Howe of Fife 83 - 0 Carrick

Following the festive period and postponement of last week’s league encounter away to Ardrossan, it was a full month for Howe first XV without a competitive game of rugby.

Fraser Allan completes his hat trick of tries. Pic by Chris Reekie.

The opponents at Duffus to get proceedings off to a start were Carrick.

The visitors are going through a torrid time and sit bottom of the league.

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A position the Howe this time last year, knew about, only too well.

With a cup tie match coming up next against local rivals Strathmore, it was important Howe executed their game plan to maximum effect.

Carrick had shown enough in their defeat at home to Howe they would contest the scrums and the breakdown arena.

Howe were along similar lines.

Andy Steven made a welcome return from university, Sam Rowlands continued at scrum half and Cammy Walker came in at full back.

There had been some doubt as to the firmness of the pitch along the stand side, due to frost.

Luckily both teams were comfortable with the conditions.

Before both sets of matches started, the Crusaders playing Dunfermline 3s, all teams lined up to pay tribute to past captain Alan ‘Smooth’ Booth.

A Howe of Fife spokesman said: “This was a moving tribute to someone who contributed massively not only to the Howe, but the community as well.

“He brought joy and happiness and a sense of impish fun.

“He will be sadly missed.”

The spectators were only settling in as Howe ripped into Carrick.

Rowlands darted off the edge of a ruck and, using his considerable strength and low centre of gravity, he forced his way over the try line to give Howe the perfect start, despite the missed conversion.

This set the trend for the remainder of the game.

Carrick, try as hard as they did, could not counter Howe’s speed and counterattack.

The visitors were combative around the breakdown, Howe leaving men in the outside defence channels, putting pressure on Carrick.

Good defence, strong tackles and quick turnover ball resulted in scores from one end of the field to the other.

By half time the Howe had scored a further four tries from James Barclay, Fraser Allan, Jack Todd and Stewart Lathangie.

All were converted by Iain Aitken.

Referee Graham Leese was kept busy keeping tally of the scores and dishing out a couple of yellow cards for a skirmish as both teams let off some steam in front of the stand.

Prop Ryan Hood came on as a substitute only to return moments later with a worrying groin injury. At the break Howe led 33-0.

The pattern of the second period continued in the same vein.

Howe dominated with Ball in hand. Carrick never gave up, but again, had no answer to Howe’s speed and support play. Arguably they should have scored more. Some individuals running too far, ignoring their support. Something which cannot be replicated against Strathmore.

For the record Howe scored a further eight tries, lucky thirteen in total.

Cammy Walker scored with a strong run on his return to the side. Andy Steven and Ian Aitken managed to grab a couple. Aitken kicking five conversions. Fraser Allan completed his hat trick with two typically pugnacious runs and Rory Johnstone rumbled his way over.

For Howe the result greatly helps their points differential, especially not conceding a point.

With Lasswade beating Berwick, West of Scotland beating Greenock Wanderers, the position in the top half of the league, with games in hand, is becoming tight. For next week the Howe will require a more physical edge against Strathmore. When combined with the pace and support play, they are capable off, it should prove enough to get them into the next round of the National Cup. But they will have to increase their intensity to do so.

In what was a high scoring day at Duffus the Howe Crusaders won 119-0.