Highland 44, Glenrothes Rugby 27
There cannot be many times when Glenrothes have scored five tries but ended up losing the game but this is precisely what happened at Canal Park in Inverness on Saturday.
The reds showed that in attack they were more than good enough to win this fixture, but unfortunately they came up short in defence.
As they had done the previous week, Glenrothes got off to a slow start with Highland scoring in their first attack.
The try was awarded in the corner and the conversion attempt proved beyond stand off Craig Irvine’s range.
Things got worse for the visitors five minutes later when Daryl Warrender picked up at the back of a scrum in the shadow of his own posts. He was tackled and a ruck formed but the ball shot out of the side of the ruck with Highland’s Ruaridh MacDonald reacting quicker than any reds player and touching down under the posts. Irvine converted.
Glenrothes shrugged off their sluggish start and a couple of promising thrusts on the Highland line led to a penalty 5m from the line. From the scrum Ross Anderson dived over for the reds, but Shaun Gray’s conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
The game was tied when Anderson had a great break stopped just short of the line and Highland were penalised for not releasing him after the tackle. Aaron Campbell was the beneficiary of a quick penalty and he dotted the ball down to the right of the posts. Gray’s only successful kick of the day gave a scoreline of 12-12.
Highland recovered their own restart kick. They quickly passed the ball to the right wing where Steven Rutledge avoided four would be tacklers to dance over the line. Irvine’s try restored a 7 point margin.
Away pressure eventually told when Highland conceded a scrum 5m from their line near the left wing and Grubb scored in the corner.
Highland’s prop Stuart Watson then touched down under the posts and gave Irvine the easiest of conversions to give a half time score of 26-17.
In the second half Highland stood firm and increased their lead with a brace of penalties from Irvine, the second also resulting in a yellow card for James Cowan.
The fourteen players in red conceded no more points until just before Cowan’s return, Ed James claiming the home team’s fifth try which Irvine converted. Stuart Hainey was yellow carded for an attempt to slide in with his foot to clear the ball as James touched down.
The reds took the game to their opponents who only halted one attack with a high tackle on Goodall. The resulting penalty was dispatched to touch and the line out drove to the goal line before Michael Delorey took the ball and dived over in the corner.
The next Glenrothes attack also suffered a high tackle but this time referee Jonathon MacKinnon played a good advantage and the ball found its way to Jordan Grubb who ran in from 22m out to claim his second try of the day and the Glens’ fifth.
No sooner had Hainey returned to the pitch than Highland were reduced to fourteen players when Irvine was sin binned for tackling Gray well after the full back had parted with the ball.
With ten minutes to go, facing fourteen men and having just scored two tries the 12 point margin was not insurmountable and at least a losing bonus point looked achievable. Highland had other ideas though and scored after fielding yet another Glenrothes kick. Craig Findlater shrugging off two tackles before scoring the final try of the day.
Team: S Gray, R Anderson, R Bryce, C Goodall, J Grubb, S Hainey, M Delorey, L Fowlis, S Morrison, S McAlpine, R Hutchison, J Cowan, R Douglas, A Campbell, D Warrender Replacements K Harrow, R Doig, C May.