Kirkcaldy survive sloppy second half to overpower Greenock

Kirkcaldy player-coach Quintan Sanft. (Photo by Michael Booth)
Kirkcaldy player-coach Quintan Sanft. (Photo by Michael Booth)

GREENOCK WANDERERS 20 KIRKCALDY 45

Kirkcaldy had a fruitful first half at Fort Matilda last Saturday scoring six tries in overpowering the league’s basement team and leading 38-8 at the interval.

Then a curious transformation took place with the Blues playing second fiddle for long parts of the second period in which they were outscored by 12 points to seven.

Early signs looked good for the Blues, clearly out muscling their opponents and handling confidently.

Once they established themselves in the Greenock 22 and winning a series of penalties it was just a matter of time before they opened the scoring.

They chose to scrummage a penalty and as the pack went for the line flanker Dayle Turner picked up and drove over. Finlay Smith converted.

From the re-start the Blues found themselves stuck in their own territory before home scrum half Andrew McDougall scampered away to score an unconverted try.

For most of the remainder of the first half Kirkcaldy controlled possession and territory.

Making his first start since returning from New Zealand lock Michael Harper made his presence felt with some strong running and this contributed to Kirkcaldy dominance by tying in Greenock defenders and opening up space for his

backs.

Smith made the most of this opportunity with a clean mid field break; initially he had no support but the cavalry arrived in numbers for Turner to claim his second score, again converted by Smith.

Kirkcaldy easily retained this attacking momentum, no doubt helped by the binning of Greenock flanker Neil Quirey.

In the 22nd minute Kirkcaldy might have gone over from a scrummaged penalty but chose to release to the right where Sasa Tofilau showed his speed and strength to power over for an unconverted try, making the score 19-5.

One of Kirkcaldy best plays this season has been the driven attacking line-out maul and it was from a ten metre line-out that Turner went over for his third try.

However, a worrying glimpse of the what was to happen in the second half occurred immediately afterwards as with no real threat Kirkcaldy slipped offside and Callum Harrison kicked the penalty points.

While he was on the field Kirkcaldy flanker Rhys Bonner stood out with a series of powerful runs and heavy tackles and it was from one of his blasts into the Greenock 22 that he released full back Kurt Littlejohn for another Blue try, again converted by Smith.

From the re-start the Blues struck again with Turner prominent once more and with Gavin McKenzie assisting, Folitau dotted down for his second try.

Turner and Harper did not resume after half time, nursing minor injuries and with other tactical changes the Blues could not regain their earlier urgency.

Falling off tackles and coming off second best in contact Kirkcaldy were a shadow of themselves for the bulk of the second half.

They also had McKenzie binned and while he was off conceded a converted try from prop Martin Duddy from a tapped penalty.

Harrison’s conversion made the score 15-38.

Well into the fourth quarter Kirkcaldy at last regained their earlier attacking instincts. Several short penalty moves had proved fruitless before replacement Greg Wallace crashed over.

With the game well and truly won with five points in the bag, Kirkcaldy relaxed again and with the last play of the game, again from a line-out maul, lock Louie Hoodless touched down for his side’s third try.

There was much to praise in this Kirkcaldy display but with some tricky games looming they just cannot afford to drift out of these matches if they are to take any thing from them.

Both Whitecraigs and Greenock have shown how easily the scoreboard can change if there is continued sloppiness and they are far from the best in the division.

Greenock Wanderers: K Diffenthal, B Cleary, L Arthur, A Telfer, A Knox, C Harrison, A McDougall, M Duddy, S Alexander, D Smith, L Hoodless, M MacDonald, A Love, N Quirey, A Abernethy. Replacements: M Frizzell, D Paton, D Stone, N Tannahill.

Kirkcaldy: K Littlejohn, F Bruce, S Tofilau, J Moffat, F Smith, Q Sanft, G McKenzie, D Jennings, Jack Pow, G Mangalo, Mitchell, M Harper, R Bonner, D Turner, L Neilson. Replacements: G Wallace, M Henderson, R Brown, J Watson.

Referee:- L Fish (WSRRS)

Star Check: 3 Rhys Bonner, 2 Dayle Turner, 1 Michael Harper

Current standings: 14 Turner; 9 R Bonner; 7 James Pow, Mitchell; 4 Mangalo; 3 McKenzie, Wood, O Bonner, Bruce; 2 Littlejohn, Brown, Wallace, Neilson; 1 Moffat, Jack Pow, Salt, Smith, Harper.