Match reports for the 1st XV

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KILMARNOCK v ANNAN
TENNENT'S WEST DIVISION 1
2ND MARHC 2019

LADS LOSE IN THE MUD

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos (opens in a new tab))

Bellsland has not been a happy hunting ground for Annan over the past seasons and Saturdays visit proved no different. In fact the last time Annan won there was in 2006 15-17 when Craig McCann dropped a goal to win the match in injury time. With both teams safe from potential relegation worries a top 6 spot at the end of the season was what both teams were playing for.

Playing in atrocious conditions of driving rain and wind Kilmarnock, playing with the elements at their backs started the brighter and immediately laid siege to the Annan line. The Annan defences held their line and the home side had to settle for a penalty 10 minutes into the game. Annan were eventually able to lift the siege and drive play well into the home half, unfortunately the visitors' lost the ball in contact and the Killie inside centre scooped it up and sprinted in for a try which was converted (10-0). With the weather conditions worsening play was bogged down between the 22s for long periods. Kilmarnock, however, once again capitalised on an Annan error and again scored an unconverted try to go into the half time break with a 15 point lead.

With the wind and rain at their back the small Annan support expected the visitors to capitalise on the elements but it was the home side who scored again 5 minutes into the half. This score perhaps was the straw that broke the camels back as a kick out of defence by the home inside centre was charged down by centre Alex Halliday only for it to fall into the hands of the home outside centre who, with the Annan backs in an attacking formation, sprinted untouched to the line for a converted try. Annan continued to battle their way into Kilmarnock territory but it was the home side who scored once again on the 60th minute to gain their bonus point.

The last quarter of the game belonged to Annan however as their forwards took control and bludgeoned their way through the mud to score two tries in the final 10 minutes. Both of the tries were scored by Annan's No 8 Sean Haren. Annan were a little unlucky not to score a 3rd try in the dying moments which could have earned them a losing bonus point. Final Score Kilmarnock 27 Annan 14.

For the neutral supporter this was, given the conditions, an entertaining game of rugby but for the Annan contingent disappointing in that they came away without a point.

On the plus side was the performance by the forwards, given that experienced prop Ryan Hetherington had to leave the field early in the first half with a recurring ankle injury which necessitated a reshuffling of the Annan front row.

The 1st XV now have a couple of weeks before their last away match of the season when they travel to Greenock on the 16th March. Nice easy away match to end with!

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, R Hetherington, N Coupland, D Robson, C Smith, D Barnes, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann (Capt), J Kirby, J Callaghan, A Halliday, A Torbett, J Whiteside.

Annan 1st XV Replacements: C Bell, D Wyllie (both used)


ANNAN v IRVINE
TENNENT'S WEST DIVISION 1
16TH FEBRUARY 2019

LADS TO DOWN TO IRVINE

Report by Gus Robertson ( Match Highlights )

After a couple of weeks break, league rugby was back on the menu at Violetbank as both the 1st and 2nd XV took to the pitch to take on Irvine Rugby.

Both Annan and Irvine 1st XV's came into this game with similar form over the past 5 games and a close game was expected.

Annan's home record v Irvine wasn't the best but they had won the last 2 meetings at Violetbank.

Irvine scored first with a drop goal after a few minutes but Annan hit back not long after thanks to a Willix try. His 100th try for the 1st XV in his 192nd game!

The rest of the half was nick and tuck. Irvine retook the lead on the 24th minute thanks to a well worked try. 8-5.

That man Willix popped up again on the 28th minute and Alex danced over for his 101st try for the 1st XV. 10-8 to Annan

And my usual line for these type of matches, there was chances for both sides but defences were on top and 10-8 to Annan is how the half ended. The 2nd half started and Irvine almost straight way breached the Annan defence with their 2nd try of the match. Converted and it was 15-10 to Irvine. The lead was short lived though as Callum Bell scored his 2nd of the season. Captain McCann with the conversion and Annan were back in front with 30 to go.

The lead changed again just a few phases later. Irvine with their 3rd try and it was now 20-17 to the Marress club. It was then 27-17 shortly afterwards when Irvine scored their 4th try. Annan needed to score next to get back into it.

Alas it was a bit of a 2nd half collapse and Irvine scored again not long after. 34-17 and the game was out of reach. Another try from Annan and a try bonus point though?

