Match reports for the 1st XV

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ANNAN 1ST XV v IRVINE
BT WEST DIVISION 1
25TH MARCH 2017

Match Report by: Alan Robertson - Match Highlights / Match Photos (Opens in a new tab/Flickr)

After a 6 week break, the 1st XV returned to a sunny Violetbank for their last league game of the season. This was a twice rearranged fixture due to Shield commitments by both teams and a waterlogged pitch.

Annan had a slightly different look the usual line up this season with Cory Park getting his first start of the season in the pack, and with usual centres Alex Halliday and Jonny Callaghan not in the squad resulting in some backs not in their normal positions. Similarly in the forwards three regulars were unavailable.

Their opponents Irvine, after a poor start to the season, are one of the inform teams in the league having strengthened their playing squad over the season so Annan knew they were in for a tough old end of season encounter.

For the first 15 minutes, neither team could get on the scoreboard despite a couple of decent moves from both teams. Alas for the home support, it was Irvine who broke the deadlock, thanks to 2 quick tries (1 converted) to take a 12-0 lead.

Despite both teams trying to play some running rugby, there was no further score until just before half time. Again it was Irvine who crossed the whitewash to take a 19-0 half time lead.

Annan needed to score first in the 2nd half to have any chance of getting something from this game but alas (once again) it was Irvine who scored first to take the game out of Annan's reach and secure the try bonus.

However, Annan finally got on the score sheet as winger Max Thorburn scored in the corner to take the score to 26-5 with 25 minutes left on the clock.

Both teams continued to try and entertain the hardy band of supporters but there was no further score so the full time score was 26-5 to Irvine.

So a disappointing end to the season but a still a great season all round with a 5th placed finish in West 1.

Annan President Neil Wallace stated that 'the aim for this season was a solid performance and a push towards the top half of the league table, with the season almost over a mid-table 5th place finish looking likely we have plenty to celebrate this season and build for the future with the young guns pushing the old campaigners hard next season'

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, C Park, D Norden, C White, S Haren, D Barnes, C Bell, A Allison, C McCann, J Kirby, D Wyllie, C Wallace, M Thorburn, A Jancey.

Replacements: S Livingston (used), M Carpenter, M Crombie

There will of course still be outings for the 1st XV players this season, be it some friendlies or 7's competitions. Keep an eye out for details in the coming days.


ANNAN 1ST XV v HELENSBURGH
BT WEST DIVISION 1
11TH FEBRUARY 2017

Match Report by: Gus Robertson - Match Highlights / Match Photos (Opens in a new tab/Flickr)

On Saturday the 1st XV took to the pitch for their penultimate league game of the season against an already relegated Helensburgh side.

Helensburgh have been struggling this season due to player unavailability and injuries so it was good to see they managed to bring down a full squad (plus hen party!) on Saturday despite this.

The Violetbank pitch was fairly heavy and not ideal for running rugby, coupled with the bitter cold, the supporters may have been expecting a more forward dominated game, but luckily the Annan players had other ideas!

The long story short is that Annan ran in 14 tries (7 in each half) as the backs and forwards broke loose and played some great running rugby.

In truth the score could have been higher but some great Helensburgh defending, quite a few knock ons (the cold not helping the players numb hands!) and the game finishing bang on 16.20 meant the 1st XV were just short of the ton.

The 14 Annan tries were scored by Alex Halliday (4), Sean Haren (2), Cairn Wallace (2), Ryan Hetherington (2), James Kirby, Callum Smith, Max Thorburn and Callum Bell.

Captain Craig McCann was successful with 12 of the 14 conversions.

The biggest cheers of the day were for the Max Thorburn try as it was Max's 1st try for Annan on his 2nd start for Annan (plus 2 as a sub) and for Callum Smith, who scored the best try of the day, his first try on his 2nd game.

Mention has to also go to Alex Halliday for his 4 tries that took him to the top of the 1st XV try scoring list for the season with 7. Last years top try scorer Sean Haren moved on to 6 tries, prop Ryan Hetherington also moved on to 6 along with winger James Kirby. So all to play for with 1 league game to go (and possibly a Chisholm cup game)

For the record, the top try scorer in the club at the end of the season is looking likely to be Warrior utility back Jane Stewart who is currently sitting on a mere 30 tries this season, with at least 6 games to go!

The 1st XV were due to play Irvine this Saturday at Violetbank but this game has been put back to the 4th March as Irvine are now playing a BT West Shield game instead.

Many thanks to the Helensburgh team and supporters and I believe the beers were flowing in the club afterwards while watching the 6 nations!

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, C Bell, R Hetherington, C White, R Dunlop, D Barnes, E Braid, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann, J Kirby, D Wyllie,A Halliday M Thorburn, C Wallace

Replacements: K Warrick, D Nordon, C Smith, N Coupland (all played)


ANNAN 1ST XV v NEWTON STEWART
BT WEST REGIONAL SHIELD
28TH JANUARY 2017

Match Report by: Alan Robertson - Match Highlights / Match Photos (Opens in a new tab/Flickr)

After two league defeats at the hands of their visitors, having victory snatched from them in the dying minutes in both cases, Annan were hopeful, on their home ground, to reverse the run at Violetbank on Saturday in their quarter final of the BT Regional Shield.

Annan made it to the Shield Regional Final last year and with the league season due to complete on the 18th February, a run in the Shield would keep the competitive action going on for a bit longer! Always a bonus when you can actually play competitive rugby in the Spring months!

The two previous league encounters had been close affairs with Newton Stewart winning both with an overall score of 29-23. So you knew there was a decent chance this game would be just as close!

The first half, played in dreadful conditions for running rugby, was a close affair for the majority of the half. Newton Stewart took the lead on the 5th minute thanks to a successful penalty. Defences were on top and the supporters had to wait until the 20th minute until the next score. Unfortunately for Annan it was again another successful penalty for Newton Stewart to make it 6-0.

Then with five minutes to go until half time, Newton Stewart extended their lead to eleven points. With Annan pressing on the visitor's 5 metre line the ball went loose at a ruck and was scooped up by the Newton Stewart stand off who booted the ball down the pitch over the heads of the advancing home backline and then he hacked it on and won the race to touch the ball down over the line. He missed the conversion but the visitors had a healthy eleven point lead which they held on to until half time.

The second half started and you knew the next score was going to be crucial. Thankfully it was by Annan. Firstly Captain Craig McCann reduced the deficit with a penalty on the 43 minute then 7 minutes later a great Sean Haren try, created by his forwards who with a great driving scrum providing the platform for Haren to pick up at the base of the advancing scrum and crash over. The try was converted by McCann to take the score to Annan 0 Newton Stewart 11.

There was no further score for the next 10 minutes, as both teams defences provided a defensive master-class in the slippery conditions. So as has been the case this season, one score separated the teams going into the final quarter.

Newton Stewart extended their lead to 6 points after crossing the whitewash for the 2nd time with 19 minutes to go with a well worked try created by their scrum half who sent the visitor's lock over to score.

Despite some good Annan pressure, the Newton Stewart defence held firm and there was no further score as the final whistle sounded.

