Match reports for the 1st XV

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Violetbank Tournament

ANNAN 1ST XV v WAYSIDERS
BT WEST DIVISION 2
14TH MAY 2016

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos / Match Highlights)

After a long long season, at a sunny and crowded Violetbank, the 1st XV claimed the bonus point win they needed and as a result go up to BT West 1 as Champions of West 2.

Coming onto the field through a guard of honour courtesy of the Youth players, the 1st XV started like they meant business and were 14-0 up after only 7 minutes thanks to tries by hooker Callum Bell and prop Ryan Hetherington

Waysiders Drumpellier did reply on the 13th minute with a try of their own but all that seemed to do was inspire the Annan players to up their game. And up it they did. The rest of the first half was one way traffic and Annan scored a further 7 tries through winger Willie Gray, full back Cairn Wallace, No 8 Christian White, centre Alex Halliday, 2 from lock Michael Thompson and another from Callum Bell.

Captain Craig McCann was successful with 7 conversions in total.

This took the half time score to Annan 1st XV 59 v Waysider Drumpellier 7.

The second half started in much the same vein as the first and by the 60th minute Annan had piled on another 4 tries through Captain Craig McCann, Michael Thompson again (his hat-trick), Callum Bell (also his hat-trick) and winger Alan Rae. Captain McCann kicked 1 of the conversions. Callum Bell converted his own try and Cairn Wallace had a successful shot at goal. The score stood at 85-7

Waysiders continued to battle however and did managed to stem the tide for a good period, determined to ensure Annan did not break the 100 point barrier. Annan did have the last say in the match thanks to another Alex Halliday try and a try from wing forward Dan Nordon. Cairn Wallace with the 1 conversion.

Final Score: Annan 1st XV 97 v Waysiders Drumpellier 7.

This was as complete a performance as Annan have put in all season with some terrific continuity play.

All of the 15 tries Annan scored were top class but the try of the match must be the one scored by Captain McCann. Following some great driving play by the home forwards and backs the ball was spun through several pairs of hands to wing forward Sean Haren, who with an outrageous pass out of the back door, found Captain McCann on the wing who sprinted over the whitewash to score.

So Annan win, and win in style to take the BT West 2 title, undefeated in their 18 games. Interesting to note that only undefeated teams in the Scottish Leagues who have both played 18 games, won 17 and drawn one are Highland from BT North Division 1 and Annan. The BT West 2 Trophy was presented to the team after the game by SRU representative Willie Gardiner

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Hetherington, C Bell, C Nicholson, N Coupland, M Thompson, D Nordon, A Clark, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann, W Gray, B Jamieson, A Halliday, J Kirby, C Wallace.

Replacements: R Glass, K Warrick, R Martin, C White, A Rae. (all used)


ANNAN 1ST XV v MCLAREN
BT WEST DIVISION 2
AT CUMBERNAULD RFC
11TH MAY 2016

Report by Angus Robertson (Match Photos)

On a lovely spring evening, the 1st XV arrived at Cumbernauld to take on McLaren in a game that Annan had to win to keep their West 2 title ambitions on track but were made to work for the victory by a fired up McLaren side.

The first 10 minutes were a nervy affair but both teams showed their intent with some attacking rugby but it was McLaren who scored first thanks to an interception try when the Annan backs were closing in on the McLaren line on the 11th minute.

This seemed to shock the Annan team into action and the small band of Annan supporters were relieved when Michael Thompson crossed the whitewash on the 20th minute to tie the scores. Craig McCann with the extras to make it 7-5 to Annan

The teams then exchanged possession on numerous occasions and there was no further score until Sean Haren on one of his usual rampaging runs scored his 21st try of the season on the 28th minute. With Craig McCann again successful with the conversion the lead was extended to 14-5

This seemed to inspire the Annan team and 2 quick tries from Annan secured the bonus point. The first was from prop Ryan Glass, his 1st of the season, and this was quickly followed by David Wyllie. Captain McCann was successful with one conversion. This took the score to 26-5.

However if the Annan fans thought that was it, it was McLaren who scored on the 36th minute to take the score to 26-10 and despite chances for both teams that's how the half ended.

In the second half, an early McCann penalty took the score to 29-10 but McLaren hit back almost straight away to take it to 29-17 and nervy times ahead for the Annan supporters.

And nervy indeed it was as it was McLaren with their tails up who scored another converted try to take it to 29-24 and with 25 mins to go - game on!

For the next 20 minutes, both teams had chances but great defending from both teams kept the score at 29-24.

However, a Craig McCann penalty with a couple of minutes to go made it Annan 32 McLaren 24 and that's how the game ended.

So Annan top the league for the 1st time this season and now have a chance to win the BT West 2 title on Saturday when they take on Waysiders at Violetbank!

What a game....well played lads.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, R Martin, M Thompson, C White, D Nordon, A Clark, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann (Captain), B Jamieson, D Wyllie, A Halliday, A Rae, C Wallace

Replacements: C Nicholson, N Coupland, C Bell, J Kirby, A Torbett (All Used). R Hetherington W Gray (not used)


ANNAN 1ST XV v ISLE OF ARRAN
BT WEST DIVISION 2
7TH MAY 2016

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos / Match Highlights)

On a dry if somewhat windy Violetbank on Saturday Annan set out on their first of three games in 8 days in West 2 of the BT Regional Leagues in their quest to top the division and completed the first leg with a bonus point win over their visitors from Arran securing the all essential bonus point before half time.

First on the score sheet was winger David Wyllie after a well worked move involving forwards and backs. Next on the score sheet was No 8 Sean Haren who, again following interplay between forwards and backs crashed over between the posts.

David Wyllie added his second coming in at speed to take the pass from standoff Craig McCann and then feigning a pass crashing between two Arran forwards to score. The bonus point try and final try of the half was scored by wing forward Angus Clark following a lineout in the visitorís 22 with the ball recycled at a ruck Angus received a short pass from lock forward Michael Thompson and powered through some despairing Arran tackles to score. Captain Craig McCann was successful with the 4 conversions.

Half Time: Annan 28 v Isle of Arran 0.

In the second half Annan realising the game was relatively safe and the bonus point earned began to take a few risks in their play resulting in some mistakes.

However, they continued to play a fast open game which the visitors found difficult to cope with. No 8 Haren was first to cross the whitewash in the 2nd half (his 20th of the season) following a great break from the half way line by lock Christian White.

Further Annan tries came from winger James Kirby, winger Alan Rae and David Wyllie with his hat-trick. Arran to their credit never gave up for the entire 80 minutes and their efforts were rewarded when their forwards opened up the home defences on the line for their No 4 to score with 10 minutes to go.

Annan however had the last word though through a Christian White try and then a James Kirby try at the death. Craig McCann was successful with 2 conversions.

So the final score was Annan 62 v Isle of Arran RFC 5. So another great win for Annan who move to within 4 points of leaders Stewartry with two games left to play to Stewartryís one.

Annan now also have a plus 132 points difference over Stewartry which could come in handy if they win their remaining 2 games but fail to get a try bonus point in one of the games.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, R Martin, M Thompson, C White, D Nordon, A Clark, S Haren, A Rae, C McCann (C), B Jamieson, J Callaghan, A Halliday, D Wyllie, C Wallace

Replacements: R Hetherington, N Coupland, J Kirby, A Jancey (all used)


ANNAN 1ST XV v CLYDEBANK
BT WEST DIVISION 2
30TH APRIL 2016

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos / Match Highlights)

Annan took to the field at Violetbank on Saturday, in the knowledge that they needed to win their remaining 4 league game (with try bonus points) to pip Stewartry to the West 2 title, against a resurgent 3rd placed Clydebank team.

They knew a tough game was potentially ahead as Clydebank had won 7 of their last 8 league games and were one of the inform team in West 2.

However from the outset it was apparent that the Clydebank team on the pitch at Violetbank had been weakened by call offs and injuries to key players. Annan did what they had to do though and made no allowances for the visitorsí problems, especially as Stewartry currently had a better points difference that could potentially become crucial if both teams ended on 80 points.

The first half was a one sided affair as the Annan players racked up 10 tries before half time to end the half 66-0 in the lead. Winger Bruce Jamieson was the first to cross the whitewash after 2 minutes, followed by tries from centre Alex Halliday (2), No 8 Sean Haren (2), full back Cairn Wallace (2), lock Christian White, centre Jonny Callaghan and standoff Craig McCann. Craig also kicked 8 conversions.

The Annan backs were running riot and were scoring at will. The only slight concern was the scrum was being pushed back on the odd occasion but quickly hooked ball prevented Clydebank from gaining any real advantage.