Just. In the last play of the game, Vice Captain Sean Haren crossed over for the try bonus point. Captain McCann with the conversion and the match ended 34-24 to Irvine.

A disappointing loss and that 10 minutes in the second half cost Annan dearly. But a try bonus point was well merited!

The 1st XV now have a break next Saturday and their next match is away to Kilmarnock on the 2nd March. #MonTheAnnan #MonTheWillix

Annan 1st XV: K Warrick, C Bell, R Glass, N Coupland, D Robson, D Nordon, D Barnes, S Haren, A Jancey, C McCann (C),J Kirby, J Callaghan, D Wyllie, A Halliday, J Whiteside

Annan 1st XV replacements: K Watret, S Livingston, F Laurie. C. Little (all used)


ANNAN v ALLAN GLENS
TENNENT'S WEST DIVISION 1
26TH JANUARY 2019

LOSING BONUS POINT IN THE RAIN

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos (opens in a new tab) / Match Highlights )

Annan welcomed promotion favourites Allan Glens from Bishopriggs to a wind swept and wet Violetbank on Saturday in a West 1 encounter of the Tennents Regional leagues. Glens are currently in 2nd place behind in the league but have 2 games in hand over current leaders East Kilbride who have an eight point advantage.

After Annans heavy defeat away to Glens at the end of October few but the most optimistic of home supporters expected their team to come away with anything from this encounter. Annan, however, had other ideas and right from the start drove play deep into the visitors half with a simple ploy of pick and drive that had proved so effective the previous Saturday against Stewartry. With the weather against an open attacking game favoured by both sides, both teams set in for a forwards battle of old fashioned but effective 10 man rugby.

Unfortunately for Annan it was the visitors who benefited from the forward drives when their forwards drove the ball over to score an unconverted try in the corner.

Annan fought back straight from the restart and again the simple pick and drive proved fruitful. From a scrum in the 22 the Annan forwards aided and abetted by the backs went through 16 phases of driving the ball towards the Glens line for hooker Kieren Warrick to eventually drive over to score his 3rd try for Annan 1st XV to take the score to 5 apiece.

The visitors retook the lead when their standoff slotted a penalty to extend their lead to 8 points to 5.

Half time score: Annan 5 Allan Glens 8.

With the wind at their backs in the second half Annan carried on where they had left off in the first but were unable to break down the well organised Glens defences and as in the first half it was the visitors who scored first. Again it was their forwards who drove over from a scrum on the Annan 5 metre line. This time the try was converted to take Glens into a 10 point lead at 5-15.

Annan continued to drive play deep into the visitors half but were unable to breach the whitewash. However with a penalty award to the home side in front of the posts Captain Craig McCann decide that 3 points and a bonus point were a better bet than going for a try with time running out. With the kick successful that was how the game ended.

Final Score: Annan 8 Allan Glens 15

With the bonus point Annan moved up from 6th to 5th in the league.

This was, on the face of it a game for the purist, but given the weather conditions both teams showed their rugby pedigrees and put in 80 minutes of hard graft giving their all for their cause.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, R Hetherington, N Coupland, D Robson, D Nordon, C Bell, S Haren, J Bigham, C McCann (C), D Wyllie, J Callaghan, A Halliday, A Jancey, J Whiteside

Annan 1st XV replacements: J Kirby, D Barnes, A Torbett (all used)


STEWARTRY v ANNAN
TENNENT'S WEST DIVISION 1/CHISHOLM CUP
19TH JANUARY 2019

THE LAD RETAIN THE CHISHOLM CUP AGAIN

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos (opens in a new tab) )

League points, bragging rights but more importantly the Chisholm Cup was on offer on Saturday afternoon at the Greenlaw. Annan were the holders and held a 3 point lead in the 2 leg of the match but at the Greenlaw, it was always up for grabs.

Annan have not been the best of starters this season in the league, and once again this proved to be the case as almost with the first attack of the game Stewartry scored a converted try and it was 7-0. Not the best of starts!

Frantic start but it calmed down a bit (in score...not in local derby rugby action!) for the next 15 mins or so. Annan started to get on top and some Stewartry indiscipline and a Captain McCann penalty took it to 7-3. In the Chisholm Cup Stewartry had a 1 point lead.

