West edge through by single point in thriller

Pete Burns takes advantage of a gap in the defence (pic by John Cameron)
Pete Burns takes advantage of a gap in the defence (pic by John Cameron)

West of Scotland earned a hard fought 35-34 bonus point win in their second National 2 match of the season at Kirkcaldy on Saturday.

West were at a disadvantage from the start being far outweighed in the scrum, the Kirkcaldy front row seemingly testament to the quality of the local pies.

Ross McAulay tries to avoid a Kirkcaldy tackler (pic by John Cameron)

Ross McAulay tries to avoid a Kirkcaldy tackler (pic by John Cameron)

With the home side being robust in the defence of the ruck and maul the breakdown became somewhat a war of attrition with West flanker James Harley being an early casualty.

West however stood up to the challenge and made a number of breaks upfield, even managing to steal a Kirkcaldy ball in a ruck.

A penalty to West saw the ball put to touch and they rolled the resulting maul over the line for an early score, hooker Danny Dineen getting the touch down. The conversion was missed, leaving West 5-0 ahead.

With further injuries to West players causing some concern a Kirkcaldy player found himself in the sin bin. Despite this West continued to attack and finally West full-back Pete Burns found a gap to score near the posts, Blair Smith converting to take the score to 12-0.

The home side tactic of using their heavy forward to rumble up the park paid off shortly thereafter with a touch down duly converted to bring them within touching distance at 12-7.

But Kirkcaldy were guilty of giving away regular penalties and Smith converted one of these to increase the lead to 15-7.

The home side quickly replied with another drive over try, converted to bring the West advantage back to a single point and an exchange of penalties leading up to half-time saw the score at the break a nervous 18-17 in the visitors’ favour.

West started the second half with obvious intent with captain Jamie McAulay, centre Sandy McCallum and stand off Ross McAulay all probing deeply into the Kirkcaldy half.

Another penalty to West for a tip tackle saw a second home player in the sin bin and West again attacked the home line only failing on the brink of the line by a marginal forward pass.

Finally yet another penalty to West saw them drive over the line from a 5m line out with Danny Dineen again touching down. Smith slotted the difficult conversion to take the score to 25-17.

It was obviously Dineen’s day as he was the recipient five minutes later of a good backs’ break on the right with him touching down out wide for his hat-trick and bonus point try.

The conversion made the score a more secure 32-17. Unfortunately in the process the West captain Jamie McAulay was stopped rather abruptly by a home defender and had to leave the field, adding to the list of injuries.

Smith further increased that lead from another penalty but in the final quarter another injury took the West fit players down to 14 and they began to tire under the constant pressure of the heavier home forwards.

The home side used that advantage to good effect scoring two further tries, one of which was converted taking the score back to a narrower 35-29.

Finally, just before full-time, Kirkcaldy scored another drive over after winning a scrum on the West line against the head.

With only the conversion needed to win the game the spectators held their breath.

But the conversion was missed and with some relief West came away with the narrow bonus point win by 35-34.

West: Peter Davie, Danny Dineen, Andrew Love, Mark Jenkinson, James Harley, James McAulay, Craig McCall, Fraser Smeaton, Harry Brewster, Ross McAulay, Sandy McCallum, Blair Smith, Alex Fisken, Calum Booth, Peter Burns. Replacements: Stuart McDonald, Darren Allan, Darren Allan, Andrew Goodall, Tom Gray.

For more on Saturday’s win visit www.milngavieherald.co.uk.