The second half was much of the same. Clydebank did manage to stop Annan from scoring for a good 10-15 minutes during the half though with some great defending but eventually the damn burst again and the Annan lads ran in a further 8 tries through Jonny Callaghan, lock Michael Thompson, Sean Haren (2), winger Neal Coupland and centre Alex Halliday (3). Captain McCann was not quite on target with his kicking boots and only 2 of the tries were converted.

The final score was Annan 110 Clydebank 0 and Annan bagged another 5 point bonus point win.

Overall the Annan team were clinical in their finishing and the win wiped out the points difference advantage Stewartry had over Annan.

The 1st XV are now 9 point behind leaders Stewartry but have 2 games in hand. So another good day at the office for the Annan lads who now host Isle of Arran next Saturday in another crucial (as they all are) BT West 2 game. Kick Off: 1pm.

Annan Points from: Alex Halliday (5T), Sean Haren (4T) Neal Coupland (1T), Michael Thompson (1T), Jonny Callaghan (2T), Christian White (1T), Craig McCann (1T, 10C), Cairn Wallace (2T) and Bruce Jamieson (1T)

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Martin, K Warrick, C Nicholson, M Thompson, C White, D Nordon, D Barnes, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann (C), B Jamieson, J Callaghan, A Halliday, J Kirby, C Wallace

Replacements: R Glass, R Hetherington, A Clark, W Gray, N Coupland, C Bell (all used)


CUMBERNAULD v ANNAN 1ST XV
BT WEST DIVISION 2
23RD APRIL 2016

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos)

Annan travelled to Auchenkilns knowing that their hosts, still smarting from their record breaking defeat at Violetbank in their previous meeting, would want to make amends in front of the home support and Annan were determined to continue in their unbeaten run in their quest for the league title.

Annan started brightly in the initial stages of the first half and led 12-0 after 10 minutes thanks to tries from scrum half Andrew Jancey and wing forward Callum Bell. Stand off Craig McCann added one conversion.

Cumbernauld hit back with a try created by a desperate kick launched out of defence which bounced wickedly on the firm pitch and was gathered by the home No 7 who sprinted into score.

Annan restored the points difference minutes later when once again the home standoff cleared his line with a high hanging kick out of his 22 but this time the ball was caught by full back Cairn Wallace who glided his way through the onrushing Cumbernauld defences to score. The try was converted by Captain McCann to make the score 19-5.

If the Annan support thought that this might open up the floodgates, Cumbernauld hit back, when a speculative grubber kick through the advancing visiting defensive line bounced awkwardly for the Annan winger who was unable to kick the ball into touch resulted the ball being touched down in the corner the try was converted to take the score to 19-12 after 20 minutes.

Annan however secured the bonus point try when No 8 Sean Haren broke through several tackles to score with the try again converted by McCann.

Cumbernauld upped their game again and drove play deep into the Annan 22 through their powerful set of forwards and the visitors were penalised in their own 22 and a successful penalty from Cumbernauld made it 26-15 with 10 minutes remaining in the half and thatís how the half ended.

Half Time score: Cumbernauld 15 v Annan 26.

In the second half, a great early try from centre Alex Halliday increased the Annan lead to 31-15 and settled some of the Annan supportersí nerves! On the 55 minute mark winger Bruce Jamieson was next to score for Annan, duly converted by McCann to take the game out of Cumbernauldís reach.

Replacement winger Adam Torbett and Callum Bell, with this 2nd try of the day, made the score 50-15 with 10 minutes to go. McCann again with the conversion.

Final Score: Cumbernauld 15 v Annan 50

A welcome bonus point win from title chasing Annan but despite the scoreline this was not one of Annanís most convincing performances with a plethora of errors on display especially in their defensive duties. Annan set piece play, especially their scrum was again an area of concern.

Annan Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, C Nicholson, M Thompson, D Nordon, C White, C Bell, S Haren A Jancey, C McCann, J Kirby, D Wyllie, A Halliday, B Jamieson, C Wallace

Replacements: N Coupland, R Martin, A Torbett


PAISLEY v ANNAN 1ST XV
BT WEST DIVISION 2
16TH APRIL 2016

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos)

Annan continued on their quest for the promotion from Division West 2 in the BT Regional Leagues with their visit to Anchor Playing Fields on Saturday.

For the first 20 minutes it looked as if it was the hosts who were going for promotion setting out their stall right from the kick off with some aggressive driving play through their powerful forwards which drove Annan deep into their 22. Their efforts were rewarded when they were awarded a penalty to take the lead.

In their next foray into the Annan 22 the hosts were reduced to 14 players when one of their forwards was yellow carded. Instead of relieving the pressure on the Annan line the Paisley forwards upped their game and from a lineout take and drive mauled their way over the line to score a converted try to extend their lead to 10 points.

In the 2nd quarter Annan began to exert some pressure and despite still struggling in the scrums Ė a recurring theme in Annanís play throughout this season Ė only some excellent defensive work by the hosts kept Annan out initially but pressure told eventually. From a lineout in the 22 the visiting forwards drove their way to the line and when initially stopped prop Callum Nicholson inched the ball over the line.

With standoff Craig McCannís conversion Paisleyís lead was reduced to 3 points. Annan continued to have the balance of possession and territory but it took them almost to the stroke of half time to wrest the lead from their hosts. From a fine piece of interplay between forwards and backs centre Jonny Callaghan broke through the last line of defence to dive over the line to score. With the conversion missed Annan went into the half time break with a 2 point lead at 10-12.

Annan continued to dominate possession and territory in the second half as the hosts began to run out of steam. Annan rang the changes bringing on Adam Torbet to replace winger James Kirby and prop Ryan Glass to replace Ronnie Martin. The former was making his comeback from injury and immediately made an impact scoring the try of the day if not the season. Following a ruck in mid field the ball was spun through numerous hands the last pass being an outrageous flip pass around the back to find Torbett free on the wing to run in his try untouched.

No 8 Sean Haren was next on the score sheet with one of his trade mark breenging runs to crash over the line to give Annan their bonus point. McCann added the extras and the visitors had a healthy 14 point lead.

They extended their lead in the final 10 minutes of the game when centre Jonny Callaghan added two further tries to give him his hat trick. Sandwiched between his tries the hosts scored a consolation try which was a carbon copy of their first.

So a hard won victory by Annan which keeps their hopes alive for the league title with 5 games to go starting with their last away game this Saturday at Cumbernauld.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Martin, C Bell, C Nicholson, M Thompson, C White, A Clark, D Barnes, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann (C), B Jamieson, J Callaghan, D Wyllie, J Kirby, C Wallace

Replacements: R Glass, K Warrick, A Torbett, N Coupland, D Nordon (all used)


ANNAN 1ST XV v CUMNOCK
BT WEST DIVISION 2
2ND APRIL 2016

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos / Match Highlights)

Annan welcomed Cumnock to Violetbank for their first visit in this vital West 2 fixture in the BT Regional Leagues on Saturday. For both teams this was a vital match as a win for either team would be a massive boost to promotion hopes. Annan were hoping to maintain their unbeaten run and reduce Stewartry's 19 point lead albeit Annan having 4 games in hand over Stewartry.

In the first half, as in the previous weeks encounter at Clydebank, the home forwards found themselves in an arm wrestle with their visiting counterparts who held sway in the set piece play. Annan, however, were first on the scoresheet when on a drive into the visitor's 22 they were awarded a penalty which was quickly taken and No 8 Sean Haren sprinted over the try line to score without a finger being laid on him. Standoff Craig McCann added the conversion.

Annan went further ahead several minutes later when after a fine bit of interplay between forwards and backs the ball was swung towards the touch line where lock forward Michael Thompson was lurking and with his trademark galloping run scored in the corner to take a 12 point lead with the conversion being missed.

The rest of the half basically belonged to Cumnock as they battered away at the Annan line with some surging forward play and were unlucky on a couple of occasions to be held up over the line.

Their score eventually came through an Annan error at a line out when the ball was.knocked back and an alert visiting forward capitalised on the mistake and crashed over to score a converted try. Annan were somewhat lucky to be in the lead at this moment in time as the visiting standoff's kicking was off target having failed on a couple of occasions to convert penalty awards.

Half time score: Annan 12 v Cumnock 7.

In the second half the home forwards began to exert pressure over the tiring visiting eight and the backs began to receive a good supply of attacking ball. On a drive into the corner centre Jonny Callaghan received the ball and set off on a lateral long the try line and when he saw a gap in the drift defence cut in to score. McCann again added the extras. Annan were now in the driving seat and went after the bonus point try with some gusto.

