Dumfries Saints 31 Kirkcaldy 24
In front of an excellent home crowd Saints took the field against league leaders Kirkcaldy. Their last visit was in 2010 and they have been playing in the higher leagues since then. Like Saints they were undefeated so far in Division 2, unlike Saints they were massive, this was going to be a tough test for Dumfries, someone’s winning streak was coming to an end.
The pace was fast and furious end to end in the opening minutes with Kirkcaldy having an the bulk of the possession and Saints doing the tackling but also winning a few turnovers to help clear their lines. The first series of scrums was just outside the Saints 5 metre with Kirkcaldy opting for a scrum after Saints pulled down a maul. This was obviously an area of the game Kirkcaldy sought to dominate and after a few resets pushed over for the scrumhalf to score and full back to convert. 0 : 7 with 10 minutes played.
From the restart Saints pinned Kirkcaldy down and a terrific break by Rory Steele took them to within inches of the Kirkcaldy line, from a resulting lineout Saints kept up the pressure taking play to the opposite touchline where slick hands from Michael Thomson put Gavin Wilson in the corner. The conversion was missed 5 : 7
Failure to secure the restart put Saints under pressure and they gave a way a penalty on their 22 which Kirkcaldy kicked to go 5 : 10 up.
A Saints scrum on the Kirkcaldy 22 lead to the most simple of tries for Kenny Henderson speeding down the wing. A touchline conversion from John Carlisle and it was 12 : 10.
Big tired Kirkcaldy front rows were being found resting in areas of the field where there ball handling skills and ability to tackle fast backs were found to be lacking and good inter-passing between Kenny Henderson and Zeke Dyson put Kenny over in the corner for his second and another touchline conversion from John Carlisle, 19 :10.
Fast passing and another great line break by Rory Steele put Keagan Jones over in the corner. The conversion was missed, 24 : 10.
Several attacking plays by Kirkcaldy were thwarted but just before half time they laid on some sustained pressure for a converted try under the posts. Half time 24 : 17.
Saints started the second half in attack and kept Kirkcaldy pinned in their 22, Paddy Coupar pick up at number 8 from a retreating scrum and drove forward putting the Kirkcaldy defence on the back foot for fast ball out to Kenny Henderson led to his third try under the posts and a conversion from John Carlisle took it to 31 : 17.
Kirkcaldy’s next prolonged attacked gave space to their nippy scrum half to dart over for a try which the converted to take the score to 31 : 24.
Jack Johnstone took a quick tap penalty on the Kirkcaldy 10 and was stopped by a Kirkcaldy player who had not retired 10 so he got 10 minutes in the bin. The penalty was missed.
The game was taking its toll on players Scott Goodwin had succumbed to his recurring foot injury and replacement prop Gareth McCall to a groin injury so the game went to uncontested scrums.
Frustrated Kirkcaldy lost their cool and a punch to Andrew Whiteford saw a second of their players sent to the bin.
The pace was still relentless and when awarded a kickable penalty in stoppage time Saints debated about kicking for goal, risking a miss and another Kirkcaldy attack or kicking the ball dead and opted for safety.
This was very had fought victory against a much bigger side that really reinforces Park Farm as a fortress for the home side. Four games played and four wins puts Saints on top of the league to face Biggar away next Saturday. It’s not far to travel and a good away support would be a definite advantage.
Squad: R Steele, K Henderson, J Steele (capt), J Carlisle, K Jones, J Kerr, J Johnston, G McCall, Z Dyson, S Goodwin, M Thomson, W Greene, G Wilson, M Scott, F Miller, T Martin, J Thomson, P Coupar, A Whiteford.