Final Score: Annan 10 v Newton Stewart 16

And so a trip to Murrayfield will have to wait for another year for the first XV. This was a game dominated by defences and Newton Stewart's simple and direct rugby based on driving forward play and solid and aggressive defence which was ideal in Saturday's muddy conditions.

Annan were never able to get their game plan, based on running the heavier forwards around and setting loose their backline which in the conditions just did not happen.

A big plus for the home team was the transformation in their scummaging in the last couple of games driving the visiting pack around in the second half although their lineout work still needs some refining! Best of luck to Newton Stewart in the next round as they are still on track for a league and shield double.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, C Bell, R Hetherington, C White, R Dunlop, D Nordon, E Braid, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann, J Kirby, J Callaghan, A Halliday, D Wyllie, C Wallace

Replacements: K Warrick, N Coupland, A Rae, M Thorburn (all used)


HELENSBURGH v ANNAN 1ST XV
BT WEST DIVISION 1
21ST JANUARY 2017

Match Report by: Alan Robertson - Match Photos (Opens in a new tab/Flickr)

Annan travelled to Ardencaple on Saturday to take on bottom club Helensburgh in West 1 of Bt Regional Leagues. Annan took to the pitch against a team they had only beaten once in four attempts and never at Helensburgh's Ardencaple ground. On a fine sunny but cold afternoon both teams provided a feast of tries Ė twelve in all, seven for the visitors and five for the hosts.

Helensburgh may be propping up the league but they flew out of the blocks at the whistle and for the first 10 minutes Annan rarely touched the ball. The early pressure paid dividends for the hosts and they scored a finely worked unconverted try on the eight minute mark.

Annan slowly began to make their presence felt as they began to build up pressure of their own and as has been the case so often this season, it was Captain McCann who steadied the ship with 2 successful penalties in the 10th and 13th minutes to take the visitors into a one point lead.

Some decent defensive work from both teams kept the score at 5-6 before the 1st XV stepped up a gear as Helensburgh's defence creaked.

From a incisive break by centre Alex Halliday he set up a ruck when brought down 5 metres from the line. From the ruck prop Ryan Hetherington crashed over the whitewash to score Annan's first try on the 24th minute. McCann added the extras.

Centre Halliday was then next to score 4 minutes later with a fine run to score in the corner.

Prop Ryan Glass was next on the score sheet with No 8 Sean Haren also getting his name on the score sheet before half time with a push over try from a 5 metre scrum. Captain McCann was successful with 2 of the conversions.

Annan did not get it their own way however as Helensburgh also scored between the last two tries to take the half time score to Helensburgh 10 Annan 30.

The second half followed a similar vein to the first and by the 60th minute Annan had added another two tries and Helensburgh one.

Within minutes of the restart prop Hetherington added to his season's try haul when he powered his way over the line.

The try of the match was scored on the 60 minute mark when from a loose ball in the Annan half lock Neal Coupland scooped up the ball. He then forced his way through several tackles and broke free to sprint half the length of the pitch to score under the posts. Both tries were converted by McCann.

Annan's last try was once again a driven over try from a scum with Haren getting the touchdown and McCann adding the extra 2 points to complete Annan's scoring with ten minutes to go.

Helensburgh did get the last word however with their 4th and 5th tries in the dying minutes to take the final score to Helensburgh 25 v Annan 1st XV 51.

So a try bonus, 5 point win for the 1st XV as they notched up their 8th win of their league campaign and also their biggest win of season.

A great performance by the Annan squad who will now go into next Saturday's BT Regional Shield Quarter Final at Violetbank against Newton Stewart with a bit more confidence! The coaches however will be a bit concerned with the 5 tries conceded though!

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, C Bell, R Hetherington, C White, R Dunlop, D Barnes, E Braid, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann (C), J Kirby, J Callaghan, A Halliday, D Wyllie, C Wallace

Replacements: N Coupland, D Nordon, M Thorburn (all used)


ANNAN 1ST XV v ALLAN GLENS
BT WEST DIVISION 1
14TH JANUARY 2017

Match Report by: Alan Robertson - Match Highlights / Match Photos (Opens in a new tab/Flickr)

With 5th place playing 6th in West 1 of the BT Regional Leagues this was always going to be a hard fought match at a sunny but cold Violetbank on Saturday. Annan have started 2017 with a win in the league and their visitors from Bishopriggs have not won in their last four games.

The opening minutes found both teams testing each others defensive set ups but it was the visitors who opened the scoring. Following a penalty award the ball was kicked into the corner and from the ensuing line out the well drilled visiting forwards drove the ball via a driving maul which Annan managed to hold but when the ball was spun out along the backline the ball went to ground. The ball, however, was hacked on by an alert Glens's centre who also won the race to the line to score the opening try which was converted to take the visitors into a 7 point lead.

Annan, spurred into response, had a fine period of play, driving play via some surging play by the forwards and enterprising handling by the backs which kept play well into the visitor's half for long periods.

However despite all their efforts their only reward was a penalty which stand off Craig McCann duly converted to reduce the points deficit to 4 points. And that was how the half ended - Annan 3 v Allan Glens 7.

Annan upped their work rate at the start of the second half and in the opening minutes put some good solid attacking moves together.

From a lineout in the visitor's half Glens conceded a penalty and No 8 Sean Haren, with a quickly taken tap, found the visitor's defences sleeping and set off on a run towards the line with Captain McCann on his shoulder who, on receiving the ball found the gap and got the ball away to prop Ryan Hetherington who crashed over the whitewash to score. The conversion was missed.

Annan continued to have the territorial advantage and added a further 3 penalties to take their lead to Annan 17 Allan Glens 7. However the visitors were not prepared to give up and in a purple patch, from the Glens's perspective, they battered away at the Annan line in the last 10 minutes of the match.

They looked odds on to score when from a great break by the Glens's fullback who seemed to have set up his winger with a clear run to the line but centre Alex Halliday had other ideas and from the far side of the pitch he ran and caught the winger inches from the line. Glens recycled the ball well and battered away at the Annan line. Eventually from a scrum their No 8 forced his way over to score.

With the conversion missed and seven points the difference the visitors continued to make inroads into home territory and only stalwart defensive work kept Glens at bay until the final whistle.

Final Score: Annan 17 v Allan Glens 12

This was a vital four points for Annan and whilst they remain in 5th place relegation, although mathematically possible, is a remote possibility. This was a stuffy, if uninspiring display by Annan. Balance between the home and away results was achieved in that Annan lost at the Bearyards but outscored Glenns 5 tries to 4 and on Saturday Allan Glens lost outscoring their josts 2 tries to 1.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R glass K Warrick, R Hetherington, C White, R Dunlop, C Bell, E Braid, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann (C), J Kirby, J Callaghan, A Halliday, D Wyllie, C Wallace

Replacements: R Martin, N Coupland, A Allison (all used)


OBAN LORNE v ANNAN 1ST XV
BT WEST DIVISION 1
7TH JANUARY 2017

Match Report by: Alan Robertson - Match Photos (Opens in a new tab/Flickr)

The Annan squad travelled up to Oban on Friday night to be in the best condition for the fray on Saturday afternoon in this crucial, for both teams, fixture in West 1 of the BT Regional leagues. Whilst the scoreline may suggest an uninspiring game nothing could be further from the truth. On a grey dreicht day at Glencruitten there may have not been any tries to celebrate but it was not for lack of endeavour from both teams over the 80 minutes.