Cumnock were now rarely out of their own half and on several occasions were forced to clear their lines with some desperate defensive kicks one of which was fielded by McCann who initiated an attack which saw him involved twice in passing and receiving passes before crashing over in the corner. He converted his own try.

Next on the scoresheet was centre David Wyllie who from a quickly taken penalty award wove his way over the line and dived over the tackle of the fullback to score a converted try. Next up was No 8 Haren who, from a maul broke off the edge and bullocked his way over the line. McCann again added the extras.

The final act of the game was left to wing forward Dwayne Barnes who from a quickly taken penalty again found the visiting defence asleep and drove over to score. McCann's conversion was the final act of the game.

All in all a satisfying display from the Annan squad which, with Stewartry's game at McLaren postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, saw the league leaderís lead reduced to 15 points with Annan now with three game in hand.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, C Bell, R Martin, M Thompson, C White, A Clark, D Barnes, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann, B Jamieson, J Callaghan, D Wyllie, A Rae, C Wallace

Replacements: K Warrick, W Gray, N Coupland, J Kirby, C Nicholson (all used), J Nelson


CLYDEBANK v ANNAN 1ST XV
BT WEST DIVISION 2
26TH MARCH 2016

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos)

With Clydebank experiencing somewhat of a revival of late with four wins in a row many Annan supporters thought that this encounter could be Annanís most difficult away game of the season and for 40 minutes so it appeared.

With a rain sodden pitch making flowing play difficult and the Clydebank forwards relishing the arm wrestle with the lighter Annan pack the visitors had a battle on their hands. Annan however had the balance of territory and possession in the first half but the home side defence kept the Annanís attacks at bay.

The home side had a couple of well organised attacks of their own but the visitorís defensive structure stood firm. The deadlock was broken just before half time when standoff Craig McCann slotted a penalty award when a home forward was penalised for coming in at the side of a ruck.

Half Time score: Clydebank 0 v Annan 3.

In the second half Annan upped their game and after several incisive attacks through the visiting back line centre David Wyllie battled his way over the line for the opening try. Annan continued to dominate in most facets of the game, the scrum being the only exception where Annan struggled to contain the powerful home eight.

Annan continued to battle their way through the rain sodden pitch and from a forward surge wing forward Callum Bell sprinted over to score between the posts. McCann added the extras.

Prop Christian White was next over the line, when from a driving maul he was driven over to score. Again McCann added the extras.

With a bonus point beckoning Annan laid siege to the Clydebank line but Ďwhite line feverí took over and several attempts were butchered so Annanís quest for a bonus point win was denied yet again.

Final Score: Clydebank 0 v Annan 22.

This was a crucial win for Annan in their quest for the West 2 title but they still remain 19 points behind the leaders Stewartry albeit with 4 games in hand.

However with the number of teams going up as yet undecided depending on the number of west clubs to be relegated from National 3 as yet unresolved Annan has everything to play for in the coming encounters.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, C Bell, C White, M Thompson, D Nordon, A Clark, D Barnes, S Haren, C McCann, C Wallace, W Gray, J Callaghan, A Halliday, D Wyllie, B Jamieson

Replacements: C Nicholson,(used) A Jancey,(used) J Kirby


ANNAN 1ST XV v CUMBERNAULD
BT WEST DIVISION 2
19TH MARCH 2016

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos / Match Highlights)

Annan, whilst still unbeaten in the league, have been unable to eat into leaders Stewartryís 18 point lead, albeit Annan have 4 games in hand, mainly due to Annanís inability to get the bonus point for scoring 4 tries in their wins. Then on Saturday they manage to score 23 tries against Cumbernauld in West 2 of the BT Regional Leagues.

Many watching on Saturday, whilst happy with the bonus point win, would have preferred, no doubt, to see the tries spread over those bonus free games.

Annan were on the scoreboard within minutes of the kick off when from a lineout in the visitorís half the ball was swung along the back line and centre Jonny Callaghan scythed his way through the visitorsí defensive line to score under the posts.

This set the scene for the 80 minutes as Annan scored tries at regular intervals running in a further 10 tries in the first half from centre Callaghan scoring a further 2, full back Cairn Wallace (3), hooker Kieran Warrick, lock Michael Thompson, wing forward Angus Clark, winger Alan Rae, and wing forward Dwayne Barnes all scoring.

Standoff Craig McCann added 8 conversions to take the half time score to Annan 71 Cumbernauld 6.

Whilst the onlookers thought that Annanís intensity might fall off in the second half with the game won this was not the case as the hosts ran in a further 12 tries. The visitors scored a consolation try with an interception half way through the half.

Annanís tries came from stand off McCann, full back Wallace, No 8 Sean Haren, winger Willie Gray(2), winger James Kirby, centre Callaghan (2), prop Christian White, centre Alex Halliday (2) and centre Neal Coupland. Standoff McCann added a further 9 conversions to take his personal tally to 39 points and the final score to Annan 149 Cumbernauld 13.

It is difficult to equate this win against Annanís other performances this season as Cumbernauld were missing several of their regulars and travelled with the bare 15 players and indeed played most of the 2nd half down to 13 men.

Some of Annanís play was exhilarating with some fine interplay between forwards and backs. It is difficult to name any individual player as outstanding as this was a consummate team performance, albeit against limited opposition, but centre Jonny Callaghan get a special mention for equalling the 1st XVís try league scoring record of 5 tries*.

For the record this was Annanís highest scoring win beating their 148 Ė 14 win over Falkirk in 1996.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, R Martin, M Thompson, D Nordon, D Barnes, A Clark, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann (C), B Jamieson, J Callaghan, D Wyllie, A Rae, C Wallace

Replacements: C Nicholson, C White, N Coupland, W Gray, J Kirby and A Halliday (all used)

*For the record, equal with Billy Henderson (5 tries in 1991 v Whitehill). 1st XV record is held by Stuart Clanachan with 6 tries in a SRU Cup game v Moffat in 2004.


STRATHENDRICK v ANNAN 1ST XV
BT WEST DIVISION 2
5TH MARCH 2016

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos)

Annan travelled to Ruth Menzies Field in Fintry to take on relegation strugglers Strathendrick in West 2 of the BT Regional leagues on Saturday hoping to close the gap between themselves and table topping Stewartry. Unfortunately Annan came up against a team who are determined to fight the drop and with several experienced players returning to the fold the hosts gave the visitors a hard uncompromising battle.

They do say defences win games and so it transpired on Saturday with Annan giving a masterclass in the art as their hosts launched a plethora of attacks on the Annan line especially in the 2nd half.

Annan started brightly and played most of the opening quarter in the Strathendrick half but were kept at bay for the most part by a well organised defence from the home side. Centre David Wyllie was the key who opened the defence when from a backs move emanating from a ruck just inside the home half he was able to break through the Strathendrick line and score a fine try in the corner. Standoff Craig McCann added the extra 2 points.

For the rest of the half neither team was able to breach each otherís line but Annan came close on several occasions but were thwarted, either by excellent defensive work by the hosts or by some poor decision making by the visitors.

Half Time score: Strathendrick 0 v Annan 7.

Strathendrick, obviously encouraged by their first half performance, came out all guns blazing in the second half and Annan had their work cut out containing their attacks which was made more difficult as neither the visitorsí scrum or lineout was operating to their potential.

Annanís break came when a Strathendrick forward was yellow carded for a repeat infringement at a ruck and using their numerical superiority Annan were able to work the ball along the back line to centre Jonny Callaghan who broke through the hostsí defensive line and when tackled by the opposition full back found full back Cairn Wallace coming into the line at pace. Wallace was able to sprint free from the despairing home defences to score beside the posts. Again McCann added the extra 2 points to take Annan into a 14 point lead.

This score seemed to galvanise the hosts into frenzied action and they laid siege to the Annan line with wave after wave of attacks. For the most part the Annan line held with some exemplary defensive work by the whole team but it did seem inevitable that the hosts would score and they did from a driving maul from a lineout to reduce Annanís lead to 7 points.

With time slipping away the home side, realising that a score of any sort would at least gain them a losing bonus point, continued to launch attacks into the Annan half. Their cause was undone when from some overzealous play they were penalised and McCann slotted the award to give Annan a clear 10 point lead.

Final Score: Strathendrick 7 v Annan 17.

All in all not one of Annanís better performances. Annan seemed to be in a mind-set that with 2nd top playing 2nd bottom that victory was assured but credit to Strathendrick battling relegation they came out fighting and with the effort put in it has to be hoped that they survive in West 2.

