4 months ago
By Christopher Mclellan
A great way to start 2018 for the 1st XV
When these teams last met in East Kilbride on September 16th EK recorded a 24-17 points victory in what was a keenly contested match. Autumn internationals and severe frosts had left East Kilbride without a game since November 4th while Kilmarnock had fared slightly better having last played on December 2nd. For both teams, therefore, this was a test of how match ready they were following a lengthy lay off.
This was a winter’s day. The sun shone and visibility was excellent but it was cold and the ground was heavy. East Kilbride kicked off with the sun at their backs and Kilmarnock took the game back to them. Having sustained pressure from the home team and conceded nothing EK then attacked the Kilmarnock line with Calum Simpson coming close as he broke through the Kilmarnock defence only to be taken out by a last gasp tackle from their full back. It did not take EK much longer to get on to the score board and 16 minutes into the half Paul Rosie burst through for the first of his two tries. Scott Shankie converted. What followed was not good news for East Kilbride. Scott Aitken made a good catch from the kick off but suffered a leg injury when tackled hard. This signalled the end of his game and the bulk of Alastair Dalgleish was called into action. Up to that point EK had dominated the set piece but Scott’s departure left EK without a recognised prop so scrums were uncontested from that point forward.
When the game did get underway EK continued the assault on the Kilmarnock line and the travelling support did not have to wait long for Alex Irvine to cross the home team’s goal line for a try that Scott Shankie converted. The rampaging forward play that had typified the EK game continued and led to a third try and Paul Rosie’s second. Scott Shankie’s conversion brought the score to 21-0 but the half was not over. During the final 5 minutes of the half EK were on the back foot as Kilmarnock launched attack after attack on the EK line. The defence held firm and when the ball was spilled the referee blew his whistle to close the half.
The game was evenly matched during the first 20 minutes of the second half. EK made two changes with Ben McLean coming on for Graeme Blackwood and Calum Blackwood coming on for the injured Mark Ellison. Scott Shankie received a yellow card for repeated infringement and kicking duties transferred to Calum Blackwood. When, 27 minutes into the half, Kilmarnock infringed in front of their posts Calum stepped up to slot home the penalty. The pursuit of the 4th, bonus point, try was still on. Perhaps EK have learned that it is better to keep the scoreboard ticking over than to go in pursuit of tries that may not come! Kilmarnock did come back into the game at this point and after some good handling their right wing crossed for an unconverted try. Did this encourage EK to up their game? A further 5 minutes passed until, the EK forwards attacked. Calum Aitken carried the ball close to the Kilmarnock line from where good rucking saw the ball recycled to Alastair Dalgleish who crossed the line unopposed. When the kicking tee failed to appear Calum Blackwood decided to attempt to convert with a drop kick. It failed! For EK this score started a short scoring spree. Barely a minute had passed when a break initiated by Roddy Beaton finished in the hands of Aiden Stott who sprinted in to score under the Kilmarnock posts. Calum Blackwood made no mistake with this conversion. With time running out EK continued their assault on the Kilmarnock line. In many ways this was their best period of the day with forwards and backs involved they ran well, off-loaded and supported. Kilmarnock had no answer and with the game drawing to a close Gregor Haggerty got his name on the score sheet not once but twice. Calum Blackwood converted both tries, the first from far out on the left wing.
This was probably the best performance we have seen from an EK team this year and had they performed like this throughout the season they may, at this point, be challenging for the promotion spot. When under attack, as at the end of the first half, defence was stout. They ran strongly to take the ball to the opposition and support was always on hand when the ball carrier was stopped in his tracks. It was one of those days when a number of players staked a claim for EK Man of the Match but, not only for his two tries but more for his work in open play when he challenged the opposition with strong running that set up good field positions for the team Paul Rosie is the EK Man of the Match.
Next Saturday (13th January) EK host Allan Glen’s. The visitors have had an excellent start to the season and have yet to lose a league match. This is EK’s opportunity to take revenge for the loss to AG’s earlier in the season and burst their bubble.
Team: A. Stott, G. Haggerty, S. Shankie, C. Simpson & M. Ellison (Replaced by C. Blackwood). R. Greenfield & R. Murray. S. Aitken (replaced by A. Dalgleish), R. Anderson, E. Beaton, P. Rosie, A. Irvine, R. Beaton, G. Blackwood (replaced by B. McLean) & C. Aitken.
Updated 21:01 - 8 Jan 2018 by Christopher Mclellan