Howe of Fife 17-0 West of Scotland

Howe winger Euan Muir evades two defenders to score Howe's first try. Pic by Chris Reekie.
Howe winger Euan Muir evades two defenders to score Howe's first try. Pic by Chris Reekie.

Having suffered defeat away to Berwick in the first league game of this season’s campaign, it was important for Howe to regroup.

The team for their first home match against West of Scotland contained a few changes, especially at the core of the team, with Ryan Hood at prop, Stewart Lathangie at scrum half and Ian Aitken at stand-off.

With a very strong wind blowing across Duffus Park, both sides would have to manage the conditions effectively.

This was apparent, with both having a scrappy start, finding handling difficult, and when Aitken kicked for touch on a couple of occasions the ball was whipped away before touching ground resulting in lineouts back just outside Howe’s 22m line.

Aitken also missed a penalty for Howe, trying to stroke the ball through the posts.

Ten minutes into the match Howe struck with a try.

Good driving by the forwards, a couple of swift passes, then clinical finishing by winger Euan Muir, slicing past a couple of lunging defenders to score wide out.

The conversion was unsuccessful.

The game was held up for a replacement to Howe’s centre Brad O’Hanlon who had to leave the field with a bad ankle injury.

Lathangie moved to centre and young Gregor Manson took up the scrum half duties.

And it was Lathangie who was on the end of a well worked move between himself and Aitken to dive over the line for Howe’s second try converted by Aitken.

West missed a long-range penalty after they had kicked a few to touch to set up forward drives off the lineout.

Their efforts were thwarted by strong Howe defence, their resilience and determination, the complete opposite to the game against Berwick.

When not defending, Howe created three excellent scoring opportunities in the first 40 minutes, which, with more composure and crisper passing should have led to more points on the board.

Therefore, at half time Howe led 12-0, but needed to be more clinical and show greater composure to see off the stuffy visitors.

For the early stages of the second period Howe built good phases through the forward drives to keep the pressure on West.

When the visitors did have some ball, their running lines were flat and their passing very indifferent, made much harder by the Howe pressurising them.

It was the old campaigner, Lathangie, who broke the deadlock of the second half.

He took the long way around the on coming defence, his strength shrugging off a couple of tackles to score wide out, too wide for the conversion.

Howe led 17-0 and looked good for a fourth and a bonus point.

What transpired was a sustained period of West dominating the game, and in control of the ball.

That they were unable to gain any sort of advantage was due to the almost smothering effect of a blanket of defence from every Howe player.

And some very wayward passing by West, again down to the massive defensive effort from Howe.

In the closing stages Howe regained control of the ball, creating chances of their own, which looked like giving them their bonus point fourth try.

One from captain James Lawrie, on having crossed the line, the referee, who was so far behind play, adjudged Lawrie to have completed a double movement although he was not held in the tackle and ruled out the score.

In the end it was a win for Howe.

A club spokesman said: “A much-improved display.

“More cohesive, more resilient, more structured. Yet frustrating.

“The scores which they missed will be something to work on as the side continues its development.

Next week the Howe travel north to Wick to take on Caithness.

Caithness were unable to send a team to Carrick this weekend due to a lack of available players.

That will not be the case with a home game. Howe will need to show more of the same in defence. And more accuracy in attack, to get a result.