It has to be said that Annanís scrummaging and in particular the lineout must be worrying for the Annan coaches especially if they are hopeful of promotion this season

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, R Martin, M Thompson, J Nelson, D Barnes, D Nordon, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann (C), B Jamieson, J Callaghan, D Wyllie, A Rae, C Wallace

Replacements: C Nicholson, A Clark, J Kirby, W Gray (all used)


CARRICK v ANNAN 1ST XV
BT WEST SHIELD FINAL
20TH FEBRUARY 2016

Report by Gary Coupland

On Saturday 20th February, Annan travelled to the unlikely venue of Irvine to play Carrick in the BT West Shield Final. The game having been moved to Irvine late on Friday 19th as Carricks pitch at Maybole had become waterlogged.

As a result the kick off was moved back to 3pm to allow for the large Carrick Support many of whom had been booked into prematch lunch and drinks at Maybole at the original venue, to get a cross to Irvine for the game.

Right from the kick off it was evident that both teams were up for the game which was played at pace with some thundering tackles being put in by both sides.

Annan took a well deserved lead after 10 minutes when some crisp interplay by winger Cairn Wallace and full back Andrew Jancy which led to the latter outstripping the Carrick defence for a well deserved try. Skipper McCann being unsuccessful with the conversion. Carrick upped there game however and responded a few minutes later with a wells truck penalty to narrow Annans lead to two points.

The game continued at a pace until, Sean Haren was yellow carded after 30 minutes having deemed to have taken a player out off the ball.

Carrick immediately capitalised on this scored a converted try to make the score 10 - 5. Despite the small hardy band if Annan supporters fearing the worst, however the remaining 14 Annan players galvanised themselves and actually finished the half deep in Carrick territory, being unlucky on a couple of occasions not to score.

The game continued with the same cut and thrust with Carrick edging further ahead through two penalties.

Around this time skipper McCann, injured his ankle and moved onto the wing with Cairn Wallace moving into the no 10 role.

The game continued to ebb and flow until the 60th minute when Carrick manage to get a push over try which was duly converted.

The game continued again at the same pace, with Carrick getting a final try from a well executed back line move in the 79th minute which was also converted. I'm sure this would have put a smile on the face of the watching Mark Bennet, who has been helping out with Carricks back line.

Final Score: Carrick 28 - Annan 5.

In fairness the score probably didn't reflect the game overall, with Annan being the better team in the first half, however credit to Carrick who kept the pressure on and made the the fact they've had more game time in recent weeks tell in the final minutes.

The Annan boys can hold they're heads high though with the whole Annan 1st XV squad taking part in both this match and the previous rounds of the competition, with two wins over higher league opposition in Kilmarnock and Oban Lorne to their credit as well as fellow West league two promotion challengers Cumnock.

In this game they pushed Carrick who sit 3rd in West Division 1 hard for long spells in the game. There were also some immense defensive performances from the back row of Haren, Barnes and Braid and the centre pairing of Callaghan and Wylie in particular.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, C Bell, C Nicholson, D Nordon, M Thompson, D Barnes, E Braid, S Haren, A Rae, C McCann, B Jamieson, J Callaghan, D Wyllie, C Wallace, A Jancey

Replacements: J Nelson, K Warwick, R Martin, J Kirby (All used)


CUMNOCK v ANNAN 1ST XV
BT WEST DIVISION 2
23RD JANUARY 2016

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos)

Annan travelled to Cumnock having not played a league game since 19th December and in the knowledge that Cumnock had a home unbeaten run in the league for a couple of seasons and despite having inflicted a heavy defeat on their hosts in the West Regional Shield at the beginning of September Annan were well aware that they had a tough game on their hands.

In the opening minutes of this West 2 of the BT Regional Leagues game Annan put in some enterprising attacks, managing to open up the home midfield defences, but were undone by some poor handing in the final execution.

Annan did have a chance to open their account when they were awarded a penalty but spurned the 3 points and instead decided to go for a lineout but the hosts weathered the early storm and immediately set up a series of attacks and were rewarded with a couple of penalty awards of their own Ė one missed and one successful to take the lead.

Annan struck back with a finely worked try. No 8 Sean Haren, on an elusive run, set up a long pass to winger Bruce Jamieson who side stepped his way to the line to score an unconverted for the visitors to take the lead. The rest of the half was played out with both teams putting in a power of defensive work.

Half Time Score: Cumnock 3 v Annan 5.

The second half saw the well drilled home forwards gain the upper hand in the set piece scrums with the visitors edging the lineouts. Cumnock retook the lead from a penalty award when the Annan forwards were caught offside at a ruck. The Annan forwards thought they had rumbled over for a score only for the ball to be dropped. Thankfully for Annan the referee deemed that the ball had been taken into touch.

From the ensuing lineout Annan won the ball and set up a rolling maul and with the referee playing advantage No 8 Sean Haren drove under the defending forwards to score a well worked unconverted try for the visitors to retake the lead. This score seemed to spur the home team to redouble their efforts and from a fine line kick they found themselves within striking distance of the Annan line as the Cumnock chasers piled on the pressure which resulted in an Annan knock on.

Cumnock had the put in at the scrum 5 yards from the Annan line but after some good defending and numerous runs at the line, Annan emerged with the ball from the back of the ruck. The home No 8 on the Annan 10 to force him to touch the ball behind the Annan try line which gave the home side another chance at the scrum.

Cumnock didnít make the same mistake twice and after a huge drive which inched them ever closer to the line, their No 8 picked up at the back of the scrum to crash over to score an unconverted try. This score took the hosts into a one point lead.

Annan took back the lead in the 70th minute with a penalty awarded for a high tackle. With 2 points separating the teams this set up a grandstand finish. Annan had a chance to finish the game when a sweeping backs move looked to have the line at their mercy but a knock on let Cumnock off the hook.

The visitors were not to be denied however and in the dying minutes of the game, following some excellent interplay between forwards and backs, wing forward Dwayne Barnes crashed over in the corner to seal the game in Annanís favour and with the conversion missed Cumnock got some reward for their efforts with a losing bonus point.

Final Score: Cumnock 11 v Annan 18

This was not one of Annanís better displays of the season, but with a lengthy layoff due to the weather and festive break, it did have the look of a start of the season performance. Despite some concerns at the scrums the Annan forwards did operate generally pretty well in the loose and the backs, at times, created some sparkling backs moves.

It was particularly encouraging to see the return of prop Ryan Glass (broken leg) and hooker Callum Bell (dislocated elbow) after injury. Ryan was injured in a friendly against Creighton in August and Callum was injured in the league encounter with Stewartry in November.

Annan Squad: R Glass, C Bell, R Martin, M Thompson, D Nordon, D Barnes, E Braid, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann (C), B Jamieson, J Callaghan, D Wyllie, N Coupland, C Wallace

Replacements: J Nelson, K Warrick, A Rae, W Gray, J Kirby.(all used)


ANNAN XV v DUMFRIES XV
A.A. MACPHERSON MEMORIAL TROPHY
4TH JANUARY 2016

Report by Alan Robertson

The annual contest for the A. A. McPherson Memorial Trophy between Annan and Dumfries took place at Violetbank on Monday 4th January. The trophy is in memory of the late Alex (Mac) MacPherson who was President of Annan RFC in 1983-84. Violetbank was in remarkable condition considering the amount of rain which had fallen in the preceding days.

With Annanís 1st XV having only played one match in December and the 2nd XV's last match being on 21st November the Annan coaches decided to give as many players as possible some match time.

The match was divided into four 20 minute sessions with Dumfries also fielded a mixture of players from their 1stís and 2ndís giving everyone a chance to get rid of the excesses from the festive period.

Annan started out strongly and pinned Dumfries in their half for the first 20 minutes but were unable to penetrate the Dumfriesís well organised defensive structure with the score 0-0 at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter saw Dumfries begin to assert their obvious experience at playing at a much higher level than their hosts Ė the league difference being two clear divisions.

The half time score was Annan 0 Dumfries 14.

The rest of the match was dominated by Dumfries with a further 6 tries by the visitors which emphasised the league gulf between the two teams.

The final score finished at 50-0 to Dumfries.

The Man of the Match was Annanís scrum half Alan Rae for the exemplary display of defensive work he put in throughout the entire game.

Whilst a disappointing result for the home club this was a useful exercise for both teams in preparing themselves for the restart on their respective leagues this weekend.

Annan Squad: L Trussler, M Thorburn, W Gray, R Glass, E Braid, A Rae, S Muir, A Allison, A Halliday, D Barnes, K Warrick, R Martin, D Wyllie, J Park, M Thompson, C McCann, C Park, C Smith, G Williamson, C Wilson, A Torbett, D Nordon, Joe Ward, John Ward, B Jamieson, M Carpenter, C Warrick, M Carpenter.