In the opening quarter the visitors held the balance of territory as they played the game at pace spreading the ball wide on most occasions in an attempt to run the huge home forwards about. Annan's efforts paid off when following an incisive break through the centre the hosts were penalised at the breakdown for not releasing in the tackle and Captain Craig McCann stepped up to slot the penalty award.

The game was played at a high intensity by both sides with Annan backs holding the ascendancy in back play with the huge home forwards holding sway in the set piece play where the visitors struggled to maintain possession.

In the second quarter Oban had their best spell of the game but the visiting defences held firm and it was the home side that were rewarded with a penalty award to level the scores.

Towards the end of the half Annan had their best chance of crossing the whitewash when, with the referee indicating a penalty award but playing advantage stand off McCann with a beautifully judged cross field kick found winger Jonny Callaghan with a clear route to the line only for the referee to call back play for the original penalty!

Although McCann was unsuccessful with the kick to goal he was on target minutes later for Annan to retake the lead and take the half time score to Oban Lorne 3 Annan 6.

The second half continued in the same vein as the first with both teams displaying some great defensive work over the 40 minutes. Annan did give away several penalties which the home stand off punted into the corners each time expecting to win the lineout and, using their well drilled pack, to drive the ball over the line. However the visitors pinched the lineout ball every time and cleared their lines each time.

As the game drifted into the last few minutes the Annan contingent were well aware that their team had lost a few games in the last minutes during the season. So it was with a great sense of relief when the referee blew for full time and Annan had a hard fought win under their belts but more importantly had 4 points in the bag.

Final Score: Oban Lorne 3 v Annan 6

All in all a satisfying win for Annan especially considering the several changes, both in personnel and positional modifications, required by non-availability and injuries of several players.

It was most encouraging to see young Max Thorburn receive his 1st XV debut and put in a full 80 minutes of committed rugby both in defence and attack.

Congratulations also to Captain Craig McCann who broke the 2000 point barrier on his 264th 1st XV outing. Well done Craig!

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, C Bell, R Hetherington, C White, N Coupland, D Nordon, D Barnes, R Dunlop, A Rae, C McCann (C), M Thorburn, S Haren, A Halliday, J Callaghan, C Wallace.

Replacements: C Smith, R Martin (used), W Henderson, J Whiteside


ANNAN 1ST XV v EAST KILBRIDE
BT WEST DIVISION 1
17TH DECEMBER 2016

Match Report by: Alan Robertson - Match Highlights / Match Photos (Opens in a new tab/Flickr)

On a grey day at Violetbank on Saturday 5th place Annan took on 2nd place East Kilbride. The visitors were eager to shake off their recent disappointing form which has seen them relinquish their top spot in West 1 of the BT Regional League to Newton Stewart.

The first quarter of the game was played between the 22s with neither team able to get the upper hand. East Kilbride did take the lead minutes into the game with a well struck penalty which standoff Craig McCann cancelled out minutes later with one of his own.

Annan added a further two penalties when the visitors incurred the ire of the referee in both cases marched back a further 10 metres for comments made to him.

The visitors in the second quarter upped their game and aided and abetted by the hosts giving away a couple of penalties East Kilbride kicked for the corners. From a scrum following a lineout the visiting forwards powered their way towards the line and their No 8 crashed over to score a converted try to retake the lead.

East Kilbride stretched their lead to 15 points to 9 when once again their powerful set of forwards, following a lineout, drove towards the Annan line with their No 8 once again getting the ball over the line. Annan reduced the points deficit to 3 points when McCann once again was on target with a penalty award to take the half time score to Annan 12 East Kilbride 15.

For the opening 15 minutes of the second half was similar to the opening quarter of the first until the visiting forwards once again pressurised the Annan line and from a series of rucks it was the visiting No 8 who one again crashed over to score his hatrick.

The home side continued to attack through their speedy back line and the Annan breakthrough came from their backs harassment of their opposite numbers and from a defensive fumble from the visiting fullback winger James Kirby hacked the loose ball over the line with Kirby winning the race to ground the ball.

With the scores tied at 20 points each McCann surprisingly missed his conversion attempt. In the dying moments of the game the visitors had the chance to snatch victory when they were awarded a penalty but the attempt came back off the crossbar and was knocked on by an advancing visiting player and from the ensuing scrum Annan secured the ball and the final whistle went and Annan has secured a vital two points.

This was a game that the visitors lost due to their indiscipline which allowed Annan to claw their way back into the game and win a hard fought draw. Some may say that Dick Turpin was playing in Annan colours on Saturday as this was a bit of highway robbery by the home side with a 3 to 1 try count for the visitors. However, Annan were well worth their 2 points with once again their defensive work of the highest order.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, C Bell, R Hetherington, C White, R Dunlop, D Barnes, E Braid, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann (C), J Kirby, D Wyllie, A Halliday, A Rae, C Wallace

Replacements: K Warrick, D Nordon, S Clark (all used)


NEWTON STEWART v ANNAN 1ST XV
BT WEST DIVISION 1
10TH DECEMBER 2016

Match Report by: Alan Robertson - Match Photos (Opens in a new tab/Flickr)

The 1st XV travelled to Bladnoch Park, which has proved an unhappy hunting ground for Annan in the recent years having lost on their previous 4 visits, to take on unbeaten promotion prospects Newton Stewart sitting in 2nd place in West 1 of the BT Regional Leagues.

It was a slightly changed Annan 1st XV squad with the injuries picked up last week but the team still looked pretty strong.

In the first half, the game had a similar feel to last week with the defences of both teams being on top. It wasn't until the 11th minute until the first points were on the board and it was Annan who took the lead thanks to a Craig McCann penalty.

The game continued in the same vein and it took until the 33rd minute before there was any further score. Luckily it was for Annan, and that man McCann again with another successful penalty and thatís how the score remained at half time - Newton Stewart 0 v Annan 6

Second halves this season have not been the kindest to Annan so the Annan supporters at the game knew they were going to be in for a nail-biting 40 minutes!

Newton Stewart finally got themselves on the scoreboard when they kicked a penalty on the 55th minute. So once again, like last week, Annan had a 3 point lead to defend but unlike last week they couldn't stop their opponents from breaching the whitewash and with 10 minutes to go, Newton Stewart took the lead for the first time 8-6 thanks to an unconverted try. And alas, despite some great Annan pressure thatís how the game ended.

It was a decent performance from Annan, who looked the better team for large parts of the game but as we know all too well, defences win games and this week it was Newton Stewartís who came out just on top!

This result along with East Kilbrideís defeat at the hands of Garnock moves Newton Stewart to the top of the league with Annan moving up a place into 5th thanks to the losing bonus point and Allan Glens losing to Carrick.

Plus point for Annan was the much improved scrummaging performance which took on the formidable home pack and generally came out on top. The lineout however must remain a continuing cause for concern.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, R Hetherington, C White, R Dunlop, D Barnes, E Braid, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann (C), J Kirby, D Wyllie, A Halliday, W Gray, C Wallace.

