Match reports for the 1st XV

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GARNOCK v ANNAN
11TH APRIL 2015

LOSS IN LAST GAME OF SEASON

Report by Alan Robertson

Despite putting up a battling performance against fellow strugglers Garnock in West 1 of BT Regional leagues the odds in overcoming the improbable numerical requirements for survival proved too great for Annan at Lochshore on Saturday.

Playing with a strong gusting wind blowing across the pitch at a sunny Lochshore both teams struggled to play any form of cohesive rugby with dropped passes and knock on the order of the day. The visitors struggled initially in the scrums but managed to disrupt the home side lineouts at vital times. With both sides playing their rugby between the 22s neither side looked capable of scoring a try hence the 0-0 deadlock at half time.

Annan started the second half in more determined mood, although down to 14 men with No 8 Sean Haren yellow carded at the end of the first half, and with the forwards beginning to fire things looked promising.

From a flowing backs move across the pitch unfortunately a pass was intercepted by the home stand off who sprinted to the line to score a converted try. Garnock increased their lead minutes later with a simple back line move with their right winger crossing in the corner to take a 12 point lead.

Annan began to dominate in the forward play with a simple pick and drive play which paid off when No 8 Sean Haren crashed over to score. Stand off James Bigham added the conversion to take Annan within a score of their hosts.

Garnock retaliated immediately leading to a lineout in the right corner with produced good possession for the hosts whose backs, with some slick inter-passing, sent their centre over near the posts. The successful conversion took the score to 19-7 with 10 minutes left on the clock. Garnock threw all their remaining subs on in a determined attempt hoping for a bonus point try, but Annan had the better of the last ten minutes.

After several short penalties, veteran prop Colin ĒChocolateĒ Warwick, on his last appearance for Annan forced his way over for a consolation try to take the final score to 19-12.

So a disappointing end to the season for Annan and confirmation that they will play their league rugby in West 2 of the BT Regional leagues next season. However there have been glimpses over the season that there is talent in this squad which must auger well for the future.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, C Nicholson, G Hogg, M Thompson, D Barnes, C Bell, S Haren, A Jancey, J Bigham, T Sloan, J Callaghan, D Wyllie, N Coupland, B Jamieson

Replacements: C Warrick, J Nelson (both used)


GLASGOW ACCIES v ANNAN
28TH MARCH 2015

LOST BUT A BONUS POINT

Report by Alan Robertson

In their penultimate league game in West 1 of the BT Regional Leagues Annan travelled to Glasgow on Saturday. With Glasgow Accies currently sitting in 3rd place and Annan propping up the league and with Accies beating Annan at Violetbank 32 Ė 13 in November even the most ardent Annan supporter was not looking forward to what awaited their team at New Anniesland.

Their fears looked to be well founded when within the first two minutes the Accies backs cleaved through the visitorís defence with consummate ease for their winger to score in the corner. The Annan forwards were also having a torrid time in the scrums where they lost three strikes against the head and were eventually penalised and Accies increased their lead to 8-0.

In the second quarter Annan at last drove play into the home half and in a fine sustained attack between forwards and backs centre David Wyllie crashed over the whitewash to score an unconverted try. With some changes in the Annan scrum the Annan forwards began to dominate the set piece play both in scrummage and lineout but it was the hosts who added to their score before half time with a penalty awarded for an offence at a ruck.

Half Time Score: Glasgow Accies 11 v Annan 5

Having played into the teeth of a gale in the first half Annan were looking forward to utilising it in the second half but inexplicably the wind died. Annan however did reduce the deficit when stand off Craig McCann slotted a penalty minutes into the half to reduce Accies lead to 3 points.

Accies increased their lead however when their outside centre, who was a thorn in Annanís side for the entire game, broke through Annanís mid field defences and set his right winger down the touchline to score a fine try which was duly converted to take the hosts into a 10 point lead.

Annanís forwards were beginning to gain the upper hand in the set piece and in the loose and made inroads into Accies territory in several drives. No 8 Sean Haren, back playing in his favoured position after filling in at centre for several games, had several breenging runs from pickups at the base of the scrums and it was only a matter of time before he blasted over to score. McCann added the extras.

Annan were unlucky not to add to their score as they disrupted the Accies scrum with their front row standing up on each occasion but no penalties were forthcoming. Alas time ran out for the visitors and they were left again to rue missed chances.

Final Score: Glasgow Accies 18 v Annan 15.

This was a game that was full of drive and passion for the Annan squad especially against a team that has given them a torrid time in the past at New Anniesland.

At least a bonus point was earned which, given results elsewhere, keeps a slim chance of avoiding relegation alive! Kilmarnock and Garnock are still in the mix with Annan to play the later on 11th April at Lochshore which could be a relegation decider!

Annan Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, R Martin, G Hogg, M Thompson, D Barnes, C Bell, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann, N Coupland, J Callaghan, D Wyllie, B Jamieson, A Torbett.

Replacements: C Warrick, T Sloan, C Nicholson (all used)


ANNAN v CARRICK
7TH MARCH 2015

CARRICK RUN OUT WINNERS

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Highlights / Match Photos)

Annan playing into the considerable wind in the first half started well driving play through their forwards keeping the ball tight but were penalised for holding on in a ruck and from ensuing penalty and lineout the Carrick backs, with simple direct running aided and abetted by some hapless Annan tackling, ran in a simple try behind the posts and were 7 points up in as many minutes.

Annan continued to play a simple driving game against the wind and were rewarded with a penalty award when the Carrick forwards failed to release the ball carrier in the tackle. Stand off Craig McCann slotted the award to reduce the points deficit to 4 points.

Annanís efforts were undone when, as the hosts were launching an attack through their backs, possession was lost allowing the visiting backs to slice the home defences open once again to score a converted try. The visiting forwards, not to be outdone by their backs, following a scrum, drove the ball, via a maul, to send their openside wing forward over to score and take the half time score to Annan 3 Carrick 21.

The Annan support were hopeful that with the wind at their backs their team would make inroads into the points deficit. It didnít take too long for Annan to get the score board ticking over when from a forwards drive in the visitorís 22 Carrick were penalised for not releasing in a tackle and McCann slotted a further penalty. Carrickís cause was not helped when their No 8 initially yellow carded for a professional foul had it upgraded to red after verbally abusing the refereeís decision.

Annan continued to drive play into the visitorís half and on two separate occasions looked like they could have scored. The first was from a ruck a metre out from the line with the ball available and only needing someone to pick it up and dive over instead was recycled and the momentum was lost. The second was when, from a series of pick and drives, lock Michael Thompson looked to have driven over the line to score but the referee deemed the ball was held up.

Although Annan continued to have the territorial advantage the visitors scored a breakaway try. Starting from a penalty which was gathered by the Carrick winger and with a flowing movement across the field to his right winger he outpaced the home defences to score.

This was followed by Annan driving play deep into the visitorís 22 and the ball was spun along the back line, and with a miss pass, to winger Steven Clark he waltzed his way over the line to score. McCann added the extras and the hosts were back in the game. Annanís tails were up and they battered away at the line with only stalwart defensive work by the visitors keeping the hosts at bay.

As so often happens when one team is pressing mistakes are made and a wayward pass in attack was intercepted by the Carrick outside centre who sprinted his way to score at the other end.

Annan heads did not go down and they finished the match in the Carrick 22 pounding away at the line. Final Score Annan 13 Carrick 33.

After their crushing defeat by their visitors earlier in the season this was a vast improvement on that display where the main difference was the speed and quality of the back play by Carrick. The home forwards more than held their own in the set pieces albeit their scrummaging creaked in the early part of the game.

