Centre Duncan McIntyre’s dramatic interception try with the last play of the game lifted Howe of Fife to their first league win in almost a year and gave them hope in the BT National League Division One relegation battle.
McIntyre anticipated Hamilton centre Mark Wallace’s pass to pick it off and race 60 metres for the score under the posts, Dom Martin – in his first home match in 14 months after recovering from an ACL injury – converting as referee Craig Clark blew for the end of the match to delight from home fans in the Duffus Park crowd and despair for the visitors.
Howe last won in the league on November 7 last year and had lost all nine of their matches in National One this season, leaving them adrift at the foot of the table.
Although strengthened by the returns of Martin and big lock Terry Turpie, Howe trailed early on after wing Ben Mitchell couldn’t hold what was a certain scoring pass from McIntyre, and after seven minutes the Bulls made them pay with a score from impressive full back Andy Wilson.
Howe battled back with their own concerted spell of pressure resulting in prop Andrew Whittle going over, but after Martin’s conversion put them 7-5 up, Hamilton dominated the next 20 minutes and seemed to take control.
Open-side Robert Brown went through for two tries and although Jake Douglas’ solo score brought Howe back into the game at the break, another fine score from the flying Wilson after a smart kick from stand-off Owen McLeish took the Bulls to 26-14 ahead.
Playing into an icy wind sweeping from the north of Duffus, however, Howe rallied with forward power as Jem MacDonald finished off a textbook driving maul and Martin converted.
Then McIntyre’s break for the line saw Hamilton wing Craig Inglis intentionally knock on an offload from the centre that would surely have resulted in a score, but referee Clark opted only to give a penalty and a yellow card instead of a penalty try.
Although Howe scrummed the penalty and drove over for Graeme Steedman to get the touchdown, Martin missed the trickier conversion leaving the scores tied at 26-all.
Both sides had chances in the last ten minutes but on the game’s last play McIntyre stepped in to intercept as the Bulls sought the winning score and send the home crowd into raptures.