KIRKCALDY 15 PEEBLES 8
The Blues maintained their table top position with a hard fought and feisty win against a Peebles team which remained in contention until the end. While the pre-match snow flurries had stopped temperatures remained close to zero and a matching gusting wind testing everyone, players and spectators alike.
There was little to separate the sides behind the scrum but Kirkcaldy probably shaded the forward battle with their formidable driving maul a clear advantage. As the meteorological temperature remained low through out, the atmosphere on the pitch was any thing but frosty with referee Tom French issuing two yellow cards and three reds as the last quarter of the game threatened to run out of control as players on both teams lost composure.
Head coach Quintan Sanft readily admitted that his side had to battle to take the points. “ Peebles are a tough side and had won seven out of their last eight games. We had our work cut out to get the win. Our defence had to work really hard, especially in the second half and that's where training ground work is paying off. The second half became a bit tousy and the referee didn't help matters with some of his decisions difficult to understand”
The Blues had lost lock Connor Wood to the bin in the 51st minute before a major flare up eight minutes later led to Kirkcaldy's Owen Bonner and the Peebles flanker Richard Harrison being ordered off. A shoal of penalties followed with the referee striving to maintain some sort of order. Just after Wood returned Kirkcaldy had another yellow card with replacement Matt Harvey spending ten minutes in the bin.
In the closing stages the visitors were reduced to thirteen men with replacement scrum half Murray Johnstone adjudged to have kicked a Kirkcaldy played on the head. It appeared to have been an accidental action but the law states that any head contact with the boot, however accidental it might have been, incurs a red card. There was hardly spirit of good will on the pitch towards no-side and it was no surprise when French ended the game with the minimum of added time.
Home stand off Craig Letham was a late Kirkcaldy off call which brought full back Finlay Smith into that berth and the experienced Jamie Moffat in at full back.
Kirkcaldy had a strong start which produced a try for prop Danny Jennings from a maul driven over from a lineout. Peebles gradually came into the game, impressing at the line -out with Roddy Guiney their main jumper. They equalised in the Tam Whyte corner with a try from hooker Ryan Stewart scored in circumstances similar to the first Kirkcaldy try.
The swirling wind was causing havoc with the kicking a problem for both teams but overall the Blues appeared to be in control with Peebles possession severely slowed down. Overall the game had a scrappy feel to it with penalties galore. But amidst the chaos the home team added to their lead with a bustling unconverted try from hooker Greg Wallace following some heavy duty work by the forwards.
Some reorganisation of the Kirkcaldy backs was needed when centre Josh Laird had to go off with a leg injury. This brought into the game from the bench Gavin Welsh, just returned to Beveridge Park after a spell at Boroughmuir.
As the half time whistle neared the Blues had their third try on the board. Again the foundations were laid by the pack who took the ball many phases before release to the right brought a try for Jamie Moffat who joined the line from full back. This made the half time score 15-5 for Kirkcaldy.
Whatever structure first half play had it mainly disappeared in the second forty. Penalties, warnings, cards all contributed to some dismal fare. The Blues spurned several try chances but outstanding Kirkcaldy defensive lines kept Peebles at bay with their only a score being a 40 metre penalty from Greg Raeburn.
Although they failed to get a four try bonus point Kirkcaldy maintained their promotion surge, they effectively dismissed the challenge of one of their most dangerous challengers and can look forward to their last four games with some optimism.
Kirkcaldy:- J Moffat, F Bruce, I Gillies, J Laird. O Bonner, F Smith, G McKenzie, D Jennings, G Wallace, M Salt, C Wood, S Mitchell. R Brown, R Bonner, D Turner
Replacements:- G Queen, J Pow, M Harvey, G Welsh.
Peebles:-R Clinch, J King, M Brown, C Anderson, S Stoddart, G Raeburrn, D Anderson, W Napier, R Stewart, J Menzues, R Brown, W Brown, R Britton, R Harrison, R Guiney
Replacements:- W Aitken, G Voss, D Wills, M Johnstone
T French (SRU)
Fife Trophy Centre STAR CHECK
3 Rhys Bonner
2 Marcus Salt
1 Jamie Moffat
23 Connor Wood
13 Rhys Bonner
12 Dayle Turner
9 Finlay Smith
7 Josh Laird
6 Greg Wallace
5 Owen Bonner
4 Matt Harvey, Marcus Salt
3 Scott Anderson, Danny Jennings,
2 Michael Harper, Craig Letham
1 Iain Gillies, Rory Brown, Steve Mitchell, Jamie Moffat