KIRKCALDY will be disappointed that they failed to translate second half possession into points as they lost by a narrow margin to high flying Howe of Fife in the first pool match in the Caledonia l Cup.
While the Blues dominated much of the forward play once more their back division lacked punch and rarely looked comfortable with the ball in hand.
Passes were inaccurate and mostly ill timed and provided easy targets for a committed Howe defence.
The Cupar backs, while living off much more limited rations, always looked capable of attacking from deep and had an assurance the visitors lacked.
Since competitive games between the teams resumed just over a year ago after a 30-year break Howe have won four in a row.
However from a Kirkcaldy viewpoint there is a marked improvement this season with Howe’s winning margins decreasing in each game to an extent that this was one where the Blues easily nearly snatched victory.
Kirkcaldy’s Craig Letham had a first minute chance of putting his side ahead but his penalty slid away to the left.
Neither side could establish sort of territorial supremacy in the first quarter with solid tackling by both blunting the respective attacks although Howe appeared to be the more menacing of the two.
The Duffus Park crowd had to wait until the 26th minute before Howe opened the scoring.
They had just relieved Kirkcaldy pressure to give them field position in the visitors’ half before a swinging attack took the ball first one way then the other before centre Graham Thomson broke through for a try converted by Dominic Martin.
Six minutes later the Kirkcaldy defence was at sea leaving gaps allowing Ewan Jack to score.
The Kirkcaldy pack made its presence felt towards the close of the half forcing Howe to conceded several penalties close-in before the referee ran to the posts indicating a penalty try converted by Letham.
Just 12-7 behind the Blues were on firmer ground at the start of the second half but despite holding the upper hand failed to prevent Graham Imrie increasing his side’s lead against the run of play.
Kirkcaldy made a tactical error in not going for goal on the hour mark, only to lose the subsequent line-out.
They eventually made good with Rab van Rensberg crossing with Letham’s conversion leaving them three points behind.
With three minutes left Martin eased Howe nerves with a well struck penalty.
In a storming Kirkcaldy finish full back Kurt Littlejohn almost slipped through but at the end the Blues melancholy record of defeats against Howe continued.
Final score: Howe of Fife 20 Kirkcaldy 14
Howe of Fife: E Jack, G Johncock, G Thomson, A Guthrie, G Imrie, D Martin, C Dow, Sr, M Keeble, G Steadman, B Runciman, D Wallace, A Steven, A Wilson, R Drummond. Replacements: E Bisset, J Aitcheson, C Mason, F Clark.
Kirkcaldy: K Littlejohn, G Welsh, M Wallace, C Mann, R Hancock, C Letham, G McKenzie, M Thomson, G Wallace, W Gray, S Orr, G Brooksbank, L Neilson, R van Rensberg, M Harvey. Replacements: G Mangalo, S Oliver, D Guthrie, A Raeside.
Referee: D McClement (WSSRS).