KIRKCALDY 41 KELSO 14
The intensity of Kirkcaldy's warm-up suggested something special come kick-off and the biggish crowd at Beveridge Park were certainly not disappointed as the Blues hit the game at pace From the opening play Quintan Sanft's side made their intentions clear as they moved the ball positively driving into would be Kelso defenders and recycling the ball for an eager back line.
Sanft could not disguise his pleasure at the performance of his side commenting:
“We had a tough time at Selkirk but worked hard during the week. We knew that our pack could cope with most of the other packs in National 1 but had to adjust the speed of reaction. We set the pace of this game which Kelso struggled to match . I know we struggled a bit around half time when we were down to thirteen men but showed what we could do when returned to full strength. Altogether it was the type of performance we planned for”.
Kirkcaldy appeared to have learned the lessons of the Selkirk defeat as they upped the pace of their game as they dominated early possession Within seven minutes they went 7-0 ahead. A quickly taken free kick in midfield threw the Kelso defence into confusion as the ball sped to Conar Littlejohn. The centre accelerated away an had a clear path to the goal line for his side's first try with Finlay Smith adding the extra points.
The Blues relentless pursuit of the points had Kelso struggling in their 22 with the loss of several penalties. From one such kick to touch a clean lineout take saw Connor Wood drive through paper thin defence for the second Kirkcaldy try, again converted by Smith for a 14-0 home lead.
The Blues backs were playing with a sharp fluency with stand off Alex Black always prominent. There were several more try chances but Kelso just held, only yielding one more penalty before half time. As the interval neared the Blues suffered a double blow with Dayle Turner and Michael Harper yellow carded in quick succession with the latter deemed to have used a dangerous tackle to stop a try.
In the closing minutes of the half and the Blues down to thirteen men Kelso made their advantage count with a Craig Dods try converted by himself which left the score at half time 17-7
This score appeared to revive Kelso spirits and possibly the third quarter was their best period of the game. Unrelenting Kirkcaldy defence blunted their attack however and another Smith penalty extended the home lead. Shortly afterwards the Blues suffered another blow as prop Marcus Salt had to be assisted off with a serious looking leg injury.
Around the hour mark play had a disjointed look, not helped when Kelso hooker Michael Downer went to the bin. Having an extra man the Blues regained the initiative. Their mastery of the set pieces continued, particularly at the touch line The first of Finlay Bruce's two tries confirmed home superiority, quickly followed by another counter from the winger which earned the bonus point. Both tries were converted by Smith for a handsome 34 -7 lead.
Kirkcaldy had a fifth try from hooker Greg Wallace. Kelso had been trying to run the ball out of defence and the passing became increasingly panicy and rushed. The final pass was so ill-timed that Wallace had the easiest of interceptions to scamper to the line.
With the issue settled the Borderers had a consolation try from Liam Herman converted by Dods.
This 41-14 scoreline reflects an excellent Kirkcaldy showing involving all twenty players. Powerful running by the forwards spearheaded by lock Connor Wood well backed up by Michael Harper constantly took the ball to their opponents and with swift recycling the backs had every opportunity to attack. At stand off Alex Black varied the game well with some astute kicking and incisive passing.
Kirkcaldy: F Smith, F Bruce, C Littlejohn, J Laird, O Bonner, A Black, G McKenzie, D Jennings, G Wallace, M Salt, C Wood, M Harper, M Harvey D Turner, J Pow
Replacements:- G Queen, K Nattrass, S Robertson, R Brown, C Carey
Kelso:- M Hastie, C Butler, P Hume, G Mein A Jackson, C Dods, L Herdman, A Wheelhouse, M Downer, C Izuhukwu, D Welsh, C Brown, K Dryden, K Mein, C Marshall
Replacements;- A Marshall, R Hastie, R Ford, M Wilson
Fife Trophy Centre STAR CHECK
3 Connor Wood
2 Conar Littlejohn
1 Alex Black
6 Connor Wood
2 Jack Pow, Dayle Turner, Conar Littlejohn
1 Finlay Smith, Struan Robertson Alex Black