Kilmarnock U14s welcomed Strathaven U14s to Bellsland on Sunday, for their first home game of the season.
Keen to make amends for their defeat on the road to Loch Lomond last week, this young Kilmarnock side turned up in determined fashion, and were excited to be given the opportunity to play on the 1st XV pitch in front of the stands, which was swelled by a good support from both teams.
Prior to kick off – the team broke with their recent tradition of a team talk on the pitch and instead retired to the changing rooms…whether this was an inspired coaching ploy, or whether it was simply because for once the changing rooms were adjacent to the pitch…it had the desired effect, as the Kilmarnock team came out fired up ready to take kick off.
Playing 3x 20 minute games, the 1st period saw an inspired Kilmarnock side play some scintillating rugby. Gone was the hesitancy at the breakdown, no more missed tackles, no individual play, …instead team work, support play and sustained pressure on a Strathaven defence that were shell-shocked by the tenancity of the Kilmarnock play. Playing on the wide pitch, it was a delight to watch as the ball moved along the line, or zipped out as a miss pass to a winger often in acres of space. Strathaven did have their chances however just as they were strong in attack, the Kilmarnock defence was resolute, turning over ball, and dominating the scrum, to give the back line plenty of attacking options.
Although Strathaven arrived with 15 players, two Kilmarnock players sportingly played with the opposition in both the first period (Callum Carrie and Mitchell Harkins) and again in the second (Andrew Bruce and Alex Kirkpatrick), to ensure that the opposition were afforded the opportunity to make changes and rest some players during the game. After being held to zero in the first 20 mins, the visitors first score came via the fine foot work and speed of our own Andrew Bruce, scoring in the corner. Andrew went on to make a couple of try saving tackles as well for the visitors as Kilmarnock turned up the pressure even more, to finish the 2nd period 31-7 to the good.
By this time, the Strathaven heads were down, and their coaches asked if the final period could be played as a development game, mixing the two teams together. It was great to see both sets of player join together and have fun out on the park – sportsmanship at its finest and what the values of rugby are all about.
The final score was 40-17 to Kilmarnock, however the score registered with the SRU after 40 minutes was 31-7 with tries for Matthew Penrose (x3), Brayden Dean (x2), Thomas Dunlop, Daniel Christie, Laughlan Whitelaw and Dylan Whitsey. Thomas Dunlop slotted home 3 conversions and 1 for Daniel Christie.
Man of the Match was a difficult choice, as this was very much a team effort from all 23 boys involved. However for his scoring exploits for both teams, and for playing at the same level against his team mates, this week’s Man of the Match award goes to Andrew Bruce.