1st XV v Kirkcaldy 07.09.2019

Kirkcaldy 26 Dumfries Saints 29

First league game of the season and newly relegated Kirkcaldy had put 80 points on newly promoted Newton Stewart in the cup the previous week. Saints were still looking for some barometer of where they were in relation to the other teams in the league.

In perfect conditions Kirkcaldy took the initiative from the kick off with good linked play between forwards and backs putting a kick to the Saints line and chasing up with an incredible speedy full back closing down a 10 yard start to challenge Saints Captain Ewan Miller to a touchdown that Ewan won by a finger nail. But a minute later an equally fast Kirkcaldy captain and centre Josh Laird scored after a burst of acceleration. There standoff Craig Letham converted.

Saints settled and when they were able to control the ball were forcing Kirkcaldy to concede penalties. A break through the centre of the field from Calum Smith put Jack Steele into space and he took the ball into the 22 for Lewis Young to finish. Alan Birdsall converted to level the scores.

Within minutes Ewan Miller broke through the centre and this time Jack Steel finished off for Alan Birdsall to convert. This was not in the script that the home crowd or the home team were expecting. The Saints pack were conceding several kilos per man but were holding their own in the scrum, more than holding their own at the breakdown and dominating the lineouts which combined with the Saints outstanding defence to break down the Kirkcaldy discipline.

The first half played out to the last 5 minutes when a rare missed tackle gave giant Kirkcaldy back row Jacob Ramsay a clear run down the wing to set up front row Greg Wallace to bulldoze over Letham converted to level the scores.

Saints replied with full back Rob Greenshields collecting a long kick in his own 22 and running it well into the Kirkcaldy half before it went through several hands to release Jack Steele to touch down under the posts for Alan Birdsall to convert. Half time and its Kirkcaldy 14 Saints 21.

The second half started with Kirkcaldy fired up leading to a yellow card for front row Wallace. But Ramsay again had a bullocking run and set up another front row Jennings to bulldoze over but the conversion was missed. This was turning into a torrid affair with neither side giving an inch. When restored to 15 men it was Wallace again that trundled over from a well worked move off a ruck on the Saints 5 metre. The conversion took the score to Kirkcaldy 26 Dumfries 21.

Despite the serious speed Kirkcaldy had out wide it was there well tried and tested pack that were doing the scoring and the Saints wide defence denied them space to run.

Despite the score line Saints had the upper hand and when a great handling move was halted by a player being tackled before he got the ball Allan Birdsall kicked the penalty to take the scores to 26 : 24.

Tempers flared and a Kirkcaldy player got a red card for kicking Saints replacement forward Nathan Brown who unfortunately got a yellow for retaliating. Saints superior fitness and determination dominated the final 10 minutes with captain Ewan Miller finishing of a period of well controlled possession. The conversion was missed but the game was won with a bonus point.

This was great start to the Saints season and real team performance from a settled squad.

Team: Robert Greenshields, Robert Neill, Jack Steele, Ewan Miller (captain), Robert Douglas, Alan Birdsall, Lewis Young, Sean Graham, Tom Martin, Craig Goldie, David Andrew, Will Greene, Ian Carlisle, Ryan Cruikshank, Calum Smith, Scott Goodwin, Blair Milligan, Nathan Brown and Edward Martin

Next Saturday at 3pm is the Saints first home game of the season against Whtecraigs.