Annan now have two remaining games both away to Glasgow Accies on 28th March and fellow strugglers Garnock on 11th April of which the latter is the most crucial as a win could mean survival in West 1 but only if other results fall to Annanís advantage.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, C Warrick, C Nicholson, G Hogg, M Thompson, D Barnes, C Bell, J Nelson, A Jancey, C McCann, T Sloan, S Haren, D Wyllie, N Coupland, S Clark

Replacements: R Martin, K Warrick (both used)

1st XV Mascots: Coll Irving and Callum Kirk

Match and Ball Sponsors: APD and H&I Engineering.


NEWTON STEWART v ANNAN
21ST FEBRUARY 2015

1STS GO DOWN TO NEWTON STEWART

Report by Chris Lake

The wintry conditions played a part in setting the tone for this game. This was a dreary encounter with only sparks of activity that were mostly encouraging for the home support. In the first ten minutes Annan attained good attacking positions courtesy of a Steven Clark run deep into home territory.

A penalty award to Annan was not converted and Newton Stewart took advantage to relieve the pressure and move play back up close to the visitorsí line. The home forwards were allowed too much space by some casual Annan defence which led to the first points, an early seven-point lead to please the Bladnoch faithful.

Unusually it took a further two penalty attempts for Craig McCann to find his range and with the score at 7-3 the game became a disjointed affair. Both teams seemed unable to achieve any fluidity in their attacks and as a result the referee (Adam Hart from Helensburgh) took centre stage.

Despite his willingness to use the advantage law to the full, play often broke down with multiple infringements. Newton Stewartís second try was the result of another poorly defended attack and the kick made the score 14-3.

The restart failed to make ten metres but a penalty award from the ensuing scrum gave Annan a great position near the home five metre line. The throw was judged not straight, however, and play moved back up the park.

An exchange of kicks gave Annan the territory advantage and an offside infringement at the scrum led to McCannís second successful penalty kick.

Soon after the restart Annan were under pressure near their own twenty-two but a handling error by the Newton Stewart backs gave Steven Clark the chance to gather the ball and demonstrate his sprinterís credentials. His flair provided McCann with an easy conversion and the 14-13 scoreline gave the Annan support a glimmer of hope.

This was short-lived. Although Newton Stewart only added three points to their tally before half-time the visitors were reduced to thirteen men as a result of yellow cards shown to McCann and Nelson.

Half time Score: Newton Stewart 17 v Annan 13

During this period without a full team the visitors played a more compact game and stepped up the defensive effort. As a result no points were conceded. When the team were back to full strength Newton Stewart were soon camped within ten metres of the Annan line. An offside penalty gave the home team a good position to run in for a close range try. The conversion made the score 24-13.

Much of the rest of the game took place in Annanís half. As a result the visiting pack were always under pressure and this was exacerbated by the heavier Newton Stewart forwards. Annanís handling let them down on occasion and the hosts often capitalised on turnover ball. Further scores for Newton Stewart came from a penalty and a converted try that resulted from some chaotic play by Annan on their own line.

Final score: Newton Stewart 34 v Annan 13

Annan 1st XV Squad:†C Warrick, R Glass, C Nicholson, J Nelson, M Thompson, K Warrick, C Bell, D Barnes, A Jancey, C McCann, N Coupland, S Haren, D Wyllie, S Clark, B Jamieson

Replacements:†A Thompson, A Allison, R Martin, G Smith (all used)


ANNAN v KILMARNOCK
14TH FEBRUARY 2015

TWO POINT DRAW FOR ANNAN

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Highlights / Match Photos)

This score line belies the fact that this was a full blooded, at time exciting, game full of passion, errors and no little skill. It was a game between two teams desperately scrabbling to get out of the relegation zone of West 1 of the BT Regional leagues with both teams looking more desperate not to lose the game than win it.

Annan started the brighter of the two combatants driving play deep into the visiting 22 in the opening minutes but were repelled by some excellent defensive work by the visitors. The match ebbed and flowed as both teams attempted to find cracks in each othersí defensive alignments.

There were chances to score by both sides but the efforts were thwarted by handling errors and wrong decisions. Annan did draw first blood however when on one onslaught into the visitorís half Annan were awarded a penalty when the Killie forwards were caught handling in a ruck. Captain Craig McCann slotted the award with some ease.

The rest of the first half was played in the same manner Ė lots of effort for little reward. It wasnít until the dying moments of the half that the visitors were rewarded for their efforts and they slotted a penalty award to tie the scores on the half time whistle.

The second half was a virtual repeat of the first except this time it was Killie who drew blood first with a penalty awarded against the home forwards for a ruck offence.

The hosts had their best spell in the middle of the half as they twice came close to scoring as, on both occasions they battered away through their forwards but were thwarted in their attempts to cross the whitewash.

Their efforts were rewarded, however, when awarded a penalty which standoff McCann converted to tie the scores at 6 all and that was the way it remained Ďtill the final whistle.

Whilst not the result either team wanted it was a fair result. The positives from the Annan perspective were an improved set piece performance in their scrummaging albeit their lineout performance, especially in the first half, was poor.

There was some encouraging attacking runs from numerous players with winger Niall Coupland, centres Jonny Callaghan and Sean Haren and lock Michael Thompson, No 8 Euan Braid and wing forward Dwayne Barnes worthy of a special mention.

What was encouraging for both teams was what we saw throughout the entire game was a defensive masterclass.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, C Nicholson, M Thompson, G Hogg, C Bell, D Barnes, E Braid, A Jancey, C McCann, N Coupland, S Haren, J Callaghan, T Sloan, B Jamieson

Replacements: C Warrick, M Clark, R Martin, D Wyllie (all used)

For the record:

1st XV Match Sponsors: Annan RFC Ex-Players

1st XV Match Mascots: Ellie Henderson and Emily Hunter


ANNAN v ALLAN GLENS
24TH JANUARY 2015

BONUS POINT WIN FOR ANNAN

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Highlights / Match Photos)

Annan served up their best performance of the season at Violetbank on Saturday in a bonus point display.

On Saturday against 4th placed Allan Glens Annan played their game- a pick and drive game which after the first ten minutes of probing play by both teams the home forwards drove play into the Glenís half. From a loose ball pick up Neil Coupland burst through the Glenís central defence and set up a ruck in the visitorís 5 metre line and wing forward Callum Bell was driven over to score. Standoff Craig McCann added the conversion.

Annan continued to make inroads into the visitorís territory and from a sweeping move incorporating forwards and backs No 8 Sean Haren burst through the visiting defensive line and sprinted over the line to score. McCann again added the extras.

With the visitors visibly rocking Annan took full advantage and again from a series of driving plays involving forwards and backs the ball was spun across the field of play with Haren again making a telling break finding lock Michael Thompson on the wing who in turn found hooker Andrew Gunning with a superb inside pass. Gunning with a lot to do bumped the full back out of the way to score in the corner. McCann was off target with his conversion attempt but Annan had a healthy 19 point to 0 lead.

Annan were now in control of the game and continued to dominate possession and territory but in one attack a long miss pass was intercepted by Glenís lively Fijian centre who sprinted 70 metres to score under the posts. With the conversion added this took the half time score to Annan 19 Allan Glens 7.

Annan continued at the start of the second half as they had ended the first with some encouraging drives towards the visitorís line but on more than one occasion failed to retain possession at crucial moments.

They did extend their lead however when they were awarded a penalty when the Glenís forwards were caught offside at a ruck which McCann gladly accepted. In one of the visitorsí rare excursions into Annan territory from a scrum in front of the posts the visitors spun the ball left to their winger who scored at the corner. The conversion was missed.

Annanís bonus point try was straight off the training field. From a scrum on the 5 metre line the ball was spun to stand off McCann who fed an inside pass to Haren, now occupying the inside centre spot, who split the Glenís defence to score. Again McCann added the extra 2 points to take the final score to Annan 29 Allan Glens 12.

