Written by John Methven
Saturday, 23 September 2017
DUMFRIES SAINTS 31 KIRKCALDY 24
The Blues stumbled on their first visit to Park Farm in seven years, surrendering their table-top position to Dumfries who edged Saturday’s game. Starting and finishing strongly, Kirkcaldy found it hard to cope with the slick Saints backline who exploited defensive shortcomings but did enough to gain a losing bonus point.
In earlier games this season the Kirkcaldy pack controlled proceedings but this time they had it far from their own way for significant portions of the game. Director of Rugby Mark Henderson bemoaned this inconsistency “We weren’t really aggressive enough up front at important times in the game and gave them some easy balls which they made the most of. We were going well in the last quarter until the referee ordered uncontested scrums. That decision took away one of our strongest attacking ploys”
Kirkcaldy’s top man on the day was scrum half Scott Anderson, in only his second league start. Drafted into the team as a result of the unavailability of regular stand-off Craig Letham, Anderson had two of the Blues three tries and was an ever present threat at the base of the scrum. The first of these counters came in the tenth minute after Kirkcaldy had kicked a penalty into five metre zone for a lineout. Anderson was on the spot to nip over from the resulting maul with Finlay Smith scoring the conversion.
Saints attacking intentions were made abundantly clear from the restart and there were signs then that the Kirkcaldy defence would have their work cut out. Home full back Rory Steele proved to be a dangerous opponent as he danced through several times before his feed set flanker Gavin Wilson for the first of his side’s five tries. That try was unconverted but it appeared as if Saints would quickly add to their lead.
Against the run of play the Blues managed to add a penalty from Smith. Saints flowing running soon put them ahead in the 21st minute with Steele the scorer. Centre John Carlisle put over a fine conversion from near the touchline. Kirkcaldy’s worries increased as their defensive work lacked any real bite and as the second quarter progressed Saints looked capable of running away with the game. A sparkling try from winger Kenny Henderson, converted by Carlisle, left the Blues struggling, 19-10 down. They were further punished with another Henderson score.
Before the interval the Kirkcaldy pack regained some of their earlier ascendancy and with the backs using the ball well they took play deep into the Saints 22. Prolonged pressure eventually produced a try from Owen Bonner converted by Smith, leaving the half time score 24-17.
Saints restarted purposefully and within five minutes had added to their tally with Henderson again on the mark and Carlisle converting. Considering the pace and energy of the home backs it was surprising that they did not add to their score for the final thirty five minutes. They chose not to go for goal with several penalties all of which failed to produce any points.
A second converted Anderson try gave Kirkcaldy renewed hope in the 55th minute and with the Saints backs being better policed an away win could not be ruled out at the start of the last quarter. However their effort was blunted by a yellow card issued to Rhys Bonner for obstructing a free kick and then Marcus Salt had his own spell in the bin.
An injury to home prop Gareth McCall brought about uncontested scrums for the last eight minutes during which Saints held out fairly comfortably for a deserved win. The Blues took away a losing bonus point and even that might have been denied them. With time virtually up Saints were awarded a penalty straight in front of the posts inside the 22. An easy three points would have taken Saints’ win beyond seven points but despite the home coach screaming to kick for goal, Carlisle tapped the ball and kicked into touch to end the game.
Dumfries Saints:- R Steele, K Henderon, J Steele, J Carlisle, K Jones, J Kerr, J Johnston, G McColl, Z Dyson, S Goodwin, M Thomson, W Greene, G Wilson, M Scott, F Miller
Replacements:- T Martin, J Thomson, P Coupar, A Whiteford
Kirkcaldy:- F Smith, J Moffat, S McKervaill, O Bonner, J Barclay, G McKenzie, S Anderson, D Jennings, G Wallace, G Mangalo, C Wood, S Barcaly, R Bonner, D Turner, M Harvey
Replacements:- M Salt, M Harper, I Gillies, Q Sanft
Ms A Pratt (ERSS)
Fife Trophy Centre STAR CHECK
3 Scott Anderson
2 Rhys Bonner
1 Finlay Smith
9 Connor Wood
7 Dayle Turner
5 Rhys Bonner
3 Scott Anderson
2 Marcus Salt, Finlay Smith
1 Craig Letham, Matt Harvey
Last Updated ( Monday, 25 September 2017 )
1stXV League Table
BT National League Division 2
|Howe of Fife||20||41|
|West of Scotland||20||21|
| || || |
View full league table on scottishrugby.org
FIFE TROPHY CENTRE
Match 19 v Hamilton
3 Finlay Smith
2 Greg Wallace
1 Josh Laird
See Cumulative Stats for totals