Howe of Fife will be playing their rugby under a new head coach in National League Three next season.
Relegation was confirmed at the weekend as the young Howe side went down to Preston Lodge.
As has been the case for the entire season, the side gave it their all, but found themselves coming up just short on the day.
The improvement in the young Howe side has been very evident over the past few games.
Whatever the outcome from this match there is a strong foundation for the Howe’s new coach to build on for next season.
Once again, the Howe personnel required a little shuffling around.
Ben Mitchell moved into 10, Cameron Patrick was at 12, Cammy Walker at 15, Euan Muir at 14 and Will Howley was at four packing down with George Henderson.
Luckily the heavy early rain had stopped, but it remained grey and cold, the pitch wet and sticky.
Receiving the kick Howe’s Chris Mann could not hold the catch, the ball tumbling into touch. Not the start they wanted.
Yet it was nearly 20 minutes before the first score. It went to the visitors when prop Aaron Morton barrelled over from a close maul and drive by Preston. The score went unconverted.
The industry and commitment to tackle and defence from Howe was outstanding during the first quarter of the game.
The visitors were more, stocky and heavy built. Yet the Howe chopped them down, forced them into errors and pirated some quality turnover ball.
Despite the conditions, Howe were attacking strongly.
Closing towards the second quarter it was very much all Howe.
Their efforts were rewarded when Chris Mann broke free from a throng of Preston defenders to bullock his way over for a try close to the posts for Andy Harley to convert.
The Howe led 7-5. Despite another couple of close efforts by Howe it was the visitors who regained the lead with a darting try from scrum half Dale Gordon.
Just before the break.
This went unconverted and at half time it was close at 7-10 to Preston.
Howe continued to play with great shape, creating a twenty-minute period of sustained pressure, pegging PL back in their own 22.
It was evident Howe were getting under the skin of Preston who were visitors regularly infringing at the breaking, which saw referee Reid deliver a couple of yellow cards.
For Howe, two missed opportunities seemed to swing the momentum in favour of PL. Howe missed a close-range penalty.
Then a missed kick into touch form a penalty on the 22 went over the dead ball area. Presto once again scored from another sprint and finish from lively scrum half Dale Gordon.
It was evident where Preston Lodge were concentrating their attack, through their heavier forwards.
Two more tries came from those tactics, a second from prop Aaron Morton, then his fellow prop, Kyle Scott with a conversion from Paul Glynn.
Howe president Chris Reekie played tribute to the side, and said there is reason to be optimistic next season.
He said: “The watching new Howe coach would have been very impressed by the number of strong performances on the day.
“And departing coach Chris Martin can be satisfied at the development and direction these young players have undergone this season.
“It does mean it is National League 3 next season and few lengthy journeys across Scotland.
“It will not be an easy transition down.
“There are some very capable sides.
“What the Howe will have learned through the difficulties of this season is, with a positive attitude and a healthy work ethic for improvement in all aspects of their game they can be competitive and start to get back a winning mentality.”