Replacements: R Martin, C Bell, S Clark, C Smith


ANNAN 1ST XV v GARNOCK
BT WEST DIVISION 1
3RD DECEMBER 2016

Match Report by: Alan Robertson - Match Highlights / Match Photos (Opens in a new tab/Flickr)

On a dry windless but grey day at Violetbank 6th placed Annan took on 4th placed Garnock from Beith in West 1 of the BT Regional leagues.

The visitors have one of the best defensive record in the league conceding a measly 125 points to date and what transpired over the 80 minutes on Saturday was testimony to that. This was a game for the rugby purist and a bit of a defensive masterclass by both teams.

Annan, as they have done in each game this season, flew out of the blocks and for the first quarter of the game played most of the game in the visitorís half. Although they were unable to breach the whitewash they were rewarded with a penalty which Captain Craig McCann slotted through the posts.

Garnock seemed galvanised by this award and the second quarter belonged to them but, although awarded a couple of penalties of their own they were unable to capitalise on them.

Although the conditions were ideal for running rugby, both teams, but Annan in particular, seemed content to kick away valuable possession rather than keeping hold of the ball. What ensued, at times, resembled a game of aerial ping pong.

That said both teams had fine spells of attacking rugby on display but both were unable to break down the well organised defensive structures of their respective sides. Annan went into the half time break holding a tentative 3 point lead.

Half Time Score: Annan 3 v Garnock 0.

Both teams, in the second half, continued to play a similar game as they had done in the first with Garnock coming closest to scoring a try.

From a lineout following a penalty award, the visiting forwards mauled their way towards the Annan line and appeared to have crossed the whitewash only for the referee to call them back for a knock on.

That was the closest either team came to scoring in the second half apart from kickable penalty awards which were missed by both sides. Annan managed to hold their nerve and defensive srtucture to run out winners.

Final Score: Annan 3 v Garnock 0.

All in all, whilst perhaps a game for the rugby purists, it was not the most entertaining game to watch for the hardy band of supporters on hand in the gathering gloom at Violetbank.

The obvious frustration felt by both teams boiled over on several occasion and provided some light relief for the assembled masses.

So not the most convincing of wins for Annan but a hard won 4 points. Annan remain in 6th position but now on the same points as Allan Glens.

The game did provide Annan with some problems with injuries to centre Jonny Callaghan and prop Callum Nicholson both who were concussed in the second half.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, C Bell, R Hetherington, C White, N Coupland, D Nordon, E Braid, S Haren, A Rae, C McCann (C), J Kirby, J Callaghan, A Halliday, A Jancey, C Wallace

Replacements: C Nicholson, D Wyllie, R Dunlop, S Livingston.


ANNAN 1ST XV v CARRICK
BT WEST DIVISION 1
5TH NOVEMBER 2016

Match Report by: Alan Robertson - Match Highlights / Match Photos (Opens in a new tab/Flickr)

Annan took on promotion hopefuls Carrick on Saturday at a sunny but bitterly cold Violetbank in this West 1 fixture in the BT Regional Leagues. The visitors, who currently sit in 3rd place in the league, beat their hosts in the opening fixture of the season at Maybole and Annan knew that they would have to be at their best to get anything from this game.

Annan started, as they have in every game this season, playing a high paced, high intensity strategy which kept their opponents contained within their half. For the first 10 minutes Annan, whose driving play from forwards and backs alike was exemplary but they were unable to break down Carrickís stubborn and well organised defence.

However the deadlock was broken when from a couple of drives from lock Christian White and prop Ryan Hetherington respectively released the ball and standoff Craig McCann with a delightful flighted mis-pass found full back Cairn Wallace, coming into the back line at pace, allowing him to score behind the posts. McCann added the conversion.

Minutes later, following a bullocking run by lock Neal Coupland the ball was recycled and passed to hooker Callum Bell who was lurking on the wing and outsprinted the Carrick defences to cross the whitewash. The conversion was missed but Annan had a 12 point to nil lead.

Both teams were playing some great running rugby in the perfect conditions and after some great pressure from Carrick, their right winger crashed over in the corner following a quickly taken penalty. The try was converted from the touchline to take the half time score to Annan 12 Carrick 7.

The second half started with the same intensity as the first and an early McCann penalty took it to 15-7 but with 35 mins still to play it was still anybodyís game. As the game progresses errors were starting to creep into Annanís play as the efforts of the first half began to take its toll. Carrick, capitalised on these errors and following a break out of defence and a couple of missed tackles the Carrick outside centre side stepped the hostís defences to score under the posts. The try was converted to reduce Annanís lead to a single point at 15-14.

Carrick took the lead for the first time with a penalty award after some Annan indiscipline. With 15 minutes to go both teams had chances but it was Annan who scored next thanks to a Craig McCann penalty and Annan were back in front 18-17!

In a nervy last 15 minutes thoughts were foremost in the home supporters minds of the games this season where Annan had led in similar circumstances only to let the lead slip in the dying minutes. This time, however, Annan held their ground and nerve to hold out for a well deserved victory.

This was an excellent result against a team vying for promotion which in truth Annan would probably has lost a couple of weeks ago. There is a belief and resolve in this team which is beginning to pay dividends.

The forwards in particular are beginning to look a very effective outfit especially in the loose. The backs are also gelling into a powerful attacking force. Unfortunately centre Jonny Callaghan had to leave the fray in the first half with a broken nose! As a point of interest Saturdayís game saw Alan Rae take the field for his 100th game for the first team.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, C Bell, R Hetherington, C White, N Coupland, D Barnes, E Braid, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann (C), J Kirby, J Callaghan, A Halliday, A Rae, C Wallace

Replacements: K Warrick, D Wyllie, D Nordon, R Dunlop. (all used)

The 1st XV now have a week off for the Autumn Internationals and their next game is in the BT Shield competition on the 19th at Violetbank when they take on West 2 leaders Cambuslang at Violetbank.


KILMARNOCK v ANNAN 1ST XV
BT WEST DIVISION 1
29TH OCTOBER 2016

Match Report by: Alan Robertson - Match Photos (Opens in a new tab/Flickr)

Annan travelled up the A76 for the second successive week this time to take on Kilmarnock in West 1 of the BT Regional Leagues. Since Annan beat their hosts earlier in the season Kilmarnock have improved with two wins and a draw against league leaders East Kilbride so Annan knew there was a difficult game in prospect at Bellsland.

Annan started well driving play into the home 22 and playing with their usual high paced game. On the 10 minute mark following a fine piece of attacking play by standoff Andy Allison who, when tackled, popped the ball to wing forward Dwayne Barnes who, with a lot to do, wrong footed several of the home backline to score under the posts. Centre Cairn Wallace added the extra 2 points.

For the next 15 minutes, both teams came close to scoring but it was Kilmarnock who got onto the score sheet thanks to a successful penalty to take it to 7-3.

Annan came close on a couple of occasions, but Annan were making it difficult for themselves by giving away needless penalties, compounded by giving away a further 10 metres on more than one occasion by some indisciplined play, which enabled the hosts to kick the penalty awards deep into the visitorís half. This allowed the well drilled Kilmarnock forwards to drive the maul from their lineout to cross the line and score an unconverted try to take the lead.

