Hartree Mill Sports Grounds, Biggar ML12 6JJCharity Number: SC 047700

Kirkcaldy pack too strong for Biggar

Kirkcaldy 40 Biggar 13

With several regulars unavailable and with a number carrying knocks the League break for the Autumn internationals has come about a week too late for Biggar. It is also an indication of how small the senior squad is although very pleasingly, a side did represent the 2nds as they travelled to Musselburgh. While they too, returned defeated, there was plenty to suggest that a full, fit XV would have made it a real contest. As always all credit to those boys who managed to play and who worked so hard in the contest.

 

Biggar’s front row comprised two 18 year olds and a 22 year old while the absence of recognised ball carriers was always going to make this a really tough ask – especially against a side reknowned for having a big pack and playing almost throughout, to that strength. Biggar’s cause was not helped by inmjury during the warm up to Calum Braid, his failure to make the kick off compounded by the fact that Biggar’s bench was also deprived and therefore an even greater strain was placed on the squad of 18.

 

Having faced a well-drilled Lasswade pack last week, there was going to be no surprises at Kirkcaldys choice of tactic for this encounter, and so it proved, Biggar on the defensive for long periods of the match and, while all stuck to the task of tackle, tackle and tackle again, there was an inevitability that Biggar’s line would be breached.

 

An early penalty from Carne Green gave Biggar some hope but they were soon under the cosh as Kirkcaldy gave their visitors little respite, each and every penalty – and there were plenty awarded – seeing the Fife side kick for territory and then drive for the line. Biggar have been so much better with regard to on-field discipline this season but it all seemed to go wrong at Kirkcaldy, referee Iain Morrison finding fault on a very regular basis with penalties awarded for offside and no release. That he is the sole judge and arbiter is not in question, but there seemed far too many occasions when the 50-50 decision went to the home side. There were some questionable decisions against Kirkcaldy too however, with one penalty in particular, awarded against the home side for not retiring in time advanced at least 20 metres further up the park than it should have been!

 

After long periods of play when a side is struggling to get possession seem to be relieved by a good turnover, which is then penalised, it is hardly surprising that players get frustrated.

 

Hooker Greg Wallace was the first to cross, his angled run from some 5 metres almost impossible to halt while on a good day with the boot, fullback Finlay Smith added the conversion, this the first two points of what was to become a handsome 10 point total.

 

With just over a quarter of the match gone No8 Dayle Turner rounded off a scrummage drive to touchdown and then jastb after the half hour flanker Rhys Bonner took the Kirkcaldy try tally to 3. A half time score then of 19-3.

 

With a swirling wind which rarely gave either side a real advantage Biggar were now ‘uphill’. Guy Kelly who had engineered a couple fo great ‘steals’ at the breakdown then succumbed to another charge and was forced from the field. With the Kirkcaldy front row comprising of some real old heads – prop Mangalo weighing in at some 24 stone – it was hardly surprising that the Biggar youngesters would creak. Not that any of the side could be criticised for lack of effort, the tackle count indicative of that effort. Everyone played their part but credit to hooker Ewan Stewart who put in a huge shift, the aforemontioned Nimmo and Kelly who belied their youth, captain Alan warnock who stood strong despite a 3 week old nose break and to flanker Lewis McLachlan who made his first appearance this years and who typically ran himself into the ground with a prominent role in both attack abnd defence. The backs contributed consdierably although they were employed primarily in defence. When given the opportunity they ran some good lines and asked some questions of the Kirkcaldy defence which was pleasing to see and suggsted that with more and especially ‘go-forward’ ball, that they might have had more success.

 

Scrums were then uncontested, much to Kirkcaldy’s chagrin and while this was unfortunate and certainly not what Biggar wished, the ‘cheat’ jibes from some of the home support were equally unfortunate.

