Blues fail to profit from pressure

Kirkcaldy try scorer Ross Girdler tries to bulldoze his way past two Haddington tacklers. Photo: Michael Booth
Kirkcaldy try scorer Ross Girdler tries to bulldoze his way past two Haddington tacklers. Photo: Michael Booth

Although Kirkcaldy conceded two penalties in the first two minutes of this opening league game, they enjoyed a huge territorial superiority in the first half.

Thoughts must have turned back to Haddington’s last visit to Beveridge in February when the Blues ran up 71 points.

With all the pressure in the Haddington 22 it seemed inconceivable that the visitors only conceded a single try. While enthusiasm abounded in the Kirkcaldy ranks, there was always a certain lack of control and some erratic decision making.

Throughout the game the weight and timing of handling left much to be desired and the Haddington line remained intact for the final 55 minutes of the game.

After Haddington’s Nick Bell missed his two early penalties, Jamie Moffat had success at goal for the Blues for the first three points of the season.

Flowing Kirkcaldy attacks followed with new skipper Mark Wallace prominent in the centre.

However, the finishing touch wasn’t there and the Kirkcaldy try came from a tried and trusted method.

A penalty from 30 metres out was kicked to touch on the five metres line. Matt Harvey took a clean catch and fed prop Ross Girdler who twisted and turned his way to a try converted by Moffat.

As the half proceeded Kirkcaldy’s shape gradually slipped away, knock-ons and forward passes constantly ruined promising attacks, leaving the Haddington side in comparative comfort.

The scoreline remained at 10-0 in Kirkcaldy’s favour for most of the third quarter although their errors gave the East Lothian team an unexpected source of possession from their scrummage put-ins.

Gradually Haddington confidence grew as Kirkcaldy’s waned.

The visitors then had a real bonus as the Blues lost control at a five-metre scrum letting Haddington prop Gary Cockburn sweep over for a score close to the posts to give Bell an easy conversion.

Haddington made the running for most of the last quarter and had loud claims for a penalty try when Stuart Porter stopped Neil Watt with an illegal tackle 15 metres out.

The referee decided that a try would not necessarily have been scored and after Porter had been binned the game proceeded with a penalty kick which came to nothing.

Almost inevitably, as Kirkcaldy fortunes sagged, Haddington equalised with a Bell penalty. Seventen-year-old Josh Laird had been brought on from the bench to the three quarter line and he produced a level of pace previously unseen in the game.

Twice from scintillating runs he almost scored single handed.

Laird’s exploits seemed to re-energise his side and the last few minutes saw a barrage of attacks which produced a penalty to goal for the winning points.

Moffat’s kick hit the bar and bounced back into the in goal area. Centre Iain Gillies following up at pace, just failing to get the touch for a try.

The draw was probably a fair result but Kirkcaldy must rue all these missed first half chances and the failure to profit from their late comeback.