After some sustained Annan pressure in the home 22, Annan were awarded a penalty for their efforts and a great Cairn Wallace penalty meant that Annan had the lead again. However on the stroke of half time, another Kilmarnock try, again from a lineout take and drive, took the half time score to 13-10 to the home side.

The 2nd half kicked off, and on past form this season, the second period has not been the best for Annan. However, Annan came flying out of the blocks and within 5 minutes of the restart retook the lead thanks to full back Andrew Janceyís try where he ran the ball out of defence leaving the Kilmarnock defences in his wake. Cairn Wallace converted the try from the touchline.

But the lead changed again, 10 minutes later, as Kilmarnock scored their 3rd try of the game scored by their winger when the visitors defensive line ran out of numbers. This gave the hosts a 1 point lead. Despite some great chances for both teams, thatís how the score remained until the dying minutes when Kilmarnock were successful with a penalty kick at goal to take the final score to Kilmarnock 21 v Annan 17.

This was a game that Annan, despite playing into Kilmarnockís hands with their indisciplined play allied to their struggling set piece play, especially the lineout, could have so easily won.

Their back play had the home defences in all sorts of trouble but with so little possession in the second half they were unable to cash in on their advantage. Annan, however, gained a losing bonus point which means that they have now scored 8 points from the last 3 away games. Not a terrible haul!

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, R Heatherington, C White, N Coupland, D Nordon, D Barnes, S Haren, A Rae, A Allison, J Kirby, C Wallace, A Halliday, C Bell, A Jancey.

Replacements: E Braid (used), R Arthur, L Johnstone


IRVINE v ANNAN 1ST XV
BT WEST DIVISION 1
22ND OCTOBER 2016

Match Report by: Alan Robertson - Match Highlights / Match Photos (Opens in a new tab/Flickr)

Annan travelled up the A76 to Marress on Saturday in the full knowledge that despite their hosts having lost 5 games on the trot, prior to last week, Irvine appear to have stopped the rot firstly with a win against Allan Glens.

Coupled with the signing of some experienced players from Fiji, Wales and South Africa Irvine feel they are back on track in their ambitions to climb back up the leagues. Saturdayís game saw the first of their signings Nicky Little, a former Fijian Internationalist, take the field at standoff.

Annan started off from the whistle taking the game to their hosts with some fine attacking play and for the first 25 minutes kept Irvine in their own half but were unable to break down the well organised and stubborn home defences.

It took a piece of inventive play by the Annan backs creating the space for winger James Kirby to outpace his opposite number and the home full back to score in the corner. The conversion was missed.

Annan continued to press with some impressive attacking plays and when the hosts had the ball they hassled and harassed the ball carrier into making mistakes. Lock Dan Norden capitalised on one of the mistakes and latched on to a loose ball and glided over to score beside the posts. Standoff Andy Allison converted the try to take Annan into a 12-point lead.

Annan increased their lead when Allison added a penalty. Irvine replied with a penalty of their own just prior to half time to take the half time score to Irvine 3 Annan 15.

The second half saw Irvine utilise their well organised forwards to attack the Annan line with some strong driving play aided and abetted by Annan giving away penalties at crucial times allowing the hosts to pressurise the Annan line with some fine line kicking by Little. From a lineout 5 metres out the home forwards mauled their way over to score. With the try converted Annanís lead was reduced to 5 points.

Annan continued to play a fast expansive game and when centre Alex Halliday broke out of defence with a fine weaving run into the Irvine half he found wing forward Callum Bell with an accurate inside pass. Bell accelerated through the gap in the Irvine defences to score between the posts. Standoff Cairn Wallace, on as replacement for Allison, added the conversion to take Annan into a 12 point lead.

Wallace added to his points haul when he cleaved his way through the despairing home defences to score the bonus under the posts. He added the further 2 points to increase the visitorís lead to a healthy 19 points.

With 20 minutes to play Irvine rang some changes the main one being the moving of their No 8 into the centre Ė the two starting centres having had to go off injured Ė which made the home backs a more potent attacking force. These changes paid dividends for the home team when they were able to score two late tries to take the final score to Irvine 22 Annan 29.

All in all this was a workmanlike performance by Annan although once again the set piece play was of concern with several strikes against the head against a well drilled Irvine pack.

The lineout also was a cause for concern only helped by the fact that the home sides was even worse. There were however several plus points none more so than the ever improving attacking potential of the back line especially the coming of age of youngster James Kirby on the wing whose performances improve game on game.

Also it was good to see the return of Ross Dunlop from his antipodean adventures! Saturdayís win takes Annan up to 6th place in the league.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, R Hetherington, D Nordon, N Coupland, C Bell, D Barnes, S Haren (C), A Rae, A Allison, D Wyllie, J Callaghan, A Halliday, J Kirby, A Jancey.

Replacements: C Wallace, R Dunlop, C Park. (all used)


ALLAN GLENS v ANNAN 1ST XV
BT WEST DIVISION 1
8TH OCTOBER 2016

Match Report by: Alan Robertson - Match Photos (Opens in a new tab/Flickr)

On a superb day for running rugby on a finely manicured pitch at the Bearyards in West 1 of the BT Regional Leagues on Saturday Annan started well playing a high paced game which had the home team making numerous mistakes. One of the mistakes led to Annanís standoff Craig McCann picking off a Glenís fumble in defence to pounce on the loose ball to score a simple try within the first 10 minutes.

Annanís lead was short lived, however, when the hostís fullback danced his way unscathed through some fragile Annan defences to score under the posts Ė a fragility which was to feature throughout the second half! With the try converted the hosts went into a 2 point lead.

Annan, at this stage, were exerting most of the pressure and it wasnít long before they retook the lead with a finely worked unconverted try up the right touchline which saw winger James Kirby cross the whitewash in the corner.

This was followed minutes later with a surging run by No 8 Sean Haren who shrugged off several tackles before being stopped but was able to offload the ball to prop Ryan Glass who stormed over the line to score. McCann was on target with his conversion attempt to take Annan into a 10 point lead which they maintained until half time.

During the last ten minutes of the half Annan lost centre Jonny Callaghan with a neck injury occasioned by a high tackle from behind and wing forward Stuart Wyllie with a leg injury which resulted in some restructuring of the Annan team.

The home teamsí half time team talk certainly seemed to work wonders as they came flying out of the blocks at the start of the second half and within minutes had added a penalty and a further converted try to tie the scores at 17 points all.

Annanís defences were, not to put too fine a point on it, being shredded by the Glenís centres and their full back made full use of the incursions to add a further three tries to his tally.

With a penalty added as well Annan were being made to look fairly ordinary, especially after their excellent first half display as the hosts looked totally in command with a 17 point lead at 34-17.

To the visitorsí credit they battled well in the last 10 minutes in an effort to regain some respectability out of the score line and they were rewarded for their attacking tenacity when firstly winger Kirby went over in the corner following on from some dynamic running from centre David Wyllie which split the home defences.

With the Allan Glens rocking and with alarm bells ringing with the memory of their previous weeks encounter against league leaders East Kilbride when they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at the death standoff McCann blasted through the home back line and fringe defences to score a converted try under the posts.

