KIRKCALDY 16 FALKIRK 28
Recovering from an earlier 21-3 deficit Kirkcaldy looked as if they might steal an unlikely win in the closing minutes of this National League 2 game at Beveridge Park against a flagging Falkirk team which had lost its earlier sparkle.
They had been re-energised at the half time break and had the upper hand for most of the second period.
Well into stoppage time a dropped ball in the Falkirk half gave back possession and the visitors captain and scrum half, Harry Russell, had an unchallenged run to the line for a bonus point try.
The Blues had a depressing start against a side full of running. Confident handling at pace left Kirkcaldy defenders gasping when Falkirk full back Graham Lindsay outran everybody to touch down with Liam Brimms converting in the third minute.
Although Finlay Smith pulled back this 7-0 deficit with an eighth minute penalty the Blues continued to be on the back foot, not helped by Kurt Littlejohn’s yellow card for a deliberate knock on.
The loss of Dayle Turner with an arm injury, top try scorer last season, was a real blow to their scoring potential. Later in the game replacement prop Marcus Salt had to go off for a head injury assessment
Falkirk ascendancy was maintained with a second try scored by left winger Gary Dempsey, again converted by Brimms in the 22nd minute.
At this stage they bossed every department with their pack dominating the set pieces. The Kirkcaldy line-out again failed to show any consistency and the side continued to put themselves under pressure.
Play rarely left Kirkcaldy territory and after a Falkirk attempted push over had been halted and held up, the ball moved out to the backs to give centre Andrew Hamilton an easy score again converted by Brimms.
Less than half an hour had been played and it looked as if Kirkcaldy were in for a hammering against this rampant side.
Eventually the Blues responded to skipper Liam Neilson’s exhortations and built up some momentum in Falkirk territory and by half time two more Smith penalties gave the scoreboard a more respectable look.
Kirkcaldy maintained this aggressive approach for most of the second half with the pack putting the visitors regularly on the back foot as lock Connor Wood put in an outstanding shift.
Line out possession however continued to be a problem until at last they won clean ball on the touch line around the hour mark and the ball sweetly moved to the right. Littlejohn’s pace took the Falkirk defence by surprise and with Smith’s conversion of his try the Blues were only five points behind.
A fair period of play remained and Kirkcaldy thoughts turned to victory against the odds, especially with Falkirk having lost much of their earlier cohesion.
Even with much improved possession they lacked the punch to make this count. Falkirk seemed to have given up hopes of a try bonus which would deny the Blues a losing bonus.
Then came the fatal mistake in the third minute of added time which gave Russell the easiest of scores.
Although Falkirk had lost their first two they are still likely to be in promotion push in the spring and are obviously a side to be reckoned with.
Kirkcaldy pushed them the way in the second half but fell short at the end. Improved accuracy and concentration will be needed to take them up the league
Kirkcaldy: K Littlejohn, F Bruce, D Turner, J Moffat, F Smith, Q Sanft, G McKenzie, R Girdler, Jack Pow G Mangalo, C Wood, James Pow, R Brown, S Milne, L Neilson
Replacements: M Salt ,J Browning, S Porter, R Bonner.
Falkirk: G Lindsay, T Kalin, G Gilliland, A Hamilton, G Dempsey, L Brimms, H Russell, K Burnley, S Govan, L Skinner, J Wagenar, D Stoddart, G Brodie, M Tweddle, S McCuloch
Replacements: A Simpson, K Slade, C Ronald, C Faulds.
Referee: M Duncan (ERRS).
Star Check: 3 Connor Wood, 2 Liam Neilson, 1 Jamie Moffat.
Current standings: 3 McKenzie, Turner, Wood; 2 Littlejohn, Wallace, Neilson; 1 Mangalo, James Pow, Moffat.