 

Cousins Conor Lavery and Gregor Stewart were introduced to the action, they replacing Aird Jardine and Kelly respectively. Uncontested scrums are not particualrly helpful to either side as although possession inevitably goes with the put in the defending sides back row are always primed and ready to pounce. This was much the case, both sides running at pace and making some big hits. The fact that Kirkcaldy possessed the much heavier pack menat that they were usually able to make inroads through Biggar’s first line of defence or at worst force Biaggr to hastily regroup. This again took its toll with wallace notching try number two within 5 minutes of the restart.

 

This was of course the 4th and bonus point try and so in a sense it was ‘job done’ for the league leaders.

 

This did seem to coincide with a much better passage of play for Biggar as they managed to retain possession over a number of phases. On a good few occasions it was only some stout Kirkcaldy defence which prevented Biggar from scoring although when a side is desperate to score, chances must be taken and Biggar, on another day, might have scored from two opportinities but passes which should have been made weren’t, while others ended in errors. This only added to the frustration.

 

Biggar vaired their attack with a selection of chips and grubbers in their attempts to breach the Kirkcaldy line but in the absence of any real ball-carryiong forwards the Kirkcaldy defence was able to string itself across the pitch. This proved pretty efective and it denied bIggar a try when they so desperately deserved a score.

 

Forced back and conceding possession, Kirkcaldy engineered a breakout and after a series of probing runs and thrusts, scrum half Gavin McKenzie burst through Biggar’s stretched defence for another try to take the Fife total to 33.

 

There were several Kirkcaldy tackles which seemed high some of which were unpunished so it was harsh to the Biggar support at least when perhaps the first such high tackle by Biggar resulted in Andrew Peacock being shown a yellow and confined to a 10 minute watching brief.

 

Unsurprsingly, Kirkcaldy added to their tally from the penalty award.

 

Now leaving nothing in the locker, Biggar opened out throwing the ball about in an attempt to break through, their reward eventually coming as Ryan Moffat crashed over for a try. With limited time remaining, Green opted for the drop goal attempt, this going wide.

 

Back on the attack after the restart, Biggar nabbed s scond score, winger aloistauir Sinclair latching on to a Green grubber kick to cross in the corner. Greens’ conversion rebounded off the upright and shortly afterwards referee Morrsion brought the contest to an end, much to the jubilation of the home side.

 

This was Biggar’s first defeat away from home! This is an astounding statistic and a really odd one at that, especially as most club’s approach is to win the home games and sneak a few away wins! It’s the opposite for Biggar in this campaign as the home record of played 5 won 2 lost 3 does not make very good reading, and especially when compared to their away record of played 5 won 4 lost 1!

 

The league now breaks for the Autumn international series. That will hopefully allow all those who are carrying knocks to recover and re-energise before the visit of West of Scotland. The Glasgow side rocked the boat a bit on Saturday when they recorded a surprise win over Dumfries.

 

With Lasswade winning Biggar drop to 5th spot, 10 points behind Kirkcaldy but just 7 from Lasswade in 2nd place. There is still everyhting to play for then and lots of good rubgy to come from this side.

 

Biggar

A. Nimmo, E. Stewart, G. Kelly, A. Peacock, A. Warnock, A. Orr, L. McLachlan, D. Notman, D. Reive, C. Green, A. Sinclair, R. Moffat, R. Lavery, R. Bradford, A. Jardine Reps: C. Braid, K. Robison, G. Stewart, C. Lavery.

 

Post script

Among Biggar's usual travelling support were Peter and Sandy Green, parents of stand off Carne. On a holiday/business trip from New Zealand they were able to spend some time in Biggar with Carne as well as seeing some of Scotland. Steeped in rugby with the Petone club from Wellington, they were disappointed they did not see Biggar win but they enjoyed their stay in the town, leaving on Sunday for Edinburgh and then south to England to catch up with Sandy's family. Haste ye back!

 

As previously mentioned the 2nd XV succumbed to Musselburgh. In second bottom spot of National Reserve League 2, Biggar face an uphill struggle to retaining their place in this division but again there is still a lot of rugby to be played.


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