Howe of Fife 5-31 Falkirk

Ryan Hood powering forward for Howe's only score.
Ryan Hood powering forward for Howe's only score.

Autumn arrived with the start of September, as did league rugby to Duffus Park.

Opponents Falkirk were a familiar side a couple of years ago, today they resumed that rivalry having dropped out of National League 1.

It proved to be a tough game, as the Howe tried to get off to a flying start for the new season.

Changes from last week, saw the introduction of familiar faces, hooker Connor Crawford, prop Ryan Hood and second row Jamie Thomson.

From the kick off, Falkirk gathered the ball, driving into the Howe’s half.

It was too Howe’s credit their defence remained resolute to continuous waves attack from Falkirk.

The midfield controlled by New Zealander, Rolleston, who caused all sorts of problems. Barley eight minutes on the clock and a penalty to Falkirk converted by their scrum half, Call, put the visitors ahead.

When Howe gained control, and with it, good position in the opponent’s half, all the good work was undone, with loss of the ball in contact and a casual pass not going to hand. This was to be a familiar flaw throughout the game.

Falkirk were winning the break down, a certain street wise illegality going unpunished by the Howe.

Falkirk increased their slender lead with a rumbustious try from number Stoddart, who crashed over to the right of the posts.

Call successful with the resulting conversion. The loss of Sam Rowlands, having suffered a bicep tear last week was a blow to Howe.

Yet they came back strongly with runs from Ben Mitchell, Andy Steven and Chris Mann.

When the referee blew his whistle for the end of the first 40 minutes, Falkirk were two more tries to the better, another from Stoddart and one from McCulloch, both converted by Call.

It was the mistakes and accuracy which prevented Howe from registering any points.

The next 40 minutes began with Howe pressing deep into the visitors 22, coming close, on several occasions, only for those errors to creep in, and Falkirk, using a little skulduggery in the close quarters of the break down, denying Howe quick ball.

It was on one such incursion, good close quarter play and off-loading gave Ryan Hood the ball to force his way over the try line between a melee of Falkirk players.

Falkirk maintained the same level of pressure on the Howe, and with a little more composure and accuracy, should have increased their lead.

A great deal of that came from the work rate of the Howe players in rear-guard action close their own try line.

It was galling the first yellow Card of the game went against Howe captain James Lawrie for not releasing the Falkirk ball carrier at the break down.

This lack of control from the referee at these contests, did spill over into a little frustration between the players.

Having resisted the attacks from Falkirk, during Lawrie’s absence, Howe squandered chances to gain touch from penalties, handing control and attacking options, immediately back to Falkirk.

When given opportunities it was the quick feet of Howe fullback Ben Mitchell creating panic in the visitors ranks.

More support and reading his running lines will bring benefits in future games.

The bonus points arrived for Falkirk with a fourth try from centre Faulds, once more converted by Call.

The visitors were reduced to 14 men, centre Rolleston lucky to only receive a yellow card for a spear tackle.

To Howe’s credit they persevered and only through said mistakes, they could not add to their score line.

Falkirk with a season or two in National 1, were deserving of their win.

For Howe it will require some application to the basics.

Cut out the mistakes, consolidate attacking positions, and they will grow through this season.

There is considerable talent to harness and develop.

Next up is a a journey through to Glasgow to meet Whitecraigs as Howe look to get their first league win of the new season on the board.