted by a stream of needless ruck penalties eventually leading to a yellow card for Dayle Turner. It seemed as if Kirkcaldy would play out this card without loss but eventually conceded a well crafted try, from winger Cameron Gray which remained unconverted. Cameron Ellison was having an of day with the boot having previously missed a straight forward penalty.
Back to full strength the Blues regained the initiative highlighted by a sparkling run out of defence by full back Finlay Smith. A split second after Smith parted with the ball he was blatantly impeded. The referee had no option but to award a double penalty. With the ball landing close to the line the Blues chose to scrummage the ball. Their first thrust came to nothing but eventually they prevailed with debutant scrum half Scott Anderson getting the try, again converted by Letham. This made the score 14-5 which stood until half time.
Kirkcaldy quickly asserted themselves in the second period. Handling confidently and recycling strongly the forwards set up the third try for Rory Brown, quickly followed by a push over from Dayle Turner. Both tries were converted by Letham strengthening the Blues lead to 28-5.
In the final quarter Howe showed real determination to secure something from the game and some slick running and passing thoroughly tested Kirkcaldy resolve. Former Kirkcaldy player Chris Mann was at the end of a prolonged attack for his side's second try which remained unconverted.
In the time remaining Howe busied themselves about the field although the home pack stayed in charge. Quintan Sanft's team had a second yellow when Smith was adjudged to have tackled too high and while he was off Willie Wardlaw had a third try for the visitors converted by Ellison.
There was much pleasure in the Kirkcaldy ranks and amongst Beveridge Park's biggest crowd for some years that this exciting display had earned the four try bonus and given a winning start to the league campaign and of course ended that 44 year hoodoo.
Kirkcaldy:- F Smith F Bruce, C Littlejohn, O Bonner, J Barclay, C Letham, S Anderson,D Jennings, M Salt, G Mangalo, C Wood, S Laing, R Bonner, R Brown, D Turner
Replacements:- S McLean, G Queen, R Murphy, A Brooks
Howe of Fife:- E Cruickshanks C Dow, D McIntyre, W Wardlaw, C Gray, C Ellison, L Christie, R Hood, C Crawford, Grant Henderson, R McLean, George Henderson, J Lawrie, C Hall, C Mann
Replacements:-T Rochford, J Douglas, A Iddins, I Bousi
F Hollins (Edinburgh RRS)
Fife Trophy Centre STAR CHECK
3 Connor Wood
2 Dayle Turner
1 Craig Letham
2 Salt, Turner
1 Harvey, Letham