And it was the visitors who scored next again. Just before the half hour, in a sweeping backs move set up by some hard won territory by the Annan forwards full back Josh Whiteside made the extra man in the line to crash over for his 5th try of the season. 8-7 to Annan. But it wouldn't be the Chisholm Cup if it wasn't a bit closer and a last kick of the half penalty from Stewartry meant the black and red took a 2 point lead in the West 1 match but the black and amber still had a 1 point lead in the Chisholm Cup.

West 1 winner or Chisholm Cup winner? or both?

The second half started off better for Annan as Craig McCann kicked Annan into the lead. The lead was only momentary as the hosts hit back with two well worked backs tries with one converted which took the score to 22-11 with 25 minutes to go.

Annan hit back on the 65th minute thanks to an Adam Torbett try following some some energy sapping drives from the Annan forwards. 22-16 but Annan still losing in both competitions.

It then got better then a bit worse for Annan. A Neal Coupland converted try with 10 to go and Annan retook the lead 23-22 but just after Annan had to play the last ten minutes of the match with 14 men as Adam Torbett was yellow carded for a late tackle.

The visiting forwards put in an amazing shift in that last ten minutes play as they retained possession of the ball and playing a simple pick and drive ploy restricting the home side to minimal possession and ran down the clock to win and claim the league points and their tenth Chisholm Cup win.

This was a great advert for rugby in Dumfries and Galloway and a great derby game to watch with fantastic vocal home and away supporters adding to the occasion. Annan extended their Chisholm Cup wins over Stewartry to 10-7 and pick up their 15th win in 20 matches against the Greenlaw club.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, R Hetherington, N Coupland, D Robson, D Nordon, C Bell, S Haren, J Bigham, C McCann (C), D Wyllie, J Callaghan, A Halliday, A Jancey, J Whiteside.

Replacements: M Crombie, A Torbett, J Kirby (all used)


ANNAN v CAMBUSLANG
TENNENT'S WEST DIVISION 1
12TH JANUARY 2019

FIRST XV FINALLY GET THAT WIN

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos (opens in a new tab) / Match Highlights )

At a chilly, wet dreich Violetbank, Captain Craig McCann led out his Annan team for the 144th time and his 300th match for the 1st XV on Saturday. Annan, currently lying in 7th place in West 1 of the Tennents Regional leagues have been on a bad run of late with 4 defeats in a row. At home they have won 4 from 6 games so were looking to get a win against 8th placed Cambuslang.

And what a start, with the first attacking move of the game the hosts drove play deep into the visitor's half and centre Alex Halliday latched on to a loose pass to dive over the line to score his 9th of the season. Captain McCann converted the try and it was 7-0 after a couple of minutes. Things then calmed down and it wasn't until the 24th minute that there was change in the scoreboard despite some good chances from both sides. This time it was lock Neal Coupland who crashed over for 6th try of the season following some fine interplay between forwards and backs and a surging run by his fellow lock Michael Thompson setting him up for his try.

Cambuslang hit back not long after though with a well worked try. Converted and it 12-7 with about 8 to go until the break. Some Cambuslang indiscipline and the boot of Captain McCann made it 15-7 just before the break. However the last 5 minutes were a nightmare for Annan as they leaked two late tries and the half ended 17-15 to Cambuslang.

A big second half performance was required from Annan if they wanted end their losing streak and register their first win in 5 matches. It was a frantic start as a 2nd Coupland try and McCann conversion meant Annan retook the lead but not long after it was 22-22 thanks to a 4th Cambuslang try. However, Captain McCain kicked another penalty moments later and it was 25-22 to Annan with just 12 minutes played in the 2nd half!

Annan piled on the pressure and forced Cambuslang to concede a number of penalties. Captain McCann doesn't miss that often and today was no exception. 31-22 with about 15 to go. There were chances for both sides but some great defence from both teams meant there was no further score until the last play of the match with the seconds ticking down. From a scrum in the visitor's 22 the ball was spun along the back line and centre Alex Halliday split the Cambuslang defences to breach the whitewash for his 10th try of the season and Annan had their bonus point try and the 300th man McCann with the conversation.

Full time: 38-22 to Annan

A win is a win as they say but Annan's performance over the piece will give the Annan coaches plenty to work on over the next few weeks.

So with their four match losing streak over Annan now have some tough fixtures left in the league with Stewartry and the Chisholm Cup on Saturday at the Greenlaw.

