Kirkcaldy shortcomings exposed in defeat to limited Preston Lodge

Michael Harper drives over the line for Kirkcaldy's only try in the defeat to Preston Lodge on Saturday. Pic: Michael Booth
Michael Harper drives over the line for Kirkcaldy's only try in the defeat to Preston Lodge on Saturday. Pic: Michael Booth

KIRKCALDY 7 PRESTON LODGE 14

Scorning scoring chances and erratic in defence, Kirkcaldy slithered to an unnecessary defeat to a limited East Lothian team who made the most of their resources.

Early play did not look good for the Blues as Preston Lodge made the running, exploiting a fair bit of lacklustre tackling.

They had several chances to open the scoring in the first 15 minutes, including a penalty off the post from stand off Robbie Griffen.

However, the Kirkcaldy pack just shaded the set piece proceedings but to the dismay of the forwards they saw the ball too often inaccurately kicked away.

The visitors were always ready to counter-attack from these kicks to exploit deficient tackling.

In the absence of skipper Liam Neilson the reshuffled back five battled well and in the 13th minute a strong scrummage forced PL to concede a penalty about 25 metres out.

Instead of using the previously successful tactic of putting the ball into touch and using the driving maul they opted for the kick at goal which saw Finlay Smith's attempt sail past.

Two more kicks at goal also failed, nullifying Kirkcaldy's increasing territorial advantage and by the half hour mark the scoreboard remained unusually blank.

The Prestonpans side had their misses at goal as well but soft Kirkcaldy defence gave them a try chance gratefully accepted by No 8 Alan Whittingham and converted by Griffen making the score 7-0 which remained to half time.

Kirkcaldy re-started much more purposefully and within five minutes had levelled the scores.

The mauled line-out ploy which should have been used much more in the first half paid off handsomely with replacement Michael Harper driving over and Smith converting.

Preston Lodge showed the greater intent following the re-start and forced a penalty in their own half. Griffin put the ball deep into Kirkcaldy territory for the line-out.

Two controversial refereeing decisions preceded the second try for the visitors.

Referee Galashan had previously whistled up several crooked throw-ins but chose to ignore this throw-in which was anything but straight.

The ball then spun out to the PL backs where there appeared to be a forward pass but again the referee saw nothing remiss.

A decisive break and good following up paved the way for a try from hooker Thomas Johnson converted by Griffen.

With over half an hour remaining the Blues had ample chances to take the points.

Quintan Sanft rang the changes but all to no avail. Time and again his side would drive to the line only to knock the ball on or concede a penalty.

Although PL never threatened to score again credit must go to their defence whose diligence never wavered to leave a thoroughly frustrated Kirkcaldy squad to ponder their shortcomings.

Kirkcaldy: K Littlejohn, F Bruce, C Littlejohn, J Moffat, O Bonner, F Smith, G McKenzie, M Henderson, D Jennings, G Mangalo, S Mitchell, C Wood, Jack Pow, James Pow, R Bonner.

Replacements: G Queen, M Harper, G Neilson, A Brooks.

Preston Lodge: P Glynn, J Brash, D Gordon, E Councilman, A Penrose, R Griffen, J Burns, C Baikie, T Johnson, C Anderson, B Cowan, J Sked, P Johnstone, J Riley, A Whittingham. Replacements: C McLean, C Dixon, S McColl, E Higgins.

Referee: G Galashan (ERRS)

Fife Trophy Centre Star Check: 3 Kurt Littlejohn, 2 Rhys Bonner, 1 Michael Harper.

Cumulative: 11 Rhys Bonner; 7 James Pow; 6 Liam Neilson; 4 Kurt Littlejohn; 3 Greg Wallace, Finlay Smith, Conor Littlejohn, Owen Bonner, Steve Mitchell; 1 Connor Wood, Danny Jennings. Michael Harper.