All in all a much improved performance from Annan which the coaches will be hoping can be replicated for the remaining games of the season. It perhaps would be churlish to identify outstanding performances in such an excellent all round performances but the bullish surges by both winger Neil Coupland, No8/centre Sean Haren and lock Michael Thompson and the pinpoint kicking from hand of standoff Craig McCann deserve a special mention.

For the record the Match Sponsors: Keith Latimer and Friends, Match Ball Sponsor: Calamity Corner and Match Mascots: Josh Smith and Ben Latimer.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, A Gunning, M Thompson, G Hogg, C Bell, D Barnes, S Haren, J Bigham, C McCann, N Coupland, J Callaghan, D Wyllie, T Sloan, B Jamieson

Replacements: C Warrick, E Braid (both used)


ANNAN v LENZIE
17TH JANUARY 2015

LENZIE FINALLY GET THEIR WIN

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Highlights / Match Photos)

Despite the adverse weather in the rest of Scotland the conditions on Saturday were excellent for a game of entertaining rugby at Violetbank in West 1 of the BT Regional Leagues. Annan have been Lenzieís bogie team in that they had never beaten Annan in all previous meetings but on Saturday they laid that particular bogie to rest and there is no doubt that the better team won on the day.

The first half belonged to the home side as their excellent defence repulsed numerous surging attacks by the powerful visiting forwards. Annan launched some attacks of their own through their lively looking backs and were unfortunate on their first serious attack, with a three man overlap the wrong option was taken and the chance was squandered.

However minutes later from a retreating scrum in their own 22 Annanís No 8 Sean Haren drove play up the side of the scrum and set up his backs with quality ball and with the ball spun across the back line winger Bruce Jamieson sprinted up the left wing and when it looked as if he was going to be stopped he offloaded a looping pass inside where he found lock Michael Thompson who in turn set up the ball for the backs to launch an attack up the right side of the pitch.

Standoff Craig McCann drew the last man in the Lenzie defensive line and sent in centre Jonny Callaghan to score behind the posts. McCann added the conversion to give Annan a 7 point lead which they defended until half time.

Half Time score Annan 7 Lenzie 0.

In the second half Lenzie decided to play a simple pick and drive game utilising the edge they had in their forwards, in both the loose and scrummaging. With some copybook rucking, counter rucking and mauling they, on numerous occasions, drove play towards the home line.

Some exemplary defensive work by the home side held the line for long periods but eventually the visitorsí efforts were rewarded and they scored a converted try beside the right upright to tie the scores an 7 all. Annan extended their lead by 3 points with a finely struck penalty by McCann.

That however was the end of Annanís scoring and they played most of the game defending although towards the end of the game they had a couple of drives for the line but were held out by some stout Lenzie defence.

Lenzie scored a further two tries through their forwards, one converted, to win the game by 19 points to 10.

All in all a disappointing result for Annan but a fair one. Annan failed to match the Lenzie work rate, especially in the forward exchanges and this aided and abetted by some poor ball retention and poor decision making did little to help Annanís cause.

This was a must win game for Annan and it is going to be extremely difficult for them to raise themselves out of the relegation zone with six games remaining and only one of those against a team below them i.e. Kilmarnock.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, A Gunning, C Nicholson, M Thompson, G Hogg, C Bell, D Barnes, S Haren, J Bigham, C McCann, B Jamieson, J Callaghan, D Wyllie, T Sloan, A Jancey

Replacements: C Warrick, K Warrick, (used) N Coupland.


ANNAN v GHK
6TH DECEMBER 2014

GHK REMAIN UNBEATEN

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Highlights / Match Photos)

Annan welcomed unbeaten league leaders GHK to a dull dreich rain sodden Violetbank and despite the weather both teams served up a committed albeit error strewn 80 minutes of entertainment for the intrepid band of supporters who braved the weather.

Annan started well and made several constructive drives into the visitorís 22 but were unable to break down the well organised GHK defensive structure.

The visitors showed their attacking intent within 5 minutes of the start when in a simple backs move, emanating from a lineout, the ball was spun out through the back line to their right winger who out sprinted the desperate cover defence to score at the corner flag.

It was 10 minutes later before the home side scored their only points of the game when awarded a penalty when the visiting backs were caught offside at a ruck. Standoff Craig McCann converted the award into 3 points.

GHK looked to have scored a similar try to their first when their right winger crossed the line but was dispossessed of the ball in the act of scoring. He was also injured and it transpired he had sustained a triple fracture to his cheekbone.

The visitors were not to be denied however and from a penalty award just inside the Annan 22 their forwards drove over to score. GHK followed with a further try set up by their forwards with their scrum half darting over from the side of a ruck.

Annanís cause was not helped when No 8 Kieran Warrick was yellow carded and from the penalty GHK again scored in the corner to take the half time score to Annan 3 GHK 20

With the wing at their backs for the second half Annan upped their efforts and whilst spending long periods in the GHK half were unable to breach the stalwart and well organised visitorís defences. GHK added a further two converted tries before the final whistle to take the final score to Annan 3 v GHK 34.

This was a another disappointing result for Annan but with the Annan team having to make several changes due to injuries before and during the game the players who filled the gaps stepped up to the mark.

In the corresponding game last season although well beaten Annan were able to score three tries. Annanís set piece play certainly needs work with the scrums and lineout creaking under pressure.

However it must be said that GHK were without doubt the best team the club has played this year.

Annan RFC would like to wish GHK winger Gregor Hollerin, who sustained a triple fracture to his cheekbone during Saturdays game at Violetbank, all the best and a speedy recovery.

Match Sponsors: Jim Murchie and Friends and Ross Johnstone Joinery

1st XV Mascots: Danny Bell and Murray Kerr

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, A Gunning, C Nicholson, J Nelson, N Coupland, C Bell, D Barnes, E Braid, J Bigham, C McCann, S McDougal, S Haren, D Wyllie, T Sloan, S Clark.

Replacements: K Warrick, C Warrick, A Allison


HELENSBURGH v ANNAN
29TH NOVEMBER 2014

HARD SHIFT BUT NO JOY

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos)

Annan went on their travels on Saturday in their longest journey of the league season to Ardencaple to take on fellow league strugglers Helensburgh.

In dreicht conditions Annan started well and in their first attack into the home half took the lead when awarded a penalty when the home forwards transgressed at a ruck which standoff Craig McCann duly slotted.

Both teams were guilty of some sloppy play as the game stuttered along filled with numerous handling errors and poor decision making by both sides. Helensburgh levelled the score with a well struck penalty when this time the visiting forwards were caught offside at a ruck.

It wasnít long before Annan retook the lead when this time full back James Bigham slotted the penalty award when his opposite number was penalised for not rolling away in the tackle.

Annanís defensive work, which had looked exemplary in the opening exchanges, was found wanting in what was the home sidesí first major attack into the Annan 22 launched by the home sides illusive No 10 who managed to pirouette and side step his way through some hapless Annan defence to score.

With the conversion missed Helensburgh retook the lead at 8-6. They extended their lead to 11-6 when Annan once again was caught offside at a ruck.

Annan launched an attack up the middle of the pitch reverting to their favoured pick and drive format. Play was driven well into the home half and when the ball was released to the backs it was inside centre Sean Haren who made the hard yards and crashed over in the corner to score to tie the scores at 11 points all.

However Helensburgh retook the lead just before half time with another penalty award to take the half time score to Helensburgh 14 Annan 11.

The second half was played in the gathering gloom and it was Annan who started the brighter and before long they retook the lead. The visitors launched an attack down the right and when standoff McCann put in a deft kick through the advancing home defensive line it was winger Tam Sloan who won the race to touch down the ball and score his first try for his club.

