KIRKCALDY 41 KELSO 14
After a minute’s applause in memory of the late Willie Matthew, Kirkcaldy hit this game venomously, driving into the opposition.
Recycling at pace Quintan Sanft’s side made their intentions clear and were quickly on their way to a satisfying bonus point win.
Sanft could not disguise his pleasure at the performance of his side, commenting: “We had a tough time at Selkirk but worked hard during the week.
“We knew that our pack could cope with most of the other packs in National 1 but had to adjust the speed of reaction.
“We set the pace of this game which Kelso struggled to match.
“I know we struggled a bit around half time when we were down to 13 men but showed what we could do when returned to full strength.
“Altogether it was the type of performance we planned for.”
Kirkcaldy appeared to have learned the lessons of the Selkirk defeat as they upped the pace of their game dominating early possession.
Within seven minutes they went 7-0 ahead. A quickly taken free kick in midfield threw the Kelso defence into confusion as the ball sped to Conar Littlejohn.
The centre accelerated away and had a clear path to the goal line for his side’s first try with Finlay Smith adding the extra points.
The Blues relentless pursuit of the points had Kelso struggling in their 22. with the loss of several penalties.
From one such kick to touch a clean line-out take saw Connor Wood drive through paper thin defence for the second Kirkcaldy try again converted by Smith.
The Blues backs were playing with a sharp fluency, stand off Alex Black always anxious to vary play constantly brought the threatening back line into action.
There were several more try chances but Kelso just held, only yielding one more penalty before half time.
As the interval neared the Blues suffered a double blow with Dayle Turner and Michael Harper yellow carded in quick succession with the latter deemed to have used a dangerous tackle to stop a try.
In the closing minutes of the half and the Blues down to 13 men Kelso made their advantage count with a Craig Dods try converted by himself which left the score at half time 17-7.
This score appeared to revive Kelso spirits and possibly the third quarter was their best period of the game.
Unrelenting Kirkcaldy defence blunted their attack however and another Smith penalty extended the home lead.
Shortly afterwards the Blues suffered another blow as prop Marcus Salt had to be assisted off with a serious looking leg injury.
Around the hour mark play had a disjointed look, not helped when Kelso hooker Michael Downer went to the bin.
Having an extra man the Blues regained the initiative. Their mastery of the set pieces continued, particularly at the touch line.
The first of Finlay Bruce’s two tries confirmed home superiority, quickly followed by another counter from the winger which earned the bonus point.
Both tries were converted by Smith for a handsome 34-7 lead.
Kirkcaldy had a sixth try from hooker Greg Wallace. Kelso had been trying to run the ball out of defence and the passing became increasingly panicy and rushed.
The final pass was so ill timed that Wallace had the easiest of interceptions to scamper to the line.
With the issue settled the Borderers had a consolation try from Liam Herdman converted by Dods.
This 41-14 scoreline reflects an excellent Kirkcaldy showing involving all 20 players.
Powerful running by the forwards spearheaded by lock Connor Wood ably assisted by Harper constantly took the ball to their opponents and with swift recycling the backs had every opportunity to attack.
Kirkcaldy: F Smith, F Bruce, C Littlejohn, J Laird, O Bonner, A Black, G McKenzie, D Jennings, G Wallace, M Salt, C Wood, M Harper, M Harvey D Turner, J Pow. Replacements: G Queen, K Nattrass, S Robertson, R Brown, C Carey.
Kelso:- M Hastie, C Butler, P Hume, G Mein A Jackson, C Dods, L Herdman, A Wheelhouse, M Downer, C Izuhukwu, D Welsh, C Brown, K Dryden, K Mein, C Marshall. Replacements: A Marshall, R Hastie, R Ford, M Wilson.
Fife Trophy Centre Star Check: 3 Connor Wood, 2 Conar Littlejohn, 1 Alex Black.
Cumulative: 6 Connor Wood; 3 Josh Laird; 2 Jack Pow, Dayle Turner, Conar Littlejohn; 1 Finlay Smith, Struan Robertson, Alex Black.