Kirkcldy RFC 15, Hamilton 41
Hamilton came to Beveridge Park on Saturday needing to take all five points on offer to maintain their challenge for one of the two promotion places.
They achieved their target with something to spare, even surviving the departure of three players to the sin bin.
The Blues had their moments in the limelight but lacked their opponents’ speed about the park and accuracy of execution. With less than ten minutes left they might have taken a losing bonus point but two late Hamilton counters put a quite different gloss in the final score.
Hamilton’s intentions became quite clear in the opening minutes with Kirkcaldy conceding a knock on from the kick-off. Recycling this scrummage ball several times, a big defensive gap appeared on their left and gave full back Adam Ryan ample space to score an unconverted try.
Kirkcaldy’s response came after the visitors squandered a scoring opportunity. Home full back Kurt Littlejohn snatched a loose ball in his own 22 and set off on a powerful run, beating man after man with changes of pace and direction before touching down at the other for the try, not only of the game but of this season and probably any season. It was maybe the best try ever seen on the ground.
This try represented an isolated piece of Kirkcaldy initiative as the error count grew giving Hamilton advantageous field positions. Their backs operated much more smoothly than Kirkcaldy’s and with real pace wide out it was no surprise when left winger John Rogerson dashed away for his side’s second try converted by Owen McLeish in the 19th minute.
This apparent superiority again asserted itself a few minutes later with Davide Lopez finding a way to the line for another seven pointer.
The Blues were by no means overwhelmed however but they made a few tactical errors, especially when choosing the tapped penalty option against a watchful massed defence. After a few fluffed attempts the ball reached Chris Mann on the left and his pace carried him through for a second Kirkcaldy try making the score 10-19 in the 31st minute and that score line remained until half time.
Replacement Dan McRoberts’s score seconds into the second period raised the four try bonus for the Lanarkshire team. Then the game deteriorated quite a bit with referee Burger Lategan issuing a series of yellow cards, the first of which went to Kirkcaldy’s Steve Milne who was quickly followed to the bin by Hamilton hooker Grant McGowan.
Kirkcaldy kept their slim hopes alive with a Jamie Moffat try with Hamilton looking somewhat disorganised with another two players, Andy Hill and Craig Skilling, seeing yellow.
Lategan’s yellow card reappeared just after that with Littlejohn becoming the fifth visitor to the sin bin leaving only 27 players on the park to contest the closing stages. Any chance Kirkcaldy had of a losing bonus point went with a second Rogerson try and then to make matters worse, right at the end, Ryan romped through an evaporating defence for his side’s seventh score.
No one would dispute the Hamilton superiority in outscoring their opponents by a seven tries to three margin. Their side carried a major threat every time they had the ball while defensively they could close the door on most Kirkcaldy scoring attempts.
The Blues’ sniping attacks were all too easily snuffed out, more often than not with the concession of a penalty for a ruck offence. Support play needs to be sharpened up against sides as well organised as this Hamilton outfit.
Kirkcaldy: K Littlejohn, C Mann, J Moffat, M Wallace, A Brooks, Q Sanft, G McKenzie, M Thomson, G Wallace, M Henderson, S Mitchell, C Wood, S Milne, D Taylor, L Neilson. Replacements: R Girdler, C Hollingsworth, G Neilson, M Brooks.
Hamilton: A Ryan, C Skilling, C Inglis, D Lopez, J Rogerson, O McLeish, S Turnbull, C McLaughlin, G McCowan, J Kippenberger, J McKee, R Maxton, B Wilson, R Brown, A Hill. Replacements: G Richardson, B Leonard, F Donnachie, D McRoberts.
Referee: B Lateran (CRRS).