McCann added the extras to give Annan a 4 point lead. The lead, however, was short lived as play, immediately, from the restart was taken into the visitorís half and Annan were hit with two penalty awards in quick succession which again gave the home team a two point advantage (20-18).

The last quarter of the game showed the best and worst of both teams with both showing some excellent play and some dire play in equal measure. Annan had several opportunities to score but numerical overlaps were spurned in favour of Ďwhite lineí fever aberrations.

Following a fine backs move it looked as if winger Neil Coupland had scored but the try was disallowed, rightly, for an outrageous forward pass.

As time petered out it looked as if Annan would at least gain a bonus point for their efforts but fate had an ugly twist up her sleeve. The Annan defence stood up well to an onslaught near their line as the home side endeavoured to widen their victory gap and when the visitors were awarded a penalty which would have allowed them to clear their lines they instead, bravely in attempt to win the game, decided to run the penalty out of their 22.

Unfortunately the attempt was butchered and the ball was turned over by the home forwards and even allowing for them in turn losing possession their ever alert winger scooped the loose ball up and scampered in to score in the corner.

The conversion from the touchline consigned Annanís hope of a bonus point to the bin.

Final Score: Helensburgh 27 Annan 18.

All in all this was a disappointing result for Annan. The lineout had functioned well with Annan managing to disrupt the home sides throws and whilst the scrums had struggled at times they had managed to secure their own ball in the main.

The problem for the team had been one of wrong decisions and failing to capitalise on the chances they created. Next Saturday the unbeaten league leaders GHK come calling to Violetbank and Annan will have to be on their mettle to get anything out of this game.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, A Gunning, C Nicholson, M Thompson, J Nelson, K Warrick, C Bell, A Thompson, A Jancey, C McCann, T Sloan, S Haren, D Wyllie, N Coupland, J Bigham.

Replacements: B Jamieson, M Carpenter(used), S McDougal(used)


STEWARTRY v ANNAN
22ND NOVEMBER 2014

STEWARTRY REGAIN CHISHOLM CUP

Report by Colin McCann

Annan travelled to Castle-Douglas on Saturday to take on Stewartry for the annual Chisholm Cup.

Having recorded a win and a much better performance the previous week against Newton Stewart, hopes and confidence were high of retaining the cup which Annan won last year at Violetbank.

Things however did not go to plan with Stewartry starting the game with a passion and commitment that Annan struggled to cope with.

Within the first quarter, the home team easily scored two long range tries through poor defence and one close in from a push over scrum.

At this point Annan started to get their game going and the defensive patterns were sorted. There was no further scoring in the first half and Annan finished the first forty starting to make inroads into the home defence.

The second half was much more in Annan's favour with centre Sean Haren scoring under the posts and scrum half Andrew Jancey getting the touch down after a ruck on the Stewartry line. Both were converted by James Bingham.

The rest of the half tended to be played in midfield with neither team managing to gain the upper hand.

A scrappy game with many errors from both sides which spoilt any continuity. The Annan line out was functioning much better with the return of Michael Thomson but the scrummage creaked and was under pressure all match.

Individually Ewan Braid was to the fore in carrying the ball, Dwaine Barnes scythed down the opponents all game and Callumn Nicholson put in a couple of huge hits.

Another game that Annan could have won but will have to stop giving teams three tries of a lead before they start to play.

Final Score: Stewartry 21 v Annan 14

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, C Nicholson, G Hogg, M Thomson, C Bell, D Barnes, E Braid, A Jancey, J Bingham, N Copeland, S Haren, T Sloan, D Wyllie, A Torbett.

Replacements: B Jamieson, J Nelson, C Warrick (these three did not play), S Clark (Used)


ANNAN v NEWTON STEWART
15TH NOVEMBER 2014

HOME WIN FINALLY!

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Highlights / Match Photos)

After their heavy defeat at Bladnoch in October in the BT Shield few Annan supporters expected anything other than another tough battle at Violetbank against the visitors from Newton Stewart. On a perfect November day and on a dry firm pitch Annan dominated for three quarters of the game with the last quarter of the game belonging to the visitors which provided a thrilling climax to an excellent game of rugby.

From the whistle Annan went straight into attack mode and made some driving incursions deep into the visitorís 22. The home side were rewarded with two penalties in quick succession for ruck indiscretions by the visiting forwards. Standoff Craig McCann converted both to give Annan a 6 point lead.

Annan increased their lead when from a succession of fine pick and drives from the forwards centre Sean Haren burst through several tackles to crash over the line to score. Craig McCann added the extras. McCann extended Annanís lead to 16 points when, just before half time, he added a further penalty awarded against the visitors, for not releasing in the tackle.

Half time Score: Annan 16 v Newton Stewart 0.

Annan started where they left off in the first half. Keeping the game simple they again made inroads into the opposition half with simple driving play. They were unlucky when centre Haren again burst through several tackles and when eventually brought to a halt he managed to offload the ball to hooker Andrew Gunning who, looked certain to score, was stopped millimetres from the line. Annan were penalised for holding on and the visitors managed to clear their lines. Annan were not to be denied however and again it fell to the boot of McCann who punished Newton Stewart with two well struck penalties to give the home side a 22 point lead.

Whether it was due to the fact that the Annan side felt that they had done enough to win the game or their efforts had drained them they began to fall off tackles and their sharpness in defensive duties began to waver. Newton Stewart began to find their attacking qualities and put in some powerful runs and ran in three excellent tries in the final quarter, one of which was converted to give the Annan supporters an extremely nervous final few minutes of the game.

Final Score: Annan 22 v Newton Stewart 17.

All in all this was a marked improvement in the performance of the Annan team over the previous weekís performance in the quagmire at Bellsland. With the team having to be rejigged, as several players were away watching Scotlandís near heroic performance at Murrayfield, the fears were that the team performance would suffer, fears that never materialised as every player stepped up to the mark.

The biggest success being centre Sean Haren, normally the Clubís No 8, forming an abrasive attacking partnership with David Wyllie in the centre and Steven Clark filling in at fullback rarely putting a foot wrong. Added to that the come-back, after injury, of lock Michael Thompson brought with it an improved lineout performance.

Whilst the scrummage was under some pressure, during periods of the game, having a hooker who can actually hook (Scotland take note!) meant that even when the scrum was having to retreat, the ball was instantly at the No 8ís feet allowing it to be cleared. Take a bow Andrew Gunning!

Annan 1st XV Squad: C Warrick, A Gunning, c Nicholson, G Hogg, M Thompson, K Warrick, D Barnes, E Braid, A Jancey, C McCann, N Coupland, S Haren, D Wyllie, W Gray, S Clark,

Replacements: D Ferguson, A Allison (used), M Thorburn, R Martin (used)


KILMARNOCK v ANNAN
8TH NOVEMBER 2014

BONUS POINT BUT NO WIN

Report by Alan Robertson

Annan travelled to Bellsland on Saturday hoping to capitalise on their hosts poor start to the season in this West 1 encounter of the BT Regional Leagues but the beleaguered club showed that they were far from down and out and battled back from a first half deficit to conquer their visitors.

Annan started well and drove play well into the home 22 and were rewarded on the 5 minute mark with a penalty when the home forwards committed a scrum offence. Captain Craig McCann slotted the award with some ease. McCann was on hand 6 minutes later to slot a further penalty awarded for holding on at a ruck. This was a long range effort which crept over the bar to give the visitors a 6 point lead.

Kilmarnock, who were adapting to the atrocious weather conditions better than their visitors began to battle their way back into the game and for the last 10 minutes of the half put Annan under immense pressure. The Annan defences held up well and made it to half time with their line intact. Half Time score Kilmarnock 0 Annan 6.

