Howe of Fife 2XV 33 Kirkcaldy Rugby 2XV 64
Kirkcaldy 2XV managed to field a strong 22 man squad for the second week in succession (a first for this season !), and made the short trip to Cupar confident of putting in a resolute team performance and hopeful of avenging the 10 point home defeat earlier in the season.
Conditions were ideal as Kirkcaldy kicked off down the slope deep into the Howe 22. Immediately the 2’s pushed hard and put Howe under pressure. After a few phases of possession, Steven Milne reacted quickly to steal the ball in contact and a quick offload resulted in Lee George sprinting over from 6m out. With 7 mins gone, Jack Devine gathered a high Howe clearance and weaved his way towards the opponents try line. Once Jack was brought down, the ball was quickly recycled and popped out to Mathew Coyne on the wing, who crashed over the line. Jack successfully converted from wide to give Kirkcaldy a 14-0 lead.
The Blues tails were up and after a few phases of possession Steven Milne gathered the ball and stepped the shell shocked defensive line to run clear towards the posts to put Kirkcaldy up 19-0 with only 12mins on the clock. From the resulting kick-off, Howe showed some determination of their own, and after a powerful break down the left wing, they too re-cycled efficiently allowing a score from 10m out
As the early frantic pace began to slow, the 2’s began to use their pack to work the ball up the pitch. The scrum began to dominate winning clean ball on their own put in, and putting the Howe pack under severe pressure when against the head. In the 21min, a clean lineout take from Steven Milne allowed the Blues to set up a driving maul, the pack worked the ball towards the back and began to drive towards the try line. The Howe defence struggled to intervene as the Blues gathered pace, allowing Rhys Bonner to place the ball down for his first score of the day, giving the Blues a 24-7 lead.
Kirkcaldy continued to push for a further score, and from a Blues knock-on the Kirkcaldy scrum again drove Howe off the ball to allow Rhys to pick up and head towards the try line. A strong handoff and a broken tackle later and Rhys crashed over to give Kirkcaldy a 31-7 lead.
From the resulting kick-off, and as the kicker switched sides and launched the ball away from the forwards, the Blues defence failed to gather. The Howe winger scooped up the loose ball with what seemed like acres of space to run in and head towards the posts. With 2 mins left in the half the Howe scrum again creaked under Kirkcaldy pressure and as the ball popped out, the Blues scrum half reacted quickest and popped the ball up to Rhys who again made a powerful run to the try line bouncing off a couple to tackles along the way.
To Howe’s credit, they continued to beaver away and in the final play of the half, they broke through some weak Blues tackling to score between the posts.
Half-time : Howe 2’s 21 Kirkcaldy 2’s 38
A few minutes into the second half and Howe were awarded a lineout on the Kirkcaldy 22. A quick ball off the top was rapidly passed through the hands and a strong run from the centre allowed him through to score between the posts. The early Blues lead had now been eroded to only 10 points.
The Blues however reacted positively and again worked their way towards the Howe line. Howe gave away a couple of penalties inside the 22, the final one on the 5m line. As the defence moved back Callum Parsons took the quick tap penalty and darted over, with the conversion taking the score to 45-28. A few minutes later, Michael Harper went on a strong run with three Howe defenders required to eventually slow him down. A neat pop out to Mathew Coyne saw the winger break a tackle and run half the length of the pitch to score his second try in between the posts.
With Rhys Bonner moving out to play in the centre, the Howe backline were struggling to cope with his strength, and tackles above the waist allowed Rhys to power through for a further 2 tries, taking his total to 5 on the day.
In the final minutes, Howe broke through the Kirkcaldy defence to score their 5 th try of the day and take the final score to Howe 2’s 33 Kirkcaldy 2’s 64
A great team performance from a strong Blues team, allowing them to leapfrog Panmure into 7 th position in Caley Midlands Division 2. The addition of a few older heads from last week’s first bench provided a calming influence to the young 2’s squad, and the benefits of this were there for all to see.
With a single game remaining away to Morgan, The 2’s squad will hope to end the season on a high, with a full line-up of 22 and other players travelling to give their support.