|KIRKCALDY 24 MURRAYFIELD WANDERERS 17
First half action
A late penalty from new stand off Craig Letham near the end of this Championship “B” fixture sealed this Kirkcaldy win at a time when Wanderers were making a strong bid to secure a victory. The Blues were never behind after a strong opening quarter but from time to time they lost focus allowing their opponents to keep in touch.
Quintan Sanft’s side had the advantage of superior goal kicking thanks to the efforts of Letham, an 18 year old recruited from Perthshire Both their first half tries were converted whereas the two Murrayfield counters in that period remained unconverted leaving Kirkcaldy with a shaky half rime lead of 14-10 lead
Kirkcaldy had made a positive start although Wanderers had the advantage of a strong diagonal wind. Their handling appeared to be much more accurate than in some recent games and they were clearly the better looking team for much of the opening quarter, Trying to keep the tempo up, a quickly taken penalty saw the move ball deep into the Wanderers 22. This had the desired effect, finding the Edinburgh defence scampering back into position. A drive down the right side sucked in the cover before the ball flew along th line where full back Kurt Littlejohn’s pace carried him to the target for the game’s first try, converted by Letham
Not for the first time this season the Blues failed to take the Wanderers re-start ball allowing visitors’ centre Alex Cox to take the ball at pace and race past a bemused defence before off loading allowing lock David McMillan to score. Alex Borland failed with the conversion
The game proceeded at real pace with the Blues always looking for a scoring chance. Hooker Greg Wallace and flanker Dayle Turner both made dangerous sorties into Wanderers territory before the second Kirkcaldy try arrived in the 18th minute. A free kick movement was checked before play switched right and centre Sean Fisher found space to go for the line Letham again kicked the extra points.
Despite being 14-5 behind Wanderers looked far from a beaten side and their back line frequently threatened. Another smart free kick caused the damage as Kirkcaldy defenders held back and Cox cut through them for his side’s second try, again unconverted.
Making his first appearance of the season from the bench, George Mangalo made an immediate impact and twice in a minute swirled past several Wanderers player deceived by his unlikely pace. However Kirkcaldy failed to add to their tally when the half time whistle blew, with their lead at 14-10, much closer than it might have been
Greg Wallace made the initial break for the third Kirkcaldy try five minutes into the second half. The support was there for this attack to be maintained and the ball went down the left wing before play switched to the left where again Littlejohn’s pace was the telling factor in the third Blue try. Again Letham converted expertly from far out,
Second half try
The crowd now expected Kirkcaldy to press home their advantage and go for the bonus point. Instead they lost much of their earlier purpose, losing the ball too easily in contact and being outplayed at the touchline. Wanderers now had a new and unexpected source of possession from which they made the most with a second McMillan try, converted by Borland leaving them just four points in arrears.
For much of the final fifteen minutes the initiative was with Wanderers and the feeling around Beveridge Park was that a try for the Edinburgh team would finish the game. It almost came to that but for a dramatic tackle from Littlejohn who halted winger Barry Turnbull in full flight a few metres from the line.
With a few minutes left, against the run of play, Kirkcaldy found themselves well into the Wanderers half when the referee spotted one of their backs offside. Upstepped Letham and he potted the penalty to give his side some well deserved respite before no-side
Second half pressure
Kirkcaldy would be grateful to have won a home game at last and probably deserved to take the points but they made it hard for themselves and easily could have ended empty handed.
Kirkcaldy: - K Littlejohn, G Welsh, S Fisher, M Wallace, C Mann, C Letham, G McKenzie, R Girdler, G Wallace, W Gray, S Orr, S Oliver, L Neilson, D Turner, M Harvey Replacements: - G Mangalo, D Guthrie, A Raeside, S Cairns
Murrayfield Wanderers: - A Richards, B Turnbull, A Cox, G Sharp, A Godsmark, L Thomas, A Borland, M Fletcher, N Hart, R Anderson, D McMillan, A Gillies, P Anderson, R Sims, C Hill.
G Whitecross (RAF Lossiemouth)
3 Kurt Littlejohn
2 Craig Letham
1 Greg Wallace
3 Turner Mann, Littlejohn
2 Letham, Fisher,
1 Oliver, Harper, M Wallace, G Wallace, Wilson McKenzie