WAYSIDERS DRUMPELLIER v ANNAN 1ST XV
BT WEST DIVISION 2
19TH DECEMBER 2015

Report by Alan Robertson

With Waysiders having played their last game on 7th November and Annan on the 28th November it was perhaps to be expected that both teams looked a little ring rusty and lacking in match fitness during this West 2 fixture in the BT Regional Leagues.

Annan however took control early on in the game and were unlucky in their first real attack of the game not to score through a surging run by centre Jonny Callaghan who crossed the line but had the ball knocked out of his hands as he tried to ground the ball.

Minutes later, following a drive from the Annan forwards, No 8 Sean Haren crashed over to score. The visiting forwards were providing a solid platform, both in the loose and set piece, serving up an ample supply of quality ball for their backs to run onto.

On one such attack centre Alex Halliday cut open the home midfield defences to run in a try which standoff Craig McCann converted.

Annanís third try was definitely the try of the day and probably the try of the season so far when the visiting three quarters, in a mesmerising display of handling, carved their way through the home backs and set up a perfect pass for hooker Kieran Warrick, coming through the centre at pace, to breenge over the whitewash for his first 1st XV try-only 54 more to go to equal his father Colinís career 1st XV total. McCann again added the extras.

Waysiders, in the dying seconds of the half scored a finely worked try through their hard working forwards when they drove over the line to score an unconverted try to take the half time score to Waysiders Drumpellier 5 Annan 19.

There was a nagging worry on the minds of the small knot of visiting supporters that, with Annanís away form being less than inspiring so far this season, that they may struggle to maintain their ascendancy in the second half. Their fears were, thankfully, unfounded as within minutes of the restart No 8 Haren scored his second try, and bonus point, at the posts following some surging play by his forwards. Again McCann added the extra two points.

Haren was at the heart of Annanís final try when he found himself in open play and with the entire home backline bearing down on him he provided a superbly weighted inside pass to centre Halliday who had a free run to score between the posts. McCann again added the extras.

Annan had several further chances to add to their score line but unfortunately, whether it was the lack of match fitness or playing in the gathering gloom, they managed to butcher the opportunities.

In the last 10 minutes of the half Annan lost their shape somewhat, perhaps aided and abetted by the introduction of a raft of substitutes which, with no slight intended to the replacements, required some changes to the attacking balance of the team.

The hosts snatched a couple of late consolation tries. The first was an interception in their own 22 followed by another in similar circumstance when the ball was dislodged in an Annan attack and scooped up by a grateful home player who out-sprinted the visiting defences to score.

The last score of the match was Annanís however when they were awarded a penalty in front of the posts and it was decide to take the points instead of going for another try. The conversion of the penalty award was the final act of an enthralling, if error strewn, game.

Final Score: Waysiders Drumpellier 17 v Annan 36

All in all a satisfying win for the Annan squad in their last fixture of the year which takes them into second place in the league behind Stewartry, albeit with two games in hand, but with the prospect that some harder games lie waiting for them in the new year.

Annanís next game is on the 4th January which is a friendly against Dumfries at Violetbank for the A.A. MacPherson Memorial Cup with their next league game at Violetbank in the league against Isle of Arran on 9th January.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Martin, K Warrick, C Nicholson, J Nelson, M Thompson, D Nordon, E Braid, S Haren, A Rae, C McCann (C), B Jamieson, J Callaghan, A Halliday, J Kirby, A Torbett.

Replacements: R Hetherington, S Muir, A Allison, C Smith (all used)


ANNAN 1ST XV v STRATHENDRICK
BT WEST DIVISION 2
28TH NOVEMBER 2015

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos / Match Highlights)

With the horrendous weather on the days prior this match few Annan supporters expected the game to be on but an early morning inspection on Saturday deemed Violetbank playable albeit that the conditions under-foot were less than perfect and deteriorated during the game.

Both teams spent the first 10 minutes of the game trying to find each-others weaknesses and most of the game during the opening minutes was spent between the 22s.

From a fine piece of driving play by the visiting forwards deep in to the Annan 22 the ball was fumbled and hooker Kieran Warrick pounced on the visitorís mistake and set up his backs on a counter attack. Centre Adam Torbett, in an electric sprint up the right wing set up winger Bruce Jamieson with a delightful inside pass to set up the home sidesí first score.

Annan were on the score board minutes later when from a quickly taken mark by standoff Andy Allison he set lock Michael Thompson on a driving run into the visitorís half and then from a couple of dynamic rucks standoff Allison set up centre Torbett on another sprint up the right wing. With the fullback to beat Torbett kicked over the advancing fullbackís head and centre Alex Halliday hacked the ball on and won the race to the touchdown. Standoff Allison added the extra 2 points.

Winger Jamieson scored his second try but this time from the left wing when once again the Annan backs carved their way through the Strathendrick mid field with centre Alex Hallday setting up Jamieson with a deft inside pass.

Next up on the score board was No 8 Sean Haren. From a quickly taken penalty award 5 metres from the visitorís line scrum Alan Rae drove from the line but when held up on the line the ball was recycled to the left and No 8 Haren crossed the whitewash to take the half time score to Annan 22 Strathendrick 0 and a bonus point.

Although Annan held the balance of territory and possession in the second half they only added two more tries to the first half haul.

Strathendrickís defensive efforts were herculean in the second half albeit aided and abetted by some woeful handling in the Annan ranks.

In the home sides defence the underfoot conditions, which were deteriorating along with the dank weather conditions, created problems both in footwork and handling.

From a quickly taken lineout the home forwards launched an attack on the visitorís line but the ball was lost and whilst the visiting forwards set up ruck of their own Annan won back the ball with a counter ruck and No 8 Haren crossed the line untouched.

Annanís last try was one constructed by backs and forwards who, with some fine driving play by the forwards and some incisive running by the backs set up winger David Wyllie who, with a wicked sidestep and dummy crossed the line to score. Stand off Allison added the final points.

Final Score: Annan 36 v Strathendrick 0

A solid 5 point victory for Annan in poor conditions with the players pulled up from the seconds to cover player injuries and unavailability fitting in seamlessly. Standoff Andy Allison in particular controlling the play both in attack and defence. The entire back line was outstanding with the forwards all putting a hard shift especially considering the conditions.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Martin, K Warrick, C Nicholson, M Thompson, D Nordon, D Barnes, E Braid, S Haren, A Rae, A Allison, B Jamieson, A Torbett, A Halliday, W Gray, A Jancey

Replacements: C Warrick, J Kirby, M Carpenter, D Wyllie (all used)


STEWARTRY v ANNAN 1ST XV
BT WEST DIVISION 2
21ST NOVEMBER 2015

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos)

You may think that a game where the whitewash was never crossed and there was only 4 penalties awards converted that this local derby in West 2 of the BT Regional leagues was a borefest but you couldnít be further from the truth. This was an exciting, full blooded, no quarter asked or given, local derby by two highly committed teams.

In the first half there was some excellent driving play by both sets of forwards with the home eight proving difficult to handle in the set piece play but excellent fringe defensive work by the Annan back row kept their opposite numbers at bay.

However it was the home team who drew blood first with a penalty awards when the visiting forwards were caught killing the ball in a ruck. It wasnít long before equality was restored when the Stewartry forwards were pinged for the same offence with stand off Craig McCann levelling the scores.

Half time score: Stewartry 3 v Annan 3.

The second half was, in playing terms, similar to the first with the only change being that the Annan forwards began to gain the upper hand in the scrummage exchanges. The Annan backs also had the better attacking chances but were snuffed out by some excellent defensive work by their opposite numbers. Annanís possession and territorial advantage during the half paid dividends with McCann successful with two out of four penalty awards to take the final score to Stewartry 3 Annan 9.

All in all this was a thoroughly enjoyable match which leaves Annan still undefeated this season with the added satisfaction of doing the double over old adversaries Stewartry. The game also showcased a masterclass in defensive work by both teams with the Annan backrow outstanding.

The only downside of the day was the injury to hooker Callum Bell who dislocated his elbow half way through the first half.

This result sees Annan still in 4th place in the league some 13 points behind leaders Stewartry albeit with 3 games in hand over the leaders.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Martin, C Bell, C Nicholson, J Nelson, M Thompson, D Nordon, E Braid, S Haren, A Rae, C McCann (C), B Jamieson, C Wallace, J Callaghan, D Wyllie, A Torbett

Replacements: K Warrick (used), D Barnes (used), N Coupland, C Warrick


MCLAREN v ANNAN 1ST XV
BT WEST DIVISION 2
14TH NOVEMBER 2015

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos)

After a 3 week break with no games for the 1st XV, it was looking like it might have to be a 4 week break after the McLaren pitch in Callander was deemed unplayable. However a pitch was secured at Wallace High School in nearby Bridge of Allan and after a pitch inspection on Saturday morning the pitch was passed and it was game on!

