Kirkcaldy were looking comfortable at this stage but then in a moment’s indecision, after Peebles had been awarded a penalty at half way in front of the stand, the game turned. Kirkcaldy were probably expecting a kick to touch, but the Tweedsiders took a quick tap, releasing winger Martin Cruickshank on the right wing who sprinted away for an unconverted try This reverse unsettled the Blues and the initiative swung Peebles way.
It took them until the 38th minute to break down the Kirkcaldy defence. As they moved the ball left the referee adjudged Rab van Rensberg to have knocked on deliberately and awarded a penalty, easily kicked by Neil Warnock and this gave Peebles the lead.
Kenny up for it - Photo Ken Dunn
With added time before the break ebbing away, indiscipline cost Kirkcaldy a further three points. After the referee had whistled up for an infringement, Kirkcaldy’s Kenny Fraser kicked the ball, earning himself a yellow card. Warnock’s second penalty gave Peebles an 11-6 half time lead.
During Fraser’s time in the bin his side went further behind. A wrecked scrummage near half way saw the ball go loose with scrum half Chris McConnell unable to control it. The Peebles’ forwards did much better with bouncing ball, taking it up to the goal line where prop Willie Aitken pounced for his side’s second try, converted from well out by Warnock.
Chris on the ball - Photo Ken Dunn
Kirkcaldy errors multiplied for a while, emphasising Peebles superiority. Their support running was almost non existent and too many passes failed to find their targets. It was typical of sloppy Kirkcaldy that when Warnock missed a penalty at goal the ball was knocked on in the in-goal area. From the 5 metre scrum Warnock easily dropped a goal.
A fine solo effort from Peebles No 8 David Paton converted again by Warnock seemed to make his side’s lead unassailable. By this time Peebles had lost flanker Scott Raeburn to the bin and the Blues had brought on 18 year old Dayle Turner as a replacement. Turner produced the sort of dynamism his team mates had mostly lost.
Veteran lock Stuart Oliver, who made his first team debut almost 20 years ago, along with Turner and No 8 Matt Harvey, helped to turn the tide in the closing stages. With less than a minute of regulation time left Turner burrowed his way through for a try after a tapped penalty and then with the Peebles defence increasingly stretched after scorer Paton had been sent off, Mark Wallace scored in the corner. Sanft converted both tries to produce an unlikely Kirkcaldy bonus point.
Quinnie penalty - Photo Ken Dunn
Despite the closeness of the score this was a Kirkcaldy display which demands improvement. From a positive point of view Willie Berry made an encouraging return after a two year injury absence. The crowd gasped when he took a huge tackle early but he got up and turned in a solid display.
Kirkcaldy:- C Harvey, G Neilson, W Berry, M Wallace, J Watson, Q Sanft, C McConnell, M Thomson, G Wallace, W Gray, S Oliver, K Fraser, L Neilson, R van rensberg, M Harvey
Replacements:- A Marshall, G Hannah, D Turner, G McKenzie.
Peebles:- D Anderson, A Smellie, D Clancy, C Borthwick, M Cruikshank, N Warnock, D Moore, W Aitken, M Carryer, A Clark, D Harvey, A Brown, S Raeburn, A Warnock, D Paton
Replacements:- R McConnell, R Wilson, D Brown, P Kerr
Referee:- C Samson (Howe of Fife)
FFP Star Check
3 Matt Harvey
2 Dayle Turner
1 Stuart Oliver