PEEBLES 26 KIRKCALDY 35
The Blues astounded the large Peebles crowd ready to celebrate their comfortable home win with a stunning finale, which turned a 26-18 deficit with just over ten minutes left into a bonus point victory.
Forwards coach Kenny Fraser, while delighted his side had won, tempered his praise with an admonition. “We were very much on top in the early stages with two tries on the board. Then we had two dubious yellow cards in quick succession and while we were short handed we lost fourteen points and went 20-10 behind. The comeback to win the game was great but I'm concerned by the way we allowed the game to drift for quite a while, wasting scoring chances” He was also keen to praise the contribution of youngsters James Barclay, Scott McKervail and Scott Barclay “These boys are just out of the colts and they are learning quickly and will be important to our squad in the months to come”
There were signs in the opening stages that Kirkcaldy would have a decided forward advantage, both at scrummages and line-outs as well as a rolling driving maul. This proved vital in the first score of the game. A teasing kick from Craig Letham forced Peebles full back Ruaridh Clinch to concede a line-out ten metres from the try line. A driving maul set up a scoring position which eventually produced an unconverted try for hooker Greg Wallace.
For much of the game Kirkcaldy failed to win the ball from their opponents' restarts. Peebles won the ball back in this first instance and, attacking through the inside channels, had the Blues defence in difficulties eventually conceding a penalty kicked by Greg Raeburn Although they did not have the panache of the home side, the Kirkcaldy backs at times were quite incisive. A sparkling move initiated by Craig Letham reinforced by Gavin McKenzie released Finlay Bruce on the right wing and his pace carried him clear of the defence for another unconverted try.
Kirkcaldy lost some of their earlier attacking sparkle as the half hour marked arrived with Peebles now having the bulk of possession. With the visitors' line under heavy pressure the referee issued a yellow card to their centre Conar Littlejohn for an alleged tip tackle then awarded a penalty kicked by Raeburn reducing the Kirkcaldy lead to 10-6.
With another two minutes gone Kirkcaldy were down to thirteen. This time Number 8 Dayle Turner saw yellow and while Peebles had numerical advantage they advanced their score from a 10-6 deficit to a 20-10 lead. Once back to full strength the Blues regained some of their earlier polish and a Finlay Smith try which, like its predecessors, remained unconverted made the score 20-15 which remained until half time.
For the first eighteen minutes of the second half Kirkcaldy had ample opportunities to have the scoreboard moving again but contrived to waste several chances through line-out errors or knock-ons. Eventually Letham broke his scoring duck with a straight forward penalty.
Even although Peebles hooker Jamie Menzies was binned for a high tackle the Borderers made light of this disadvantage. Raeburn slotted two more penalties and on the hour mark, the Blues were now 26-18 behind and looking to leave the Gytes pointless.
Then came a dramatic change of fortunes which saw Kirkcaldy take complete control. Driven on by some surging charges from flanker Rhys Bonner, Kirkcaldy found the Peebles defence wanting. In the space of seven minutes the Blues turned their eight point deficit into commanding 35-26 lead. Starting for the first time lock Scott Barclay smashed his way through for a debut try converted by Letham, who then kicked a penalty to put Kirkcaldy ahead once more. By no side the Kirkcaldy pack ruled the roost and their superiority was further emphasised with the award of a penalty try.
Peebles R Clinch, C Blyth, M Brown, C Anderson, S Stoddart, G Raeburn, D Anderson, W Napier, J Menzies, J Walpole, R Brown, C Pic, W Brown, R Britton, A Muir
Replacements W Aitken, R Guiney, J King, M Johnstone
Kirkcaldy F Smith, F Bruce, C Littljohn, O Bonner, J Barclay, C Letham, G McKenzie, M Salt, G Wallace, G Mangalo, C Wood, S Barclay, R Bonner, R Brown, D Turner
Replacements: G Queen, D Jennings, M Hadoke S McKervaill
J Ferry (CRRRS)
Fife Trophy Centre STAR CHECK
3 Connor Wood
2 Dayle Turner
1 Rhys Bonner
9 Connor Wood
4 Dayle Turner
2 Marcus Salt
1 Craig Letham, Rhys Bonner