Hilllfoots & Bannockburn 52 vs Kirkcaldy 14
There have been more auspicious build-ups to a game. The Kirkcaldy team set out for Bannockburn with 3 late call-offs and into the teeth of an icy, wind-laden rain. Every other match scheduled for the weekend seemed to have been cancelled. Surprisingly, the skies cleared as we headed to the snow-capped hills in the west and the game was played in nice clear conditions (though very cold, and slippery underfoot).
Our depleted squad meant that several players had to play out of position, with special mention going to Dave, Kyle, Connor, Owen, Joe, Max and Ben who all stepped into the breach without complaint. A lack of front row forwards meant uncontested scrums which was frustrating for all but perhaps helped open the game up. Kirkcaldy started with determination and had to put up stout defence in the face of determined attacks from the hosts. Having appeared to clear their lines, Kirkcaldy were penalised for being in front of the kicker and Hillfoots scored from the ensuing penalty. This galvanised the Blues who started to play some decent rugby, keeping the ball in hand and making territorial gains in the opposition half. A series of penalties against Hillfoots near their line led to first Mitch and then Dave being held up over the line. Yet another penalty was then fed to Mitch who drove through a host of players to touch down. Ryan’s conversion levelled the scores.
The half remained close with both sides competing well. Unfortunately, Kirkcaldy were once again penalised for being offside at a clearing kick and Hillfoots exploited the penalty and, for once, some weak tackling to retake the lead. At half time the game was well set at 12-7.
Playing up the hill in the second half was a real test for Kirkcaldy. Having recovered well from a rather sluggish response to the restart, they then conceded twice and the hosts started to pull away. This didn’t reflect the territorial play as the Blues spent considerable periods in the Hillfoots half. A good scrum produced ball for Max which he whipped out to Ryan, who forced himself over for a deserved score, which he converted himself. At 24-12 the match still seemed poised but the hill proved too much and Kirkcaldy started to tire as the second period wore on. Hillfoots brought on two big fresh forwards and scored a couple of breakaway tries as the game came to an end.
Whilst there was disappointment at not being able to push our opponents harder, there were many encouraging aspects of play. The tackling and commitment from this understrength team (once again, considerably younger than their opponents) was excellent. There were some fine performances, particularly from Mitch, Ben and Richard (making a welcome return to the side). What the team need to show is a bit more nous and game awareness; we need to develop a cutting edge that is often lacking in our play. After the game Hillfoots awarded man-of-the-match to Ryan (with Max as runner up).
Tries: Mitch, Ryan
Conversions: Ryan (2)
Squad: Keiran Adamson, Matt Collins, Joe Finnie, Dave Fleming, Austin Glass, Max Hadoke, Richard Jones, Owen Laing, Robin Mackenzie, Kyle MacLeod, James Pow, Ben Ramsay, Mitch Rigby, Alex Schroeder-Smith, Harry Scott, Connor Wallace, Ryan Wallace.