Thankfully for the home teamís perspective full time whistle was blown minutes later to give them a hard won victory. Final Score Allan Glens 34 Annan 29.

With the Bearyards always a difficult place for Annan to win, coming away with two bonus points and outscoring the hosts by 5 tries to 4, was a definite plus.

However, Annanís fragile defence on the day, especially as it had been fairly solid in previous games this season, must be especially worrying for the coaches. On a further plus side the Annan scrummage was much better than expected pressurising the sizeable home eight and even taking one against the head.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, R Martin, N Coupland, D Nordon, S Wyllie, C Bell, S Haren, A Rae, C McCann, D Wyllie, J Callaghan, A Halliday, J Kirby, A Jancey

Replacements: C Warrick, R Arthur, A Allison (all used)


ANNAN 1ST XV v OBAN LORNE
BT WEST DIVISION 1
1ST OCTOBER 2016

Match Report by: Gus Robertson - Match Photos (Opens in a new tab/Flickr) / Match Highlights

The 1st XV welcomed Oban Lorne to Annan for the only the 3rd time at 1st XV level and for the 2nd time to Violetbank. The teams met in the league back in 1993 and this was the clubs first league meeting since then. The teams however met in the BT Shield last year. Annan had won the previous 2 encounters (although the 1993 win was probably a bit too far back to get any form pointers!)

So at an overcast and drizzly Violetbank, the 1st XV stepped out onto the pitch knowing that they had played some great rugby over the past 5 weeks but had not been rewarded with the results their performances had probably deserved. And the end of the 80 minutes it was just a relief, that after perhaps their poorest (attacking) performance of the season, they had won against a stuffy Oban Lorne side.

Annan has the better of the 1st half though but too many lineout errors and with the scrum under real pressure from a rather large Oban pack, meant that many of the attacking positions Annan had managed to make for themselves, fizzled out before they got going.

It took until the 35th minute for the only try of the game. This came from a well worked try after the ball had passed though numerous Annan hands. The try started at the halfway line from a scrum and after 9 phases, at the Oban Lorne 22, a burst from Sean Haren got him to 5 feet of the line, a pop pass to hooker Warrick who fell just short but the ball was recycled and Ryan Hetherington acting as scrum half picked up the ball and dove over for the try. The resultant Captain McCann conversion made it 7-0.

And thatís how the half ended.

The second half was one to forget for Annan in an attacking sense (bar the last 10 minutes) as the larger Oban pack kept the Annan squad camped in their own 22 for much of the half. However great Annan defence kept out Oban Lorne, who did cross the whitewash twice but fortunately for Annan, the touchdowns were ruled out for various infringements.

With 15 minutes to go, a rare Annan attack into the Oban half resulted in a McCann kick at goal for offside. Alas it drifted just wide but soon after Captain McCann was successful with another kick and Annan had a precious 10-0 score lead!

And for the fans in attendance it was good to see that the team held firm for the next 10 minutes where in a few games this season itís been in the last minute or 2 that the boys finally lost the lead.

The main plus points were that once again the Annan defence was not breached for the 2nd time this season despite a lot of pressure from Oban. As for Oban Lorne, they will probably feel they had enough ball for the win especially in the 2nd half their as forwards kept the Annan team in their own 22 for a good period. However sometimes defences win games and that proved to be the case on Saturday.

So at the end of the day, a win is a win! And the team now has to focus on the task in hand next Saturday when they travel to take on a resurgent Allan Glens team.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, R Hetherington, D Nordon, N Coupland, C Bell, E Braid, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann (C), J Kirby, D Wylie, A Halliday, D McClure, C Wallace

Replacements: S Wylie, A Allison, R Martin, C White (all used)


EAST KILBRIDE v ANNAN 1ST XV
BT WEST DIVISION 1
24TH SEPTEMBER 2016

Match Report by: Alan Robertson - Match Photos (Opens in a new tab/Flickr)

Annan travelled to the Torrance Arena on Saturday to take on West 1 leaders East Kilbride in the BT Regional leagues.

In atrocious weather conditions with driving rain and wind blowing from end to end Annan made the best of the conditions in the first half pinning their hosts back into their 22 with some direct running and accurate kicking.

Scrum half Andrew Jancey, on his 200th competitive game for the 1st XV, was first on the scoresheet when from a ruck he broke down the blindside along the left touchline to score an unconverted try in the corner.

Annan were causing their hosts all sorts of problems as their backs were having the best of the tussles. It was that man Jancey who added to Annanís try total midway through the half when full back Cairn Wallace receiving a high ball in his 22 started on a mazy run through some despairing East Kilbride defences and with a deft pass out of the tackle set Jancey on his way again to score his second unconverted try.

The visitors maintained their grip on the game and added a penalty, slotted by Captain Craig McCann, when the home forwards transgressed at a ruck.

From the restart the ball was received by an Annan forward and as the ruck was set up the ball inadvertently went loose bouncing off an Annan foot and an alert home forward picked up the loose ball and strolled under the posts to score. With the try converted Annanís lead was reduced to 6 points.

The visitorís lead was extended to 9 when once agin the home forwards were penalised at a ruck in their 22 and McCann again slotted the kick to take the half time score to East Kilbride 7 Annan 16.

Facing the driving rain and wind in the second half Annan tried to play the conditions, keeping the play tight but as the half wore on the heavier home pack began to prevail in the close quarter work aided and abetted by injuries to some of the Annan forwards.

Slowly East Kilbride began to eat into Annanís 9 point lead. Firstly by a penalty award and then by try when the powerful home eight drove the visiting scrum over the line.

The hosts exerted their forward domination firstly when awarded a penalty try. Annan fought back into the hosts half and their perseverance paid off when they were awarded a penalty which, if successful, would have perhaps give Annan a losing bonus point. Alas it was not to be as the kick was missed.

The hosts had the last say as they scored a further converted try at the death to take the final score East Kilbride 29 Annan 16. A score which somewhat flattered the hosts.

So another defeat for Annan but another promising performance with several players stepping up to the mark. Annan have now played five of the six teams above them in the league and will be looking to improve in their league status in the coming weeks.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, R Hetherington, D Nordon, C White, D Barnes, C Bell, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann (C), J Kirby, D Wyllie, A Halliday, D McClure, C Wallace

Replacements: C Nicholson, R Arthur, B Jamieson (all used)


ANNAN 1ST XV v NEWTON STEWART
BT WEST DIVISION 1
17TH SEPTEMBER 2016

Match Report by: Alan Robertson - Match Photos (Opens in a new tab/Flickr) / Match Highlights

For the second week Annan suffered heartbreak with defeat being snatched from the jaws of victory minutes from the final whistle.

On a perfect day for rugby at a sunny Violetbank on Saturday in this West 1 encounter of the BT Regional League both teams appeared a little nervous in the opening quarter of the game with both sides having good spells of attack.

Annan, however, showing a bit of indiscipline gave away several penalties which enabled the visitors to keep their hosts pinned back in their 22 with some fine line kicks. From one of these forays Newton Stewart in a fine display of forwards and back interplay the visiting right winger broke through the Annan defences to score a converted try.

The game continued in the same vein with both teams having their moments both in attack and defence. However a piece of indiscipline, this time from the visitors, allowed standoff Craig McCann to reduce the points deficit to 4 points with a well taken penalty kick.

