Blues keen to avoid league tumble

Action from Kirkcaldy's defeat to Howe of Fife. Photo: Michael Booth

Action from Kirkcaldy's defeat to Howe of Fife. Photo: Michael Booth

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Kirkcaldy’s second half recovery at Cupar last week went some way to help them forget the first half drubbing but all will be forgotten when they start the second half of the league programme at Haddington this week.

The Blues have clung on to fourth place in the table for several weeks now despite that Howe loss and the earlier one at Livingston. However another set back this Saturday will see them drop down at least two places.

When the sides met on the first Saturday of the campaign at Beveridge Park they drew 10-10 in a fairly undistinguished game when the Blues squandered many chances.

After just escaping relegation last spring the East Lothian side are a much improved outfit, hard to beat on their own turf and come off a 30 point win against Murrayfield.

A year ago Kirkcaldy threw away a 15-0 lead at Neilson Park, losing 19-15. To take the points this time there can be no dips in concentration, especially in 
defence.

Against Howe last Saturday, an already weakened Kirkcaldy team suffered a series of mishaps in the first half and by the break had conceded eight tries and were facing the prospect of a 100 point hammering.

A sign of things to come arrived in the sixth minute. Full back Jamie Moffat badly misjudged a high swirling ball, slipped in turning, trying to recover the bouncing ball and gave Howe winger Fraser Thomson the easiest of tries converted by Dom Martin.

Before 20 minutes had been played Howe had secured the four try bonus point. Man of the match Rory Drummond and Martin had carved their way through flimsy tackling before Drummond pounced again.

The beleaguered Blues with Moffat off injured, continued to suffer. Centre Iain Gillies then had to retire with a head knock. Huge defensive gaps made it easy for the home team and while the Kirkcaldy pack worked hard, they saw possession splutter across the park.

Kirkcaldy’s only opportunity arrived with winger Chris Mann in full flight. A late tackle stopped him as he followed up a telling kick into the Howe 22. The double penalty came to nothing and Howe offence resumed producing another brace from Girvin Imrie and Brodie Runciman.

As half time approached another quick one-two from Chris Martin and Thomson and a Dom Martin conversion took the Howe tally to 50 leaving Kirkcaldy on the canvas.

Howe may have taken their eye off the ball in the second half, often squandering big overlaps but a reinvigorated Kirkcaldy rescued some pride with a battling performance producing three tries.

Greg Wallace’s 47th minute try appeared then to be a token score but signalled a defiant Kirkcaldy forward show spear headed by flanker Shaun Orr and lock Steve Mitchell, back in action after a near three absence.

Hard forward work defended several five metre scrummages and took the strike against the head more than once; When Drummond scored the ninth Howe try it was almost against the run of play.

As the hour mark passed Howe were conceding a string of penalties and form one award Letham’s long kick put the ball deep into the Howe 22 and Liam Neilson finished off from the line-out.

Drummond completed the Howe scoring with ten minutes left but there was still life left in the Kirkcaldy side. Extended possession in the closing minutes created space on the right for Rhys Bonner to score his first senior try.

The battling second half against a talented side eased some of the grief of this defeat. The forwards put in really hard shift and for those youngsters getting a taste of first team action painful memories will be eased by the knowledge that better days lie ahead.

Howe of Fife: E Jack, G Thomson, G Imrie, A Guthrie, C Martin, D martin, S Lathangie, G Steedman, M Keeble, G Henderson, D Wallace, M Stevens, B Runciman, J Lawrie, R Drummond. Replacements: S McGowan, D Groat, A Wilson, C Ellison.

Kirkcaldy: J Moffat, R Bonner, I Gillies, M Wallace, C Mann, C Letham, Q Sanft, R Girdler, G Wallace, G Queen, S Mitchell, C Wood, S Orr, S Milne, L Neilson. Replacements: C Parsons, M Graham, M Duckett, G Welsh.

Referee: A Campbell (WSSRS).

Star Check: 3 Shaun Orr, 2 Ross Girdler, 1 Steve Mitchell.

Current standings: 12 Porter; 8 Orr; 6 Mann; 3 M Harvey, Gillies, McKenzie, G Wallace, K Littlejohn, Wood, Turner, Girdler; 2 M Wallace; 1 Gray, Mitchell.