The Blues lifted themselves off the foot of the table with this convincing win over previously second bottom side GHA at Beveridge Park. Fortunes had fluctuated in the first half before the Blues established forward supremacy. Turning round 16-10 in front, Kirkcaldy had much the better of the second half in which GHA had three players yellow-carded.
Player/coach Quintan Sanft produced a stellar display in accounting for thirty of his side’s thirty five points, through a try, two conversions and seven penalty goals. Above all, it was his tactical control of the game which put him head and shoulders above all the other players in the game. Skipper Colin Harvey also had a major role in this win as his aggressive performance at scrum half constantly harried his opposite number.
Although Kirkcaldy scored first through a Greg Wallace 6th minute try converted by Sanft, they showed first half nervousness which GHA exploited in some sharp counterattacks. Blind side flanker Adam Barnett scooped up a loose Kirkcaldy ball near half way and nearly went all the way to the line before an ill-judged pass was ruled to have gone forward. The Blues survived this scare but a few minutes later they failed to halt open-side Jamie Pinder as he had a straightforward passage to the line with Andrew Gillman converting, to tie the scores at 7-7.
Equality did not last long. Kirkcaldy full back Iain Gillies fielded a wayward kick and after making progress down the stand side touchline put in a low kick which caught GHA fullback unawares and he was trapped in possession on the ground. This produced the Sanft penalty that put Kirkcaldy into the lead again. From then on they tenaciously defended their advantage.
GHA had the better of the second quarter territorially and several times found men in space only for a last ditch Kirkcaldy tackle preventing a score. However all the Glasgow team had to show for this pressure was a solitary Gillman penalty whereas on more limited rations Kirkcaldy added two more Sanft penalties. At half time the score stood at Kirkcaldy 16 GHA 10.
Sanft kicks a penalty as part of his 30 point tally
Sanft continued to be on target in the second half, effortlessly stretching his side’s lead to 22-10 by the 48th minute. GHA then suffered their first yellow card when Niall Cassie was sent to the bin for verbal abuse of the referee. The Blues did not have the advantage of an extra man for long after Rab van Rensberg tackled an opponent without the ball. From this offence Gillman narrowed his side’s deficit to 22-13.
GHA were paying dearly for indiscretions and Sanft had his sixth successful penalty just as Cassie returned. With an hour gone the match was ebbing away from GHA and when their scrummage was easily turned, a Kirkcaldy win looked certain. Kirkcaldy forward superiority was further emphasised in the 71st minute as a Jamie Brown led drive took the ball to the GHA line. After Kirkcaldy had been denied twice the referee awarded. a penalty for GHA offside and Sanft had the easiest of kicks.
The Blues were now in full flight and looked far removed from a team at the foot of the league. Sanft then capped his day with a dummy to race past a tiring GHA defence for a fine solo try he converted himself.
In a bizarre ending two GHA replacement forwards, Paul Harkins and Geoff Warnock, were both yellow-carded for infringing at the same incident. Now reduced to 13 men GHA caught Kirkcaldy asleep and Cassie had an easy route to the try line near the posts to give Gillman no problems with the conversion.
The game never reached any great heights but most important for the Blues it was a win after so many weeks of disappointments. Confidence will now be higher for the tough tasks which lie ahead in the next two weeks.
Colin Harvey and Mark Wallace celebrate Kirkcaldy's first win
Kirkcaldy:- I Gillies, A Tasker, C Goodall, M Wallace, G McKenzie, Q Sanft, C Harvey, J Brown, G Wallace, G Mangalo, S Orr, K Fraser, M Harvey, R van Rensberg, C Wilson
Replacements: - W Gray, S Mitchell, R McNab, K Littlejohn
GHA:- R McClymont, R Jericevich, N Cassie, A Rushforth, R O’Keefe, D Dunn, A Gillman, M Kidd, I Nelson, J Low, R Jenkins, S Shearer, A Barnett, J Pinder, D Kellock
Replacements: - P Harkins, G Warnock, M Watson, O Gilmartin
C Samson (Howe of Fife)
FFP STAR CHECK
3 Colin Harvey
2 Steve Mitchell
1 Jamie Brown