Annan 1st XV Squad: M Crombie, K Warrick, R Glass, N Coupland, M Thompson, D Nordon, C Bell, S Haren, J Bigham, C McCann (C), D Wyllie, J Callaghan, A Halliday, Andrew Jancey, J Whiteside.

Replacements: J Kirby, D Robson, S Nicholson, A Torbett (all used)


CUMNOCK v ANNAN
TENNENT'S WEST DIVISION 1
5TH JANUARY 2019

THE BAD RUN CONTINUES

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos (opens in a new tab) )

Annan travelled to Cumnock on Saturday to continue their up and down Tennents Regional League West 1 campaign. The game was played on a brand new 4G pitch at Cumnock's home at the new Barony Campus. Annan won the home leg 42-0 earlier in the season but since then Annan's form has dipped and Cumnock's form, although lying 2nd bottom, has starting to pick up. Both teams were up for getting their 2019 rugby year off to a flyer.

The first half was a case of the teams getting used to playing rugby again after the Christmas break and the new 4G pitch and as a result, initially it was a low scoring affair.

The first score wasn't until the 25th minute and it was for the home side. Try converted and 7-0. It got worse for the black and amber as 5 minutes later, it was 12-0. Then just before half time, another Cumnock try and a Josh Whiteside yellow card. 17-0 and looking like there was going to be no improvement of form.

Annan did have the last say in the half as Captain McCann made it 17-3 with a penalty kick. Could Annan stage a second half comeback and make it a game of two halves. Unfortunately as has been the story for the last few months - no.

Cumnock scored quickly after the restart to take the score to 24-3 and the match was out of Annan's reach. And from then on it just got worse with the hosts running in several tries. Annan did manage a bit of continuity play as the forwards got their act together and firstly prop Ryan Glass breached the whitewash but the referee was unsighted and pulled the game back to the 5 metre line for an Annan penalty. The visitors took a quick tap and No 8 Sean Haren powered his way over the line to score

Annan's solitary try. Captain Craig McCann added a further penalty to take the final score to Cumnock 57 Annan 11.

So alas another defeat for the 1st XV as their poor run of form continues. And like Strathendrick a few weeks ago, Cumnock finally got their first ever win over Annan on their 6th attempt. So congratulations to them.

This was Annan's poorest display of the season so far with both forwards and backs lacking continuity in their play. In truth this was not a team display but 15 individuals turning up on the day. This display does not take anything away from Cumnock's fine performance scoring 9 tries to Annan's one.

Annan will be hoping to stop the rot when they have their first home game of the year v Cambuslang Rugby next Saturday.

Annan 1st XV Team: M Crombie, K Warrick, R Glass, M Thompson, D Nordon, D Barnes, C Bell, S Haren, J Bigham, C McCann (Capt), J Kirby, J Callaghan, A Halliday, A Jancey, J Whiteside

Annan 1st XV replacements: A Torbett, C Smith, D Wyllie, D Kerr (all used)


EAST KILBRIDE v ANNAN
TENNENT'S WEST DIVISION 1
8TH DECEMBER 2018

ANOTHER DEFEAT FOR THE LADS

Report by Niall "Baz" Smith

Annan travelled to East Kilbride for their penultimate match of 2018 bruised from the previous weeks shock home defeat to Strathendrick. The squad were determined to make amends for that loss by putting in a performance that Annan supporters expect from them. East Kilbride were also full of motivation, beating fellow title challengers Allan Glens handsomely away from home in their previous fixture.

Annan kicked off on a gloomy, moist day to the massive East Kilbride pack. Easily weighing 10kg per man more than their Annan counterparts. However, it was the Annan pack which dominated the first 30 minutes. Aggressive running and defence from the smaller side allied with clever kicking piled pressure on the home side. This resulted in a simple penalty for Craig McCann to put Annan 3-0 ahead. A couple of opportunities near to the EK line were squandered and despite all the pressure Annan could not extend their lead.

East Kilbride started to get more in the game, assisted greatly by needless penalties conceded by the away team. This allowed them to regain territory and use their big ball carriers to bludgeon over the line. Annan defiantly repelled this, but the effort and resource used left space out wide which was exposed very well by the home side to score two nice tries. Leaving the half time score East Kilbride 12 - 3 Annan.

