1st XV - Report
EK back on winning trail again, 24-9 over Kilmarnock
EK climbed to fourth in the league table after what proved to be a rather easy win over previously third placed Kilmarnock. With more precision, we could have blown them away.
That said, some might argue that the improvement in the performance from last Saturday spoke volumes for the fact that Blackwood was off on holiday in darkest Wales, unable to share his coaching skills during the week. I could not possibly comment!
Credit where it is due. Last week the EK forwards could not win an argument in an empty room. This week, they dominated. With more composure and precision, EK should have easily achieved the try bonus point. Kilmarnock were a disappointment for a team in 3rd place, and while lacking a few players (we all have injuries), throughout most of the afternoon they lacked drive, passion and cohesion.
Robbie Greenfield missed a penalty for EK in front of the posts after 11 minutes. But from a Calum Aitken break, supported by Stevie Lannon, EK put the ball out the backs where Greenfield helped recycle it to pass to Craig Ferguson Junior to charge over (eventually) from his favourite distance of about 3 metres, after 18 minutes (yes, it also took about 18 minutes for him to cover the three yards).
There is no truth in the rumour that the EK support were wondering whether to switch on the floodlights to help YARP find his way home. But they did age 5 years….. Score: 5-0, no conversion.
From the kick off, Gary Thornton had a blast as did Ian Brown. EK were showing a good deal of positivety. Young Ferguson got too excited (a rarity) by trying to take a quick tap penalty – the act of trying to bend over proved too much for him but despite his desperate fall on his face, the ref gave EK another chance, from which they won a penalty for Kilmarnock going over the top. Greenfield kicked the penalty to make it 8-0 after 25 minutes.
Kilmarnock had not yet mounted an attack, or sustained venture into the EK half. But being a generous side, EK then allowed them two penalties in quick succession, both for hands in the ruck. So the gap narrowed in quick time to 8-6 after 27 minutes through silly EK play and poor focus.
Bull Anderson was having more of an off day than usual, seeming to think he was a silky back as opposed to a sulky buck. His offloads were off! But the hosts managed to hang on for a two point lead at half time, 8-6.
Four minutes into the 2nd half, a Kilmarnock penalty for offside at the scrum allowed Greenfield to increase the EK lead to 11-6. But EK immediately conceded a penalty from the restart for not releasing the ball carrier, so it was 11-9 after 45 minutes.
Prop Chris Mclellan thought all his Christmas’ had come at once when he charged down an attempted Kilmarnock clearance and seized the ball to cross the line for a five pointer but the referee had spotted an earlier EK knock on following a series of strong forward surges after a line out.
But Greenfield helped EK creep forward again with another penalty for a Kilmarnock offside after 57 minutes to make it 14-9. He missed another penalty from the same position two minutes later, possibly as he was still massaging his ego. It was all EK but the scope to exploit it was limited as it was all slow ball.
EK then put real distance between themselves and Kilmarnock when man mountain Gary (Gump) Thornton blasted through the centre after a forward charge, assisted by some unsophisticated blocking by a fellow forward which cleared his route, after the backs had attacked up the right wing.
It was a good score, and one of the few things Gump held on to all day – the other key hold was a bottle of vodka in the post match raffle! Perhaps we should change his nickname to Dropsy? Much to his surprise, Greenfield kicked the conversion from the left wing, to make it 21-9 for EK after 61 minutes.
Kilmarnock rather surprisingly then decided not to kick penalties but their lack of cohesion meant they could not mount any sustained attacks. And they were leaking penalties, allowing Greenfield to kick another one after 71 minutes to make it 24-9.
Nothing much else happened thereafter. Overall, EK should have scored more but did not, but after last week’s disappointment this was a much improved performance.
Candidates for the Man of the Match include Stevie Lannon for grafting effectively all day, Calum Simpson for some probing runs and one great hand off and Less Fat Fergie for some slow motion runs that almost rivalled his namesake for slowing down time.
Man of Match – but despite all of the above, we give it to the often much maligned Robbie Greenfield. While Robbie often does not know in which direction he may kick the ball from hand, his reliable place kicking today proved the difference and allowed EK to deservedly build on their superior play. Well done Robbie. Clearly ignoring your Uncle has finally paid dividends. He was (is still) a lousy kicker!
Next week: EK face the long journey to Newton Stewart. Let’s hope Peter Ferrie is not the navigator, else the bus should have left last week…..
Team: 15. Calum Simpson; 14. Fat (but less fat) Craig Ferguson; 13. Ian Brown, 12. Grant Seymour, 11. Andy MacDonald, 10. Robbie Greenfield, 9. Fraser Little, 8. Gareth Roberts (Captain), 7. Calum Aitken, 6. Gary Thornton, 5. Steven Lannon, 4. Craig Ferguson Junior, 3. Chris Mclellan, 2. Rian Anderson, 1. Scott Aiken. Replacements: Chris O’Neill, Fraser Stott, Ally Dalgleish (all used) Eddie Beaton.