It looked like someone had forgotten to tell the Annan players however as Annan started very slowly, looking a little punch drunk and it was no surprise that McLaren scored their first try after only three minutes. The try came after a chip kick over the rushing Annan defence for the McLaren winger to collect the ball and score. The conversion was successful.

Annan were soon 10-0 down after a successful McLaren penalty kick when Annan were penalised for killing the ball. Annan were trying to force the game but their decision making seemed to be a few seconds behind their play and the Annan backs were making numerous handling errors and wasting several chances when it seemed easier to score. Annan did have a couple of chances to pull back the deficit with potential penalty kicks at goal but opted to kick for the corner.

Alas the usual reliant line-out was also misfiring and the chances to reduce the score line were missed. The scrum was also struggling a bit which has been a common occurrence so far this season in the first half. Normally by the second half the Annan scrum seems to start firing on all cylinders. The Annan support was hoping that might still be the case!

McLaren sensed blood and had numerous chances to extend the lead but seemed to rely on the same chip and rush move that gave them their first try and the Annan defence snuffed out McLarenís attacks. Annan finally got on the scoreboard when Captain Craig McCann was successful with a penalty kick after McLaren were caught off-side at a ruck in their own 22.

If the few hardy Annan supporters that made the trip thought that that might spark Annan into action were a tad disappointed when it was McLaren that seemed to raise their game and ran in two further tries (1 converted) to take a 22-6 lead into half time. The other Annan points coming from the boot of McCann (penalty) in between the last two McLaren tries.

If Annan were going to get anything out of this game they needed to shake off their first half hangover and get back to playing the type of rugby that they had shown at the start of the season. Luckily something seemed to click and Annan dominated the second half. This was not to say it was perfect rugby as Annan continued to butcher numerous overlaps and continued to knock on quite a number of passes.

The first points of the 2nd half was from the boot of McCann (penalty) as McLaren started to buckle under the constant pressure of the Annan attack. The Annan scrum was starting to dominate and the McLaren pack was going backwards on numerous occasions.

Five minutes later Annan were within touching distance after a great backs move with the final looping pass dropping into the hands of flanker Callum Bell who crossed the white wash. The conversion was missed. The score was now 22-14. After another McCann penalty, Annan were within 7 points and the small Annan support were starting to get a little optimistic.

Their optimism was rewarded when after another great Annan move when both forwards and backs combined to create the try for full back Adam Torbett. The score was now 22-22 and it was all Annan. Alas the conversion was missed.

Annan had another chance when the McLaren defence was again caught offside but again the kick at goal was missed. Then with two minutes left and after another great move that swept from side to side, Annan made it to the McLaren 22 and McCann set himself for the drop goal. And a drop goal is what he got! 25-22 and a McCann drop goal for the winner?

Unfortunately it was not to be as McLaren finally woke up and got the ball into the Annan half and despite some great Annan defence, the referee awarded McLaren a penalty kick in front of goal and despite the optimism of one of the Annan supporters ďRemember Gavin Hasting missed a similar kick in the 1991 World Cup Semi FinalĒ it was not to be and the ball sailed over and that was it- 25-25 full time.

This was a game that got away from Annan in the first half where they displayed a masterclass of errors with far too many mistakes and opportunities missed. Saying that Annan created more than enough chances in the second half to win the game several times over. But some great McLaren defence and some poor handling from Annan was their undoing at the end of the day.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Martin, K Warrick, C Nicholson, J Nelson, M Thompson, C Bell, E Braid, S Haren, A Jancey C McCann (C), C Wallace, A Torbett, J Callaghan, W Gray, N Coupland,.

Replacements: D Wyllie, B Jamieson (all used)


ISLE OF ARRAN v ANNAN 1ST XV
BT WEST DIVISION 2
24TH OCTOBER 2015

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos)

It wasnít quite trains and boats and planes for Annan but more coach, ferry, cars and service bus in their travels which meant a 6.30am start for their trip to Arran on Saturday for a 1pm KO. With the torrential rain which had lasted most of Friday night resulting in a partially waterlogged pitch at Ormidale Park in Brodick this game in West 2 of the BT Regional Leagues was in the balance.

Annan started well and pinned their hosts in their own 22 and with the game only 5 minutes old the Annan backline swung into action and standoff Craig McCann broke through the Arran midfield defence to score in the corner. The conversion was missed.

Annanís second try was created by full back Andrew Jancey who burst out of defence and finding wing forward Callum Bell in the left wing position drew in the Arran fullback and released Bell who ran in behind the posts to score. McCann added the extras and Annan looked to be on the way to a convincing victory.

Arran had other ideas and decided to play a forward orientated game playing a simple game of 10 man rugby which fitted perfectly with the weather conditions prevailing, a mixture of sunshine and driving rain.

The hosts were next on the scoresheet when from a promising Annan attack the ball was dropped and the ball was kicked up the touchline and the home blind side wing forward won the footrace to touch the ball down to score an unconverted try. Both sides then traded penalties to take the half time score to Arran 8 Annan 15.

The second half belonged to Arran as they, continuing to play their forward pick and drive game, had the territorial and possession advantage for the majority of the play. Whether it was the weather conditions, ferry lag or no plan B Annan struggled to get a handle on the game giving away a plethora of penalties which enabled the hosts to drive play deep into the Annan half.

With the Annan line-out struggling Arran were able to pressurise the Annan line on numerous occasions. The biggest plus for the struggling visitors was their defensive work which was of the highest order which kept the home side from crossing the whitewash although their efforts were rewarded with a penalty to take the score to Arran 11 Annan 15.

It wasnít all one way traffic however as Annan had their attacking moments but the home sides defence was up to the task and Annan were likewise unable to cross the line.

Annan did have a chance to add to their points tally 10 minutes from time when they were awarded a penalty well within kickable range of the Annan kicker but, inexplicably to the small band of Annan supporters, decided to kick for the corner.

The line-out was lost along with the opportunity to add to the score. There was a feeling amongst the supporters that Annan may have just had their ĎEngland momentí. It transpired that, when asked what the score was the referee had told the Annan captain that it was 11-17, and the decision was made to go for the line-out.

In any case Annan held out for the win and are still unbeaten in the league. For the record Annan winger was yellow carded with 4 minutes to go on the clock for an act of silliness!

Final Score: Arran 11 v Annan 15.

All in all not one of Annanís finest performances but a win never the less which made the long journey home on Saturday night all the more enjoyable.

Annan Squad: R Martin, K Warrick, C Nicholson, D Norden, M Thompson, E Braid, C Bell, S Haren, A Rae, C McCann (C), 11 D Wylie, A Torbett, J Callaghan, N Coupland, A Jancey

Replacements: L Jamieson, C Wallace.


ANNAN 1ST XV v OBAN LORNE
BT WEST SHIELD - SEMI FINAL
17TH OCTOBER 2015

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos / Match Highlights)

On a fine day for rugby at Violetbank Annan welcomed West 1 side Oban Lorne in the semi-final of the BT West Shield. At first sight this looked a bit like men against boys, size-wise, as the visitors sported wingers bigger than some of the home forwards but Annan showed over the piece that, in the amateur game, a good little Ďun is as good as a good big Ďun.

The visitorís powerful scrummage put the home 8 under considerable pressure in the opening minutes and their efforts were rewarded when they were awarded a penalty when the Annan scrum crumbled.

The visitorís penalty was cancelled out when Annan were awarded one of their own when, while pressing on the Oban line, the visitors back line was adjudged offside. Standoff Craig duly converted the award.

Annan played some attractive expansive rugby for the next ten minutes and were unlucky not to convert the pressure into points with McCann missing two penalty awards in the space of a couple of minutes.

The hosts continued to press and from a backs move in the Oban 22 the ball was kicked through and centre Jonny Callaghan set up the ball and from the ensuing ruck the ball was passed to No 8 Sean Haren who side stepped his way to cross the line. McCann converted the try and Annan had a 7 point lead.

The lead was short lived, however, as from a penalty award in the Annan half Oban went for a lineout and their powerful set of forwards caught and drove for the line and scored through their outside centre who had joined the maul. With the try converted the score were tied at 10 all.