The rain continued to come and go into the second half with Annan trying to get the impetus back from the home side. This hope was dashed when an unforced knock on inside the 22 from an aimless kick gave the big East Kilbride forwards the fillip they wanted just after half time. The sheer size and girth of the home players told forcing the away side back 1 metre at a time and eventually squeezing over for an unconverted try.

Annan responded by pushing play back into the home sides 22 but once again opportunities were not taken. Then after a delay to treat a bad looking leg injury for Harry Houdley, Annan turned the ball over in the opposition half leaving them scrambling to get back to prevent another score. They managed this, however from a 5 metre scrum East Kilbride pushed themselves over for another unconverted try giving them the bonus point. Late in the game the home kicker rediscovered his kicking boots by notching a penalty to make the score 25 - 3 to the home side, and that's how the game ended.

East Kilbride showed why after this result they were sitting top of the league. They are a big side who defend very strongly. Over the winter months they will take some stopping. However, if anyone is going to they should look at the way Annan played for large parts of this game. The whole squad was enthusiastic, committed and showed a huge amount of grit, an almost complete reversal in approach from the week before. Examples of this were Nordon, Bell, Warrick and Watret who were fantastic up front combatting the larger East Kilbride players. Yes East Kilbride have a player bigger than Kieron "2 Guys" Watret.

If Annan can continue with the same attitude for the rest of the season they will have more good days than bad. At the very least playing matches that are enjoyable to watch and take part in.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, M Crombie, R Hetherington, K Watret, D Nordon, K Warrick, C Bell, S Haren, J Bigham, C McCann (C), H Houldey, A Jancey, A Halliday, J Kirby, J Whiteside

Replacements: D Wyllie, J Crombie, M Thorburn, (all used)


ANNAN v STRATHENDRICK
TENNENT'S WEST DIVISION 1
1ST DECEMBER 2018

SHOCK LOSS FOR THE 1ST XV

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos (opens in a new tab) / Match Highlights )

Strathendrick were the visitors on Saturday afternoon at Violetbank for the 1st XV's latest Tennen''s West Division 1 match. Annan were probably just the favourites going into this game against last year's West 2 champions and had never lost to the Fintry club but Strathendrick had had the better form coming into this match so it really could have gone either way despite having been beaten 125-16 in their last game by Stewartry albeit they only had 14 players and 3 veterans in their team.

The visitors' bus had been delayed due to a road accident so the match kicked off 10 minutes late. Strathendrick were also playing in Annan's away strip as they had left their strip bag behind.

The first half was a low scoring affair with defences on top and it wasn't until almost the 40 was up before there was the first change in score. And it was the home support that had something to cheer about as prop Ryan Glass barged over for his 2nd try of the season. The half ended not long after. 5-0 to Annan but it was still anyones' game.

The 2nd half had barely started when Captain McCann made it 8-0 to give Annan a little breathing space. The next score was going to be important and it was from Strathendrick who scored thanks to a penalty try when the home scrum disintegrated. 8-7 with just over 20 to go,

Annan were looking rattled and needed to score next to calm their nerves. Alas it was not to be and at the death Strathendrick clinched the game with a penalty. Final Score Annan 8 Strathendrick 10.

This was Annan's poorest performance of the season so far with few positives - only the lineout in set piece play worthy of a mention. Annan's scrummage struggled throughout the game and in the loose the home forwards were turned over too many times at rucks. The only other positive was the fact that the visitors never crossed the whitewash which was a credit to Annan's defensive work.

So congratulations to Strathendrick, who win for the first time over Annan in their 7th attempt. Annan need to regroup and regroup fast as the 1st XV now have a tough away trip to East Kilbride next Saturday.

Annan 1st XV Squad: Ryan Glass, Kieran Warrick, Thomas Sloan, Neal Coupland, Michael Thompson, Daniel Nordon, Dwayne Barnes, Sean Haren, Harry Houlday, Craig McCann, James Kirby, James Bigham, Alex Halliday, David Wyllie, Andrew Jancey,

Replacements: Ryan Hetherington, Adam Torbett, Callum Bell, Daniel Robson. (all used).


GARNOCK v ANNAN
TENNENT'S WEST DIVISION 1
24TH NOVEMBER 2018

HEAVY LOSS FOR THE LADS

Report by Gus Robertson

After a few late call offs, the Annan 1st XV had the bare 15 players arriving at Lochshore for the early West 1 kick off versus promotion chasing Garnock.

