Carnoustie picked up where they left off, before the pandemic, continuing their winning streak with a bonus point win over Kirkcaldy 2nd XV. A busy day for Ali Neil as he picked up a yellow card, two tries and narrowingly dodged buying the post match jugs.

The long wait for amateur rugby is over as Carnoustie travelled to Kirkcaldy to kick off the new season. A lovely Fife day in Beveridge Park set the stage for new coach Mike Avis’s first competitive match at the helm.

Kirkcaldy got the much anticipated match underway. Carnoustie started well and it seemed like there wasn’t an 18 month gap since their last league match. It didn’t take long for the early pressure to tell and after some good phases, Tight head prop Ali Neil crashed over for the opener. Fly half Mark Gibson missed the conversion but made the penalty that Carnoustie won moments later.

Kirkcaldy started to get some joy as Carnoustie’s ill discipline started to creep into the game. With the home outside centre getting 3 points after being awarded a penalty. The away side reacted brilliantly though as Shaun Franco, who nicks more balls than an electric razor, stole the ball from the opposition 9’s hands at the base of a scrum. The ball went wide with some brilliant quick hands and running lines, which saw try machine Michael Downie touch down. This time Mark Gibson got the conversion.

Kirkcaldy managed to stay in the game feeding off Carnoustie’s ill discipline, especially around the breakdown, with too often the away side were found to be too eager to steal the ball. Through this they managed to mount the pressure on Carnoustie for a change and picked up another 3 points from a penalty. Ali Neil then fell victim to being “too ahead of the game” as he tackled a Kirkcaldy player before he had the ball, 5 metres from the Carnoustie try line. This saw Ali sin binned and Carnoustie down to 14 men for 10 minutes. Kirkcaldy then powered over from the following phases for their first and only try of the game. Kirkcaldy also got the conversion.

Being down to 14 men didn’t slow Carnoustie down too much as again they marched into Kirkcaldy’s half and showed their attacking flair with lovely offloading through the contact and eventually Lewis Thoms powered over for the score. The conversion missed.

HT Score: kirkcaldy 13 – 20 Carnoustie

Carnoustie were then back up to 15 men just after half time and continued piling on the pressure. Clever play from Captain Mitch Whyte, stabbing the ball through, allowing the speed merchants to chase. Kirkcaldy’s fullback managed to recover the ball only to find Shaun Franco supplexing him into touch 5 metres from the home side’s try line, Jack Forster battered over from short distance following the resulting lineout. The conversion was missed.

Kirkcaldy kicked the restart only to find the away forward pack hungry for more. Stalwart Owen Hughes caught the kick off and put the galloping Jack Forster through a hole in the home side’s kick chase. It was poetry in motion as Jack then drew in the fullback and popped the ball to flanker partner Tony Franco who then offloaded to Shaun Franco who then finally offloaded to Ali Neil to dive over for the score. A beauty!

The match then got stale, with a mixture of ill discipline from the away side and better defensive play from the home side. The final score came in the dying moments of the game as the marauding mullet Jim Docherty received the ball in the opposition 22 and chicaned his way over the line.

FT Score: Kirkcaldy 13 – 35 Carnoustie

An impressive start to the season for Carnoustie as they picked up the bonus point on the road against a tough opponent. They showed real attacking intent and clearly wanted to play fast free flowing rugby which was great to watch. Ali Neil had an eventful outing finding himself on the score sheet and in the sin bin. Ryan Beresford made a great impact off the bench in the second half to inject some life into the game again and young Shaun Franco was everywhere and barely put a foot wrong. Jack Forster put in a towering display at blind side flanker in attack and in defence and was awarded the Man of the Match for his work.

Starting XV:
Dave Campbell, Nathan Bowles, Ali Neil, Reece Nicoll, Scott Murphy, Jack Forster, Tony Franco, Owen Hughes, Shaun Franco, Mark Gibson, Jim Docherty, Mitch Whyte, Michael Downie, Callum Forteath, Lewis Thoms
Craig Henderson, Ryan Beresford, Steven Queen, Kieran Murphy