EK pipped with last kick of the match
Allan Glens won a tight match with a last minute penalty. EK fought well but Glens were just the better team on the day.
Last season, Allan Glens finished 3rd in the league, to EK’s 4th but held the bragging rights after winning both matches. Two high scoring contests, with the match in EK going to the wire. Could we expect a repeat yesterday, on a day when EK entertained their Sponsors to lunch? With both teams unbeaten after the first two league matches.
Well, yes and no. Glens seized the victory with the last kick of the day, a penalty by stand off Thomson, to squeeze through by one point.
EK rightly felt disappointed – while the visitors were the more cohesive side, EK played with spirit and determination and with a bit of luck could have held on. Missing two relatively straightforward conversions also contributed although Glens would argue they also missed two conversions.
The match kicked off four minutes late as someone forgot to put out the touch flags. Hmm. EK had a few changes – Paul Rosie replaced Ally Dalgleish at lock and Mr Versatility, Scott Shankie, started at No 8 as he has substantial go forward skills (for a back!). Alex Irvine returned on the flank. And Graeme Blackwood got out of his bath chair to take his place on the bench.
Grant Dryburgh kicked EK in to a 3rd minute lead with a penalty while EK dominated the early stages. It took Glens some 9 minutes to mount their first proper attack. Just as I noted that the EK defence was holding up well, it missed a tackle allowing Glens to score an unconverted try. Score: 3-5.
EK’s response saw Gregor Hagerty bundled in to touch five metres out after some good phases of play. Then good defence held the visitors out again as the game ebbed and flowed. Scott Shankie and Paul Rosie came very close to crossing the try line for EK, but it ended with EK penalised for hanging on. Glens were strong at the breakdown while EK were perhaps missing Chris O’Neill’s speed.
Staff at Edinburgh’s Geological Survey rushed to their earthquake monitors around the 30th minute but stood down when they eventually realised it was only a crossing of paths as Shankie trotted off near his replacement, Grubby Blackwood.
EK drove well in a defensive 5 metre scrum on Glen’s put in. Glens recycled and only a Paul Rosie pile driver tackle prevented a try. But Glens recycled it again, feinted right and switched left for a clever score in the left corner. Again, no conversion. Score: 3-10.
EK tried to respond, Glens conceded three penalties in five minutes but were strong in defence, with two men always tackling the singleton EK attacker. That said, the half ended with Dryburgh kicking another penalty so all to play for at half time, with the score 6-10.
The second half did not start well for EK. Stand off Greenfield came off after 43 minutes, replaced by Murray which saw a general reshuffling of the backs. Shankie had also reverted to the backs. Two early promising breaks in midfield both ended with poor EK passes, a common feature of the half. Rosie was replaced by Dalgleish after 52 minutes.
Glens struck first with a Thomson penalty, 17 metres out, after EK did not release in the tackle so extended their lead to 6-13. There were lots of stoppages and EK’s personnel changes did not add to any great fluency. Fortunately, Thomson missed a soft penalty after 59 minutes following a poor EK clearance kick.
Then EK burst in to life with a great try by full back Dryburgh. EK turned Glen’s ball over midway, moved it left and soft hands by Dalgleish put Dryburgh free on the left wing on the halfway line. He shimmied to bamboozle the full back and scooted over for an excellent try. With hindsight, perhaps someone else should have taken the conversion as Dryburgh missed. Score: 11-13. Game on.
Play was now in the Glens half, with Allan Steel continuing to be our best ball carrying forward. But soon Glens were on the attack again, with EK defending stoutly. Rosie, having resumed when Ally Dal injured his calf, again prevented a try but Glens’ Thomson kicked another penalty for EK offside to make it 11-16 after 35 minutes.
Glens conceded a silly penalty which Shankie kicked to the corner. The match was slowly turning in to a nail biter. From the lineout, Blackwood charged, the ball was recycled and a clever switch back by Ellison allowed Rosie to crash over for the try from 2 metres. Big kick for Scott Shankie to regain the lead for EK – yes, he nailed it. 18-16 for EK with not long to go. Could we hold on?
Glens, having handled well all match, proceeded to blow two clear opportunities to score. The first when the full back, McKeown, who had a good match, ran the ball back. EK parted like the red sea only for the visiting winger to drop what appeared to be the scoring pass with the EK line wide open.
Then another Glens midfield break, assisted by a large hint of obstruction, allowed strong running centre Ekevati to blast through the defence. He probably could have scored himself but chose to pass……the ball over the head of his support! Another amazing escape for EK. Nervous times for their support.
As last year (last year it was a never say die tryby Glens), the match finished dramatically with a last-minute penalty by the composed Thomson albeit the EK support would claim not one but two marginal, but clear, forward passes in the move that led to EK eventually creeping offside and being penalised. From such small margins, important outcomes emerge.
In truth, EK can have few complaints. Glens are a good team, they were a better unit than EK on the day, had more ball carriers to choose from and their backs functioned better. But EK played with spirit, tackled well and with better passing could have emerged victorious. A good contest.
Man of the Match: probably only three real candidates. Shankie, for some strong running and decent kicking, Paul Rosie for his trade mark tackles and general threatening presence while clearly still carrying an injury, and the old war horse, Allan Steel who was EK’s most consistent and strongest ball carrier. Eeny meeny…… I go for Paul Rosie!
Next week: next week, EK are away to Annan, never an easy place to win. Yesterday, Annan emerged 19-27 victors at Strathendrick (where EK lost at the start of the season in the Shield), and sit 2nd in the league table, behind Greenock. Glens are third. All three teams are unbeaten. Another tough challenge for EK.
We need a match reporter next week so any volunteers? If interested, contact Ally Offin on 07531 409004.