A couple of the 15 were already carrying injuries from previous weeks so a long afternoon for the 1st XV was predicted!

And so it turned out to be. Garnock scored at regular intervals, despite some great Annan defence, and were 27 v 3 up at half time. The Annan points coming from the boot of Captain McCann.

Annan had the slope in the second half - could the lads get a try or two?

Yes, yes we could. Despite having to play with 14 players for most of the second half due to injuries, the 1st XV scored a try through the Josh. Alas Garnock scored a few more and it ended 58 v 8.

So well played to Garnock on their quest for promotion from West 1.

Not the finest of results but not much a team can do when only 15 players are available. And the 15 gave their all for the Black and Yellow/Amber/Gold (one day we will work it out!). Enjoy your pints lads and the Scotland game! You boys deserve it!

Looking around the number of games being cancelled this weekend re lack of players, looking at the National League Cup in particular, you have to wonder the wisdom of playing matches during the Autumn Internationals. The 2nd XV matches have also been hammered during this period,

Ah well, the 1st XV have to regroup and host Strathendrick rugby next Saturday at Violetbank. The 2nd XV also hopefully host Strathendrick.

Strathendrick also had a bad result v Stewartry last week but for them they had it worse than Annan and started with 14!

Onto the next one lads!

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, S Nicholson, M Thompson, D Robson, D Barnes, D Nordon, T Sloan, J Bigham, C McCann (Capt), J Kirby, S Haren, A Halliday, J Callaghan, H Houldey

Replacements: None


ANNAN v KILMARNOCK
TENNENT'S WEST DIVISION 1
10TH NOVEMBER 2018

BACK ON TRACK

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos (opens in a new tab) / Match Highlights )

Both Annan and Kilmarnock took to the Violetbank pitch, knowing that one of the teams would hopefully end their run of 2 defeats on the trot (unless it was a draw, then no one wins...)

The clubs have 200 years of rugby experience between them, so a great game of rugby was hopefully on the cards! (Kilmarnock celebrating 150 years and Annan 50) For Annan it was a changed team with 2 forward changes (and 1 positional change) and 5 back changes (and 1 position change) - so with the new faces, a change of luck coming Annan's way?

Before the match got underway there was a 1 minute silence to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1 and to all those killed in wars since then.

And for a change from the past couple of weeks, it was Annan who got off to a flyer with a Dave Wyllie try in the 3rd minute following some enterprising backs play. His first try this season on his 3rd start. And before 10 minutes was up, it was 12-0. Lock Neal Coupland barged over for his 5th try of the season following some excellent driving play by the forwards. Captain Craig with the conversion. Kilmarnock though scored not long after and it was 12-5. Not a bad start to a game of rugby! Things calmed down a bit on the scoring front and the next score wasn't until the 30 minute.

Returning from injury centre Jonny Callaghan split the visiting defences and danced and pirouetted his way to the line to score the try of the match. His 5th of the season.

Just as the half was ending, Kilmarnock nicked themselves a 2nd try to make it an interesting 17-10 at half time. All to play for still for both teams

The second half got underway and could Annan get a try bonus point? Could Kilmarnock get the equalising converted try? Would it be an Annan win, a Kilmarnock win or a draw? would there be a last minute drop goal for the win?

It took until the 50th minute until the next try. Alas for the home support it was Kilmarnock. The conversion was missed however so the home side held a slender 17-15 lead with 30 minutes to go. Annan had to score next to get the momentum back with them.

The Captain and Vice-captain led by example and on the 56th minute, Vice Captain, Sean Haren, scored his 6th of the season. Captain McCann converted 24-15 and try bonus point sealed. Could Annan hold on for the win?

It was a very nervy finish. It looked done and dusted when Annan made it 27-15 with 8 to go thanks to a Captain McCann penalty but not long after Kilmarnock got their 4th try, converted and got to within 5 points with 5 to go....but Annan held on!

So a nice, but nervy, 5 pointer for Annan to steady the ship after the last couple of defeats.

The 1st XV take a break from rugby action as next week's home match to Dalziel has been moved to the 23rd March.

The 1st XV next match is now away to promotion chasing Garnock in a fortnight. Annan did win the home leg played this season, albeit in the last play of the game so who knows!

