All previous match reports etc can be found at the Archive page.
STRATHENDRICK v ANNAN
TENNENT'S WEST DIVISION 1
15TH SEPTEMBER 2018
3 FROM 3 FOR ANNAN
Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos (opens in a new tab))
Annan travelled to Fintry on Saturday to take on Strathendrick in their West 1 fixture in the Tennents Regional Leagues. The Annan squad was a little depleted from the previous Saturdays squad with injuries and unavailabilities but were up for the challenge. Strathendrick who had a big victory in their last home match against Stewartry were eager to consolidate their home advantage and in the first half the hosts well drilled pack of forwards held sway against the visiting eight providing ample possession for their standoff who had a bit of an armchair ride behind his dominant pack.
Annans backs, when they had possession, looked quite dangerous and came close on a number of occasions but the home defences held firm. Strathendricks forward domination paid dividends and they scored three tries ( 2 converted) before half time. Annan, through the boot of Captain Craig McCann cut the points deficit by 6 points from penalty awards to take the half time score to Strathendrick 19 Annan 6.
The half time team talk must have been something to behold as Annan came out in the second half like a different team. The forwards in particular began to hold their own and slowly gained the upper hand in the forward exchanges, especially in the set piece. With some surging runs from by the visiting back row aided and abetted by the battering ram that is prop Keiron Watret Annan laid siege to the home line and from a ruck on the home 22 the ball was spun out through the backs with centre Jonny Callaghan breaking three tackles to score in the corner. Craig McCann added the conversion and it was game on at 19-13.
As Strathendrick visibly wilted as Annan kept up their attacks it wasnt long before the visitors added to the score when, from a speculative kick through the advancing defensive line prop Ryan Glass latched on to the bouncing ball to crash over in the corner untouched. Craig McCann, with a difficult kick from the touchline, put Annan into a slender I point lead. With 7 minutes of the game remaining Strathendrick knew they had to drive play into the Annan 22 and hope for a drop goal or penalty opportunity to win the game.
The home side threw everything into attack in an attempt to win the game and as so often happens in that situation they left their defences vulnerable to a counter attack. From a promising Strathendrick attack in the Annan 22 centre Alex Halliday intercepted a pass and set off for the home line. With half the home side after him he evaded capture and scored under the posts. Craig McCann again added the extras. A couple of minutes later the whistle went for the end of the game and Annan had their third win in a row with 2 on the road!
So a game of two halves as the football pundits say. Annans set piece play in the second half improved and some may say won the game for them. However it was a team performance with some fine individual performances. In the forwards wing forward Callum Bell made a solid return after his nuptials and Kieron Watret, on his introduction, at prop, in the second half, steadied the scrum. All the backs had a solid game with Josh Whiteside beginning to play himself into the role of full back. The lineout however will be a source of concern for the coaches especially with lock Michael Thompson our for a few weeks with a shoulder injury.
Annan 1st XV squad: M Crombie, K Warrick, R Glass, N Coupland, M Thompson, D Nordon, C Bell, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann(C), D Wyllie, J Callaghan, A Halliday, J Kirby, J Whiteside
Replacements: C Smith, K Watret, (both used) D Ferguson, D Robson (not used)
Annan 2nd XV conceded their game against Strathendrick 2nds as they only managed to travel with 10 players. They did however have a development game over two twenty minutes sessions. Star of the day has to be Gavin Graham who travelled from Bute via ferry, train, bus, 3 mile walk and a lift to turn out for the 2nds at Fintry. Some players take note!!
ANNAN v GARNOCK
TENNENT'S WEST DIVISION 1
8TH SEPTEMBER 2018
2 FROM 2 FOR ANNAN
Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos (opens in a new tab) / Match Highlights )
Annan 1st XV finally started at home for the new season, with a league match v Garnock. After last weeks great away victory v Dalziel hopes were high that Annan could get a 2nd win under their belt. Garnock, however had inflicted one of Annan heaviest home defeats in their visit last season so it was going to be an interesting match up!
For the first quarter of the game it was defences on top and it wasn't until the 22nd minute that the whitewash was crossed, when from a ruck on the 22, the ball was spun out to centre Alex Halliday who split the visiting defences to score his second try of the season. Standoff Craig McCann added the extra 2 points.
But as sometimes happens when you score, the opposition hit back straight away and it was 7-5 a few minutes later.
