EK pipped by Allan Glens in 10 try thriller
EK lost for the second week in a row, this time to a persistent Glens side. EK let healthy lead slip twice.
Alasdair Offin deserted his post again as match reporter, this time with a very plausible excuse, to go and support his home team Ross Sutherland in the BT Bowl final at Murrayfield. And happily Ross beat Wigtownshire in a tight match 12-3. Hope you did not get on the team bus after the match Alasdair. Are you home yet ……?
To business, following last week’s loss to league leaders Carrick, the challenge this week was to host second placed Allan Glens. EK were thumped 55-27 away back in September, when EK were not at full strength, so could they do any better this time? Not having seen the first match, it’s hard to comment.
Taking account of continuing injuries, it was a fairly strong EK side that took the field, with Callum Simpson returning at centre and Sparky Ellison shifting to right wing to allow youngster Ethan Aitken play full back. The bench reportedly just survived the afternoon with three heavyweights keeping it warm (Gregor Hagerty being the exception).
EK got off to the best possible start. Ian Brown on the left wing swooped on a stabbed kick through by Robbie Greenfield to seize the bouncing ball for an unconverted try after two minutes.
Eight minutes later, after a Glens fumble of a simple clearance kick on halfway, a long-distance hack and chase saw Roddy Beaton claim another five pointer, with no conversion. EK ahead 10-0. Five minutes later, the EK support were beginning to get excited when quick ball out to left wing Brown brought another try, this time converted by Ethan Aitken.
Allan Glens had barely featured but responded quickly, moving the ball left, assisted by three missed EK tackles to score in the corner. The full back (no team list so no names) converted. 17-7 after 19 minutes.
A brilliant last ditch try line tackle by Callum Hastie somehow prevented further damage after the Glens’ stand-off waltzed through the EK backline untouched. Allan Glens after their slow start were beginning to gain in confidence and next their outside centre also pierced the midfield defence. Alarm bells ringing.
From the resultant five-metre scrum, Glens’ No 8 broke right and powered over for the visitors’ third try, which the full back converted to make it 17-14 for EK. Ian Brown caught the restart on the full and powered towards the try line, to be held only some five metres short. It would have been a brilliant try had he made it.
There was a bit of feeling between the two sides, best manifested by the Glens’ left winger kicking the legs of an EK player off the ball in front of the referee only for the subsequent melee to result in a penalty against EK. A scratch your head moment.
AIDAN STOTT must have got out of bed on the wrong side as he seemed determined to be penalised for as many late tackles as he could muster. Fortunately, or somehow, he got away with most of them, and the rare penalty awarded arising from one of his misdemeanours was missed by the Glens’ full back. So the half finished 17-14 in EK’s favour. Stott could easily have been in the sin bin.
EK again got off to a strong start in the second half with an excellent try after 45 minutes. EK passed the ball left some 40 metres out where it ended in the hands of a touchline loitering Paul Rosie who rumbled forward at great speed then offloaded superbly inside to young Stott for a great try, converted by Ethan Aitken. EK 24-17 up with the try bonus point in the bag.
It got even better four minutes later when Calum Simpson intercepted from some laboured Glens’ passing to scoot over for a converted try from 50 metres. EK leading 31-14. Ally Dalgleish came on to give Paul Rosie a breather.
Some mercurial decision making by the referee did not help, in either half, but the key point for the EK support is that they must be more tolerant and respectful and less vocal about the referee, whatever the decisions. This is not the first time this season that they have persistently questioned the referee decisions and it did not help EK’s cause.
Glens responded in the 53rd minute with a good score after a period of pressure near the EK line; a cross kick to the right wing saw the outside centre score with ease, and the conversion made it 31-21.
EK spurned a good opportunity to release Ian Brown from some 60 metres but the final pass was behind him. Both packs were scrummaging hard but the judgements emerging from scrums were different and EK conceded a penalty to narrow the gap to seven points. Time to give the bench a breather – on came Graeme Blackwood. Generally, EK looked to be tiring while Allan Glens had more possession.
In the 68th minute, Glens advanced upfield culminating in their No 13 running outside flanker Hastie to score when Glens moved the ball sharply out right. No conversion so 31-29. EK’s restart sailed straight out of play giving Glens’ possession again.
It was all getting rather tense as EK tried to hang on to their lead while Glens pressed to keep up their very slim hopes of sneaking the
Championship. Tousy is one word to describe the second half with various misdemeanours going unpunished.
Then EK were penalised in the contact area when it seemed as if the penalty should have been ours. Glens successful kick put them in the lead for the first time in the match, 31-32.
Some might argue that a Glens’ hand in the ruck some five metres out with EK on the attack merited a yellow card, but EK were just grateful to accept the penalty which young Aitken kicked to take EK back in to the lead 34-32.
With the clock ticking down, EK failed to find touch with a penalty kick down the line, and Glens ran the ball back. Resisting a kick at goal when awarded a penalty, Glens pressed hard and incredibly worked the ball upfield on the right through their backs with an inside pass to one of their burly forwards culminating in an excellent, never say die, try which they converted to make it 34-39.
There seemed still to just be time on the clock but EK kicked it out on the full again and Glens managed to run the clock down and claim a somewhat surprising victory given the handsome lead EK had twice held during the match.
In short, Glens wanted it more and seemed somewhat fitter than the home team. And they also deserved their try bonus, which they had to work rather harder for than EK.
So, in the end a disappointing result for EK. Poor tackling and passing at key stages let Glens back in to the game, despite some stout EK defence, but Glens were persistent and stuffy opponents and ultimately just shaded the ten try thriller. The sides shared ten tries and a try bonus point but crucially Glens had the five league points.
This defeat means that EK will finish the league in fourth position, no matter what happens in the remaining two fixtures and in results elsewhere. It would, however, be nice to round off the season with two victories.
Man of the Match: Key contributors for EK were Paul Rosie, Roddy Beaton, two try man Ian Brown, and Ethan Aitken who had 3 conversions and a penalty. No one really stood out consistently so I will pick Roddy Beaton as he excels most weeks, whether as a forward or back, and the other main contenders have had enough awards this year already!
Next week: dare I say it, but EK get to do it all again next week when they host third placed Garnock in EK’s penultimate league match of the season. Kick off 3pm. Let’s hope for third time lucky in terms of beating one of the top three. All support welcome.