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, R Hetherington, T Sloan, N Coupland, D Robson, D Barnes, D Nordon, S Haren, J Bigham, C McCann (Capt), D Wyllie, J Callaghan, A Jancey, C Bell, H Houldey

Replacements: K Watret, W Gray, R Gracie (all used)


IRVINE v ANNAN
TENNENT'S WEST DIVISION 1
3RD NOVEMBER 2018

GAME OF 2 HALVES

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos (opens in a new tab)

Annan travelled up the A75 on Saturday to take on Irvine who, after a poor start to their season, have now found some form especially at home. Despite the severe weather warnings in place Annan arrived at Marress to find the pitches in good condition and no rain.

For the travelling Annan support the match started with a feeling of deja vu as, like the previous week at Allan Glens, Annan were two scores down in the first ten minutes when the well drilled home forwards drove over the line from lineouts on the 5-metre line. With one of the tries converted Annan were 12-0 down in as many minutes. Not the best of starts!

And it got worse as Irvine increase their lead on the 20-minute mark when, from a forward surge they once again crossed the line to score a converted try (19-0). At this point in time it looked as if Annan were on their way to another high scoring defeat.

The visitors managed to steady the boat when from a surging run by Annan's Captain No 8 Sean Haren he set up centre Alex Halliday for a scintillating try between the posts. Stand off Josh Whiteside added the conversion.

Just before half time Annan were once again rocked back when the hosts added another converted try in the corner to take the half time score to Irvine 26 Annan 7.

Whatever was said in the half time team talk certainly had the desired effect as Annan were a different team in the second half. Irvine rarely threatened the Annan line as the visiting defences held firm.

The away forwards began to exert some set piece dominance and began to supply their backs with some quality ball to launch several attacks. From a great run down the wing by James Kirby James set up Alex Halliday for his second try as he crashed over in the corner. The conversion was missed. (26-12).

Annan continued to dominate possession and territory and as Irvine tried to break out of their 22, lock Neal Coupland ripped the ball from an Irvine forward and set up, yes that man again, Alex Halliday who, with a fair bit of work to do, crossed the whitewash with a couple of home defenders on his back. Again, the conversion was missed. (26-17).

Annan got within 6 points of their hosts when Josh Whiteside landed a penalty award from the 22. Annan were now in rampant form and in the last minutes of the game laid siege to the Invine line and from their last attack came so close to winning the game when, with the home defences in some disarray a deft cross kick was launched by centre Adam Torbett for winger James Kirby to run onto. Unfortunately, from the Annan perspective the ball bounced into touch tantalisingly inches from the hands of the winger. From the ensuing lineout the ball was booted into touch and the game was over.

Final Score: Irvine 26 v Annan 20

Once again, this was a game of two halves for Annan with the first half one Annan will want to forget! The forwards, who struggled in the first half began to find some form in the second in their set piece play.

The Annan player of the match has to be centre Alex Halliday who, with his hat trick of tries on Saturday means he is leading 1st XV for this season with 8 tries and has scored 97 tries in total in his 1st XV career in 184 1st XV appearances.

Since the 1st XV entered the national league system in 1991, Kevin Jones had scored the most tries on 94 but the tries scored by Alex this season and on Saturday means he is now the all time 1st XV try scorer since the club started in Glasgow District 2.

Congrats to Willix.

Alistair 'Babe' Graham is third on 84 tries scored since 1991 but this does not include the many tries scored by Babe when Annan were in the Border Junior League. One day I will work it all out!

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, T Sloan, N Coupland, D Nordon, D Barnes, C Bell, S Haren (C), J Bigham, J Whiteside, J Kirby, A Torbett, A Halliday, W Gray, A Jancey

Replacements: R Hetherington (used), S Nicholson, D Robson, M Thorburn


ALLAN GLENS v ANNAN
TENNENT'S WEST DIVISION 1
27TH OCTOBER 2018

BAD DAY AT THE OFFICE

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos (opens in a new tab)

The Bearyards has never been a happy hunting ground for Annan over the years, only winning there once and so it proved again on Saturday in this West 1 encounter in the Tennents Regional Leagues.

The game was only 3 minutes old when the hosts scored from a set piece move exposing Annan's defensive frailties. The hosts continuing to score tries at regular intervals throughout the game scoring 12 tries in all.