With lock Christian White yellow carded Annan managed to weather the 10 minutes without any further scoring. The visitors extended their lead, however, towards the end of the half when from a period of well structured ball retention and driving play by their forwards the Annan defensive line was breached when the visiting wing forward crashed over to score Newton Stewartís second converted try to take the half time score to Annan 3 Newton Stewart 14.

Whatever was said at the half time team talk certainly had the desired effect on the home players as Annan blasted out of the blocks putting in some excellent passages of play which, initially, was frustrated by some equally excellent defensive work by the visitors. Annanís breakthrough came when from a series of quickly taken penalty awards No 8 Sean Haren crashed over to score a converted try to take Annan within 4 points.

With less than 15 minutes left to play it was all to play for and both teams gave it their all. From a penalty awarded in the visitorís 22 Annan decided to kick for touch and from the lineout the ball was fed to centre Alex Halliday who burst through and when tackled short of the line popped the ball up to fellow centre David Wyllie who crashed over to score. With Captain McCann adding the extras the hosts were in a 3 point lead.

Annan looked to play out the remaining minutes in the Newton Stewart half and with some well taken line kicks it looked as if their strategy would prevail as the clock ran down.

However, from a lineout in the Annan half the ball was fed to the visiting No 3 who somehow managed to evade the tiring home defences and run 6o metres to score a converted try under the posts.

An Annan worthy was heard to say that Ďthe only time you would see a prop scoring from that far out he would have been wearing an All Blackís shirt!í

Despite the hosts exhorting their players to one last effort to win the game it was the visitors who ran down the remaining minutes to win.

Final Score: Annan 17 v Newton Stewart 21.

For the neutral supporter this was a cracking game of rugby but for Annan it was a heart breaking result. There were numerous plusses to the Annan performance especially in the set piece play with the scrummaging looking strong against a formidable visiting pack and in the backs the interlinking play with the forwards looking good for the rest of the fixtures.

However, on the down side was the injury to centre Jonny Callaghan who will be out for a few weeks having been concussed during the game.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, C Nicholson, C White, N Coupland, D Norden, D Barnes, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann, D Wyllie, J Callaghan, A Halliday, J Kirby, C Wallace

Replacements: R Hetherington, S wyllie, D McClure, A Allison. (all used)


GARNOCK v ANNAN 1ST XV
BT WEST DIVISION 1
10TH SEPTEMBER 2016

Match Report by: Alan Robertson - Match Photos (Opens in a new tab/Flickr)

Annan travelled to Lochshore Beith on Saturday knowing that they would be in for a tough game against a team that Annan have only beaten at Lochshore once before and so it transpired in this match in West 1 of the BT Regional Leagues.

In the first half Annan produced a master class in the art of defence as the home team, playing down the slope and with a following wind, kept Annan, for long periods of the match, pinned deep in their 22.

The visitors did have their moments with some excellent driving play between forwards and backs which tested the home defences. Both teamsí defensive strategies proved most successful as both failed to cross the whitewash and the half time score remained at Garnock 0 Annan 0.

It was more of the same in the second half but this time it was the visitors who pinned their hosts back into their 22 as they began to get the better of the home side.

It took until the 65th minute, however, for the deadlock to be broken when standoff Craig McCann put in a superb kick over the heads of the home defensive line and winger James Kirby outpaced the the Garnock defense to touch the ball down for the try. McCann just missed with his touchline conversion attempt.

This score seemed to galvanise the home side and With five minutes remaining, Garnock were awarded a scrum near the halfway line. Their forwards won the ball and fed it to their backs and with some fine handling in their backs their replacement winger scored in the corner. With the try converted from the touchline Garnock went into the lead 7-5.

With less than 10 minutes to play there now frantic efforts from Annan to reclaim the lead. McCann put in another fine kick down the touchline with winger Kirby chasing the ball down only to see the ball hit the corner flag with the line at Kirbyís mercy.

This was followed by a bullocking run by No 8 Sean Haren, who with his now trademark pass out of the back door, found prop Ryan Glass on his shoulder who with a remarkable turn of speed for a prop left several Garnock backs in his wake only to be tackled by the home fullback 5 metres from the line.

As time ran out for the visitors Annan had the chance to win the match when they were awarded a penalty on the 10 metre line. Captain McCann, however, saw his kick just fade past the upright by inches and the rest is history as they say.

Final Score: Garnock 7 v Annan 5.

This was a good performance by the Annan squad who were unlucky not to win this encounter-perhaps a draw would have been a fair result- but a bonus point was most welcome. With the set piece play improving especially in the scrummaging, especially against a heavy Garnock pack. Annan in fact won a strike against the head in the second half.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, C Nicholson, C White, D Nordon, D Barnes, E Braid, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann, J Kirby, J Callaghan, A Halliday, D Wyllie, C Wallace

Replacements: R Martin, N Coupland, D McClure (all used)


ANNAN 1ST XV v KILMARNOCK
BT WEST DIVISION 1
3RD SEPTEMBER 2016

Match Report by: Alan Robertson - Match Photos (Opens in a new tab/Flickr) / Match Highlights

After the previous weekís defeat at Carrick, Annan supporters were looking for an improved performance from their team and they were not disappointed with Annan putting in a workmanlike performance, with some touches of brilliance, at Violetbank on Saturday in their first home fixture in West 1 of the BT Regional Leagues.

The weather forecasters got their timing wrong as it was well into the second half before the rains came but by that time the game was all but won.

Annan started the game well with some dynamic driving play particularly by the forwards and the home backs, running some fine lines, were putting the visiting defences under severe pressure. The hosts had two tries disallowed for forward passes as they opened up the Kilmarnock defences time and time again.

Eventually the whitewash was breached when, from a quickly taken free kick, the forwards drove up the middle of the park and unleashed centre Jonny Callaghan who split the Kilmarnock defensive line and with fullback Cairn Wallace coming into the line at speed and with only the Kilmarnock fullback to beat he set a looping pass to winger David Wyllie who crashed over the line in the corner. The try went unconverted.

Annan continued to dominate possession but some wayward passes and failure to maintain possession at times led to some unnecessary turnovers at the breakdown. Annan however, despite coming under some forward pressure in their 22 by the Kilmarnock forwards, held their defensive line intact. Standoff Craig McCann added a two successful penalty kicks to take the half time score to Annan 11 Kilmarnock 0.

The visitors came storming out of the blocks at the start of the second half and put the hosts under some pressure which was compounded by Annan giving away a series of penalties. Annan weathered the storm and set up a series of attacks of their own.

With some incisive runs by both forwards and backs centre Callaghan broke through and he released centre Alex Halliday who, despite having to juggle with the ball, kept his cool and sprinted behind the posts to score. Captain McCann added the extras.

Annan began to control the game and it wasnít long before they added a third try, possibly the best try of the match, when from an Annan lineout in the Kilmarnock 22 the ball was spun along the line and with an outrageous miss pass to full back Wallace, coming into the line at pace, he glided over the line to score. McCann again added the extras.

