KIRKCALDY 15 PRESTON LODGE 29
The Blues remain winless in their last five games after the latest loss to Preston Lodge but altogether there were many signs of improvement.
Their prospects have been boosted with the arrival of Samoan centre Sasa Tofilau and the imminent coming of another in time for this Saturday’s match.
Tofilau only reached Kirkcaldy on Saturday morning after a 24 hour flight from Sydney and even allowing for jet lag cut an impressive figure.
Coach Quintan Sanft still contends with a hefty injury list with three first choice props injured and two back row men and two backs struggling with knocks. Unlike the Hamilton game they were competitive from the start against a smart looking side which will win more games than they lose during the season.
The Kirkcaldy forwards until they tired towards the end more than held their own with the front row taking three strikes against the head.
What let Kirkcaldy down was poor support play at crucial times when dangerous line breaks foundered through lack of support.
Although PL took all five points on offer they would be far from happy with some of their handling and failure in the first hour to make much of attacking positions.
However they certainly deserved their win with a back division eventually coming good as the Blues faded.
On a surprisingly bright afternoon Kirkcaldy started well, handling confidently with Tofilau making his bulky presence felt.
They built up pressure in the PL 22 and the visitors conceded a ruck penalty goaled by Finlay Smith. The Blues retained the initiative forcing further PL errors. Tofilau endeared himself to home supporters with a searing break and immaculate off load to give Sanft a try at the posts and converted by Smith.
As the second quarter progressed PL tightened up all round and the balance of play moved in their favour.
Nevertheless they found resolute Kirkcaldy defence and all they earned from increased pressure was a penalty from stand off Thomas McMann.
Although Kirkcaldy led 10-3 at the break they had to start the second period short handed with skipper Liam Neilson in the bin.
Preston generally held the upper hand after half-time, drawing level with a Jason Riley try converted by McMann before the Blues hit back with an unconverted score
from Jamie Moffat to go ahead again at 15-10 in the 50th minute.
Thereafter the Kirkcaldy effort waned and defensive holes grew. A fine solo effort from centre Alan Whittingham eventually put the visitors into a lead not relinquished.
The centre had another try separated from his first by a snappy score down the left wing by scrum half Dale Gordon.
Clearly the better team won this game but over the piece Kirkcaldy showed much more character than in some recent games.
With the arrival of the young Samoans and the healing process among injured players, points gathering in the weeks to come should not present the problems experienced since the end of August.
Kirkcaldy: J Moffat, A Brooks, S Tofilau, Q Sanft, J Watson, F Smith, G McKenzie, M Salt, Jack Pow, D Jemesnings, S Mitchell, James Pow, R Brown, D Turner, L Neilson. Replacements: G Queen, R van Rensberg, S Porter, C Parsons.
Preston Lodge: J Brash, D Lockie, G Walker, A Whittinham, P Glynn, T McMann, D Gordon, N Hart, R Runciman, J Sked, B Robertson, C Dixon, J Riley. Replacements: S McLean, N Whittingham, M: Sanderson, C Simpson
Referee: S Turnbull (Gala).
Star Check: 3 Steve Mitchell, 2 Dayle Turner, 1 Marcus Salt
Current standings: 7 Turner, James Pow; 4 Mangalo; 3 McKenzie, Wood, O Bonner, Mitchell; 2 Littlejohn, Brown, Wallace, Neilson, Smith; 1 Moffat, Jack Pow, Salt.