Musselburgh 23 Kirkcaldy 11
Hard working Kirkcaldy made promotion chasing Musselburgh earn their win at Stoneyhill on Saturday.
The Blues came within inches of a losing bonus point in the 80th minute before the home win was confirmed with a penalty deep into the extended stoppage time.
Early play suggested that Musselburgh, spearheaded by powerful stand off Alfonso Horomia, would make the running with Kirkcaldy stuck in their 22 and struggling to make any sort of impression.
This intensity inevitably produced a try with seven minutes gone. A slick attack on the left field saw full back James Doig tag on and take a scoring pass, well converted by Danny Owenson from well out.
Nearly 15 minutes had passed before Kirkcaldy came into the game as winger Conor Littlejohn produced a well flighted cross kick which nearly deceived the home defence.
Musselburgh survived this test and then added to their lead with an Owenson penalty when the Blues were whistled up for not releasing in front of the posts.
Despite these reverses Kirkcaldy maintained their shape with skipper Mark Wallace leading well in the centre and reward eventually came with Jamie Moffat’s penalty opening their account.
Musselburgh appeared eager to add to their tally and this brought some excellent Kirkcaldy defensive work. The Stoneyhill men were held in check until the second added minute of the first half when winger Sandy Watt cruised over for another try, again converted by Owenson.
Musselburgh re-started in top gear but again found it hard to find a way through some determined Kirkcaldy tackling and had to wait 16 minutes for another score which was a second Owenson penalty, making the score 20-3.
A real forward battle was developing and, although Kirkcaldy had flanker Steve Milne yellow carded, their effort was maintained in the face of heavy pressure.
The Blues survived this onslaught and had some reward with a penalty from replacement Craig Letham. No sooner was Milne out of the bin than Musselburgh’s Owenson followed him.
Although still 14 points behind Kirkcaldy produced their most emphatic rugby of the game in the last quarter and a try from Letham enhanced this initiative. Letham’s conversion came close to making it 20-13 but unfortunately for his side the kick missed.
With over five minutes stoppage time added Musselburgh seemed intent on adding to their tally and eventually with the last kick of the game Owenson banged over his third penalty.
There was little doubt that Musselburgh deserved their win but the Blues must take credit for restricting them to two penalties in the second half and scoring the only try of that period.
Musselburgh: J Doig, A Cook, T Armstrong, A Hook, A Horomia, D Owenson, D Paton, R Gregor, N McNairn, W Fleming, M Roy, W Lander, D Slaven, S Finigan. Replacements: D Grant, N Hogg, E O’Brien, C Veitch.
Kirkcaldy: K Littlejohn, C Littlejohn, M Wallace, J Moffat, C Mann, Q Sanft, G McKenzie, M Thomson, J Pow, G Wallace, C Woods, R Bonner, S Milne, D Turner, L Neilson. Replacements: M Henderson, S Mitchell, C Letham, G Neilson
Referee: A Pratt (Watsonians)
Star ChecK: 3 Mark Wallace, 2 Mark Thomson, 1 Conor Littlejohn.
Current standings: 12 Turner; 8 Milne; 7 L Neilson, Mann, M Wallace; 5 Pow; 4 Woods, Thomson; 3 Bonner; 1 Smith, G Wallace, McKenzie, C Littlejohn.
Next match: Kirkcaldy welcome table-topping Howe of Fife to Beveridge Park for a Fife derby on Saturday. Kick-off 2.00 p.m.