Annan continued to play most of their rugby in the visitorís 22 and their pressure again told. In a move started initiated by full back Andrew Jancey and involving almost the whole of the Annan team the ball was moved from one side of the pitch to the other and the man that started the move from his own half Jancey was on hand to score the try in the corner. McCann added the extras to take Annan 7 points clear.

Oban fought back and drove play deep into the Annan 22 and from a ruck on the line their No 8 powered his way over. The conversion, which was missed, was the last act of the first half.

Half Time: Annan 17 v Oban Lorne 15.

The second half was a stuffy affair with both side putting in a masterclass in defensive work. The Annan scrum became to gain parity with the visiting eight even managing a couple of strikes against the head. Annan continued to have the territorial advantage but there were times that the visitors pressurised the hosts as Annan gave away too many penalties in their eagerness to turn over ruck ball.

Oban had a chance to take the lead 10 minutes from time when they were awarded a kickable penalty which thankfully, from the Annan perspective, came back off the upright.

Annan weathered a period of Oban pressure but through immense defensive effort stemmed their attacks. Some 5 minutes from time, following a penalty awarded against Annan for a scrummaging offence, Oban tried to run out of defence but the ball was turned over by replacement prop Christian White and whipped out to stand off McCann who out-sprinted the visitorís cover defence to score. He converted his own try to cap a fine win.

Final Score: Annan 24 v Oban Lorne 15.

This was an outstanding performance from the Annan squad against a well drilled West 1 outfit. No single player can be singled out for praise as this was a consummate team performance. For the record, however, No 8 Sean Haren was awarded ĎMan of the Matchí.

The team mascots were Ellie Wright and Nate Nolan (P3 Tigers)

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Martin, K Warrick, C Nicholson, M Thompson, D Nordon, C Bell, E Braid, S Harren, A Rae, C McCann, W Gray, A Torbett, J Callaghan, N Coupland, A Jancey

Replacements: J Nelson, D Barnes, C Wallace, B Jamieson, C White


ANNAN 1ST XV v PAISLEY
BT WEST DIVISION 2
26TH SEPTEMBER 2015

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos / Match Highlights)

Annan racked up their 4th win on the trot on Saturday at Violetbank with an impressive display against Paisley in West 2 of the BT Regional Leagues. Annan have only played their visitors twice before and have a 100% winning record against them.

Annan had had to make some adjustments to their lineout with prop Callum Nicholson (injured at training) and Ewan Braid and full back Andrew Jancey all unavailable. Prop Andrew Gunning was called up for his first game of the season with Callum Bell moved to the No 8 slot and Cairn Wallace taking over the standoff berth with Craig McCann moving to full back.

Annan were quickest out of the blocks and were 27-0 up after just 18 minutes thanks to tries from David Wyllie, Callum Bell, a penalty try and a try from captain Craig McCann who added a penalty and conversion to the tally. Annan were playing a high intensity game getting the ball quickly away from the points of contact.

There was then a 19 minute gap as the visitors put in some massive defensive work to stem the Annan flow before, following some fine interplay between forwards and backs, before lock John Nelson crashed over to score. The try was converted by McCann.

On the stroke of half time, following an electric break by the home back line out of their own half No 8 Callum Bell was on hand to take the final pass to burst over the line to score. With McCann converting the try this took the half time score to Annan 41 Paisley 0.

In the second half lock Michael Thompson scored two quick unconverted tries. The first was a long range effort from just inside the Paisley half which saw him burst down the right wing, throw an outrageous dummy to score in the corner.

His second was a short range effort following a 5 metre scrum he was on hand following No 8 Sean Harenís drive to receive a pop pass to drive over from short range to score. In between his scores Paisley had a good spell of their own with their handy set of forwards providing a solid platform enabling them to rumble over to score an unconverted try.

There was no further scoring until the 63rd minute when from an break out of defence by centre Alex Halliday, full back McCann and scrum half Alan Rae the ball was fed inside to that man Thompson to score his 3rd and Annanís 9th try. This was again converted by McCann.

Centre Jonny Callaghan was next on the score sheet with a well worked move following a scrum in the visitorís 22. Converted by McCann to take the score to 65-5. Paisley hit back with a converted try of their own again through their forwards.

Annanís final try was perhaps the pick of the crop. From a lineout in their own 22 the ball was swept out along the Annan back line finding replacement winger Liam Jamieson flying down the right wing who with a diving pop pass found centre Callaghan on his inside who crashed over to score. McCannís conversion took the score to 72-12.

Paisley had the last say however with a converted try at the death to make the final score Annan 72 Paisley 19.

All in all this was a comprehensive performance by the entire Annan squad over the full 80 minutes with their creaking scrummage again the only fly in the ointment, albeit it did get better in the 2nd half as the Paisley 8 visibly tired.

There will no doubt be games to come where Annan will not get the space they had to play in at Violetbank on Saturday but the speed and intensity that this Annan squad is playing at is proving to be enthralling to watch.

Annan 1st XV Squad: A Gunning, K Warrick, R Martin, J Nelson, M Thompson, D Nordon, D Barnes, C Bell, A Rae, C Wallace, N Coupland, J Bigham, J Callaghan, D Wyllie, C McCann

Replacements: S Haren, A Halliday, L Jamieson, B Jamieson (all used), A Torbet (not used)

Match Sponsor: Cochrans Boiler Makers from Newbie

Match Mascots: Dan Stevenson P2 and Lucy Stevenson P7


ANNAN 1ST XV v KILMARNOCK
BT WEST SHIELD - QUARTER FINAL
19TH SEPTEMBER 2015

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos / Match Highlights)

Annan progressed to the semi-finals of the BT West Regional Shield with an emphatic win over West 1 opponents Kilmarnock at a sunny Violetbank on Saturday.

After some initial probing and testing of defences by both teams it was the visitors who broke the deadlock when awarded a penalty when the home backs were caught offside at a ruck which was landed by the Kilmarnock No 12. Annan evened up the score line ten minutes later when the visitors were pinged for a similar offence. Stand off Craig McCann slotted the award.

Annan were beginning to dominate proceedings and had several probing attacks thwarted by some aggressive Kilmarnock defence. As so often happens when a team is trying to play a fast expansive game an error occurs and so it was, as Annan launched an attack up the centre of the field, the visitorís winger intercepted a pass and sprinted between the sticks to score. With the addition of the conversion the visitors led by 7 points.

Their lead however was reduced by 3 when McCann slotted a penalty award minutes later to have it cancelled out by a similar award at the other end to take the score to Annan 6 Kilmarnock 13.

Annan continued to play a high tempo attacking game and from a series of attacks on the visitorís line their efforts were rewarded when they were awarded a penalty try when the ball was deliberately knocked on by a Kilmarnock hand to stop the score. With the conversion added the scores were tied at 13 all.

With half time looming Annan launched another attack in the Kilmarnock 22 and from a lineout the ball was swung across the pitch with winger Neal Coupland crashing over at the corner flag to score. McCann converted the score from the touchline to take the half time score to Annan 20 Kilmarnock 13.

The second half was only minutes old when from a Kilmarnock lineout, following a fine line kick from McCann into the visitorís 22, No 8 Sean Haren pounced on a loose pat down to sprint over the whitewash to score. McCann again added the conversion from the touchline.

Annan were beginning to dominate most facets of the game and their visitors were rarely in the Annan half as Annan continued to play with some attacking intensity and came close in several attempts only to be thwarted on occasions by some desperate defence by Kilmarnock. However their efforts were not in vain as from one drive into the Kilmarnock 22 the ball was popped up to centre Jonny Callaghan who crashed over to score an unconverted try.

Replacement winger Cairn Wallace was next on the scoresheet when he was fed the ball by wing Willie Gray. He neatly kicked the ball down the touchline and sprinting past some despairing Kilmarnock defence to score. McCann added the extras.

Annanís final try followed some excellent inter-passing between forwards and backs with centre Callaghan making a great break through the visitorís mid field to set up a ruck where the ball was eventually spun out to No 8 Haren, lurking on the wing, who barged over to score. McCann again added the extras to take the final score to Annan 46 Kilmarnock 13.

This was one of Annanís best all round performances from this young squad of players who played a high intensity brand of rugby for the full 80 minutes. Again the Annan back row of Haren, Bell and Nordon were outstanding with centre Callaghan and full back Jancey adding some punch into the Annan back play.

Annan now meet Oban Lorne in the semi-final of the BT West Regional Shield at Violetbank on the 17th October.

