Defeat snatched from jaws of victory

Action from Haddington v Kirkcaldy - Saturday, October 13, 2012
Action from Haddington v Kirkcaldy - Saturday, October 13, 2012
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HADDINGTON 19 KIRKCALDY 15

KIRKCALDY must have thought they had the points in the bag at Neilson Park with a comfortable 15-0 lead and just over a 20 minutes remaining, especially with the home forwards constantly on the back foot and unsure of any possession.

Injuries to Haddington front row players and apparently no replacements available the referee then ordered uncontested scrums. This had a significant effect as for the first time they had had an unfettered source of possession and backed by a stiffening breeze began to force play into the Kirkcaldy 22.

The previously untested Kirkcaldy defence quickly showed panicky tendencies, unable to clear their lines and also an alarming desire to open up behind the gain line. There was a series of ill-directed kicks, comfortably gloved by the revived Haddington attack.

The Blues had dominated early play with their forwards in charge and regularly dispossessing the Neilson Park side.

The only surprise was that it took them 12 minutes of unrelenting pressure to score through centre Mark Wallace. For much of the first half even with Quintan Sanft back in harness at inside centre the Kirkcaldy back line appeared to lack fluency, reflecting an erratic delivery from the base.

The Blues camped inside the home 22 in the closing stages of the first half, unable to break some dogged defending after stand off Craig Letham had goaled a 47-metre penalty for an 8-0 lead.

Top scoring No.8 Craig Wilson, making his first appearance of the season from the bench, showed he had not lost his touch with a rampaging run down the right touchline for the second Kirkcaldy try well converted by Letham.

Sanft must have thought at this stage that his side were on the way to a bonus point. However from the 58th minute things went down hill.

With their unexpected source of possession Haddington quickly found out that the Kirkcaldy defence was less than water tight, and two tries and a conversion from full back Neil Watt lifted them within range.

Twenty minutes earlier only the bravest optimist in Neilson Park would have forecast a Haddington win but now the home crowd was in full voice, urging on their side and cheering every Kirkcaldy blunder.

Haddington were now forcing play into the corner and almost inevitably flanker Simon Gilmour found his way to the line for a winner, again converted by Watt.

HADDINGTON: N Watt, A Symington, J Ferguson, E Herkes, K Adam, N Bell, D Symington, A Laidlaw, C Harrison, G Cockburn, C Stewart, B Laing, C Davies, S Gilmour, K Paterson. Replacements: D Bergvall, C Hamilton, D Barber, S Millar.

KIRKCALDY: R Low, D Frew, M Wallace, Q Sanft, R Hancock, C Letham, G McKenzie, R Girdler, G Wallace, W Gray, S Orr, S Oliver, L Neilson, D Turner, M Harvey. Replacemenst: R van Rensberg, D Guthrie, C Wilson, G Welsh

REFEREE: N Kearns (Edinburgh RRS).