WHITECRAIGS 20 KIRKCALDY 47
This was not the walkover that some had predicted when the Blues visited basement side Whitecraigs. While Kirkcaldy came away from Aurs Road with a five point bonus win there were spells in the this game when Quintan Sanft’s men did not have it all their own way, especially in the first half.
This was a game postponed from mid December because of a waterlogged pitch. Underfoot conditions were much better this time but overhead it was dark and dank laced with a chilly wind. So gloomy was it at the 2pm kick off the floodlights had to be switched on
What separated the sides was Kirkcaldy’s ability to take chances, again in the first half, when possession was often in short supply. The visitors had a steeliness in the pack and with a formidable centre pairing they never looked like losing. With barely six minutes gone stand off Craig Letham put a penalty deep into touch in the home side’s 22. Clean cut possession and accurate delivery took the ball back to Letham who squeezed through the Whitecraigs defence for a score near the posts, giving him an easy conversion and a 7-0 Kirkcaldy lead.
Whitecraigs responded strongly putting pressure on the Kirkcaldy defence. The Blue line just survived until a quick drop out set Kirkcaldy on the attack again. This provided the basis for a second Kirkcaldy try from flanker Kieran Mitchell, again converted by Letham.
In the opening quarter Whitecraigs showed a good measure of skill with their passing and support work testing the oppositin. Reward came in two quick fire tries from centre Graham Murchie and flanker Lewis Ramage. Neither was converted but left the Blues just hanging onto a 14-10 lead.
These first half moments were probably as good as it got for Whitecraigs as they found it more and more difficult to ensnare the Kirkcaldy defence. The Blues had an outstanding centre pairing in Thomas Glendinning and captain Josh Laird, both in attack and defence and close to the half time whistle Laird had his side’s third counter and converted by Letham. In time added at the end of the half the Kirkcaldy lead was further extended after an extended build up by No Steve Milne who was having another excellent showing in his new position
Whatever doubts there may been about the outcome before the break they quickly disappeared in the third quarter. Three tries in rapid order from Milne again, replacements Chris Mann and Jack Devine took the game completely away from Whitecraigs leaving the score line at 47-10 in the fifty eighth minute,
With a view to forthcoming tests, Sanft re shuffled the line-up for the last quarter involving positional changes and the use of all replacements. This had an unsettling effect on the side and earlier intensity dropped. This gave Whitecraigs a sniff that they might take something from the game.
Even with a prop yellow carded they battled on earning themselves a third try from lock Ryan O’Neil when short handed.
As Kirkcaldy looked towards the final whistle and spectators drifted to the warmth of the clubhouse, the home side deservedly reached their four try target. Kirkcaldy tackles fell away and space opened up for winger Edmund Abekhe to go over.
There was little doubt that the better side took the bonus point win which now takes the Blues up to fourth in the table, lying behind GHK and Dumfries Saints on points differential and two behind leaders Stewarts Melville. Tougher tests await the Blues in February and if they are to maintain their promotion challenge not only will they have to maintain their try scoring rate but avoid conceding soft, late tries as they did in this game but also at Gordonians seven days earlier.
Whitecraigs G Emans,A Mitchell, G Murchie, G Berry,E Abekhe, C InnesD McCormick, C Porteous, J Ramage, C :erceval, C Dunca, R O’Neil, Ramage, M Christinne, S Pollock
Replacements A Livingstone, F Brennan,D McPhail, D Morecroft
Kirkcaldy F Smith, A Brooks, T Glendinnig, J Laird, O Bonner, C Letham, G McKenzie, D Jennings, C Hamilton, G Queen, C Wood, G Shields, J Denton, K Mitchell, S Milne
Replacements G Wallace, C Mann, J Devine, C Kennedy
Fife Trophy Centre STAR CHECK
3 Thomas Glendinning
2 Connor Wood
1 Kieran Mitchell
16 Josh Laird
13 Thomas Glendinning
11 Jacob Ramsay
10 Connor Wood
8 Steve Milne
7 Rhys Bonner, Marcus Salt
6 Stuart Porter
5 Danny Jennings
3 Timmy Kennedy, Owen Bonner
2 Chris Mann Finlay Smith
1 Seb Evans, Sean McKervall, Craig Letham, Jack Denton, Kieran Mitchell