Kirkcaldy Hang On Despite PL Comeback
Fifers prove to be too strong in a close encounter at The Pennypit
Despite a good start and a decent finish, the game would end in disappointment for Preston Lodge as Kirkcaldy proved too hot to handle in the heavy conditions.
The first five minutes saw the home side dominate all the possession and keep the action deep inside the Kircaldy 22 so it came as no surprise when the forward pack was able to carry the ball almost to the line before it was set back to Dale Gordon who passed it out to stand off Greg Walker and he had no problem slipping through the defensive line to score near the posts. Thomas McMann added the conversion and things looked good for PL with the score at 7-0 after on five minutes.
The lead wouldn't last long though because Kirkcaldy exploited PL's lack of numbers at the back after winning a scrum on the 10m line and two quick passes ensured Bruce had plenty of space to get home behind the posts. The conversion levelled the scores at 7-7 after 10 minutes but Kirkcaldy were playing with plenty of confidence and their pack were making good ground in the mud. In the 13th minute, PL found themselves on the back foot as the visitors rumbled forward and prop Danny Jennings had no trouble in crashing over for his side's second try with the PL defence standing too tall to be able to stop him.
There wasn't much between the sides as the game moved into the second quarter although Sasa Tofilau in the Kirkcaldy midfield was causing plenty of problems for the PL defence. However, it was PL centre Antoin Penrose who created the next chance when he cleverly dabbed the ball through before gathering it again himself on the 22. A good tackle brought him down before he was able to pass and set up a certain score.
There would be one more try before half time which would give PL the lead at the break and it came following a scrapy passage of play which led to Kirkcaldy being caught offside inside their own 22. McMann kicked to touch and a good catch and drive from the line out got the ball almost to the line. The Kirkcaldy defence was good though and managed to steal the ball which gave them possesion at the scrum. PL pressure forced an error behind the line, leading to another scrum and this time, PL kept control before Jason Riley picked up at the back and passed to Penrose. He then passed back to Greg Walker and similar to his first attempt, he slipped through the defence with ease and scored near the posts. McMann was on target again and PL were 14-12 ahead.
Kirkcaldy were back in front only 1 minute after the restart though when a clever kick through PL's defensive line found no-one home at the back and Tofilau was first to get to the ball and touch down on the line to put his side back in front at 14-19.
Nathan Ross created a good chance for PL as he broke through at pace in the 50th minute but the scrambled defence managed to get the ball clear leading to a passage of play with few scoring chances. Kirkcaldy managed to increase their lead to 14-22 when PL were penalised for coming in from the side 25 metres out but PL scored their 3rd try right from the restart when Alan Whittingham scored a terrific solo try as he stayed on his feet despite several would be tacklers before touching down in the corner.
There was everything to play for with the score at 19-22 after 60 minutes but the PL pack was coming under ever more pressure as their opponents grew in confidence. Kirkcaldy even managed a rare steal against the head and from close range prop, Marcus Salt was able to grab his side's 4th try. The conversion was good and Kirkcaldy looked like 19-29 winners with 10 minutes to go.
PL had other ideas though and upped their game even though time was against them but things didn't go in their favour as some strange refereeing decisions went against them and Kirkcaldy were able to clear their lines. A Nick Hart try in the 78th minute was well deserverd and narrowed the gap to 24-29 and set up an exciting final few minutes.
Kirkcaldy were hanging on as PL threw everything at them and after a Dale Gordon break from halfway got the ball into the 22 it looked like the try was on. The ball was quickly recycled to Walker and he spotted the huge overlap available down the right. Unfortunately, his long pass drifted forward and play was brought back for a Kirkcaldy scrum in front of the posts but with a player in the sin bin and other injuries, they were unable to contest the vital scrum so the game ended tamely with the ball being st back and sent to touch.
This was a frustrating way to finish for PL who played well for the last 10 minutes but it was too little too late although they did succeed in taking a losing as well as a try scoring bonus point from the game.
A much more rounded performance will be required next week when National League 1 outfit Jed-Forest come to the Pennypit in the 2nd round of the National BT Cup. Kick off is 13.30 to allow for the possibility of extra time although this is still to be confirmed.
Preston Lodge Team:
T McMann, J Brash, A Penrose, N Ross, P Glynn, G Walker, D Gordon
C Arthur, N Hart, G Hume, J Sked, R Runciman, A Whittingham, P Johnstone, J Riley
C Anderson, A Horne, F Hughes, M Sanderson