Hard work is paying off for Howe of Fife
Hillhead Jordan…..….....12Howe of Fife………………...26
A few enforced changes for Howe meant Sean Murray appeared at stand-off, George Tarling at prop and Timmy Kennedy back on the wing.
Jake Douglas was back in the second row after injury.
Howe scored in 17 minutes when excellent work by Tarling, Douglas and Thomson set up quick ruck ball. Harley passed to Murray, before Eden Cruickshank released Gregor Smith to score out wide. Smith was unable to convert his own try.
Howe’s next score came when Murray booted the ball over the try line and dropped on it to score. Smith converted.
Just before half time the referee adjudged Howe did not retreat from repeated 10m penalty infringements and kept marching them back. One of many indifferent decisions, against both sides, he made during the match. This home side used the position close to the line to rumble over under the post for a score, with an easy conversion.
The second period began with the home side taking the game to Howe, using the wind, kicking into touch close to the Howe line. It was encouraging to note the massive improvement to the Howe lineout following the match against Ardrossan. Only the swirling wind causing issues. Howe’s defensive resilience, from a very young side, was admirable. Their work rate and commitment to the tackle, unnerved Hillhead, stopping them close to the line. Murray’s incessant communication to his backline helped keep any attack out.
From a penalty turnover, Smith booted the ball downfield. The Howe forwards won the lineout, then proceeded to generate phase possession, moving forward. Ryan Powles emerged from a ruck, running into space managing to slip a pass to the supporting Smith. The fullback strode away from a despairing defence to score his second try, adding the successful conversion.
Replacement Salmond came on for an injury to Rory Johnstone, young James Stockwell was replaced by Warrender. The changes had no effect on the Howe’s defence. They continued to repel every Hillhead attack, right in front of their own try line. Howe touched down behind their own line, necessitating a goal line drop out. Unfortunately, the kick went straight into touch. The referee rightly awarding a scrum, five yards out to Hillhead.
Howe had found it uncomfortable at times in the scrum. Hillhead made opportunity count, driving Howe back. From the back row pick up they scored close to the posts and converted. It was now back to a one score difference.
Howe never let up in their aggressive defence. The Hillhead attack never gained momentum. Stopped in their tracks by Howe. And any stray Hillhead kicks were run right back at them by Smith. Jack Todd and Cruickshank.
From a dominant Howe turnover, Smith kicked into the wind, finding touch. The Howe forwards won the lineout and in a replica of the try after half time, they were patient in the build-up, handling the
ball well, powering through the defence, phase after phase. Jake Douglas rounded off his return to the side, burrowing under to score a valuable fourth bonus point try, converted by Smith.
Winning away from Home is never easy. To do so with a depleted side, and an average scrum age of 19 speaks volumes for their character. The win was a reward for the evident work they have put in on lineout and defence. With two of the top teams still to visit Cupar, an interesting second part of the season awaits. They have earned some recovery time during the Scotland Autumn Test series.