Glens 39 Morgan 23
Glens overcame an early Morgan onslaught before delivering league win seven from eight and going back on top of the table, John Goodall reports
Glenrothes took to the field on Saturday buoyed by the news that their rivals for the top spot in Caledonia League 1, Gordonians, had suffered a defeat at home to Orkney in an early kick-off. This meant that a bonus point win would return the Reds to the top of the table.
Anticipation can bring its own pressure and this may account for the slow start from the home team. For the first 25 minutes play was almost exclusively in the Glenrothes half. Morgan had chances to cross the whitewash but the defence stood firm, albeit conceding two penalty goals and a yellow card for Michael Delorey in the process.
Kenny Christie was forced from the field with a dislocated finger, reset by touch judge Norrie Leitch which allowed the captain to return to the fray. At the other side of the back row, Barry Crookston was receiving a lot of attention from his former teammates and was spoken to by referee George Pounder.
Glenrothes eventually got their act together on the half hour mark when persistence by man of the match Rhys Bryce led to a line out for the home team on the right side of the pitch, 22m from their opponents’ line.
Clean line out ball was passed to the backs whose slick handling freed Jordan Grubb on the left wing to claim the first try of the match in the corner, too wide for Shaun Gray’s conversion attempt.
Bryce was at the heart of the next Reds’ try when he chased a Delorey kick up the right wing forcing a series of mistakes from his opposite number culminating in a fumble short of the goal line enabling Aaron Campbell to pick up and touch the ball over the line putting Glenrothes in a lead that they were never to give up.
Morgan struck back with a third penalty from the boot of scrum half Jamie Hughan when Michael Delorey, having already had a spell in the sin bin, was adjudged to be well off side at a ruck in front of the posts.
On this occasion the only sanction was a lecture from Mr Pounder and the award of the penalty. This was probably the correct decision but another official may have interpreted the offense as a cynical attempt to halt the Morgan momentum and reached for his card.
On the stroke of half time Campbell scored his second try. A long period of play, with virtually every player in a red shirt handling the ball at some stage, saw play move from the Glenrothes 22m area to the other end of the pitch.
A break in the defensive wall offered Campbell the chance to round his immediate opponent and then misdirect the full back with a brief hesitation before touching down to the right of the posts. Shaun Gray converted the try to end the half.
Morgan reduced the deficit early in the second half with more than a touch of good fortune. The visiting right winger, when faced with Ryan Venters tried to put a kick past him. Venters stuck out a leg and the ball bounced off him and straight into the arms of supporting full back Ben Keillor who had a clear run to the line. Hughan converted to narrow the margin to one point.
The red forwards were well on top of their opponents in the set scrum and it was from the aftermath of a scrum that Venters had his revenge. Daryl Warrender picked up at the back of a scrum 30m from the goal line.
When he was tackled the ball was moved to Delorey who made ground before allowing the forwards to rumble a little closer. When presented with the ball, Delorey moved it quickly to Gray, then out to Stevie Dean and eventually to Venters who scored in the corner to guarantee a try scoring bonus. Gray kicked an excellent conversion from the touchline, courtesy of a kind bounce off the crossbar.
The fifth Glenrothes try was not long delayed. Stewart Hainey made a poor pass which missed Gray, however he tidied up his own error and passed out to Campbell. He fed Bryce who, despite a defender hanging round his neck, forced his way over the line in the left corner for a well-deserved try. Gray could not match his previous kick from this side of the pitch but he made amends soon afterwards.
Firstly he broke up a Morgan attack with a bone crunching tackle and then slotted a penalty to extend the lead to 16 points. Then after a period when the Glens could have added to their total he was on hand to finish off a move on the right wing when Bryce fielded a kick from Morgan’s Keillor.
He made ground before feeding Campbell and an inside pass from Campbell to his fellow centre allowed Gray to run in and go behind the posts for the sixth try, followed by a relatively easy conversion.
Barry Crookston saw yellow before full time when the referee decided that he had not released a tackled player and got to his feet before playing the ball. Glenrothes have been commended many times this season for playing for the full 80 minutes but on Saturday it was Morgan who had the final say with a try for Stuart Donaldson who dived over following a driving maul from a line out near the Glens goal line. Hughan converted.
Team R Venters, R Bryce, A Camopbell, S Gray, J Grubb, S Hainey, M Delorey, L Fowlis, S Dean, S McAlpine, E Arthur, R Hutchison, B Crookston, K Christie, D Warrender Replacements C Murphy, R Thomson, S Stewart, J Hutchison
The development squad suffered another reverse going down 32-12 at Forfar with tries from Billy Napier and Michael Byers with Calum May converting Byers’ try. There is now a three week break to allow players and officials to watch Scotland’s autumn internationals. The season resumes on November 29 where Gordonians are the visitors in the semi-final of the Caledonia Shield.