GHK 29 KIRKCALDY 26
Weather put paid to most of Saturday’s rugby fixtures but Kirkcaldy found an excellent pitch awaiting them at Old Anniesland for this BT Cup second round tie last Saturday.
What must have disturbed them however on losing the toss was an end to end wind which favoured GHK in the first half.
GHK, runaway leaders of National 3, bristling with speed and accuracy, and with a tactical acumen which Kirkcaldy could not match, quickly exploited their advantage.
Four tries and a total of 24 points in under half an hour left the Blues staggering.
Even a second half recovery, by which time the wind strength had lessened they just fell sort of the winning line.
Through most of the first half, GHK’s mental awareness and readiness to spot a scoring chance left Kirkcaldy gasping in their slip stream.
Early signs favoured Kirkcaldy who broke up the GHK scrummage at the first put in and then to everyone’s surprise the referee ordered a reset with the home side getting advantage.
That was as good as things were for the Blues for next 40 minutes as GHK try followed try.
In this first half the Blues were out of tune with the referee, conceding a succession of penalties, one of which well placed into touch by Michael Martin.
In the ninth minute they took the ball cleanly inside the Kirkcaldy 22 and swept to the right for Gordon Currie to touch down.
It quickly became evident that the Kirkcaldy defenders were in trouble with the swirling ball, failing to control unexpected bounces and knocking on a series of steepling kicks.
GHK were always ready to vary their game, especially with tapped penalties and their second try eight minutes later found the Blues defence asleep, giving flanker Mike Borthwick the scoring chance.
Now 10-0 down Kirkcaldy looked completely out of sorts and further losses looked inevitable the way GHK were approaching the game.
They weren’t helped either by the binning of prop Mark Henderson.
Sure enough, two more scores followed from Mark Taylor and hooker Gordon Reid both crossing the whitewash with Martin converting both scores for a 24-0 home lead.
After being embarrassingly out of touch for the first half hour Kirkcaldy slowly discovered some cohesion and cut down on unforced errors.
Four minutes into added time before half time they at last had some sort of reward with lock Steve Mitchell driving through from close range and Finlay Smith converting.
With flanker Rhys Bonner always to the fore the re-energised Kirkcaldy team took the game to their opponents in the second half.
Nine minutes on, a flying break from Sasa Tofilau took the ball to within a metre of the line only for the Samoan to be stopped illegally and after intervention by an assistant referee, a penalty try was awarded.
The easy conversion took the score to 24-14.
The Blues now held the initiative and after GHK’s Taylor went to the bin, Bonner rounded off some excellent forward work.
The conversion meant that the visitors were only three points behind.
However the Anniesland side weren’t ready to surrender and after being restored to full strength a fifth unconverted try restored their eight point lead.
Within a few minutes Kirkcaldy hit back, scrum half Gavin McKenzie touching down in the corner after some battling forward play.
The odds were now on Kirkcaldy snatching an unlikely win but to their credit GHK stifled most of Kirkcaldy’s attacking moves at birth.
Inexplicably, Kirkcaldy tried to handle their way out of their own half when a well placed kick would surely have been a more profitable route to the goal line.
There was little doubt that GHK deserved their win, mainly on account of their attacking and technical flair, albeit assisted by the wind which had dropped to a zephyr in the final quarter.
There are no scheduled competitive games for the next two Saturdays. League games resume on February 20 when Cartha QP come to Beveridge Park, while there will be a friendly against Musselburgh on Friday, February 12.
GHK: T Herron, R Taylor, G Currie, J Kinane, M Taylor, M Martin, M Aird, A McCulloch, R MacFarlane, L Brock, Hurn, J MacLean, H Parker, M Borthwick. Replacements: G Hollerin, S Cameron, J Hanks, C Brown, D Campbell
Kirkcaldy: G Welsh, F Bruce, S Tofilau, J Moffat, A Brooks, F Smith, G McKenzie, D Jennings, Jack Pow, M Henderson, S Mitchell, James Pow, R Brown, R Bonner, L Neilson. Replacements: G Queen, M Salt, S Milne, R Low, J Ferguson
Referee: A Peterson (CRRS)
Star Check: 3 Rhys Bonner, 2 Danny Jennings, 1 Liam Neilson.
Current standings: 22 R Bonner; 20 Turner; 11 Mitchell; 7 James Pow, Bruce; 4 McKenzie, Mangalo, Salt, Jennings; 3 Wood, O Bonner, Littlejohn, Henderson, Jack Pow, Neilson; 2 Brown, Wallace; 1 Moffat, Smith, Harper.