Crieff and Strathearn 13 Kinross 21
THE opening league match of the new season took place on Saturday.
The squad chosen reflected the unavailability of a large number of the potential hard core, including the promising Lennox Halley, Grant Frogley, Kenny Butler and Ewan McChesney. Making their debuts were hooker George Stott, Alan Kaye, Alex Harris and Wallace Hubbard.
The Blue and Golds kicked off with the strong wind at their backs. Kinross had a considerable physical advantage up front but within minutes it became clear that the lighter home eight were not going to be pushed around.
The front row of Coventry, Stott and Pilgaard were already getting the better of their opponents. With four minutes gone Kinross conceded a penalty for a forward indiscretion and skipper Cammy Kennedy stroked the ball over from 35 metres to post an early three-point lead.
Crieff’s teenage scrum half Matthew Kesson impressed from early on. The back row looked promising with Kennedy at number eight, flanked by the improving Ewan McSorley and Aberdeen-based Scott Adams.
An offside decision saw Crieff concede a penalty after eight minutes and the teams were all square. Ten minutes later Kinross pulled ahead with another penalty as home defence drifted to an offside position.
For Crieff the second-row pairing of Flett and Gordon belied their years while in the backs player-coach Botha Enslin showed good ball skills as he linked up with the ebullient Craig Wishart at stand-off.
With the game into two minutes of injury time, the homesters paid the penalty for slack tackling to allow the Kinross winger in at the corner to post an 11-3 interval lead.
The second half saw play seesaw backwards and forwards. The Kinross pack seemed to punch well below its potential and Kennedy made more than a few incursions into enemy territory.
The inability of the Crieff defence to cover out wide was once more revealed by a somewhat soft try. As the game entered the last quarter the Blue and Golds were 16-3 behind a team displaying not a lot of inventive flair.
Up front the Crieff pack were getting the upper hand and, with both McSorley and Adams lively and threatening, the Kinross octet were struggling in the loose. A clever change in direction by Kesson saw the visitors caught flat-footed and Adams, a greatly improved player, was on hand to dive over.
Kinross who upped a gear and used the long ball to push play into the Crieff half. With five minutes left they took advantage yet again of slack home defence and touched down for try number three.
With their support baying for a greater effort and the bonus point, the Blue and Golds surged back down the park. Again their lighter pack used their superior mobility, with Wishart barging through the gap. The back row were on hand and McSorley went over for a well-taken try.
It was too little, too late, with Kinross deserving a non-bonus win. On this performance neither of these teams are likely to be challenging at the top in this most competitive of divisions.
Next week the fixture with Aberdeen Uni will be played at the Braidhaugh and not Aberdeen, as scheduled. Kick-off will be 3pm.