Kirkcaldy fall apart after strong start

Kirkcaldy RFC v Whitecraigs RFC, Match 4 - BT National League Division 2, 24th September 2016. (Photo by Michael Booth)
Kirkcaldy RFC v Whitecraigs RFC, Match 4 - BT National League Division 2, 24th September 2016. (Photo by Michael Booth)
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Kirkcaldy 24 Whitecraigs 32

Player coach Quintan Sanft drafted himself into the scrum half berth in the absence of the unavailable Gavin McKenzie for this game against in-form Whitecraigs.

Everything seemed to be going Kirkcaldy's way in the first half hour as a 17-3 lead built up. A bonus point win looked likely at this stage

The loss of two long range penalties kicked by visiting stand off Stephen Gillies barely registered as the Kirkcaldy backs and forwards were combining well with a threat in every attack. After that things started to go wrong.

Sanft had been marshalling his troops well as the Kirkcaldy game developed. Then the Samoan suffered rib damage and had to retire from the game. His absence was keenly felt in the second period as the back division lost its direction, particularly in defence.

The first 15 minutes had been fairly inconclusive as neither side could exploit any real advantage. An injection of pace from full back Kurt Littlejohn, back after a lengthy spell on the side lines, took play deep into the Whitecraigs 22. Forward support was there to set up the first Kirkcaldy try from hooker Jack Pow, converted by Finlay Smith.

A Kirkcaldy error from the re-start produced Gillies' s first penalty. A Smith penalty then regained the seven point Kirkcaldy lead.

As the game progressed it was obvious that the two sides were apparently evenly matched and for most of the second quarter Kirkcaldy just edged the proceedings. . The forward battle was just going Kirkcaldy's way through the forward effort but the Whitecraigs back line looked more than useful.

A second Kirkcaldy try from lock James Pow following a bullocking run from replacement Greg Wallace was no more than the home forwards deserved. With a Smith conversion successful the home team now led 17-3. six minutes before half time.

In the time before the break the Kirkcaldy game began to unravel. Changes in the back line followed Sanft's departure. After Gillies had kicked a second penalty the Blues failed to regather the kick-off ball and the ball popped into the hands of full back William Corbett who exploited the flimsiest of tackling.

Worse was to follow for the Blues as before the interval further defensive shortcomings presented an easy try for No 8 Steven Whittle, converted by Gillies.

For the second home game running Kirkcaldy turned at half time 18-17 behind. While the scoreboard did not change in the next 17 minutes Whitecraigs held the territorial advantage.

The Blues had just repelled a series of 'Craigs attacks when a loose kick out of defence presented the ball to Gillies who spun past one defender then swerved past another to score his side's third try which he converted himself.

Isolated Kirkcaldy attacks were easily mopped until a more concerted effort was mounted which culminated in a try for prop Mark Henderson. With a Smith conversion Kirkcaldy were now 25-24 behind and showing a renewed sense of purpose.

Less than ten minutes remained and following some fierce forward exchanges Henderson was issued with a yellow card for some untidy footwork when equally Whitecraigs might have been penalised for not rolling away.

This loss of a player blunted the Blues final push for a winner and the visitors stepped in with their bonus point try from Phil Snyman converted by man of the match Gillies.

Kirkcaldy: K Littlejohn, O Bonner, C Littlejohn, F Bruce, A Brooks, F Smith, Q Sanft, D Jennings, Jack Pow, M Henderson, James Pow, M Harper, R Bonner, S Milne, L Neilson

Replacements: G Wallace, G Queen, C Wood, J Moffat.

Whitecraigs: W Corbett, G Mahindru, P Snyman, B Wamberg, G Emans, S Gillies, S Gormley, I Laidlaw, A Paterson, S Atwal, N Winton, M Christine, J Tait, S Pollock, S Whittet

Replacements: S Adair, M Brown, L Ramage, G Haswell.

Referee: M Todd (Border RRS).

Fife Trophy Centre Star Check: 3 Greg Wallace, 2 James Pow, 1 Connor Wood.

Current standings: 6 Rhys Bonner, Liam Neilson; 5 James Pow; 3 Greg Wallace, Finlay Smith, Conor Littlejohn, Owen Bonner; 1 Connor Wood.