KIRKCALDY 22 GALA 14
Kirkcaldy battled back from the GHA shambles with a morale rousing win against Gala at Beveridge Park last Saturday.
Although they had an alarming negative penalty count and were reduced to 13 players early in the second half, Quintan Sanft's men came from a 14-8 deficit to dominate the final quarter and take the points.
Director of Rugby Mark Henderson, clearly delighted that his side had returned to winning ways, commented: “We worked hard during the week and this clearly paid off.
"Our focus hardly wavered and even when we were down to 13 men concentration was maintained.
"The losing run had to stop some time and to do it against a club of Gala's standing was a superb performance."
Kirkcaldy had a much stronger line-up this week, although still short of optimum strength and they started with an intensity which must have surprised their opponents.
This early aggression failed to find a way to the line and Gala slowly found their feet.
A series of rolling mauls took the Borderers up to the line but they conceded a penalty and the pressure was relieved.
Aggression coursed through Kirkcaldy veins, thoroughly unsettling Gala. One Michael Harper run scattered the Gala defence to all corners and the huge prop just ran out of steam after a 50 metre run.
The first Kirkcaldy score was not long delayed.
A penalty to touch 10 metres from the Gala line set up a series of driving mauls from which schoolboy lock Struan Robertson emerged and showing considerable strength worked his way over the line for an unconverted try.
The Blues had a major let off.
Gala centre Daniel Nicholson weaved his way through the Kirkcaldy defence apparently to touch down at the posts. However, he had failed to ground the ball properly and referee Ross Mabon ordered a 5 metre scrum for Kirkcaldy
The home side had the better territorially of the closing part of the first half, testing the Gala defence to the full but disappointed their supporters that they only added a Finlay Smith penalty to their score which left the Blues with an 8-0 half time lead.
The Braw Lads restarted with real venom and immediately the Blues were struggling in defence.
Under severe pressure they conceded a shoal of penalties and after a warning to the captain, Rhys Bonner and Michael Harper trooped off in quick succession to the bin reducing their side to 13 men.
Within minutes Gala had a penalty try to reduce their deficit to a single point. Then six minutes later flanker Kieran Brown crashed through for a second score and Simon Fairburn added the conversion and Gala now looked to be on the road to victory.
In the final quarter Kirkcaldy dug deep into their reserves of strength and Gala weaknesses became clear.
Attacking wide the Blues showed they were not relegation fodder. A testing kick from Smith forced Gala to concede a 5 metre scrum and again Kirkcaldy forward power took Rhys Bonner over the line for a try converted by Smith so restoring the Kirkcaldy lead at 15-14.
Gala were far from done and they also tried the wide route to the line. Only a try stopping tackle in the 76th minute by Smith prevented Aidan Turner powering away from his own 22.
This failure appear to douse the Gala fire and in the second last minute Kirkcaldy scrum half Scott Anderson nipped over to cap a pleasing performance.
Deep into stoppage time Kirkcaldy might have had the four try bonus point but a tactical kick failed to find its target.
This was an uplifting Kirkcaldy win achieved through real endeavour which suggests that they will not be the whipping boys of the division and make others look up.
Kirkcaldy: F Smith, R Brown, C Littlejohn, A Black, O Bonner, G McKenzie, S Anderson, M Thomson, G Wallace, M Harper, C Wood, S Robertson, R Bonner, D Turner, J Pow.
Replacements: W Beattie, C Hamilton, M Harvey, J Barclay, S Laing.
Gala: G Speirs, R Cooke, R Jeffrey, D Nicholson, A Turner, S Fairburn, G Hamilton, M Christie, C Keen, T Logan, Irvine, O Polepoi, A Emond, K Brown, S Cairns. Replacements: J Easson, J McCabe, J Turnbull, L Johnston, J Frew.
Referee: R Mabon (SRU)
Fife Trophy Centre Star Check: 3 Struan Robertson, 2 Rhys Bonner, 1 Finlay Smith
Current standings: 9 Connor Wood; 6 Struan Robertson; 5 Jack Pow, Rhys Bonner; 3 Josh Laird, Matthew Harvey; 2 Dayle Turner, Conar Littlejohn, Alex Black, Finlay Smith; 1 Michael Harper, Jack Denton.