With 10 minutes to play the visitors launched an attack from a scrum but the ball was dropped and Captain McCann scooped up the loose ball and outsprinted the despairing visiting defences to score in the corner. He missed the conversion and with the bonus point in the bag the match ended minutes later. Final score Annan 30 Kilmarnock ).

This was an excellent team performance from Annan with an improving lineout and although the scrums creaked at times against a much larger pack no ball was lost against the head. The Annan backrow of Dwayne Barnes, Euan Braid and Sean Haren were outstanding disrupting the visitorís attacks. The Annan centre partnership of Halliday and Callaghan gelled well and were causing all sorts of problems for the visitors. Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the game, after securing a bonus point win, was Annanís defensive structure which kept their line intact.

Annanís 1st Team mascots for the game were Emily and Elliot Oakes of the Hornets and P3 Tigers respectively.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, C Bell, C Nicholson, C White, D Nordon, D Barnes, E Braid, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann (C), J Kirby, J Callaghan, A Halliday, D Wyllie, C Wallace

Replacements: K Warrick, N Coupland, S Wyllie, D McLure. (all used)


CARRICK v ANNAN 1ST XV
BT WEST DIVISION 1
27TH AUGUST 2016

Match Report by: Alan Robertson - Match Photos (Opens in a new tab/Flickr)

Annan travelled to Maybole to take on one of last seasonís promotion contenders Carrick on Saturday in the full knowledge that they would be in for a tough match and this was confirmed in their opening match in West 1 of the BT Regional Leagues.

Annan were rocked back on their heels in the opening minute of the game when from the drop out the home side received the ball and proceeded to drive the ball all the way to the whitewash to score. Annan appeared very nervous and were put under pressure minutes later when the hosts again drove over to score a converted try and Annan were 12 points down in less than 10 minutes.

Annan fought back and were rewarded for their efforts when centre Jonny Callaghan latched on to a loose pass by the Carrick inside centre to outsprint the home cover defences to score. Captain McCann added the extras and Annan were back in the game.

The home side were next to score with a converted try but Annan hit back almost immediately when McCann kicked ahead and centre Alex Halliday who was following up was impeded by the Carrick fullback. The referee awarded a penalty try which McCann again converted. Carrick added a penalty on the stroke of half time to go into the break 19 Ė 14 in the lead.

Annan raced out of the blocks at the start of the second half and in the first move of the half full back Cairn Wallace receiving a high ball in his 22 launched an attack up the touchline and with a delightful inside pass sent centre Halliday away to score. With McCannís conversion Annan were within a single point of their hosts.

Carrick extended their lead with a further penalty and unconverted try to take a 9 point lead. Although behind Annan were playing some enterprising rugby but were finding the home teamís offloading game difficult to defend against.

At this point No 8 Sean Haren was yellow carded for a repeated offence at the breakdown and Annan never really recovered from being a man down and the hosts ran in a further 3 tries to take the final score to Carrick 51 Annan 21.

Although a disappointing score line the Annan coaches will have seen several plus points from the performance against one of West 1ís top teams and will also have seen several areas which will need work in the coming weeks.

Annan coach Niall Smith had some thoughts on the performance:

ĎMy thoughts on the game were that, as expected, it was a very tough start to the league. Although it was discussed in the warm up that past experiences shouldn't come into the game, it did appear we started apprehensively. This allowed Carrick to get a good start. I was impressed by the level of work the boys got through, defending for long periods on a hot day. They battled hard and got into a decent position at 50mins.

I was also impressed by how they took their tries with minimal opportunities. The team paid for not being able to keep possession and defending for so long by fading in the last quarter. Not the best start but we knew it would be tough.

The lads will hopefully learn how to look after the ball better and keep hold of it longer to revert the pain of defending to the opposition. Set piece needs work and fitness levels also need work (although this game will have helped massively with this).

The performance would probably have been good enough for a win in West 2 but not against one of the better sides in West 1. Once the lads are up to speed with what is required at this level we will win matches. Hopefully starting at home this Saturday.í

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, C Nicholson, C White, D Nordon, S Livingstone, C Bell, S Haren, A Rae, C McCann, D Wylie, J Callaghan, A Halliday, J Kirby, C Wallace.

Subs: C Park (replaced K Warrick), R Arthur (replaced C White), W Gray (replaced J Kirby), A Jancey (not used).


ANNAN 1ST XV v VARIOUS
VIOLETBANK TOURNAMENT
20TH AUGUST 2016

Report by: Gary ĎTaggartí Coupland

On Saturday 20th August, 2016, Annan Rugby hosted their Annual 15 a side tournament at Violetbank. Annan which was sponsored by LJ Residential.

Following a couple of call offs 5 teams, comprising Dumfries, Newton Stewart, Hawick Linden, a combined Moffat/ Annan 2nd as well as Annan 1st XV squad took to the field in a league system playing each other in 30 minute games over the afternoon.

Almost as soon as the tournament began however, with somewhat divine inevitability as in previous years the heavens opened and Violetbank was subjected to an almost continual downpour, sometimes akin to monsoon season. The weather however eventually relented to let the sun come out got the final round of games and trophy presentations.

That said, despite the conditions all the teams and players taking part took to their task with some gusto and despite some obvious weather related handling errors in places, they produced some hard fought entertaining rugby throughout the afternoon to keep the hardy souls in the crowd entertained.

In the final games with Newton Stewart having a 20 point overall lead, everything rested on Dumfries beating Annan to retain the trophy for another year, however the home side had something to say about that, coming through as winners by a converted try to Nil, with the ever present Sean Haren scoring, which was converted by skipper McCann.

And so it was Newton Stewart, deservedly took the Violetbank Shield with Dumfries just pipping Annan to take the Coupland Shield on points difference

Special mention and thoughts to Hawick Linden player Greig Baillie, who broke his leg in a collision with the Annan winger and had to be taken to hospital.

Hope your up and about soon Greig from all at Annan Rugby.

Over the afternoon, in addition to Haren and McCann the Annan scorers were, Callum Bell, Johnny Callaghan, Stewart Wylie (2) and James Kirby.

For the record the results were as follows:

1st Round - Annan 0 - Newton Stewart 10 / Dumfries 53 - Moffat 0.
2nd Round - Annan 27 - Moffat 5 / Newton Stewart 21 - Hawick Linden 5
3rd Round - Annan 0 - Hawick Linden 0 / Dumfries 0 - Newton Stewart 0.
4th Round - Dumfries 17 - Hawick Linden 5 / Moffat 0 - Newton Stewart 49
5th Round - Annan 7 - Dumfries 0 / Hawick Linden 38 - Moffat 0.

All in all a good workout for the teams taking part prior to the commencement of league and cup business this weekend.

From an Annan perspective once they had learned to adapt their game to the terrible conditions and cut out some silly lapses of concentration, there was much to admire in their play with good interaction between both forwards and backs.

If they were to repeat the intensity and commitment shown in the win against Dumfries then surely they can have no worries about what may await them in BT West 1 over the coming season.

Thanks to:

The three referees Stephen Kingston, Colin Lauder and Chris Nicol, for their sterling efforts throughout the afternoon.

Linda Jardine and LJ Residential for sponsoring the event.

and last but not least to all those volunteers who gave up their Saturday afternoon to assist at Violetbank, your all stars and I hope you didn't get too wet!