Annan Squad: R Martin, K Warrick, C Nicholson, J Nelson, M Thompson, C Bell, D Nordon, S Haren, A Rae, C McCann, D Wyllie, J Bigham, J Callaghan, N Coupland, A Jancey

Replacements: C White, D Barnes, C Wallace, W Gray (all used)


ANNAN 1ST XV v STEWARTRY
BT WEST DIVISION 2
12TH SEPTEMBER 2015

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos / Match Highlights)

Take the first league game of the season, add in local derby and Chisholm Cup and you are set up for a cracker of a game and so it transpired at Violetbank on Saturday. This was no classic game of rugby for the purists as it was peppered with mistakes and wrong decisions but for sheer Ďedge of the seatí excitement it could not be bettered.

Annan started the game brightly, in this BT West 2 league encounter, and set about attacking the Stewartry line. The visiting defences stood resolute until the 10 minute mark when from a flowing backs move wing forward Callum Bell came into the attacking line and broke through the first line of the visitorís defence and set up winger Neal Coupland with a relatively easy run to cross the line. Stand off Craig McCann added the conversion from just inside the touchline.

Annan continued to keep play in the Stewartry half and it wasnít long before they added to the score line when McCann added a penalty when the visiting backs were caught offside at a ruck. Stewartry began a fight back and from a promising drive into the heart of the home defence were awarded a penalty when Annan were caught handling in a ruck to take the score to Annan 10 Stewartry 3.

Annan continued to take the game to their visitors with a combination of forward drives and linking back play and from a promising drive into the Stewartry 22 winger Coupland struck a fine angled run to burst through the visitorís midfield defences to crash over between the posts. With the conversion added from the boot of McCann Annan had a healthy 14 point lead which didnít last too long as from the restart Stewartry drove play deep into the Annan half and following a series of drives and rucks the visitorís full back cut through the last line of defence to score a converted try.

Annan managed to increase the points difference by a further 3 points by way of a penalty minutes before half time. Unfortunately Annanís cause was not helped by being reduces to 14 men when wing forward Bell was yellow carded for not retreating 10 metres at a penalty award.

Half Time Score: Annan 20 v Stewarty 10

In the second half Stewartry claimed first blood by adding a penalty to reduce the points deficit to 4. From a speculative kick out of defence by the visitors McCann gathered the loose ball and from the ensuing ruck the ball was driven firstly up the middle and then fed out to full back Andrew Jancey who popped up on the wing and streaked up the touchline and with only his opposite number to beat neatly fed an delightfully weighed inside pass to winger Willie Gray who scored beside the posts.

With the extra two points from McCann Annan looked to have the match sealed with a 27 Ė 13 lead. However as some of the older survivors of Annan Stewartry encounters will testify you can never right off a Stewartry team and so their fightback began.

From an Annan attack McCann attempted to put in a kick to the corner but it was charged down by the visiting standoff who gathered the ball and when brought down popped the ball into the arms of his outside centre who romped into score between the posts. With the conversion added the points deficit was reduced to 7.

Minutes later Annanís woes were compounded when from a mark called in the home 22 Annan elected to run the ball and the ball was dropped and with referee playing advantage the ball was gathered by the Stewartry replacement centre who drove over in the corner to score. Fortunately, from the Annan perspective, the conversion was missed and Annan retained a slender 2 point lead.

The next 10 minutes was, to use the technical term, Ďsqueaky bum timeí, for the faithful Annan supporters as the visitors sensing the victory was within their grasp launched attack after attack into the Annan half.

Annan desperate to hold on for the win gave away a plethora of penalties. Each penalty was gratefully accepted by the visitors who pinned Annan in their 22 with some fine line kicks. However the hosts who had struggled in their set piece scrums throughout the 80 minutes were imperious in the lineout and won almost every lineout against the throw to lift the Stewartry siege on several occasions and Annan held on to take the win.

Final Score: Annan 27 v Stewartry 25

All in all a satisfying start to Annanís league campaign in BT West 2 against last seasonís 3rd placed team in the league. Annanís back row of Braid, Bell and Haren along with lock Thompson were outstanding in the forwards with scrum half Rae, centre Callaghan and full back Jancey catching the eye in the backs.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Martin, K Warrick, C Nicholson, D Nordon, M Thompson, C Bell, E Braid, S Haren, A Rae, C McCann, W Gray, J Bingham, J Callaghan, N Coupland, A Jancey

Replacements: C White, D Barnes, J Nelson, B Jamieson, (all used) D Wyllie, C Wallace, L Jamieson (not used)


CUMNOCK v ANNAN 1ST XV
BT WEST SHIELD - ROUND 1
5TH SEPTEMBER 2015

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos)

With Annan relegated and Cumnock promoted last season, and both now playing in BT West 2 this season, both clubs were looking to this season opener at Broomfield as a guide to their level in the league. Conditions were perfect at Broomfield with both teams attempting to play an open fast brand of rugby in the sunshine in this first round of the BT West Shield.

Annan started the game strongly and soon had their hosts on the backfoot. Annan were playing an offloading game and only last ditch tackles from Cumnockís midfield defence kept the visitors at bay in the opening moments when Annan No 8 Sean Haren came within inches of opening the scoring. Cumnockís defence was eventually breached on the twelfth minute when centre James Bigham broke through the home defensive line to score between the posts. Standoff Cairn Wallace added the extras.

Cumnock put together some good phases of play and hit back with a finely worked try to even up the score on the 25 minute mark From the restart Cumnock failed to deal with the ball and it was claimed by lock Michael Thompson who romped down the wing to score with Wallace again adding the extra 2 points.

Cumnock managed to pull back a score when a speculative grubber kick through the Annan defensive line by their inside centre which saw a footrace for the ball between the back tracking Annan defenders and the inside centre. The visitors failed to deal with the ball and it was the hostís winger who reacted quickest to pick up and cross the line for the unconverted try.

Annan were beginning to get the upper hand with some penetrating runs by both forwards and backs and just before half time lock Dan Nordon cut through the home defences to score between the posts. Wallace converted the try to take the half time score to Cumnock 12 Ė 19 Annan.

The second half saw Annan dominate in most facets of the game with only the scrummage proving to be a problem area with the well drilled Cumnock pack looking the part. However, although under severe pressure, the lightweight Annan pack did not concede a strike against the head. Annan continued where they had left off at the end of the first half and ran in tries at regular intervals throughout the half as the home side tired.

Centre Jonny Callaghan was up first as he scythed his way through the home defences to score. He was followed by tries from No 8 Sean Haren, No 7 Ewan Braid, winger Neil Coupland, No 6 Callum Bell and finally winger Neil Coupland scoring his second try of the game brought Annanís scoring spell to a close. Wallace added 5 conversions.

In the final moments of the game following an overthrow at a lineout in the Annan 22 saw Cumnock cross the line for a consolation score.

Final Score: Cumnock 17 v Annan 59

All in all this was a very satisfying performance from the Annanís perspective although there are several areas of play which will need tightening up, especially in the scrum, before the start of their league campaign which starts next Saturday with the visit of Stewartry.

So overall a good solid team display with several outstanding performances with the back row of Sean Haren, Callum Bell and Ewan Braid and lock Michael Thompson with centre Jonny Callaghan and winger Neil Coupland catching the eye.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Martin, K Warrick, C Nicholson, D Nordon, M Thompson, C Bell, E Braid, S Haren, A Rae, C Wallace, W Gray, J Bingham, J Callaghan, N Coupland, A Jancey

Replacements: L Jamieson, G Forest, B Jamieson (all used)


ANNAN 1ST XV v VARIOUS
VIOLETBANK TOURNAMENT
22ND AUGUST 2015

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos)

DUMFRIES RETAIN THE TROPHY

Annan were forced to make some last minute changes to the tournament format when Langholm, Stewartry, St Boswells and Penrith all called off during the week.

Special thanks go to Dumfries who provided a second team with Annan being able to provide a President's XV made up of mainly Annan players and two from Stewartry.

The six teams split into two pools and the results were as follows:

Pool 1
Annan 22 v Moffat 14
Moffat 0 v Dumfries B 53
Annan 29 v Dumfries B 7

Pool 2
Dumfries 68 v President's XV 0
Newton Stewart 57 v President's XV 5
Dumfries 12 v Newton Stewart 7

This set up a final between Annan and Dumfries. Annanís young team found themselves up against a well drilled Dumfries outfit who played a high paced game but Annan put up a determined first half performance and were only 7-0 down at half time.

In the second half Dumfriesís experience began to tell and as Annan tired and began to fall off tackles Dumfries exerted their dominance and ran in a further three tries to take the final score to Dumfries 24 v Annan 0.

All in all a very worthwhile exercise for all the teams participating despite the reorganisation required due to the call offs.

Special thanks must go to Annan Vice President Gary Coupland and his volunteers who coped with the turmoil admirably.