Howe of Fife 29-11 Strathmore

Winger James Barclay sprints past Strathmore's defence for Howe's final try. Picture by Chris Reekie.Winger James Barclay sprints past Strathmore's defence for Howe's final try. Picture by Chris Reekie.
Winger James Barclay sprints past Strathmore's defence for Howe's final try. Picture by Chris Reekie. | Chris Reekie Photography
The visit of Strathmore for this National League Cup quarter final would prove to be a robust test.

Strathmore, coached by former Dundee High player, and Barbarian, Alan Brown met an unchanged Howe side would be hoping to extend their cup run into the semi-final.

The visitors were the first to score with a penalty from hooker Lee Alexander.

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Howe came more into the run of play, yet mistakes were a’plenty. Dropped balls, poor passes, kicking the ball away, among their shortcomings.

They did muster a try from good driving from the forwards with prop Dave Thomas finding his way through a cluster of Strathmore players to score.

Iain Aitken was unable to convert in the difficult windy conditions.

Howe’s scrum was under pressure, Strathmore making them work hard to control a retreating ball.

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From another handling error from Howe, the visitors had good field position inside the Howe 22.

An offside decision against Howe gave Alexander another easy kick to peg Howe back to 5-6. Iain Aitken was replaced by the returning Dylan Suttie, off for minor repairs.

As much as Howe worked hard to create another score, their accuracy and execution of pass was missing.

It was Strathmore who fashioned a try.

Hard running winger James Kiely crossing for score Alexander missed the conversion.

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With a referee from the higher leagues and two independent touch judges, the players were certainly kept under wraps at the offside.

Inexplicably Craig Clark yellow carded Howe’s Andy Steven for an offside defence, having had no previous warning.

To Howe’s credit their defence withstood the Strathmore offensive, with no further scores to the half time whistle.

After the break, Sean Murray moved onto the wing and coach Gavin Emerson came into the second row, Jamie Thomson moving to the back row.

Howe rediscovered the accuracy of their passing.

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It is a potent attack when simple execution releases the pace within the side.

Firstly, Stewart Lathangie delivered a beautiful dummy to the supporting Murray, stepped inside the covering defender and sprinted to score.

Howe’s renewed confidence was transparent.

Strong runs from, Johnstone, Thomas, Howley and Thomson and the ebullient Fraser Allan, kept up the onslaught on the visitors.

And it was Allan on one of his customary electric bursts, broke through the defence. Wrong footing two defenders, then off-loading a pass to captain James Lawrie.

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An ever-present support runner. Lawrie powered over for Howe’s third score.

Aitken back on the field, added the conversion.

This was closely followed by a Sean Murray try. Jack Todd straightening his run, before passing to Murray who skipped passed his opposite number to score. Aitken failed with the conversion. Three tries in just over twelve minutes gave Howe a comfortable cushion. In the last round against Perthshire they failed to maintain their superiority.

They could afford the same against Strathmore.

Strathmore persevered but could not break down the hard-working Howe defence.

There was one memorable moment much appreciated by the sizable crowd.

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Emerson receiving a low pass with a defender about to tackle him, flipped the ball between his legs to the supporting player, James Barclay.

It was the same player, Barclay, rounding off a positive second half for Howe.

Barclay had a lot of work to do when he received the ball around the half-way line.

His pace and elusiveness evaded a couple of tackles, sprinting to score. Aitken completed the score, with the conversion.

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With the final whistle the Howe now wait on their semi-final opponents.

Before then there is the visit of Berwick next week for a game league game postponed through a frost covered Duffus.

A win next week is vital to maintain the current momentum and a place in the top four.

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