Greenock trip for confident Blues

Action from Kirkcaldy's victory over Whitecraigs on Saturday. Pic: Michael Booth
Action from Kirkcaldy's victory over Whitecraigs on Saturday. Pic: Michael Booth

There was a new found confidence in the Kirkcaldy performance against Whitecraigs on Saturday and barring any injury concerns the match day 19 are likely to travel to Greenock this Saturday for a game which will complete the first half of the league programme.

Greenock Wanderers are quite isolated in the National 2 table, marooned in last place, with just a single point, so the Blues will be looking for a second consecutive five point win.

The revamped Kirkcaldy coaching team seems to have effected clear improvements in the forward play and the Blues will have to maintain this progress to make certain of their target which could take them away from second bottom place. A cautionary note however which head coach Quintan Sanft will remember is that in both games between the sides last season the Blues had much the better of the game but let the Wanderers back into the game to gain a losing bonus point and almost snatch victory against the odds.

Kirkcaldy 2nd XV are at home against Panmure in a Caledonia 2 league game, kick-off 2.00 p.m.

WEEKEND REPORT: KIRKCALDY 48 WHITECRAIGS 29

Following seven barren weeks Kirkcaldy at last returned to winning ways with an eight try win against a side they had never previously beaten.

Whatever deficiencies the Blues have had this season, try scoring has not been on one of them.

This time there was also steel in defence when it counted with the home team having to withstand a lengthy periods on the back foot early in the game.

All Whitecraigs had to show for early pressure were two Stephen Gillies penalties.

After being stuck in their 22 a telling break up the left wing piloted by Sasa Tofilau and assisted by Finlay Smith earned Kirkcaldy a penalty ten metres out.

Quick thinking set up a tapped play and there was little Whitecraigs could do to stop George Mangalo’s 23 stones crashing over.

Smith added the extra points for a 7-6 home lead.

Although the visitors briefly regained the lead with another Gillies penalty, the reinvigorated Kirkcaldy pack was now producing much faster ball than of late and were gaining the upper hand in the forward exchanges.

With just over half an hour gone this forward power struck home. A driven maul from an offensive line-out brought a try for flanker Dayle Turner who had just returned to play after ten minutes in the bin.

Smith converted to put the Blues 14-9 ahead, a lead they never surrendered.

Kirkcaldy were conceding too many penalties for their own good however and this blunted their attacking momentum and allowing Whitecraigs to retain a foothold through a fourth Gillies penalty.

Into stoppage time at the end of the half the Blues produced the killer blows which more or less settled the issue.

A mighty forward effort from a line-out wrecked the Whitecraigs pack and gave and space for Turner to go over for try.

Then straight from the re-start kick the Blues comfortably collected and incisive running by Rhys Bonner set up Kurt Littlejohn for another try.

With Smith’s successful conversion Kirkcaldy led 26-12 at the half time whistle.

Quintan Sanft’s side maintained this style on resumption and had a fifth try in the bag within a few minutes with the familiar line-out drive taking the ball over the line to give Turner his hat trick.

After weeks of dreary defeats Kirkcaldy at last were displaying a panache unseen for a long time and exciting the Beveridge Park crowd.

A further try followed from Gavin McKenzie after a midfield turn over before man of the match Turner popped over in the corner for his fourth counter.

After being on the receiving end for nearly an hour Whitecraigs at last managed to get back into the action with replacement centre Brandon Wamburg nipping through at the posts.

Just after Kirkcaldy substitute Marcus Salt went to the bin and some of the side’s earlier polish slipped away, putting them under
pressure.

There was some panic in the ranks as Gillies outran the defence to score in the corner.

Once the Blues had 15 players back on the field they produced their best and their zenith came with a 79th minute penalty try.

Three successive Kirkcaldy scrummages had demolished their opponents, conceding two penalties on the way.

After the referee’s arm went up for a third penalty he then raced to the posts awarding a penalty try. making the score 48-24.

As the game continued through eight minutes of added the time it ended almost in comical fashion.

The referee had been warning both sides all through for various misdemeanours without having much effect.

Kirkcaldy were penalised for a midfield ruck offence but before the game could proceed referee Harvey pulled out Finlay Smith and brandished his yellow card.

As Smith was trudging off and before the card could go back into Harvey’s pocket Kirkcaldy’s Steve Mitchell had it thrust before him, apparently for questioning the official’s competence.

Amidst all the confusion, Whitecraigs stole away for their third try.

This Kirkcaldy side had a new found competence, solid in defence and aggressive with ball in hand.

There is still a long way to go before thoughts of relegation can be dismissed but this performance shows they are going in the
right direction.

Kirkcaldy: K Littlejohn, F Bruce, S Tofilau, J Moffat, F Smith, Q Sanft, G McKenzie, D Jennings, Jack Pow, S Mitchell, James Pow, R Bonner, D Turner, L Neilson. Replacements: M Henderson, M Salt, M Harper, J Watson.

Referee: D Harvey (ERRS).

Star Check: 3 Dayle Turner, 2 Finlay Bruce, 1 Rhys Bonner.

Current standings: 12 Turner; 7 James Pow, Mitchell; 6 R Bonner; 4 Mangalo; 3 McKenzie, Wood, O Bonner, Bruce; 2 Littlejohn, Brown, Wallace, Neilson; 1 Moffat, Jack Pow, Smith, Salt.