Howe are simply untouchable in rampant victory
Howe of Fife………………...82West of Scotland……..10
The last two meetings between these sides had been close affairs, a win apiece and only 42 points in total recorded.
It was expected it would be much the same this time around – but it's safe to say that’s not how it transpired.
Having been deprived of key players last week, it was encouraging to see the return of Gregor Smith at fullback, and Rory Johnstone at hooker, in addition to George Tarling at Prop.
It was sponsors day at Duffus, a large crowd enjoyed the balmy September sun as Howe kicked off to the visitors. Three minutes into the game Howe won a turnover. Excellent interplay between backs and forwards saw Howe score through Dave Thomas under the posts for Aitken to convert.
Howe were showing an intensity and aggression, missing from last week, exerting pressure on West. The next score was created from turnover ball, superb support play from McIntyre, Lathangie and Aitken created room for Timmy Kennedy to slip pass his opposite number and score an unconverted try.
Howe continued to exhibit a huge work rate, running straight and hard, taking passes from depth and at pace. West had no answers. The rucks were dominated by Howe, West given no time to relax or regroup. A third score from returning Smith was a balletic tip on pass to the supporting fullback to score at the posts, an easy conversion for Aitken. 19-0 in less time than it took for the sponsors to get to their seats.
From the resulting restart Howe gathered in their own 22, the passage of interplay that followed left West in despair, the more tackles they made, the more support runners Howe had. It was as good a passage of play seen at Duffus Park. Cammy Walker ended the sequence, scoring out wide. Aitken superbly nudged over the conversion. The bonus point secured in under sixteen minutes.
Dictating defence is part of the modern game. Denying the opposition time to create phases of possession. On this day Howe were the masters. From another turnover young Ryan Powles was given space out wide. He maintained his composure and balance to score his maiden senior try in the corner. Aitken added another fine conversion.
Just before half time West created field position for practically only the second time in the match. They kept the ball within the forwards. Eventually Howe ran out of defenders. West were on the score board. The referee whistled for the end of the first forty minutes. Howe had commanded every element of the game. Even managing to miss a couple of scores they were unable to execute.
With the first half effort and control Howe exerted, it was probably inevitable their concentration would dip. West controlled the ball for ten minutes, working the Howe defence hard. As at the end of the first half, the West forwards rumbled and rolled for their second try.
Howe had been intelligently using their substitutions, rolling the front row off and on. It was sapping work, not surprising considering the pace Howe were playing and the warm afternoon. Walker made way for flyer Sen Murray with Kennedy moving to the other wing.
Immediately this paid off. A long kick from West was received by Smith on the run. His line of running and support with Kennedy created space for Murray to bamboozle the defence with his footwork to score. Aitken added the conversion. West must have been dreading kicking off, only for Howe to run back at them. The Howe attack was razor sharp, incisive, deadly. West were in panic mode. They had no answer to the blue and white hordes overwhelming them. Forwards and backs, both equal in their contribution, unstinting in their commitment.
Murray was over the line again. Once more it was the teamwork, and support creating his second. Converted by Aitken. Andy Harley stepped in on the act. His pace outstripped a forlorn and defeated
West defence. Aitken adding the extra two points. Walker back on the pitch, McIntyre having received a blow to his nose, added his second of the afternoon. Aitken adding the conversion.
Jake Douglas still had the energy, despite his coverage of the pitch, attending to his defensive duties, which had been tireless, to pop up in support, striding away to score. Aitken having the easiest of conversions.
The score of the afternoon came at a time when West were hammering yards away from the Howe try line. It defined the quality of the home side’s performance. Repeatedly they repelled the visitor’s attack. Maintained defensive composure, did not drift offside, worked as a solid wall the visitors could not break down. This emphatic defiance embodied every player’s enthusiasm for their delegated task.
Howe drove West off the ball, and, when it may have been an easier option to relieve the pressure with a kick downfield, they kept the ball in play. It ended up in the hands of Harley on the half-way line. His acceleration took him past a floundering defence to score a brace on the afternoon. Aitken converting.
There was still time for another score, Murray completing his hat-trick, Howe’s twelfth of the afternoon. Aitken brought the final tally to 82-10. Quite a transformation from last week against Perthshire.
There was a pragmatism about this performance, a simplicity in the basics, an energy and belief in the team. It was wonderful for spectators to watch. It must have been marvellous to play in. Next week they travel to Lasswade, on the outskirts of the Capital. Never an easy venue for Howe. About time all that changed.