DUMFRIES SAINTS 17 KIRKCALDY 7
The lights dimmed on Kirkcaldy’s promotion prospects at Park Farm last Saturday following a wasteful performance. Having dominated possession and territory they badly failed to translate these advantages into points and ended the losers by a three try to one margin.
Saints had led the league for a lengthy spell in the autumn, playing an expansion top of the ground style. With the heavier winter pitches they had slipped up several times in recent weeks and the Blues saw this as an opportunity to avenge their defeat on the opening day of the league season at Beveridge Park
There were a few changes in the Kirkcaldy line-up from the one which started at Whitecraigs the week before. Probably the most significant was the absence of long serving scrum half Gavin McKenzie whose place was taken by regular stand off Craig Letham who had been showing excellent form. This in turn saw full back Finlay Smith, playing his 100th league game, take the No 10 jersey.
The teams were greeted for the lunch time kick off with a strong gusting wind which favoured the home side in the first half and they made profitable use in the opening stages. However in that quarter honours were just about even with the Blues carrying well and making some powerful incursions int the home 22. In this period the game was blighted with the referee penalising both teams in equal measure. Perhaps if he had gone into his pocket for a yellow card, proceedings would have improved as a spectacle for the shivering crowd.
By the 27th minute the Blues had butchered some strong try scoring chances and the inevitable punishment followed. A long kick to touch gave Saints the ball back at the line-out. A subsequent quickly taken penalty saw Dumfries lock Lee Scott motor through for the opening try which remained unconverted,
In the ten minutes before half time Kirkcaldy seemed to be well off the pace and their victory prospects appeared to have gone. A second unconverted Dumfries try from centre Jack Steele confirmed Saints growing first half superiority. Although they were only ten points behind at the half time whistle, Kirkcaldy knew that a bigger effort would be needed to turn the game their way.
A reinvigorated Kirkcaldy side had wind advantage for the second half and they rejoined proceedings building up pressure within the Dumfries 22. Much as they tried they could find a way through the Dumfries defensive wall. Early in the half they recycled the ball a dozen times before it went to the backs before a knock on ended the attack.
Eventually the elusive Kirkcaldy try arrived from full back Owen Bonner who took advantage of possession earned from a scrum penalty. Letham’s conversion meant the Blues were only three points behind and wind in their sails.
A two on one attack involving Thomas Glendinning and Calum Kennedy foundered on the defensive skills of home full back Rory Steele who forced a forward pass. The Kirkcaldy effort in spite of that set back continued but failure in the red zone as time ran down. Near the end any doubt about the outcome was settled with a break away converted try from Dumfries centre Ewan Miller.
Dumfries had three telling attacks in this game, taking all of them while Kirkcaldy had a dozen and took one. As in a few other games this season the Blues could not translate territory into points and suffered the consequence which may mean another season in National 2 unless there is a major upturn in their fortunes
Dumfries Saints R Steele, A Whiteford, J Steele, E Miller. R Neill, J Strain, H Johnstone, S Goodwin, T Martin, A Prentice,D Andrew, L Scott, I Carlisle, R Cruikshank, A Jackson.
Replacements G McColl, P O’Malley, L Young,S Hiddlestone
Kirkcaldy O Bonner,J Devine,T Glendinning, J Laird,C Kennedy, F Smith C Letham, D Jennings, C Hamilton, M Salt, C Wood, C Mann, D Guthrie, K Mitchell, S Milne
Replacemenst G Wallace, G Queen, A Brooks, T Kennedy
Fife Trophy Cenre STAR CHECK
3 Connor Wood
2 Craig Letham
1 Kieron Mitchell
16 Josh Laird
13 Thomas Glendinning, Connor Wood
11 Jacob Ramsay
8 Steve Milne
7 Rhys Bonner, Marcus Salt
6 Stuart Porter
5 Danny Jennings
3 Timmy Kennedy, Owen Bonner, Craig Letham
2 Chris Mann, Finlay Smith, Kieron Mitchell
1 Seb Evans, Sean McKervall, Jack Denton