Glenrothes return to top of table after bonus point win

Top man Rhys Bryce
Top man Rhys Bryce
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Glenrothes 39, Morgan 23

Glenrothes took to the field on Saturday buoyed by the news that their rivals for the top spot in Caledonia League 1, Gordonians, had suffered a defeat at home to Orkney in an early kick-off.

This meant that a bonus point win would return the reds to the top of the table.

Anticipation can bring its own pressure and this may account for the slow start from the home team.

For the first 25 minutes play was almost exclusively in the Glenrothes half.

Morgan had chances to cross the whitewash but the defence stood firm, albeit conceding two penalty goals and a yellow card for Michael Delorey in the process.

Glenrothes eventually got their act together on the half hour mark when persistence by man of the match Rhys Bryce led to a line out 22m from their opponents’ line.

Clean ball was passed to the backs whose slick handling freed Jordan Grubb on the left wing to claim the first try of the match in the corner, too wide for Shaun Gray’s conversion attempt.

Bryce was at the heart of the next Reds try when he chased a Delorey kick up the right wing forcing a series of mistakes from his opposite number culminating in a fumble short of the goal line, enabling Aaron Campbell to pick up and touch the ball over putting Glenrothes in a lead that they were never to give up.

Madras struck back with a third penalty from the boot of scrum half Jamie Hughan when Michael Delorey was adjudged to be well offside at a ruck in front of the posts.

On the stroke of half time Campbell scored his second try.

A break in the defensive wall offered him the chance to round his immediate opponent and then misdirect the full back with a brief hesitation before touching down to the right of the posts. Shaun Gray converted the try to end the half.

Morgan reduced the deficit early in the second half with a try from Ben Keillor which Hughan converted to narrow the margin to one point.

It was from the aftermath of a scrum that Glenrothes secured their try scoring bonus through Venters, and Gray kicked an excellent conversion from the touchline, courtesy of a kind bounce off the crossbar.

The fifth Glenrothes try was not long delayed as Bryce, despite a defender hanging round his neck, forced his way over the line in the left corner.

Gray could not match his previous kick from this side of the pitch but he made amends soon afterwards.

Firstly he broke up a Morgan attack with a bone crunching tackle and then slotted a penalty to extend the lead to 16 points.

Then he was on hand to finish off a move on the right wing when Bryce fielded a kick from Morgan’s Keillor.

Barry Crookston saw yellow before full time when the referee decided that he had not released a tackled player and got to his feet before playing the ball.

Morgan had the final say with a try for Stuart Donaldson who dived over following a driving maul from a line out near the Glens goal line. Hughan converted.

Coach Tom Hainey was understandably pleased with the result saying: “We started the season determined to give a good account of ourselves in the higher league and to consolidate ourselves in it.

“None of us expected to be where we are at the moment and we know we have a long hard slog of tough games home and especially away ahead of us.”

Glenrothes: R Venters, R Bryce, A Campbell, S Gray, J Grubb, S Hainey, M Delorey, L Fowlis, S Dean, S McAlpine, E Arthur, R Hutchison, B Crookston, K Christie, D Warrender. Replacements: C Murphy, R Thomson, S Stewart, J Hutchison.

The development squad suffered another reverse going down 32-12 at Forfar with tries from Billy Napier and Michael Byers.

There is now a three week break to allow players and officials to watch Scotland’s autumn internationals.

The season resumes on November 29 where Gordonians are the visitors in the semi final of the Caledonia Shield.