KELSO 22 KIRKCALDY 10
Kelso had to wait until the fifth minute of stoppage time to secure their win but few would dispute that their win was deserved. The Blues had begun aggressively, bucking recent trends, and opening up a 10-0 lead with only eighteen minutes gone. They had dominated set pieces and break downs with the home team barely able to get a hand on the ball.
The game had begun in unfortunate circumstances with a big collision at the second ruck involving the home team's hooker Charlie Marshall and Kirkcaldy's Michael Harper. Both players lay in the ground for a time in some distress before Harper staggered to his feet while Marshall's game was over as he was assisted from the field.
The effect of Harper's knock seemed to wear off quickly as he spear headed a series of Kirkcaldy assaults on the home line The Blues had an intensity of purpose in the opening quarter which left the Borderers squirming in defence and a try could not be long delayed. From a maul from a 5 metre lineout Rhys Bonner drove over for a try converted by Finlay Smith. Kirkcaldy supremacy continued as Kelso were forced into a series of errors and penalties, one of which was kicked by Smith for a 10-0 Kirkcaldy lead in the eighteenth minute.
Things continued to go the Blues' way until the twenty seventh minute. An assistant referee spotted a midfield Kirkcaldy player drifting offside. This penalty went to touch before the Blues infringed again and Kelso stand-off Murray Hastie sent the kick between the uprights.
As the game moved on the Blues were conceding far too many penalties for their own well-being. These were mostly kicked to touch where the Kelso line-out worked immaculately. This gave the Poynder Park team an attaching impetus which launched them on the route to victory.
Their first try came five minutes later from substitute hooker Kevin Dryden and with Hastie accurate from the tee the Kirkcaldy lead had disappeared. In the scramble to prevent this try the Blues conceded yet another penalty resulting in centre Josh Laird being binned for his side's persistent infringements.
Director of Rugby Mark Henderson was anything but despondent after the game. “Although we didn't take any points from this game I was really pleased with the players' efforts. We had the best of starts and had them in disarray. The game was there for the winning but a drop in intensity in the second quarter let them back into the game and our chance had gone. Obviously three yellow cards didn't help us and we just gave away too many penalties which gave them good field positions for scoring”
The Blues had clearly taken their collective foot off the accelerator and as half time approached Kelso were clearly in the ascendancy. They had a fluency behind the scrum thanks to a much smarter delivery from their half backs. Kirkcaldy lost further momentum when an assistant referee spotted what he deemed to be an illegal tackle from Owen Bonner who was issued with a yellow card. Now down to thirteen men the Blues failed to defend a Kelso driving maul and home prop Blair Robertson touched down which left the score 15-10 at half time.
In the second half there was little between the teams territorially although Kelso ran the ball with greater purpose and had the better scoring chances which often left the Blues defending desperately. The Blues wasted much of their possession with aimless kicks which merely returned the ball to the opposition.
Kirkcaldy suffered a third yellow card in the closing minutes with Struan Robertson going to the bin. This proved to be a critical loss with the second period incredibly scoreless and over forty minutes having been played. Kelso's one man advantage
saw prop Michael Downer go over although the Blues strongly claimed they had prevented a clean touch down and Hastie converted.
Kelso:- A Jackson, G Millar, A Roberts, G Mein, K Wilson, M Hastie, P Hume, M Downer, C Marshall, B Robertson, D Welsh, A Common, R Hastie, C Brown, K Mein
Replacements:- A Smith, A Thompson, K Dryden, G Walker. M Wilson
Kirkcaldy: F Smith, F Bruce, I Gillies, J Laird, O Bonner, A Black, G McKenzie, W Beattie, C Hamilton, M Salt, C Wood, M Harper, R Bonner, S Robertson, R Brown
Replacements:- J Ramsay, S Laing, S Evans, S Anderson, J Moffatt
Fife Trophy Centre STAR CHECK
3 Michael Harper
2 Struan Robertson
1 Marcus Salt
11 Josh Laird
10 Connor Wood, Struan Robertson
6 Rhys Bonner. Dayle Turner, Matthew Harvey
5 Jack Pow, Michael Harper
4 Finlay Smith
3 Greg Wallace
2 Conar Littlejohn, Alex Black, Owen Bonner
1 Jack Denton, Craig Hamilton, Timmy Kennedy, Marcus Salt