And it was looking like that was going to be the half time score, but a well worked Garnock move resulted in an unconverted try to take it to 10-7 with a few minutes until half time. To make matters worse for the hosts winger Andrew Jancey was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on and from the resulting lineout the Garnock pack drove over the line and it was 17-7 at half time. Not a great last 5 minutes of the half!
Annan realised that a big second half effort was required especially being down to 14 men for a good 8 minutes or so. Their half time team talk paid dividends when from a lineout on the Garnock 22 the ball was fed along the back line where full back Josh Whiteside, coming into the line at pace, cleaved the visiting defensive line in two and crashed over the line to score his second try of the season. Craig McCann added the conversion. 17-14 and game on again!.
However, just when Annan got back to 15 men, Garnock scored their 4th try, converted and it was 24-14. The next score was going to be vital for both teams and fortunately for the home support it was the home side.
From deep in the Annan half with Garnock attacking their inside centre spilled the ball which was quickly recycled along the back line with replacement Adan Torbett making a fine break down the touchline, found lock Michael Thompson on his inside who, with an overhead basketball pass, found prop Ryan Hetherington who crashed over the line to score to take it to 24-21 on the 60th minute. Craig McCann with the conversion and as the game went into the final quarter it was still anyones game.
Annan came close on numerous occasions but the Garnock defence held firm and it looked like the game was going to end in a glorious defeat for Annan. Annan so often over the last couple of seasons have been unable, when in the lead, to close games off but this time with time running out the chance of a win seemed to be fading but with the last play of the game, following a quickly taken penalty award the ball was floated out to full back Josh Whiteside who with a great run crashed over to take the score and the win 26-24! and a 5 pointer to boot!
All in all a terrific win for Annan with the star of the show full back Josh Whiteside, not only the youngest player on the field but also the Clubs top points scorer to date.
Annan 1st XV: R Glass, 2 K Warrick, 3 R Hetherington, 4 N Coupland, 5 M Thompson, 6 D Nordon, 7 D Barnes, 8 S Haren, 9 H Houlday, 10 C McCann (C), 11 A Jancey, 12 J Callaghan, 13 A Halliday, 14 J Kirby, 15 J Whiteside.
Replacements: 16 A Torbett, 17 C Bell (both used)
DALZIEL v ANNAN
TENNENT'S WEST DIVISION 1
1ST SEPTEMBER 2018
GREAT AWAY WIN
Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos (opens in a new tab))
On a grey dreich day at Dalziel Park Annan took to a perfect pitch against Dalziel, relegated from National 3 last season, in their first game of the season in West 1 of the Tennents Regional Leagues.
In a typical first game of the new season both sides looked a little edgy as they each tested each other out. Annan had the balance of possession and territory in the first half and had several chances as they battered their way to the line but the home sides dynamic defences allied with Annan spurning several opportunities when overlaps opened up in their attacks kept the visitors at bay.
Annans forwards had to be rejigged in the 3rd minute of the game when prop Ryan Gracie had to retire with a leg injury with No 8 Ryan Hetherington moving into the prop position.
Just when it looked that the half would end scoreless, a speculative kick by the home standoff was knocked on over the dead ball line. From the ensuing 5 metre scrum the ball was recycled allowing the Dalziel No 4 to crash over to score a converted try to take the half time score to Dalziel 7 Annan 0.
The second half continued as a continuation of the first with both sides battling to gain the upper hand. Both sides continued to make life difficult for themselves with numerous handling errors and taking wrong options.
17 minutes into the half and it all changed when centre Alex Halliday, from well inside the home half, burst through the home defences and sprinted towards the Dalziel line. It looked as if he would make it by himself but as the Dalziel full back closed in on him he slipped the ball to lock Michael Thompson who drove over the line to score. Full back Josh Whiteside hit the outside of the post with his conversion attempt.
Annan continued to have the edge in the territorial and possession stakes and on the 75th minute Alex Halliday again burst through and with a deft kick ahead looked as if he was certain to score when he was tackled and held without the ball and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty try which Josh Whiteside converted.
Minutes later following another handling mistake behind the Annan line the Dalziel winger, following on from the 5 metre scrum, looked to in at the corner only to be driven into touch at the corner flag by an textbook tackle by full back Whiteside.
From the lineout the ball was driven by the forwards up the centre of the pitch and when they were stopped the ball was recycled in the ensuing ruck and standoff Andrew Jancey set off, evading several tackles on the way to score between the posts.
The final whistle went a couple of minutes later and Annan had secured a fine away win to launch their league campaign in West 1.
Final Score: Dalziel 7 v Annan 19.
Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, R Gracie, N Coupland, T Sloan, D Nordon, S Haren (Capt), R Hetherington, H Houldey, A Jancey, J Kirby, A Torbett, A Halliday, M Thorburn, J Whiteside
Replacements: C Smith. M Thompson, Ross Brown (all used), Calum Grant (not used).
CAMBUSLANG v ANNAN
TENNENT'S WEST SHIELD
18TH AUGUST 2018
LAST GASP WINNER
Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos (opens in a new tab))
Annan travelled to Cambuslang in the Preliminary Round of the SRU West Regional Shield. At a grey drizzly Coats Park both teams served up an exciting, nail biting (for the Annan supporters!), 80 minutes of error strewn but pulsating rugby. To use the oft used footballing phrase this was a game of two halves!
For the first 10 minutes of the half the visitors were pinned in their own 22 as the hosts launched a series of concerted attacks which were repulsed by some solid defensive work by the visitors and unforced errors by the hosts.
The deadlock was broken when prop Ryan Hetherington latched on to a loose ball and went on one of his now trademark 'breenging' runs. He made it to the Cambuslang 22 before being brought down, the ball squirted out to the side of the tackle only to be hacked on by scrumhalf Harry Houdney who won the race to the line to score. Standoff Josh Whiteside added the conversion.
Next up to score was lock Neal Coupland who, despite the attentions of several defenders, drove his way from the home 22 to score an unconverted try, Five minutes later, from a scrum 5 metres from the Cambuslang line the Annan pack drove the ball over the line for No 8 Sean Haren to be awarded the try. Some of the supporters present weren't born the last time an Annan scum scored a push over try!!
Annan continued to press for another score and it was centre Alex Halliday who answered the call with a superb solo effort breaking out of the Annan half, breaking a couple of tackles to sprint over to score an unconverted try to take the half time score to Cambuslang 0 Annan 22.
The half time Cambuslang team talk must have been quite inspirational, as despite being down to 14 men after 5 minutes when one of their players was yellow carded, the hosts scored a converted try to reduce the points deficit. As Annan were digesting their defensive frailties Cambuslang scored again to further reduce the deficit by 7 points and Annan looked to be on the ropes.
Their hosts looked to have landed the knockout punch when Annan's defensive frailties were further exposed when Cambuslang scored a further two tries to take the lead by 2 points (24-22). With two minutes on the clock Annan launched an attack driving play into the home 22 and were awarded a penalty just inside the 22.
Cometh the hour cometh the man as centre Jonny Callaghan strode up to take the kick at goal. Although the kick looked simple enough the pressure on Jonny must have been immense but he slotted the ball between the sticks with consummate ease to win the match.
Final Score: Cambuslang 24 Annan 25
This was not one of Annan's finest performances especially in the second half with some defensive work and lineouts an obvious concern for the coaches. However a win is a win and Annan now move on the first round of the SRU Regional Shield proper against Oban Lorne this Saturday at Oban.
Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, R Hetherington, T Sloan, N Coupland, D Barnes, C Smith, S Haren (C), H Houldey, J Whiteside, J Kirby, J Callaghan, A Halliday, M Thorburn, A Torbett
Replacements: M Crombie, C Taylor, A Jancey, R Brown (all used)
ANNAN v CARLISLE
50TH ANNIVERSARY TROPHY
11TH AUGUST 2018
OPEN GAME OF THE SEASON
Report by Alan Robertson (Match Highlights / Match Photos (opens in a new tab))
At Violetbank on Saturday Annan Rugby welcomed Carlisle Rugby to celebrate Annan's 50th anniversary game. Carlisle had been one of the first clubs to play Annan in 1968 albeit not at 1st XV level.
On a perfect day for rugby both teams provided a try fest for the large crowd of supporters who turned up to enjoy this historic event. 16 tries were scored over 20 minute quarters alas for Annan they scored four with their visitors scoring the other twelve. The margin of the win for Carlisle exemplified the gulf between the two clubs.
The Annan club unveiled their specially designed 50th anniversary playing shirt which will feature throughout the coming season.
Annan's youth section formed a guard of honour with the Annan team being led out by Team Mascot Ian 'Tam' Thorburn who has played for the club for the past 40 years and intends to play in the coming season.
This may have been seen as a one-sided affair in some spectators' eyes, but Annan contributed immensely to this game with some fine fast running rugby which resulted in four excellent tries through No8 Sean Haren (2), wing forward Callum Bell and scrum half Josh Whiteside. Josh's try which was created by a superb break by prop Ryan Hetherington from well within his own half. Ryan was stopped short of the line and the ever alert scrum half Josh took his opportunity to score his first 1st XV try.
