Strong finish unable to save Blues from defeat

A fourth successive defeat for Kirkcaldy head coach Quintan Sanft. Photo: Michael Booth
A fourth successive defeat for Kirkcaldy head coach Quintan Sanft. Photo: Michael Booth

Peebles 26 Kirkcaldy 21

The Blues seemed completely out if it 16 minutes into the second half at the Gytes as Peebles extended their lead to 26-0.

In the remaining time Kirkcaldy dominated possession and territory as the home side’s earlier slickness disappeared.

By the end the Blues were well worth their losing bonus point and if the game had lasted another few minutes might have stolen an unlikely win.

That bonus point takes the Blues’ total to 10, more than any other side in the divisions.

Yet again Kirkcaldy finished strongly but failed to make up a first half deficit.

In this Peebles game however they did not concede early scores as in several other games.

In fact they defended strongly and forced the home side into conceding a string of penalties, blunting their attack.

When in possession Peebles looked to be more than competent side, moving the ball sweetly at pace and carrying real menace.

Kirkcaldy full back Kurt Littlejohn marginally impeded his opposite number Martin Cruickshanks after the latter had kicked deep into the Kirkcaldy 22 and Littlejohn had the double misfortune to be given a yellow card and see the referee award a double penalty.

Naturally Peebles took the better option of a kick about five metres from the Kirkcaldy line, placing the ball into touch.

The Blues defended their line well but eventuality captain Donald Anderson nipped over. Greg Raeburn competed the score with the conversion kick.

This opening score in the 23rd minute appeared to give Peebles added zest and while Littlejohn was off Kirkcaldy had to dig deep into defensive resources.

After the visitors had been restored to full strength the Gytes side continued to hold the upper hand and looked well capable of adding to their tally.

Towards half time the Blues had a few attacking forays but plagued with slow ball their threats were easily contained.

In the dying minute of the first period Peebles regained the initiative and it was hardly a surprise when left winger Scott Stoddart raced away for his side’s second try, again converted by Raeburn.

At the half time whistle Peebles led 14-0. There was little doubt as to which side bossed the third quarter. By the 56th minute the Peebles lead had increased to 26-0.

Stoddart added a third unconverted try six minutes before Raeburn converted his own try.

As the hour mark approached Kirkcaldy, against the run of play, had a try of their own.

Veteran bruiser Greg Wallace, making a rare start, was credited with the score as the Kirkcaldy pack launched a drive on the Peebles line. Craig Letham converted.

At the time this seemed to be a token Kirkcaldy reply to a high Peebles tally.

However it indicated a strong Kirkcaldy come back and saw the Blues dominate the fourth quarter.

Peebles strength appeared to wane and a second Kirkcaldy try followed, again from Wallace with an assist from James Pow, again converted by Letham saw the deficit narrow to 26-14.

In the closing stages Peebles conceded a shoal of penalties eventually leading to a yellow card for replacement Liam Daly.

With numerical advantage and their pack now in rampant mode a converted try from Steve Mitchell again converted by Letham took the Blues into bonus point territory but time eventually ran out for them.

Kirkcaldy: K Littlejohn, J Moffat, C Littlejohn, F Smith, O Bonner, C Letham, G McKenzie, G Queen, G Wallace, G Mangalo, James Pow, C Wood, Jack Pow, R Bonner, S Mitchell. Replacements: S McLean, M Harper, K Fraser, Q Sanft.

Referee: G Pounder (CRRS).

Fife Trophy Centre Star Check: 3 Greg Wallace, 2 Kurt Littlejohn, 1 Craig Letham.

Current standings: 16 Rhys Bonner; 7 James Pow, Greg Wallace; 6 Liam Neilson, Connor Wood, Kurt Littlejohn; 3 Finlay Smith, Conor Litlejohn, Owen Bonner, Steve Mitchell; 1 Danny Jennings, Michael Harper.