Howe of Fife 43-33 Murrayfield Wanderers

Will Howley scores Howe's final try to extend their lead. Pic by Chris Reekie.Will Howley scores Howe's final try to extend their lead. Pic by Chris Reekie.
Will Howley scores Howe's final try to extend their lead. Pic by Chris Reekie.
A year ago the Howe played GHK in Glasgow on a day when conditions dictated a certain type of game.

Then the youthful side were on the end of a narrow loss when a draw should have been the outcome.

Today there is a great deal more experience and a winning habit.

Could Howe maintain their unbeaten run?

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The backs selection contained a better balance, players in their natural positions.

Ian Aitken at ten, Thomson and Todd in the centres with Murray at fullback.

Dave Thomas returned to the front row. Peter Meiklem started in the second row with Thomson moving to 8, with Steven missing.

With a pre-season warm up match against Murrayfield Wanderers, the Howe would know to expect a robust style of forward play and better performance than last week against Perthshire was required.

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Early encounters showed the visitors willingness to use their forwards to good effect, utilising their backs. Gradually the Howe forwards began to dominate in the open.

Runners off lineouts and rucks creating positive momentum. Good link and support play created the foundation for the scores to come. Having pulled in the forward defence, the Howe backs passed the ball effectively to left wing James Barclay, to outpace his opposite number for a score, converted by Aitken. The second try was a perfect selection of interplay between Thomson and Aitken, the latter slipping in under the post to score and slot the conversion.

Howe were enjoying the greater level of possession. As in past weeks, Howley and Thomson prominent in the loose, with props Thomas and Hood causing all sorts of problems.

Then the backs again linked effectively. The simplicity of drawing the defence and short direct passing gave full back Murray the comfort of a stroll into the try line. Conversion missed by Aitken.

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Club captain James Lawrie made his first appearance after a few weeks following his late honeymoon. It was certainly an entertaining start. Murrayfield joined in with a try by centre Alex Godsmark, converted by Calum Gauld.

Howe continued to dominate in the forward play. The platform and phases of possession allowed the Howe backs the chances to strike wide. Howe secured their fourth try and bonus point from another swift and accurate passing moving to give Barclay his second.

Then Murray, relishing in the role of fullback, slipped a tackle and sprinted in under the posts for Aitken to add an easy kick.

Before the end of the half Murrayfield scored through fullback Pomphrey. Howe led 31-7, and deservedly so. Their attacking back play and strong forward runs giving Murrayfield no respite.

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In the opening stages of the second half it was more of the same with forwards and backs combining to give Murray his third try, converted by Aitken.

Then the visitors scored out wide, through prop McSorley. A resulting melee produced a yellow card for Howe replacement prop Scott Morrison and a wonderful long conversion from Gauld sprung the visitors to life.

Their forwards were dominant, and Murrayfield used the numerical advantage to score two more tries through centre Chapman and a second from fullback Pomphery, both converted with huge kicks by Gauld.

Having had the lion’s share of possession and attack, Howe had found themselves only five points in front. An unlikely scenario at half time.

Restored to fifteen Howe began to exert pressure.

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Having had little grasp of the ball and giving up 21 points it was their turn to play in the opposition’s half.

Howe laid siege to the visitor’s line. From a scrum close to the line, scrum half Manson and Howley combined for the latter to drive over for the conclusive score.

Taking the Howe ten points clear, 43-33. The home team held on to register their sixth win on the trot.

What should have been a clear-cut victory was closer than they would have wished.

On a positive note, they are finding ways to win games.