Howe of Fife Rugby Club: League leaders Preston Lodge see off Fife side 29-22

Howe try scorer Will Hodgkins breaks through the visitors' defence (Pic by Chris Reekie)Howe try scorer Will Hodgkins breaks through the visitors' defence (Pic by Chris Reekie)
Howe try scorer Will Hodgkins breaks through the visitors' defence (Pic by Chris Reekie)
Playing their first National League Division 3 match in three weeks after recent postponements, Howe of Fife succumbed 29-22 at home to leaders Preston Lodge in windy and wet conditions in Cupar last Saturday.

The Prestonpans visitors landed the first score through Johnstone early on but the conversion was unsuccessful.

Running repairs were required for Howe’s Iestyn Richards, who eventually succumbed to injury.

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Lodge then kicked a penalty via Falgate to increase their lead to 8-0.

Howe registered their first points with a Kain Duguid penalty, only for the visitors to score their second try through Pollard moments later.

The home team were then forced into another change with Kaylan Dewar on at prop.

Rory Johnstone then scored for the Cupar outfit under the posts, Duguid adding the extra two points.

At half-time, Howe were back in the game at 10-15.

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As the second half started the mood did not improve. The rain became heavier and the visitors dominated as they had at the start. The scrum power turned. Howe were now on the retreat.

Preston Lodge scored two tries, both converted to lead 10-29, with plenty time still on the clock.

The Howe supporters, sheltering in the stand, maybe were thinking the worst.

However, this group of players have real character, led by their bouncing bomb, captain Fraser Allan.

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And, in the foul conditions, strong runs from fullback Finlay Foulkes and winger Cammy Walker caused panic in the visitors’ defence.

Howe replaced vice-captain Andy Harley with Scotland under-18 squad member, Ben Curtis, still only 17.

The Howe forwards were in the ascendency, Dingle, Thomson, Howley and Douglas commanding the ball, taking it close to the visitors’ try line.

From the ruck, it was Curtis who scored with a snipping dummy and dart to the line for Howe to register a second score.

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Late on, Howe nudged a penalty close to the try line and it appeared Jamie Thomson had scored. But, with the referee unsighted, a Preston Lodge player grabbed the ball out of Thomson’s hands.

Howe dug into their reserves as the rain poured from the skies. The forwards refused to be submissive, bossing the visitors.

It was a reward for their dogged determination with Will Hodgkins diving over to score. A conversion would give Howe at least a losing bonus point.

Duguid unsurprisingly missed from a long-range kick, only for the referee to call for the kick to be retaken due to unsportsmanlike behaviour from one of the visiting players shouting as Duguid took the kick.

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Duguid then hit a peach of a kick to the delight of the soaked spectators.

Both sides should be commended for their commitment in the most appalling conditions.

Howe will rue the slow starts at the start of the first and second half.

This Saturday, Howe – fourth with 40 points from 12 matches – travel to seventh-placed Dumfries Saints in the league with kick-off at 2pm.

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