Kilmarnock started off the half as they had finished the first and using their bigger and heavier forward unit battered their way towards the Annan line. When they were held up on the Annan 22 the ball was wrestled from the maul and whilst the ball was forced over the line it was deemed to having been held up and from the scrum and ensuing ruck the Kilmarnock No 4 forced himself over the line to score. The conversion was missed.

Minutes later Kilmarnock took the lead following a penalty award for not releasing in the tackle Ė apparently the first time they had been in the lead in any league game this season! Their lead was short lived, however, as McCann again added three points from a penalty award to retake the lead. Kilmarnock were unlucky not to score when from a thunderous run up the wing their winger, in the act of scoring was tackled into touch by stand off McCann.

Annan were now pinned down in their 22 as Kilmarnock turned the screw and were rewarded for their pressure with a penalty award with which they retook the lead at 11-9. From a tapped free kick following a scrum the home standoff put in a speculative kick towards the corned which found the boot of the home winger who outpaced the Annan defence to win the footrace to the line to score. With the conversion missed the home team were now held a 16-9 advantage.

The final 10 minutes belonged almost entirely to Annan as they launched attack after attack on the home line in attempt to regain the lead. The home defences held firm, despite having one of their forwards yellow carded for repeated infringements and time ran out and the home side held out for a deserved victory.

Annan did however gain a bonus point which took them up a place from 2nd bottom to 3rd bottom in the league.

The entire game was played in a downpour of biblical proportions and it has to be said that on a pitch which resembled a swamp by the end of the game and with both sets of players indistinguishable it was remarkable that the game had been played with such guts and determination by both teams.

The home side were able to deal with the conditions whilst their visitors like to play their rugby on top of the ground rather than through it!

Annan 1st XV Squad: A Gunning, C Bell, C Nicholson, J Nelson, G Hogg, K Warrick, D Barnes, E Braid, J Bigham, C McCann, D Wyllie, J Callaghan, T Sloan, B Jamieson, A Torbett

Replacements: C Warrick, N Coupland, W Gray, A Jancey (all used)


ANNAN v GLASGOW ACCIES
1ST NOVEMBER 2014

STILL NO LEAGUE WINS AT HOME

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Highlights / Match Photos)

Annan lost this West 1 Division match in the BT Regional leagues by 5 tries to 1. However it must be said that despite the size of the defeat the home side put in a hard shift for the full 80 minutes and had the balance of possession but were unable to break down the well organised Accies defences.

On a slippery Violetbank resulting after a pre-match deluge during the warm-up and in blustery conditions Annan started well with some Ďbreengingí drives by their backrow with No 8 Sean Haren coming close to scoring but was let down by lack of support players when caught short of the line. Annanís early promise was rewarded however when standoff Craig McCann slotted a penalty award when the visiting forwards were caught offside at a ruck.

Accies response was through their forwards, who in the early part of the match held sway in the set piece, and provided a platform for the nippy visiting back line to pressurise the Annan line. It was from a lineout however that Accies first score materialised when from their own throw in, a wayward tap back allowed the Accies No 4 to latch on to the loose ball and storm over to score an unconverted try.

Accies increased their lead minutes later with a penalty awarded when an Annan forward failed to release in the tackle. The visitors went further ahead just before half time when from a slick backs move across the pitch their No 8 was on hand to receive the scoring pass to touch down in the corner. This time the try was converted to take the half time score to Annan 3 Glasgow Accies 15.

With the advantage of the wind and the slight slope in the second half the Annan faithful had thoughts of an Annan comeback especially as the home side were still in touch score-wise. Their hopes were raised within minutes of the restart when McCann slotted a penalty award from just inside the half way line.

Accies, however, kept up their attacking momentum and stretched their lead with a penalty and two finely taken converted tries to 32 points. Annan had the last word,however, when, from a defensive mixup in the Accies midfield Captain McCann latched on to a loose ball and sprinted in to score a consolation converted try to take the final score to Annan 13 Glasgow Accies 32.

All in all a disappointing day at the office for Annan where for all their efforts they were unable to breach a competent Accies defence.

Best of the bunch were the home back row of Barnes, Braid and Haren who gave their all and the centre partnership of Callaghan and Sloan who look to be combining to make an effective pairing both in attack and defence.

Special mention must go to Captain McCann who, with some astute kicking from hand, kept his team going forward and also scored all his teams points with a try, 2 penalties and a conversion.

1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, C Nicholson, J Nelson, G Hogg, D Barnes, E Braid, S Haren, J Bigham, C McCann, D Wyllie, J Callaghan, T Sloan, B Jamieson, W Gray

Replacements: C Warrick, N Coupland, A Gunning, (all used)


ALLAN GLENS V ANNAN
25TH OCTOBER 2014

GLENS EDGE IT

Report by Gary Coupland

On Saturday 25th October, Annan 1st XV travelled to Bishopbriggs, Glasgow to play Allan Glens 1st XV. On arrival Annan were greeted by high winds and driving rain. This put any thoughts of a feast of running rugby, for the small hardcore of supporters from both club who had ventured out to watch the game, to the back of their minds.

From the kick off the game was played mostly centre field with the heavier Allan Glens scrummage gaining an early ascendancy, in that they were able to push the Annan eight about almost at will. This dominance at the scrummage and some poor Annan defence in parts resulted in the Allan Glens centre running through to score which was duly converted. Allan Glen continued to press and scored another unconverted try shortly thereafter, again due to some poor defensive work and decision making by Annan.

Annan then gained in ascendency and pressed Allan Glens hard with some prolonged play in the home sides 22, which was only broken by the ref halting play as Annan were on the Allan Glens line, for some 'handbags' between the opposing forwards, more akin to the ' Monty Python' fish slapping dance than anything of a more serious nature. To the astonishment of the players and those watching the referee decided to send both the Annan Captain Sean Haren and one of Allan Glens front row to the sidelines.

The half ended with Annan still gaining prominence at 12-0 to Allan Glens.

Annan introduced Club Captain, Craig McCann from the bench at Full back, for the second half, which almost immediately brought some structure and urgency to the Annan back line. This combined with the Annan forwards beginning to gain dominance over their heavier and by now tiring opponents in the Allan Glens pack, resulted in a further period of sustained Annan pressure with centre Johnny Callaghan scoring and excellent try to the right of the posts which was duly converted by McCann.

The game continued to and fro with neither side showing the required penetration to press home home any significant advantage until, about 10 minutes from the end, when Allan Glens scored what can only be described as a soft try from a line out 5 metres from the Annan line. The Annan forwards having initially not contested said line out as they, wrongly assumed the referee was going to blow for a clear and obvious infringement by the opposing team, how wrong they were, and the old adage of 'play the whistle' was never better exemplified.

This resulted in the final score being 17 -7.

All in all a dour game, primarily due to the weather conditions. In parts Annan played well and they were certainly unrecognisable from the team that had played so poorly against Newton Stewart the previous week in terms of attitude and commitment. They were however still slow in there execution at times, particularly around the breakdown and tackle area.

That said there were some excellent performances with the two outstanding forwards on the field being Ewan Braid and Callum Nicholson, who for the 2nd week in succession were exemplary in their commitment and attitude in the forward battle, tackle and breakdown. In the back Division James Bingham and Johnny Callaghan were also prominent.

As alluded to earlier this was a vast improvement on the previous weeks display and it is hoped that with good turnouts at training in the coming weeks, the continued improvement in attitude and commitment, combined with the return of those players who have been unavailable through injury and work commitments to strengthen player numbers, then the team can progress and play regularly at the level and intensity it is capable of.

Annan 1st XV Squad: C Nicholson, C Warrick, R Glass, G Hogg, J Nelson, K Warrick, E Braid, S Haren, A Jancy, D Wylie, J Bingham, J Callaghan, T Sloan, N Coupland, B Jamieson.

Replacements: C McCann (used), D Feguson, M Carpenter, M Thorburn.


