Howe of Fife 36-71 Dumfries

Howe's Jake Douglas outflanks the Dumfries defence, and his brother Robert, trailing behind.
Howe's Jake Douglas outflanks the Dumfries defence, and his brother Robert, trailing behind.

With injuries beginning to pile up it was yet another changed Howe line up for the match against Dumfries Saints.

A shortage of available players for the bench meant options were limited should the need arise during the eighty minutes.

A couple of familiar faces returned to the fray.

Graeme Steedman in at Hooker and Ian Bousie on the wing.

There was also a welcome return for centre Sean Murray.

An interesting prospect for the ninety minutes was the meeting of siblings on opposite sides.

Jake Douglas for Howe and Robert Douglas for Dumfries.

Looking at the league standing of Dumfries, it was likely to be another tough day at the coal face for Howe.

And so, it transpired.

Two early scores from Dumfries were converted before Howe put points on the scoreboard.

A determined run from Ben Mitchell gave him the momentum to drive through the defence.

The try went unconverted.

Then mysteriously the referee failed to award a try to Ryan Hood, when it was clear to everybody, including the Dumfries coach, he had crossed the whitewash.

Then he failed to pick up a glaring knock on from a Dumfries player who cantered over to score.

The score at this point was 5-21 to the visitors.

Worse was to follow for Howe in 34 minutes, when they were reduced to 14 men.

The referee adjudged Steedman made hand contact with the face of an opposition player and immediately rendered a red card.

It was harsh and unjustified.

Jake Douglas stepped into the hooker role.

The consequences for a second week presented an uphill struggle for Howe.

Before the half was over a further Dumfries try was again converted to leave the score 5-28 at the interval.

The second half was punctuated by a couple of yellow cards and a serious leg injury to a Dumfries player.

At one point the Howe were reduced to 12 players.

What cannot be held against this Howe team is lack of application and desire.

Despite their numerical disadvantage they kept trying to play a high tempo game.

Between the teams they scored another twelve tries in a pulsating 40 minutes.

One Dumfries score should have been chalked off, the player having hit the touch line.

The referee being unsighted asked the Howe touch judge if he was in touch.

He acknowledged his foot was on the line but could not honestly be sure if this was before or after he had scored.

For a referee to award a try there must be no doubt.

Inexplicably he awarded the try.

While down to twelve men it must have felt for the Howe players they were up against sixteen.

For the record the final score was 36-71, with Howe scores coming from Jack Todd, Sean Murray with a brace, Will Howley and Gregor Smith.

Three of the six converted by Cameron Ellison.

The defeat leaves to Howe sitting second from bottom in the Tennent’s National League Division 2.

With 11 points from their nine games played, coach Chris Martin will be hoping that some of his absent squad can return to the fold in the coming weeks and help the Duffus club haul themselves up the table.

Next week the Howe travel to Edinburgh to take on Stewarts Melville FPs.

The hosts have made a reasonable start to the new season and sit perched in fourth place.

From their opening nine games they have won six and tasted defeat three times.

The player situation at Duffus is keeping the club physio very busy, there are almost more players injured than are available for selection.

It’s sure to be another testing weekend for Martin’s men but one they will no doubt meet head on.