PRESTON LODGE 19 KIRKCALDY 36
Although the Preston Lodge fire was never fully extinguished Kirkcaldy's six try to one winning margin told its own tale at Pennypit Park. For lengthy portions of the game the Blues dominated territory and possession yet PL kept in touch until near half time through four well struck long range penalties from scrum half Brian Walls.
Strength in defensive basics from a well organised Kirkcaldy team kept the home team at bay throughout the first half, snuffing out their attacks in midfield on a regular basis. PL didn't help themselves with an erratic performance at the line-out where the Blues had a succession of vital steals.
Director of Rugby Mark Henderson had a broad smile on his face just after the final whistle, appreciating this bonus point win “We were in total control for over an hour of this game but they showed real tenacity, fighting for every ball. However we were strong at the back and our defensive lines gave little away. The pack did their work, really well playing as a unit, giving us plenty usable possession”
An aggressive Kirkcaldy started the game purposefully with the forwards driving to the PL line. They won a series of scrummaged penalties before hooker Greg Wallace drove over for an unconverted try and a 5-0 lead. Within two minutes this had been reduced to 5-3 with the first of Walls's massive penalties. Another monster penalty from Walls put PL into a 6-5 lea
PL had few answers to Kirkcaldy's forward pick and drive tactic and found themselves pinned down in their own 22 and from another scrummage penalty the ball went right through the backs with winger Conar Littlejohn dotting down.
Just short of thirty minutes play produced a third try for the visitors with the backs combining well for a Finlay Smith try, who added the extra points himself. Walls expertise from the tee kept his side in touch with two more penalties. However under pressure stand off Craig Letham went to the bin. By half time with fourteen men the Blues had a 22-12 advantage with a fourth try from winger Owen Bonner which secured the vital bonus point.
PL restarted the second half with a real aggressive flurry, testing the Blues defence who were determined not to give anything away. Letham was just back on the field when a second yellow card came the way of flanker Rory Brown. Having rebuffed this challenge Kirkcaldy returned to attacking mode. Two long penalties to touch took play well into the home 22, setting up Greg Wallace for his second try in the fifty-second minute, again converted by Smith.
The Blues sixth try followed nine minutes later as flanker Scott Barclay flashed over for the score which confirmed the Kirkcaldy win. Another Smith conversion advanced the Kirkcaldy lead to 36-12.
PL weren't taking this reverse lightly as they continued to contest every ball. Things became a bit heated with about five minutes left with a flare up involving a dozen or so players. There was no card shown but the PL touch judge who had tried to intervene was relieved of his flag and dashed off before he could be formally sent off from the playing arena.
Home efforts were rewarded with a minute left. A converted try from replacement Pete Johnstone caught the Kirkcady defence short for the only time in the game. It had no effect on the outcome which brought another substantial Kirkcaldy win setting them up for their forthcoming game against main challenges for the title in the shape of Lasswade, one of only two teams to beat them this season.
Preston Lodge:- C Pallister, P Glynn. B Roberson,R Griffin, A Penrose, D Gordon, B Walls, P Dixon, C Dixon, C Baikie, B Cowan, C McColl, J Gordon A Whittinham, J Sked
Replacements:- J Hare, C Anderson,P Johnstone, G Hillhouse
Kirkcaldy:- F Smith, C Littlejohn, I Gillies, J Laird, O Bonner, C Letham, G McKenzie, D Jennings, G Wallace, M Salt, C Wood, S Mitchell, S Barclay R Brown, D Turner
Replacements:- G Queen, S Evans, J Pow, J Moffat
M Milner (ERRS)
Fife Trophy Centre STAR CHECK
3 Owen Bonner
2 Greg Wallace
1 Connor Wood
18 Connor Wood
12 Dayle Turner
10 Rhys Bonner
9 Finlay Smith
6 Josh Laird, Greg Wallace
5 Owen Bonner
4 Marcus Salt
3 Scott Anderson, Danny Jennings
2 Michael Harper, Craig Letham
1 Matt Harvey, Iain Gillies, Rory Brown