Kirkcaldy 18 GHA 24
Both sides arrived at Beveridge Park with a determination to take maximum points. For the Blues it was an opportunity to avenge a very heavy defeat earlier in the season at Braidholm and to gather points in their efforts to pull away from the bottom of the table. For the visitors the match provided an opportunity to return to winning ways after last week’s reversal and to maintain their presence in the top area of the league table. The pitch was in good condition and a bright dry day greeted the healthy crowd assembled for this floodlit match.A cold wind blew down the pitch from the clubhouse as both sides went through their preparations. The visitors side showed several positional changes due to injuries to key players.
GHA kicked off sending a high testing ball into the Kirkcaldy half. The home side gathered the ball and ran the ball straight back at the visitors. GHA won the ball in the loose and Jamie McCarthy and Dario Ewing tested the mettle of the home defence by attempting to drive through the middle of the park. The first few minutes showed both sides attempt to find weaknesses in their opponents rearguard. Dayle Turner was causing concern for the visitors by playing as an auxiliary stand off and taking the ball into contact to be recycled by his colleagues. In the fifth minute Ross McCorkindale took a huge hit and was clearly distressed as play raged around him. Ross had to leave the field and this allowed young Connor Drummond to enter the fray. GHA reorganised their back line but were clearly affected by yet another change to their line up. The Blues sensed there was an opportunity here and as GHA began an attacking move inside the Kirkcaldy twenty two metre area, a pass was intercepted by the hard working Dayle Turner who outsprinted the visitors to huge cheers from the local supporters side to score. The conversion failed and the score after ten minutes was KIRKCALDY 5 GHA 0.
The home side put huge pressure on the visitors, quickly engaging in the tackle and closing down GHA attempts to break out of their half. The visitors were troubled by deft chips over the head of advancing players by Finlay Smith. This forced the Braidholm side to scamper back to clear the danger. Gradually GHA weathered the onslaught from the home side and in fifteen minutes a lovely passing movement between Connor Drummond and Grant Mollison outwitted the home defence to allow Grant to score. The try was converted and the score after sixteen minutes was: KIRKCALDY 5 GHA 7.
This score allowed the visitors to settle and begin to assert themselves as they drove the home side back into their half. As we approached the half hour, the resilience of the visitors allowed them to take control of the match with a series of drives, recycles and three man drives penetrating deep into Blues territory. Kirkcaldy, attempting to kick the ball clear to relieve pressure allowed Aaron Purewal to gather the ball in his own half before astonishingly outstripping the home defence to score in the corner. The conversion failed and the score after thirty three minutes was KIRKCALDY 5 GHA 12.
The home side seemed shaken by this turn of events. They had started very strongly had capitalised on the reorganisation of the GHA side and indeed had pushed for further points. The resilience of GHA however had allowed them to overcome the early set back and to take the game to Kirkcaldy. The home side gathered themselves and made a huge effort to turn around their fortunes. As we approached half time the visitors had to withstand a furious onslaught by the home side. Several knock ons and misplaced passes took some of the sting out of the local attempts to gain ground. However a penalty converted in the thirty sixth minute from inside the GHA twenty two metre area by Finlay Smith reduced the deficit. Thus the score was now: KIRKCALDY 8 GHA 12.
This was the score at half time. It had been an exciting first half with both sides giving their all. Both sides were guilty of knock ons and misplaced passes and several times a move broke down by a player attempting to make a pass without looking at the proposed recipient. There was a feeling amongst the home support that even greater efforts by their favourites in the second half would be required to overtake the visitors.
Kirkcaldy started the second half with considerable menace. Sebastian Evans drove into the GHA half as the visitors were immediately placed on the back foot. Josh Laird was stretching the GHA defence as the local crowd sensed this was a pivotal time in the match. The visitors held their line but were penalised in the seventh minute for not releasing the ball in the loose. The penalty was converted and the score was now: KIRKCALDY 11 GHA 12.
The visitors seemed to realise the danger and redoubled their efforts. The home side were taken aback by the directness of the GHA onslaught and suddenly found themselves desperately defending their line. Patiently and with considerable guile, the GHA forwards drove towards the line, maintaining secure ball as they did so. With the Blues forwards committed Ross Angus stole round the maul to score. There was no conversion and the score after ten minutes was now: KIRKCALDY 11 GHA 17.
The visitors seized the initiative and again forward power aided and abetted by a lively back division soon had the local side penned in their own half.Grant Mollison made a huge break through Kirkcaldy ranks and only a last ditch tackle prevented him scoring. In the subsequent recycling Murray Houston ghosted through the sparse cover to score to great acclaim from his teammates. Murray converted his own try and the score after eleven minutes was now: KIRKCALDY 11 GHA 24.
The match was being played at a hectic pace. Several injuries created stoppages and whilst giving players a respite resulted in both sides losing momentum as the half wore on. There followed several minutes of directionless untidy play. A feature of the second half was the ability of GHA to disrupt line out and scrummage possession for Kirkcaldy which meant ragged ball and a GHA defence quick to stifle any breakouts from the home side. As we reached the half hour Kirkcaldy mounted a furious assault on the visiting defence, realising that time was not on their side. The GHA side had to defend move after move as the Blues inched into the GHA half. There was an air of uncertainty about the last ten minutes as to how long the referee would continue the half following several lengthy stoppages. This uncertainty seemed to inspire Kirkcaldy to make one last huge effort. The visiting side gave away several penalties as they desperately defended the integrity of their line. Indeed Luis Barron was yellow carded for misdemeanours in the loose. Once again GHA had to reorganise their resources in the dying minutes of the match. To a huge cheer, Kirkcaldy finally got their reward for their late endeavour when Scott Anderson sent the visiting defence the wrong way and went over to score. The try was converted and the score was now as we hovered on full time: KIRKCALDY 18 GHA 24.
This was the final score. It had been a tough match with the home side always prepared to attack the visitors. GHA had shown considerable resilience in the face of early setbacks and had kept their concentration at critical times in the match.
KIRKCALDY: J.BARCLAY A.BROOKS J.LAIRD A.BLACK J.MOFFATT F.SMITH G.McKENZIE W.BEATTIE C.HAMILTON M.SALT C.WOOD S.EVANS D.TURNER R.BONNER J.RAMSAY J.DENTON M.GRAHAM S.BARCLAY J.DEVINE S.ANDERSON
SCORERS: T – ANDERSON, TURNER C – SMITH P – SMITH (2)
GHA: G.MOLLISON A.SPOWART B.ADDISON J.BERGER A.PUREWAL R.McCORKINDALE M.HOUSTON M.FOX D.EWING S.FISHER A.BARNETT J.McCARTHY A.KERR R.ANGUS J.SUTHERLAND L.BARRON S.CARSON B.KASPAR F.FAULDS C.DRUMMOND
REFEREE: MR J SHAW
ASSISTANT REFEREES: Mr W ANDERSON MR K MCGHEE