Blues can take heart from defeat to league leaders

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Kirkcaldy 13 Musselburgh 27

Jamie Moffat had kicked two penalties for a 6-0 Kirkcaldy lead with eight minutes gone at Beveridge Park last Saturday.

The table topping visitors hardly looked like a team leading the division with a series of nervous errors which gave the Blues territorial advantage and, although these penalty chances were taken, at least two try opportunities should have been taken.

The Musselburgh game slowly came together, initially through scrummaging power but line-out dominance soon followed.

Musselburgh stand off Alfonso Horomia placed a penalty into the Blues left corner and with minimum difficulty lock Euan O’Brien was driven over for the first try which Danny Owenson failed to convert.

Momentum had clearly swung Musselburgh’s way, forcing the Blues into constant defending, and a second try for the visitors inevitably followed. Owenson missed the conversion. Try as they might the Blues seemed stuck in their own territory and the penalty count against them built up. Referee Alistair Watt had little option but to issue an official warning to Blues skipper Mark Wallace.

This had no effect and within a couple of minutes lock Steve Mitchell trudged off to the bin for 10 minutes.

Musselburgh tried to make the most of the extra player for the remainder of the first half but the Kirkcaldy defence stood up, despite being heavily outgunned in the set scrums and the East Lothian team failed to add to their tally before the break.

Play resumed after half time on a low key but with Musselburgh looking the likelier side to score. Although restored to full strength Kirkcaldy could not find a route into the scoring zone.

Musselburgh always looked sharp with the ball in hand and in a five minute spell delivered two hammer blows to any chance of a Kirkcaldy recovery through tries from Willie Fleming and replacement back Andrew Binikos. Owenson had his first success of the day with the conversion of the fourth try giving his side a 22-6 lead.

Musselburgh’s intensity appeared to ease off in the final quarter and slack forward play saw them concede a series of penalties until they too had a warning before prop Neil McNairn infringed once too often prior to a visit to the bin. This gave Kirkcaldy their opportunity to produce some smart running and passing before the Musselburgh defensive curtain was breached with flanker Dayle Turner touching down near the posts with Quintan Sanft converting.

With stoppage time to be added the Blues were now in sight of a losing bonus point if not a win, storming their way time and again into the Musselburgh 22 in a thrilling finale.

Everything went into attack, scorning defence. Unfortunately for the home side the ball failed to go to hand and was pounced on by a Musselburgh player who sent up a counter attack which ended in Owenson scoring.

Poorer Kirkcaldy performances this season have ended in wins and although this loss was by a 14 point margin the side can take considerable encouragement from this showing against a well drilled pacy side who remain at the top of the division.

Kirkcaldy: K. Littlejohn, C. Littlejohn, C. Mann, M. Wallace, J. Moffat, Q. Sanft, G. McKenzie, M. Thomson, Jack Pow, M. Henderson, S. Mitchell, C. Wood, S. Milne, D. Turner, L. Neilson.

Replacements: R. Girdler, M. Salt, James Pow, G. Neilson.

Musselburgh: J. Doig, R. Watt, A. Cook, C. Veitch, S. Watt, A. Horomia, D. Owenson, C. Owenson, C. Slaven, N. McNairn, W. Fleming, E. O’Brien, W. Lander, D. Slaven, S. Finnegan.

Replacements: C. McLean, N. Hogg, M. Fleming, A. Binikos.

Referee: A. Watt (Cumbernauld).

Star check: 3 Liam Neilson, 2 Mark Wallace, 1 Connor Wood.

Current standings: 20 Turner; 13 M. Wallace, L. Neilson; 12 Wood; 10 Mitchell, Thomson; 8 Milne; 7 Mann, Jack Pow; 6 Bonner; 2 McKenzie, Letham; 1 Smith, G. Wallace, G. Littlejohn, G. Neilson, K. Littlejohn.