Howe of Fife.....................19
Getting a team together with consistency is proving an ongoing issue for he Howe coaches.
No weeks are the same.
Following last week’s injuries against Stewart’s Melville there was once more a reshuffle, especially in the backs, with five positional changes.
Sam Rowlands moved to stand off, Ben Mitchell into centre along side Andy Steven, normally a back rower, a return from injury of David Hodge at fullback and on the wing, 43 year old Iain Bousie.
The forwards had a competitive look about them, with the return at hooker of Connor Crawford alongside captain James Lawrie.
Ryan Hood was back from police duty at prop.
The visitors to Duffus were Highland RFC from Inverness who had an early start down the A9 for the 12.30 KO, ahead of the start of the Autumn Internationals and Scotland’s match against Fiji.
The Howe’s last encounter with the men from the north was an early season friendly last year.
There is an air of momentum in the capital of the north. With a new all-weather pitch and a purpose-built facility run the local council, the team is going well, and it would likely be another tough test for the disparate adventures of the Howe side at this time.
And so it proved as Highland motored into an early 19-point lead, with three tries and two conversions. The lack of organisation and familiarity within the Howe backs prevented coherent attacks, many of them breaking down through poor anticipation of running lines and in effective retention when in possession of the ball.
There were periods of play which demonstrated what the Howe can produce, However at the moment, the lack of quality defending is endemic, Highland were able to break the first tackle, with their support runners picking excellent running lines, to exploit space in behind the Howe defence. Running in a further 4 tries before the half was over.
The Howe coaches must have had stern words at the break. Despite a quick score from Highland, it was the Howe who came out with more aggression, stronger more direct running, especially from the forwards. A passage of continuous play from Howe, with the majority of the team involved resulted in a score, Ben Mitchell crossing the whitewash. Too far out for Rowalnds to convert. Then Ryan Hood bulldozed his way through the Highland defence for a score which Rowlands converted.
Two further tries materialised from Highland before Rowlands finished off a concerted effort from almost every player in the Howe side and converted his own try.
It raised a great cheer from the home supporters who acknowledged, that despite severely under strengthen and under the cosh, the players never stopped putting in the effort.
It’s the half way point in the league. The Howe sit precariously one point off bottom place.
It may take a couple of games for those injured to return. With a fully available squad the Howe fortunes could yet improve.
This weekend the club makes the journey into the central belt to meet Falkirk.