Dunfermline 15 Strathmore 8

DUNFERMLINE began their 2018 programme in style with a well-earned victory over second-top Strathmore at McKane Park on Saturday.

Mark Dobson’s Blues picked up only their fourth win of the BT Caledonia Division One season in a comeback success that saw just three tries scored throughout the 80 minutes.

Their last game – also at home – was way back on December 2 when derby rivals Glenrothes were defeated 25-22 but, while this match wasn’t as high-scoring, the end result was no less significant for the home team.

Before the festive period, head coach Dobson had urged his players to put the first half of the season to the back of their minds.

A win would’ve taken Strathmore top and, although their experienced and physical back division attacked strongly, Dunfermline’s solid defensive line held until an infringement in midfield saw them concede a penalty, which was converted by Ali Olivier.

The same player then finished off a fine crossfield move to score a well-constructed try midway through the opening period but the chance of additional points from the conversion was missed.

Dunfermline, however, were soon back threatening the visitors’ line and forward Lliam Quarm showed a flash of inspiration to create a scoring opportunity for himself.

His fine dummy pass sliced open the defence and allowed him to crash over to open the Blues’ account and Adam Fraser was only inches out with his conversion attempt.

Although they trailed by three points at the break, Quarm’s score gave Dobson’s outfit the confidence to take into the second half and they probed the Strathmore line with some good moves.

The hosts also had to withstand some promising attacks from their opponents but their persistence and pushing towards the Strathie line – with a vocal support behind them – paid dividends when they won a kickable penalty that Fraser slotted over to level the scores.

That provided the basis for a pulsating finish and, with the game moving into its closing stages, Dobson made changes in a bid to win the game.

Young left wing Calum Allardice and experienced inside centre Scott Gracie were sent on and the two combined to put Dunfermline ahead for the first time, with Allardice playing his part in creating a chance for Gracie to scoot over for five points.

Fraser then sent his conversion between the sticks to leave Strathmore a converted score adrift, and it proved enough to ensure a fine win for the home team.

Dunfermline are scheduled to travel to Harris Academy this afternoon, with kick-off at 2pm.