Howe of Fife....24 Watsonians....35

Howe's Angus Guthrie was again on form despite the Duffus club's defeat.
Howe's Angus Guthrie was again on form despite the Duffus club's defeat.

An excellent game of rugby, played at breakneck speed from first to last, ended in a win for the league leaders, with both sides scoring four tries.

Howe renewed their acquaintance with their former player Rory Drummond who was at No. 8 for the visitors, and in the Howe side Terry Turpie was celebrating his 250th appearance on his 35th birthday.

After a minute’s silence in memory of former member Grahame Sutherland, who left us on Thursday, the match proceeded in bright, cold conditions, and the visitors struck first.

Full back Andrew Chalmers intruded into a move in midfield and shot away from halfway to end up at the bottom end posts for a try which he converted himself to give Watsonians a 7-0 lead after just three minutes.

The same player was on hand to finish off a lengthy move with his second try which he again converted after 19 minutes.

Watsonians threatened to run up a large score, which Chalmers increased with two penalties so they led 20-0 after 31 minutes, but Howe, who had played fitfully, pulled themselves together, and another long, patient build-up, through numerous phases ended with Graeme Steedman diving over from a ruck next to the line, Angus Guthrie making the conversion.

Then with the last move of the half another long passage of play ended with Chris Mann, the left wing, forcing his way past several defenders, running on to get a try at the corner. Guthrie failed to convert but it was 20-12 at the interval and the visitors knew they were in a match.

Chalmers opened the second half scoring after 10 minutes when he was there with a penalty of 30 yards and then at the start of the last quarter Mark Bertram the right wing appeared far over on the other wing in support for a try which was not converted. However wing forward Jonathan Neary was shown yellow for a deliberate knock on, and Howe immediately took advantage of their numerical superiority, a passing move from the tapped penalty ending with Chris Mason going over by the left corner flag for a try which was unconverted, making the score 28-17.

The visitors then got their bonus point try when they worked a move out of their own half and Bertram ran strongly to get to second try, on his own wing this time, and Chalmers converted for 25 points from his day out. Howe refused to give up, however, and after another long period through innumerable phases of play Fraser Clark chipped over the top and bumped a defender out of the way before diving on the ball in-goal.

Guthrie concluded the action with a successful conversion and a lot of tired bodies hauled themselves off the field at the end of the most entertaining match seen this season.