NEWTON STEWART v ANNAN
18TH OCTOBER 2014

ANNAN KNOCKED OUT AT 1ST HURDLE

Report by Chris Lake

A stiff breeze down the pitch favoured Annan as they faced the kick-off and the early play had both sides working out how best to use the elements. It was the home team that settled first and a combination of handling errors and loose play at the base of the maul that presented the boys from the Machars first points from an easy penalty.

At the restart the home side were soon back in command. Several phases of play required Annan to get busy in defence. Despite repeated knock-downs by Braid and Nicholson up front, it was Newton Stewartís ball wrestling from the mauls and solid advances by their back line that opened a clear passage for a stroll in under the posts and a first converted try.

A second try followed in similar fashion and this set a pattern for the game. The home forwards provided a cleaner and more plentiful supply of ball for their backs to harvest.

They often moved this wide in fairly challenging conditions and whilst most chances were taken a number of clear scoring opportunities were somehow ignored. By contrast the Annan backs were asked to juggle with a meagre ration of possession and had little time on the ball to create any substantial threat to the Newton Stewart try line.

Play was often disrupted by handling errors, only in part due to the blustery conditions. A couple of bright spots were provided, first by Kieran Warrick charging down a clearance kick near the opposition line and then centre Callaghan ripping possession from his opposite number in mid field.

Despite these sparks of Annan pressure the home side soon worked the ball back inside Annanís twenty-two and a forward lurch brought the next try under the posts.

Annan staged a rally which saw play move to the home twenty-two. However, promising positions were given up as a result of a dropped ball or concession when the play went in to a maul. A converted penalty was Annan's only reward before half-time. The 24 Ė 3 scoreline suggested a serious task when the wind advantage was now with the home team.

Newton Stewart did not take long to open their second-half account with a try following a penalty award near the Annan line and close to the posts. A short period of play in the centre of the pitch was moved to Annanís twenty-two with a well-placed kick and the home side found little resistance for their next try. Further tries, including one from a penalty try decision, were added at will.

Mostly Annan were the masters of their own downfall. Partly from giving up hard-won ball in the contact area and also from a defence that leaked because it took too long to do its job. Bright spots were some workman-like performances by Kieran Warrick, Calum Nicholson and Ewan Braid.

Although this might be one to forget, the lessons to be learned were surely clear. Newton Stewart will visit us on league business next month and we will need to be far better prepared for this more meaningful encounter.

Annan 1st XV Squad: C Warrick; K Warrick; R Glass; C Nicholson; G Hogg; W Gray; E Braid; A Thompson; C McCann; J Bigham; B Jamieson; J Callaghan; T Sloan; D Wylie; A Copeland

Replacements: S McMorrin; D Ferguson (both used)


LENZIE v ANNAN
11TH OCTOBER 2014

ANNAN GET THEIR 1ST WIN OF THE LEAGUE SEASON

Report by Chris Lake

This match provided plenty of entertainment. There was quite a lot to write home about and a good measure of positive training material on which Neil and his coaching team can concentrate. Annan worked hard in every phase of the game and a first league win was well deserved. The Annan forwards dominated both the set piece and loose play and on reflection it was hard to work out why the winning margin was a meagre three points. Perhaps this was down to squandered chances in possession where the referee was kept busy with knock-ons, the odd forward pass and a number of infringements on the ground. Both teams were equally guilty of these crimes and the flow of the game was regularly interrupted.

The kick-off was slightly delayed following Annanís pit-stop at Abington to change buses. This pause allowed Marion to apply strapping to the teamís walking wounded in the service area coach park. The scene left other travellers looking for the incident that might have caused such trauma. Meanwhile a group of para-gliders launched themselves from nearby hills to provide entertainment until the replacement transport arrived. The journey resumed with the reserve team now running a very tight schedule for their game in Paisley. Coach Denis went ahead in his scout car to negotiate a later KO for that game.

At Viewforth conditions were perfect for open rugby and from the start, playing uphill, Annan pressured the Lenzie defences. Much of the early play took place in the home twenty-two. Success in the scrums allowed the Annan backs to get used to the feel of the ball but they missed opportunities to get over the line.

The first points came from a second penalty award, fifteen minutes in, following Lenzieís reluctance to release the ball on the ground. The next period of play was a tight struggle where possession was shared and both sets of backs attempted to spread the ball wide and test their opposite numberís resolve in the tackle.

The play shifted to Annans half where solid defence saved some near misses. One handling highlight was a second phase of Annan possession where centre Callaghan scooped up a ball that had bounced at his toes. He managed not to break his stride and accelerated with a burst of pace that was only thwarted by a heroic last-ditch block from a startled Lenzie defence.

The action rumbled back downhill and following some scrappy handling and against the run of play, the home backs secured a first try which was worked through an unusual defensive gap. The Lenzie kicker was having a bit of an Ďoffí day and the conversion was missed. This particular malaise was not restricted to the home side and a number of penalty attempts remained unconverted which would have evened up the score line in the first half.

Five minutes later Lenzie were favoured by a handling error in the middle of the park that went to ground and bounced into grateful hands. The Lenzie centre was able to canter down the pitch and plonk the ball under the posts. The kick meant that Lenzieís half-time advantage was 12 points to 3.

Annan restarted with the advantage of the slope and play mostly relocated to Lenzieís last quarter. One early chance for the visitors resulted from a kick to the corner which was knocked forward in the ensuing play when a score appeared imminent. Lenzie kicked to clear and a period of Ďto and froí was both entertaining and frustrating in equal measure.

Small handling errors often caused a breakdown in play. A clear positive from an Annan perspective was the much greater commitment to the tackle compared to previous games. This aspect of the match was executed to the extent that the supporters were able to enjoy the sound effects of a vigorous stop by, for example, Ryan Glass mid way through the half in snuffing out a promising Lenzie attack.

Annanís first try followed an exchange of kicks which resulted in a lineout to the visitors when a hapless Lenzie winger walked the ball out at half-way. The resulting possession saw Annan move the ball through hands which allowed centre Callaghan to move on to the ball at speed and at an angle of attack which broke the Lenzie defence.

There was still work to do to weave through the rear guard and Jonny finished well for a thoroughly deserved touch-down. The mis-stroked conversion left the score at 8 Ė 12 and the match was set for an enthralling last quarter.

The game reverted to a tussle where both teams provided their supporters with hope of a result and the playersí competitive spirit spilled over to the odd physical debate when play was paused. This only emphasised the commitment on display which is always reflected by the home support. Indeed, after several visits to Viewforth it is always the case that the Ďstandsí give the impression of many more bodies in attendance than is actually the case!

The baying was loud when a penalty award to Annan was advanced ten metres as a result of Ďback chatí. This brought the play out of the visitorsí twenty-two. The subsequent lineout from the clearance kick was judged not straight but this brought only temporary relief for Lenzie. Annan brought possession back in to the home twenty-two.

A full-on assault near the Lenzie line was on the verge of being a lot of effort for nothing when Sean Haren wrestled the ball from the base of the resulting ruck and took the direct line, vaulting over his forwards, to plant the ball for a try. This time the score was converted to give Annan the lead at 12 Ė 15.

The remaining eight minutes saw both teams apply pressure and share the advantage of territory. Annanís resolve in the tackle and careful fielding of the ball brought the game to a successful conclusion.

To single out players from a squad that epitomised the characteristics of a good team performance is perhaps churlish. However, in doing so here I am merely highlighting those players whose performance was enhanced by the efforts of their colleagues on the pitch. The team chose Neal Coupland as their Ďman of the matchí and that was well deserved. He made himself obvious by carrying the ball well, breaking the Lenzie line on several occasions and tackling strongly at some key moments.

