A bright Kirkcaldy start with a fifth minute try from prop Ross Girdler, his first in league rugby, suggested that this game would produce a comfortable home win. Any such hope soon disappeared as a misdirected pass presented the ball to winger Andrew Noble who had a clear run to the posts for a converted Cartha try and a 7-5 lead for his side. The Blues then went into slumber mode for much of the rest of the first half, turning 17-5 down.
KIRKCALDY 22 CARTHA QUEENS PARK 17
Iain Gillies goes in under the posts for the second try
Noble’s try gave his side renewed confidence and with a bulky pack working well, the home team found it hard to get back into the game, spending long periods confused in their own half. A penalty from full back Andi Black who had earlier converted Noble’s try increased his side’s lead to 10-5.
As the clock ticked towards half-time Kirkcaldy at last escaped from the Cartha shackles but through poor decision-making could not add to their score. In the contact area they were generally coming off second and it was from turned-over possession that the Glasgow team built up the move from which they exposed defensive weakness and brought a second try by Noble, again converted by Black.
The Blues began the second half in a much more positive mood with lock Shaun Orr collecting the Kirkcaldy kick-off ball and driving towards the line, forcing Cartha to concede a penalty kicked by Quintan Sanft reducing the home deficit to 8-17.
In spite of this score Cartha continued to frustrate Sanft’s men, slowing down possession and presenting a solid defensive wall. Kirkcaldy efforts to build up a fluid game constantly failed as they found it almost impossible to build up phases of play.
Mark Wallace scores the winning try
In 48 minutes, against the run of play, the Blues at last won fast scrummage ball and with Sanft committing several defenders he released the ball for an Iain Gillies try at the posts. Sanft’s conversion made the score 15-17.
For various reasons this season Kirkcaldy have been forced to introduce a number of younger players and with the side for this game further weakened by the absence of several players at the wedding of prop Mark Thomson, several more came into the squad. Excelling once more was lock Shaun Orr, dominant at the line-out and more than active in the loose while prop Ross Girdler, scorer of the first try, is improving game by game. Front row man George Shields came on as a second-half replacement and he caught the eye with solid scrummaging and made good yards in the loose.
In the final quarter some of the Cartha forwards appeared to tire and the pressure on the Kirkcaldy forwards lessened. Consequently their backs now enjoyed the quality of possession not seen since the opening minutes of the game. While they were still not error free, scoring chances were there. The game came to a climax four minutes from the end as captain for the day Mark Wallace brushed off a couple of tacklers to score close to the posts. Sanft’s conversion gave his side a slightly flattering 22-17 win. However, considering the number of first choice players not available and the awkward opposition there has to be some satisfaction in the camp.
Kirkcaldy:- J Moffat, C Jubb, I Gillies, M Wallace, J Wilson, Q Sanft, G McKenzie, R Girdler, G Wallace, G Mangalo, S Orr, S Porter, M Graham, G Neilson, D Turner
Kirkcaldy celebrate after regaining the lead
Replacements: - G Shields, M Brown, D Guthrie, K Littlejohn
Cartha QP:- A Black, R Gilmour, T Nyangwean, S McInnes, A Noble, W Burrows, T Davidson, F McKinnon, M Plich, R Harvey, G Williamson, M Nellanaey, R Hollier, C Dickson, R Gillies
Replacements: - S Murray, G Gilmour, C Donnelly, A Stewart
Ms A Pratt (Watsonians)
3 Shaun Orr
2 Iain Gillies,
1 Gavin Neilson
4 Orr, Gillies
3 Mangalo, McKenzie, Porter
1 G Neilson