Highland 26, Glenrothes 12
The saga of who would face Highland in the RBS Bowl final was eventually decided in the Glenrothes favour late on Thursday evening.
It left the Fifers with just 36 hours to finalise arrangements and get the players focused on the task in hand.
Broadwood Stadium was bathed in sunlight as the players took to the plastic pitch, but Glens started the game in a very lacklustre manner, perhaps due to the uncertainty surrounding the fixture, the unfamiliar surroundings or just the fact of being in a national final.
Darren MacLeod scored in the corner to open Highland’s account and Scott Fraser made the difficult conversion.
Highland extended their lead when a strong run from flanker Eamon Guinan dragged the defence infield, creating a two man overlap to give an easy try to Tam Magowan. Fraser showed that he could convert from either side of the pitch.
Glenrothes appeared to waken from their slumbers and launched some offense of their own. Two kickable penalties were turned down as the Carleton Park team looked for a try but their attacks were blunted. An enterprising move by the Glens backs gave Ryan Venters a glimpse of the goal line but he was forced into touch just short.
Highland’s man of the match, Rory Cross, set up their third try shortly after half-time. He made a break up the left wing, threw a dummy which flat-footed defenders and then as he was brought to ground released full back Richard Sim to cross the line.
Things got worse for Glenrothes as Stewart Hainey received a yellow card for a reckless lunge on the try scorer. Fraser showed that he was human after all by missing the conversion. Remarkably, Highland were unable to take advantage of the numerical superiority and no points were scored by either team during Hainey’s absence.
Both defences snuffed out any half chances that arose until Highland were penalised for coming offside when the Glens had a good driving maul deep in their territory. A quick tap allowed Glens to keep up the pressure and Cammy Goodall was on hand to dot it down over the line. Shaun Gray added the two points to give Glens a glimmer of hope.
Highland quickly cancelled out this flash of optimism with a fourth try when number eight, Gareth High, who had been prominent all afternoon, was the beneficiary of a driving maul from a lineout. Fraser rediscovered his touch with the boot to reclaim a 19 point lead.
Highland suffered a late yellow card when a high tackle thwarted replacement winger Ewan Arthur. Many in the crowd thought that a penalty try should also have been awarded. Glenrothes continued to press and Daryl Warrender crashed over the line from close range to complete the scoring.
While there is little doubt that the better team on the day triumphed, the Glens had chances and but for an indifferent start in both halves may well have forced a different result. Having made their way to a national final for the first time, the team are keen to go one better next season.
Coach Tom Hainey now has the task of raising his players’ spirits for promotion play-off games against Garioch away next week and then Ellon at Carleton the following Saturday. This will be a challenge as a number of first 15 regulars are unavailable but this gives their understudies a chance to show what they can do.
Glenrothes: K Duguid, R Venters, S Gray, C Goodall, S Varney, S Hainey, M Delorey, L Fowlis, G Linton, S Bell, R Douglas, R Hutchison, B Crookston, K Christie, D Warrender Replacements R Bryce, J Grubb, M Byers, E Arthur, M Caldwell, S Dean, R Thomson.