Ryan Glass has already been mentioned for his performance in the tackle and his all round work rate was superb. Vice-captain Sean Haren was, as always, very busy in and out of the forward area. He entertains with some unexpected manoeuvres Ė as exemplified by his try Ė and led by example in attack and defence.

There were notable performances in the backs but the standout player was Jonny Callaghan, not just for a great score but for his aggressive defence and by providing a flair that rattled the opposition.

All the back division can feel pleased with a much improved defensive performance that contributed in no small measure to this magnificent win. These first winning league points were justly deserved and a reward for a solid team performance.

Annan 1st XV Squad: C Warrick, R Glass, C Nicholson, J Nelson, K Warrick, S Haren, E Braid, N Coupland, , C McCann, J Bigham, B Jamieson, J Callaghan, T Sloan, S Clark, A Torbett.

Replacements: D Wylie, A Thomson (both used).


ANNAN v GARNOCK
4TH OCTOBER 2014

ANNAN GAIN A BONUS POINT BUT STILL NO WIN

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Highlights / Match Photos)

After the previous weekís drubbing at Carrick there was concern amongst the Annan faithful what effect the defeat would have on team morale and in the first 20 minutes of the game their fears were heightened when the home defences were once again found wanting and the visitors scored three tries.

The first of which cruelly exposed the defensive frailties of Annanís midfield defence as the visiting stand off danced through half a dozen half-hearted tackles to score under the posts. This was followed by two further tries both of which were created from Annan mistakes and Annan were 19 points adrift in as many minutes.

Annan were battling hard and in attack looked promising but were let down by some poor decision making and handling errors which was compounded by giving away numerous penalties when in promising situations.

From one attack their efforts were rewarded when Captain McCann slotted a penalty awarded for an offside offence at a ruck and the home side were off and running in the scoring stakes. McCann added a further 3 points before he set up Annanís first try with a deftly weighted kick over the heads of the advancing Garnock defences with centre James Bigham winning the footrace to the line to score in the corner. The conversion was missed but Annan went into the half time break in touch, score-wise, with their opponents.

Half Time Score: Annan 11 v Garnock 19.

If the first half belonged to the visitors Annan certainly laid claim to the second half with a much improved performance albeit interspersed with numerous errors and penalties. McCann reduced the points deficit to 5 when he slotted a penalty from just inside the half way line a couple of minutes into the half. Garnock, however, stretched their lead when they hit back with two well taken converted tries in short order to take the score to Annan 14 Garnock 33.

Annan fought back and after some fine driving play by the forwards, following a penalty, play was driven into the visiting 22 and from a ruck 5 metres from the line the ball was spun out to winger Neal Coupland who scored in the corner. McCann converted from the touchline. From this point Annan held the possession and territorial advantage for the remainder of the game.

From a quickly taken penalty scrum half McCann flung out a long pass to centre Tam Sloan who off-loaded to winger Steven Clark who outpaced his opposite number to score. Again McCann added the extras to take Annan within 5 points of the visitors. Annan now had their tails up and threw everything they had left at the visitors. Centre Tam Sloan had a bullocking run deep into the Garnock 22 but was unable to offload the ball when tackled.

The forwards continued to drive play deep into the Garnock half and were unlucky in the closing minutes of the game when winger Clark again sprinted up the wing and looked certain to score but was tackled short of the line. He seemed to have offloaded to centre Bigham to score but unfortunately he was deemed to have had a foot in touch. That was Annanís last effort and the final whistle sounded seconds later.

Final Score: Annan 28 v Garnock 33.

This was a much improved performance from the Violetbank men but with still room for improvement especially in their set piece play with their lineout and scrummage needing work albeit the latter did improve as the match wore on.

Several players stood out with No 8 Sean Haren leading from the front with some fine driving play in the forwards and in the backs standoff Craig McCann looked impressive with his kicking for territory and centre Tam Sloan, in his first season in the first XV, looking assured in crash ball mode.

There is little doubt that this team is struggling to find its form but it is hoped that once the team can find a settled format without injuries and unavailable players returning that they will return to their winning ways.

Special mention must be made of Colin Warrick who, on Saturday, played his 400th senior match for Annan RFC and had the honour of leading out the team.

Also thanks are due to the Match Sponsors W Henderson Building Contractor along with guests Grange Quarry Company, Hoddam Contracting and Graham Rae (Agricultural Contractors), Match Ball Sponsors LJ Residential Estate Agents and Team Mascots Aitken and Tait Render (P6 and P4 Minis).

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, C Warrick, C Nicholson, G Hogg, J Nelson, K Warrick, D Barnes, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann(C), S Clark, J Bigham, T Sloan, N Coupland, G Forrest

Replacements: K Watret (used), D Ferguson, N Goldie A Allison


CARRICK v ANNAN
27TH SEPTEMBER 2014

RECORD LEAGUE DEFEAT FOR ANNAN

Report by Alan Robertson

Annan suffered their worst ever league defeat at Maybole last Saturday in BT Regional League West 1.

Carrick who had recruited well during the close season showed in the opening moments of the game what lay in store for their visitors when they scored in the first minute and then at regular intervals throughout the remaining 79 minutes.

Annan had no answer to the power and speed of the home team who dominated in all facets of the game. Annan had to make several late changes to their selected team due to injuries and player unavailability and their defensive frailties were cruelly exposed.

The 24th minute saw Annanís only bright spot in the game when the forwards drove the ball into the Carrick 22 and from a ruck scrum half Craig McCann darted right and with a deft inside pass to stand off James Bigham sent him into score beside the posts. McCann added the conversion.

It was a grim afternoon for all the Annan players and it is hard to find positives but those players who were called up gave their all and it has to be said that all the Annan players who took part, to their credit, kept going right to the final whistle,

As a final note in club history Carrick have only beaten Annan twice on Saturday and in 1993 when Annan were on their record breaking climb through the leagues the only game they lost in that league season was Ė yes youíve guessed it Carrick!

Annan 1st XV Squad: Andrew Copland, Bruce Jamieson, Neal Coupland, Tam Sloan, Willy Gray, James Bigham, Craig McCann, Ryan Glass, Colin Warrick, Andrew Gunning, Calum Nicholson, John Nelson, Kieron Warrick, Adam Thompson, Dwane Barnes

Replacements: Stephen Clark, Andrew Jancey, George Forrest (all used)


ANNAN v HELENSBURGH
20TH SEPTEMBER 2014

ANNAN GO DOWN IN THE 2ND HALF

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Highlights / Match Photos)

After the previous weeks defeat away to GHK Annan were hoping to get their league campaign back on track on Saturday when they entertained Helensburgh at Violetbank in West 1 of the BT Regional Leagues.

Both teams seemed extremely nervy in the opening exchanges with a plethora of errors on display from both teams. Annan, who were once again subject to several changes in personnel, struggled initially in their set piece play but did have some periods in the first half when the forwards put together some productive drives despite being driven off the ball in the first scrum.

With the visitors kicking away valuable possession on numerous occasions Annan were able to run the ball back at the visitors but they too put boot to ball on too many occasions.

With most of the game in the first half being played in the middle third of the pitch scoring opportunities were limited to kicks at goal with scrum half Craig McCann converting one penalty out of two attempts and the visiting standoff, luckily for Annan, having a miserable afternoon with the boot missing 3 penalty and 2 drop goal attempts.

Half Time score: Annan 3 v Helensburgh 0.

Whilst Annans set piece play strengthened in the second half their defensive frailties were exposed by a visiting backline which gained in confidence as the game wore on.

It was the Helensburgh No 8 however who crossed the line first for the visitors after a fine bit of interplay with his inside centre. The visiting standoff found his kicking form to convert the try.

The home defences were undone minutes later when firstly the Helensburgh winger scorched in for a try (converted) and then the visiting standoff latched on to a wayward pass to score (converted).

