For their penultimate league game of the season, Glenrothes travelled to Forfar to face Strathmore. The home team had last week confirmed their position as runners up to Caithness and were defending an unbeaten record at Inchmacoble. For their part the Reds fielded a strong team in their quest for third place in the league.
This quest got off to a disappointing start with the home team pressurising the Glens defence and opening the scoring after referee Stephen Greenhill awarded a penalty for Glenrothes infringing at a breakdown. Strathy took a quick tap and were initially thwarted until fly half Stewart Ross threaded a grubber kick through the advancing Glenrothes backline and James Lockhart raced through to touch down in the left corner.
Glenrothes huffed and puffed in an effort to strike back but were held at bay until, after having warned both teams about too much talking, Mr Greenhill gave the Reds a penalty near their left touchline about 22m from the Strathy goal line. Kain Duguid slotted the kick to make the score 5-3.
Immediately Strathmore looked to increase their lead. A clearance was stopped from going into touch on the Glens 22m line by David Gray but unfortunately he knocked the ball backwards and eventually over the dead ball line to earn the home side a scrum 5m from the goal line. The ensuing attack led to James Kiely diving over under the posts but unfortunately he lost the ball in the process. Glenrothes were penalised for not pushing straight at the scrum and Lee Alexander kicked the three pointer.
Both teams were putting a lot of effort into this contest with a lot of closely fought forward exchanges and any number of beefy tackles being made. Strathmore recorded the final points of the first half with one of the few flowing moves of the period. From a scrum, the ball was moved quickly through the hands to winger Dale Bell who dived in at the corner to give an interval score of 13-3 in Strathmore’s favour.
The second half started with a concerted assault on the home line started by a fine break by Gray who was only stopped by a desperate tap tackle. This attack ground to a halt with a knock on 5m from the line and then Strathy increased their lead when prop Marc Scoular found himself in space on the right wing. Showing a pace belied by his build he galloped down the wing and when halted was able to offload to the supporting Dave Vernon. Alexander converted.
Glenrothes struck back with the forwards driving at their opponents and winning a series of penalties finally the ball was shipped across the backline with Ryan Venters providing the final pass to Dylan Doyle who scored on the right. Duguid converted.
This score spurred the Reds on and they grabbed the next try. Rhys Bryce cut in from his left wing berth after the ball had been passed along the line to him and when he was tackled Cammy Goodall picked the ball up and made more ground before being brought down. Big Gavin Emerson was in close support, scooped up the ball and forced his way over the line. Duguid converted.
Strathmore’s Scoular thought he had improved on his earlier assist with a try but this was pulled back as he had stepped in touch on the way to the line His fellow forward Glenn Feighan touched down in the next attack when the Reds lost the resulting lineout and took advantage of a fractured defence. Alexander’s conversion restored the home team’s 10 point lead at 27-17.
This lead did not last long as Glenrothes won a lineout in their hosts’ territory. The ball was moved swiftly from Emerson to Derek Mitchell to Duguid and then to David Gray who joined the line at pace and glided through a space to sprint to the line. Duguid converted.
As the game moved to its conclusion, the Reds launched another attack and captain Ross Hutchison received the ball close to the right hand uprigfht. Despite a clear overlap to his right he chose to go himself and forced his way over the line to put Glenrothes in the lead for the first time. Duguid’s conversion stretched the lead to four points at 27-31.
Strathmore had a last chance to snatch back the victory but in the final action of an enthralling game, knocked on with the line beckoning. Chris Docherty’s all action performance and Duguid’s kicking made them strong contenders for man of the match but this award went to Ross Hutchison for his hard work throughout the game, ensuring his team kept their discipline and did nothing to alienate the official but mainly for his winning try.
The battle for third place is going right to the end of the season with Dunfermline on 50 points having completed their games and Alloa and Glenrothes on 49 points with a game to play. These teams meet at Carleton on May 5th with the winner taking third place.
Updated 15:22 - 15 May 2018 by Richard Thomson