KIRKCALDY 25 ABERDEEN GRAMMAR 27
Kirkcaldy's losing streak continued at Beveridge Park last Saturday but only after a fiercely contested match in which the lead changed hands several times. For their effort the Blues gained a richly deserved bonus point but even that was nearly snatched from them three minutes from the end when Grammar capitalised on a bad bounce and centre Murray Mitchell raced away to touch down under the posts to give Tom Aplin the easiest of conversions and the visitors a nine point lead.
The spirit which courses through Blue veins these days just refused to ebb and with the game already well into stoppage time flanker Dayle Turner exploded into space in his own half and went all the way and with Finlay Smith converting the home team were only two points behind once more.
This was yet another losing game in which Kirkcaldy fully tested more fancied opponents, particularly those with much longer experience of National 1 rugby. Gradually this squad is becoming accustomed to playing at this level and once into the New Year wins will accumulate
What made this performance all the more praiseworthy was the squad with which Kirkcaldy squad fielded was about half a dozen players short of optimum strength and even the coach had to take the field for the closing minutes.
The Blues could not have made a better start, taking a 7-0 lead in under five minutes. Multi recycling opened space for stand-off Axle Black to nip in close to the posts and Smith added the extra points. Aberdeen took time to settle, slowly increasing momentum, but once they had hands on the ball they were not easily dispossessed. They built up pressure in the Kirkcaldy half before No 8 Greg Ryan skipped through a couple of tackles and his 30 metre dash opened his team's account. There was no conversion, leaving the score at 7-5.
Territorially there was little between the sides as the game moved on. However a mounting penalty count continued to hamper the Blues whereas on one of the occasion the Aberdonians did infringe Smith kicked a goal. Inaccurate kicking also continued to plague the Blues with hard won possession simply returned.
Aberdeen skilfully retained the ball, rarely kicking, and with excellent support play gave them the upper hand towards the break. An Aplin penalty narrowed their deficit and then in stoppage time before the interval prop Calum Reddish worked his way over for a second try to give his side a 13-10 half time lead.
Shortly after the restart a second Smith penalty tied the scores after Grammar centre Murray Mitchell had been binned for a dangerous tackle. The numerical advantage paid off for Kirkcaldy five minutes later. Black opened up the Aberdeen defence, in a move carried on Conar Littlejohn before Finlay Bruce finished off in the corner for a 18-13 Kirkcaldy lead.
Once back to full strength Grammar responded as full back Sean Mills came in outside the line to touch down. Aplin's conversion put his side ahead once more. In a surprising move with ten minute left Quintan Sanft brought himself on at centre as the Blues looked for a decisive score. However a dropped ball gave back possession leading to another Grammar try from Mitchell converted by Aplin
The Blues chance of a losing bonus point at 18-27 down with about two minutes left appeared to have gone but from a maul following the re-start up popped Turner and he was on his way to the goal line.
Aberdeen probably just deserved this narrow win, making fewer mistables and having a much better penalty count. Nevertheless this was a vastly improved Kirkcaldy team from the side which conceded over forty points at Rubislaw in mid-September, showing aggression across the board and a consistency absent earlier. If only the penalty count could be cut the wins will come back.
Kirkcaldy:- F Smith, F Bruce, C Littlejohn, I Gillies, J Moffatt, A Black, G McKenzie,W Beattie, C Hamilton, M Salt, C Wood, S Robertson, R Bonner, D Turner, R Brown
Replacements:- G Queen, J Ramsay, S Laing, T Muir, Q Sanft
Aberdeen Grammar S Mills, C Shepherd, M Mitchell, T Aplin, D Russell, S Knudsen, A Ovenstone, C Reddish, A Cook, M Schosswe, E Stewart, A Robertson, R Cessford, A Dravitski, G Ryan
Replacements: B Inglis, J Mowatt, W Alton, C Wood, D Wall
F Hollins (SRU)
Fife Trophy Centre STAR CHECK
3 Finlay Bruce
2 Alex Black
1 Connor Wood
11 Josh Laird, Connor Wood
10 Struan Robertson
6 Rhys Bonner, Dayle Turner, Matthew Harvey
5 Jack Pow, Michael Harper
4 Finlay Smith, Alex Black
3 Greg Wallace, Finlay Bruce
2 Conar Littlejohn, Owen Bonner
1 Jack Denton, Craig Hamilton, Timmy Kennedy, Marcus Salt