In the last quarter of the game Annan began to exert some pressure on the visitors line and after some fine backs play which took play deep into the visitors 22 the forwards took over from a ruck on the 5 metre line and prop Ryan Glass with some considerable work to do drove his way over to score. The try was unconverted.

Final Score: Annan 8 v Helensburgh 21

All in all this was a disappointing performance by Annan which lacked structure and direction but on the positive side several of the young players who had been called up acquitted themselves well.

Annan RFC would like to thank Saturdayís Match Sponsors Annan Ladies, Match Ball Sponsor: Gretna Wedding Bureau and the match mascots Ella Irving P7 Minis Team and Ellie Wright P2 Micros Team.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, C Warrick, C Nicholson, G Hogg, M Thompson, K Warrick, C Bell, S Haren, C McCann (Capt), J Bigham, B Jamieson, T Sloan, D Wyllie, J Harrison (debut), A Torbett

Replacements: A Thomson, S Clarke, and K Watret


GHK v ANNAN
13TH SEPTEMBER 2014

GHK TOO STRONG FOR ANNAN

Report by Gary Coupland

On Saturday 13th September, a much changed Annan 1st XV travelled to Old Anniesland to take on GHK in their first League match of the 2014/15 season.

On arrival conditions were perfect, with the game being played on the newly relayed main pitch, the condition of which would put many a Persian carpet to shame.

From the kick off the Annan team were put under the cosh by an at times slick GHK team who used the large pitch to their advantage to score a number of tries, leaving the visitors some 31 points adrift after as many minutes, Annan's only response being a Craig McCann Penalty.

Annan then began to get more into the game and after some excellent handling and a nice dummy, centre Johnny Callaghan scored a fine try which was converted by McCann.

Half time: 31 - 10.

In the second half Annan stuck to their task and limited GHK to a further 17 points, with Annan themselves scoring a further try through some excellent movement and barbarianesque interplay between David Wylie and Captain Craig McCann who scored.

Although clearly beaten by a better team on the day, it is worth noting that due to injuries and other players not being available only 6 of the Annan team who took part had played in the corresponding fixture last season with some players being called up from the 2nd XV that morning after their game was cancelled.

There were some good performances on the day, with many players, playing out of position and digging in until the end in temperatures that wouldn't have been out of place in the height of summer. Special mention should also go to captain McCann and vice captain Haren who both led by example.


ANNAN v DUMFRIES
26TH AUGUST 2014

GOOD WORKOUT FOR BOTH TEAMS

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Highlights)

Annan hosted a trial game at Violetbank on Tuesday night at Violetbank against Dumfries and despite the scoreline put in a fine display especially in the middle third of the game.

At half time Annan led their higher ranked opponents 14 Ė 12 with two tries scored by No 8 Sean Haren and lock Michael Thompson converted by scrum half Craig McCann.

In the final quarter of the game Annan visibly tired against the well drilled visitors who were able to utilise their larger playing squad. Annanís third try was scored by scrum half Mark Clark with Craig McCann adding a penalty to finish the scoring.

All in all a very useful workout for both teams with Dumfriesís league campaign starting on Saturday and Annanís starting on 13th September.


ANNAN v LANGHOLM
23RD AUGUST 2014

ANNAN TOO STRONG FOR LANGHOLM

Report by Colin McCann (Match Highlights)

A depleted Langholm team arrived at Violetbank on Saturday to play Annan in a pre-season friendly. Due to the 2nd XV game at Crichton being cancelled, Annan had a large squad to choose from and so had the flexibility to give players to the opposition to make up the numbers.

The match was split into 4 x 20 minutes to allow coaches to experiment with positions and to ensure everyone got a game with the end result being a worthwhile exercise for both teams. A full contact match at this time in pre-season is definitely worth a great deal more than a training session and although the final score suggests a one sided affair, the Langholm spirit and determination was commendable right to the end.

As in most derby matches, the game started at a frantic pace with both sides making a number of handling and tactical errors but it was Annan who settled quickest. After some fluent interplay by the forwards the ball was spun out to centre Alan Rae who went in at the corner and scrum half Craig McCann added the conversion. Four minutes later, an almost carbon copy of the first try brought the score to 12-0 at the end of the first quarter. It was full back Adam Torbett however who went over this time but the conversion was missed.

The second quarter was played in much the same manner with the coaches starting to rotate players on and a further two tries were the result. The first was a close quarter affair with hooker Colin Warwick scoring and the next was out wide again with Adam Torbett getting the touchdown from an excellent pass from Callumn (what was he doing out there) Nicholson. Both were converted by McCann.

Half Time: Annan 26 v Langholm 0

The second half started with Langholm having their best spell of the game but from a mistake on Annanís line, the home side were able to relieve the pressure, and after good interplay from a line out wing forward Ewan Braid scored under the posts. Braid got his second minutes later when on a rare occasion a gap appeared in the Langholm defence to allow him to score. McCann was again successful with both conversions.

In the last quarter with Langholm visibly tiring Annan scored a further two tries from winger William Gray and Adam Torbett with McCann converting one.

The final whistle brought to an end a somewhat scrappy but very entertaining afternoon and both teams must be commended for their commitment.

Full Time: Annan 52 v Langholm 0

Annan Try Scorers: A Rae, C Warwick, W Gray, A Torbett (3), E Braid (2). C McCann kicked 6 conversions

Annan squad: R Glass, C Warwick, R Martin, C Nicholson, G Hogg, M Thompson, K Watret, E Braid, D Barnes, S Haren, C McCann(c), J Bigham, D Wyllie, A Rae, A Torbett, B Jamieson, M Thorburn, G Forrest, I Thorburn, K Watret, W Gray and P Carruthers


VIOLETBANK TOURNAMENT
16TH AUGUST 2014

DUMFRIES RETAIN THE SHIELD

Report by Dave Fisher

The Annan rugby season kicked off on Saturday with 6 teams contesting the annual tournament for the Violetbank Shield. Dumfries Saints were the winners, repeating last yearís victory.

Two groups of 3 teams played a round robin format of 20 minutes each way with the top teams contesting the final.

Annanís first game was against St Boswells and they lost a close contest 14-7, Bruce Jamieson scoring a try converted by Craig McCann.

Their second game against Trinity Accies from Edinburgh (captained by ex Annan player Michael Griffin), was also lost by 20-17; try scorers were Jamieson (2) and Adam Torbett with McCann converting one.

In both games a youthful Annan squad played well but were undone by defensive errors. Both opposition teams had played the previous week and this was probably the difference between the teams. Coach Neil Moffat was able to try some new combinations and the half back partnership of McCann and James Bigham looked very promising.

St Boswells reached the final by winning the final match of the group 35-0 against a Trinity side obviously tired after their close game with Annan

The second group was won by Dumfries who beat Stewartry 19-0 in the opening game, but were pushed all the way by Newton Stewart before prevailing 14-7. In the final game Stewartry took advantage of their break to defeat Newton Stewart 19-10.

The final was a one sided affair as Dumfries showed themselves as the fittest and best organized side. The score of 12-0 did not reflect their superiority and the close scoreline was mainly due to the worsening weather conditions.

Annan Squad: R Glass, C Warrick, R Martin; J Nelson, M Thompson; D Barnes, E Braid, S Haren; C McCann ©, J Bigham; B Jamieson, J Callaghan, D Wyllie, A Jancey; A Torbett; K Warrick, N Coupland, G Forrest, G Smith.

Tournament Results:
Annan 7 v St Boswell's 14
Dumfries 19 v Stewartry 0
Annan 17 v Trinity 20
Dumfries 14 v Newton Stewart 7
St Boswell's 35 v Trinity 0
Stewartry 19 v Newton Stewart 10

Final: Dumfries 12 v St Boswellís 0