All in all this was a highly entertaining game of rugby and, despite the final score line, proved a valuable exercise especially for the home club with several fringe players making their 1st XV debut.
The 50th Anniversary Trophy was presented to the Carlisle captain by the new
SRU Board Member Adam Gray.
Club President Gary Coupland thanked the sponsors of the 1st XV Anniversary playing shirt St James Smokehouse, The Shed, and H & I Engineering for their continued support and to Annan Distillery who had come on board as additional sponsors for the next three seasons.
Annan Squad: Craig McCann (C), Sean Haren (VC), Callum Bell, Stewart Wyllie, Ryan Hetherington, Ryan Glass, Neal Coupland, Max Thorburn, Kieran Warrick, James Kirby, David Wyllie, Daniel Nordon, Callum Smith, Alex Halliday, Josh Whiteside, Ryan Gracie, Cory Park, Adam Torbett, Callum Grant and Daniel Robson
ANNAN AT THE MOFFAT TENS
28TH JULY 2018
SEMI FINAL FOR THE LADS
Report by Gary Coupland (Match Photos (opens in a new tab))
On Saturday 28th July, a 14 man squad of Annan senior players travelled to Holm Park, Moffat to take part in Moffat Rugby Clubs Annual 10 a side tournament in their first outing of the 2018/19 season.
The competition was run in two Group stages, with Annan's group (A) consisting of Walkerburn, Oban Lorne and Stewartry and Group B comprising Biggar, Dalkeith, Dumfries and Wigtownshire
Annan's first pool game was against Walkerburn and from the outset Annan were very competitive and aggressive running in a couple of early scores against the Borders outfit through Captain Sean Haren and Tom 'the machine' Sloan. Harry Houldey adding one conversion.
Annan continued to dominate and Tom Sloan added his second a couple of minutes later followed by an excellent individual try from Andrew Jancey., both of which were converted by Harry Houldey, who was beginning to get his range with his nice new pink designed boots.
Next up was Oban Lorne and the Annan boys upped there game again against a similarly aggressive hard running team, Annan eventually dominating the breakdown area which resulted in scores by Tom Sloan, Alex Halliday and Andrew Jancey with ' new boots' Houldey converting all three.
In the final group game Annan came up against local rivals Stewartry and lost their no points against status midway through the match when Stewartry scored a converted try nearto the posts following some poor attempts at tackling by Annan in the midfield area.
Annan then upped their work rate and were subsequently rewarded when 2nd row Neal Coupland burst through the centre of the Stewartry defence, with a couple of defenders hanging onto him to score between the posts. New boots Houldey adding the conversion to even the game up at 7 a piece where it remained until the final whistle.
This result meant Annan were the winners of group A and progressed to the semi final stage of the main competition where they were drawn against local rivals Dumfries who finished as runners up to Biggar in the group B section of the draw.
In the semi final, Annan seemed to take a bit longer to get fully up to match speed which, combined with some poor tackling and support at the breakdown resulted in Dumfries getting a couple of early converted tries.
Captain Haren then took centre stage and through some good individual skill scored between the posts, converting his own try to reduce the deficit to 7-14.
Further poor communication and tired legs allowed the Dumfries wing to run almost the length of the pitch to score a third try for Dumfries which was again converted to reinstate the their 14 point cushion. Stung by this Annan upped their game and pulled a further two unconverted tries back through prop Ryan Glass and Scrum half Andrew Jancey to reduce the deficit to 4 points.
As it looked like Annan may be gaining the upper hand, they were the architects of their own demise when an opportunistic Dumfries player pounced on some poor communication and support at the breakdown area, to pick up an unprotected ball and run in for a very soft try which was duly converted and secured Dumfries a place in the final against Biggar.
All in all a reasonable day at the office for the majority of the Annan lads who at times played some impressive aggressive running rugby in their first outing of the season.
If they can sustain the pace and momentum shown in some of these games for a full 80 minutes then they will be a handful for anyone in the forthcoming league campaign.
Thanks to hosts Moffat Rugby Club for an excellent tournament and great hospitality and see you all again next year.
Annan Squad Sean Haren, Neal Coupland, Tom Sloan, Ryan Glass, Jack Ogilvie, Max Thorburn, Craig Wilson, James Bingham, Dave Wylie, Alex Halliday, Daniel Robson, Callum Bell, Harry Houldey, Kieron Warrick.
Team Manager - Andy Copland.