Blues make hard work of victory

Chris Mann scored Kirkcaldy's winning try against Greenock. Photo: Michael Booth
Chris Mann scored Kirkcaldy's winning try against Greenock. Photo: Michael Booth

Kirkcaldy 18 Greenock Wanderers 13

The Blues barely left second gear in slipping past a competitive Greenock side.

Perhaps over confident after beating high flying Falkirk and building up a 11-­3 half time lead an error-strewn 20 minutes allowed the west coast side to go ahead 13-11.

Eventually, sensing an upset was possible, Kirkcaldy gathered themselves and a Chris Mann try converted by Craig Letham kept the points at home.

After overnight frost, the Beveridge Park pitch passed a mid-morning inspection to be in good condition for the 3.00 p.m start when the Blues were led out by prop and former skipper Greg Wallace marking his 200th league appearance for the side.

The early stages produced little of note for the shivering spectators with neither team able to make much progress and it was something of a relief for the home side when Letham kicked a tenth minute penalty.

Although Wanderers were totally secure at the set pieces, Kirkcaldy were having the better of the break downs. This gave them a marked territorial advantage but for long spells appeared incapable of capitalising.

All round slackness and inaccuracy meant they rarely threatened.

Eventually they gained a sense of purpose, helping the Beveridge Park side to come close, before extending their lead with an unconverted Kurt Littlejohn try on the half hour mark.

This reverse seemed to inspire Greenock and they began to punish Kirkcaldy sloppiness as the side retreated into their shell.

Where the Blues had been stronger at the breakdown, the visitors turned things round, forcing a series of penalties for not releasing.

Pressure built up on Quintan Sanft’s side and by the interval their lead had been reduced by three points thanks to a Kenny Diffenthal penalty.

Early in the second half the game proceeded on its undistinguished way with Wanderers looking the sharperside.

After Diffenthal had missed a straight forward penalty he slotted a similar award two minutes later, making the score 11-­6.

Kirkcaldy probably sensed that this game could slip away from them and briefly upped the pace.

Try chances appeared but several tactical errors helped to butcher these opportunities and the scoreboard remained unmoved.

Wanderers’ set piece competency came into its own in the last quarter with play largely confined to Kirkcaldy territory.

The home line just survived until centre Brendan McGroarty went in at the posts leaving Diffenthal with an easy conversion for a 13-­11 Greenock lead with 63 minutes gone.

The Blues composed themselves for the last 15 minutes to regain the lead through Mann’s try after a mesmeric run by Quintan Sanft which opened up Wanderers defence.

Although Greenock threatened once or twice in the time remaining Kirkcaldy had tightened up both in technique and attitude to earn a third consecutive win.

Kirkcaldy:­ K Littlejohn, J Moffat, Q Sanft, M Wallace, C Mann, C Letham, G McKenzie, M Thomson, J Pow, G Wallace, S Mitchell, C Wood, R Bonner, D Turner, L Neilson. Replacements:­ M Henderson, R Girdler, G Neilson, A Brooks.

Greenock Wanderers:­ L Tyley, C Harrison, B McGroarty, M Frizzell, G Fletcher, K Diffenthal, A McDougall, M Rodger, M Duddy, M Macdonald, A Abernethy, M Gray, A Love, A Ward, M Lavelle. Replacements:­ C McCarron, D Stone, L Campbell.

Referee: Ms A Pratt (Watsonians)

Star Check: 3 Steve Mitchell, 2 Connor Wood, 1 Mark Wallace.

Current standings: 21 Turner; 19 M Wallace; 18 L Neilson; 11 Wood; 8 Mitchell; 7 Mann, Pow, Thomson; 6 Bonner; 3 Letham; 1 Smith, G Wallace, McKenzie, C Littlejohn, G Neilson, K Littlejohn.