Annan did get on the scoreboard half way through the first half when Captain McCann landed a penalty award. On the stroke of half time No 8 Sean Haren powered his way over to score a well worked try. Craig McCann added the conversion to take the half time score to Allan Glens 40 Annan 10.

The second half started as had the first with Glenns adding to their mounting try tally within 7 minutes of the restart.

Annan's small travelling support were cheered when from a ruck on the 5 metre line Annan's No 8 Sean Haren, following up a great drive by lock 'Tam' Sloan, burrowed over to score. Craig McCann again added the extra 2 points.

Was a comeback on the cards? - afraid not as the hosts continued to score tries at regular intervals. The main thorn in Annan's side was Glenns' Fijian centre Ekevati who scored 5 tries - including two interceptions - and appeared everywhere on the pitch both in attack and defence.

Annan continued to battle on but were unable to threaten the home line for the remainder of the half. Both the players and travelling supporters were relieved when the final whistle went bringing Annan 3rd highest league defeat to a close.

Final Score: Allan Glenns 76 v Annan 17

All in all a bad day at the office for Annan's 1st XV. This was a bitterly disappointing result for the 1st XV especially when, on paper, this looked to be the strongest team Annan has been able to put out this season.

Annan were second best in all departments with the exception of the lineout and showed an inability to hold on to the ball and were stripped of the ball and out rucked on numerous occasions. Annan's defence, once again, looked shaky and, on occasions, paper thin. It looks as if the Annan coaches have a lot to work on in the coming weeks!

In fairness it has to be said that Allan Glenns look like potential promotion candidates this season.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, T Sloan, N Coupland, D Nordon, D Barnes, C Bell, S Haren, J Bigham, C McCann(C), A Jancey, J Callaghan, A Halliday, H Houldey, J Whiteside

Replacements: J Kirby, M Thompson, D Wyllie, R Hetherington (All used)


ANNAN v STEWARTRY
TENNENT'S WEST DIVISION 1/CHISHOLM CUP: HOME LEG
20TH OCTOBER 2018

DERBY DAY WIN

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos (opens in a new tab) / Match Highlights )

This West 1 fixture in the Tennents Regional leagues, doubling up as the first leg in the Chisholm Cup, turned out to be a cracker of a game. The game was full of mistakes but there was no lack of passion and commitment by either side in this local derby. The opening 10 minutes saw both sides trying to find a chink in each-others defences and it was the home side who were first to make the breakthrough when, from a penalty award, the ball was fed back and forwards between the Annan backs and forwards with each surge stoutly defended by the visiting defences.

From a ruck on the Stewartry line lock Michael Thompson was on hand to drive the ball over the whitewash to score. The conversion was missed. Annan continued to dominate these early exchanges with the Annan forwards driving the ball deep into Stewartry territory and from a ruck within 5 metres from the line scrum half James Bigham snuck over to score between the posts for his second try of the season. Stand off Craig McCann added the extras to take the score to Annan 12 Stewartry 0.

Annan continued to have the bulk of territorial advantage but were unable to add to their score. Just before half time a series of missed tackles allowed the visiting scrum half to score between the posts which with the successful conversion closed the half time score to 5 points. Half time score Annan 12 Stewartry 7.

Minutes into the second half Annan extended their lead when, from a visiting scrum Craig McCann intercepted the ball and set up a series of rucks. from which the ball was spun out to centre Jonny Callaghan who crashed over to score. Craig McCann added the conversion to take Annan into a 12 point lead. That lead was whittled down minutes later when from a lineout, following a penalty award, the Stewartry forwards mauled the ball over the line to score. With the conversion missed Annan's lead was reduced to 7 points.

Annan increased their lead to 10 points when Craig McCann added a penalty when the visiting scrum was penalised. That margin was once again reduced minutes later when following some woeful defensive work the Stewartry outside centre, following some great back play, scored in the corner. The conversion was missed.

That man McCann added a further 3 points from a penalty award before Stewartry again reeled in their points deficit with their fourth try when once again the home defences were found wanting to reduce the points difference to 3 points.

Annan secured their four try bonus point with the best worked try of the match when following a fine period of continuity play centre Alex Halliday latched onto a pass to score behind the posts. McCann again added the extras to take Annan into a 10 point lead with minutes to go. Game over! Not quite! The last word went to the visitors who scored a fine well worked try at the death when their winger went over in the corner. The successful conversion sent the final score Annan 32 Stewartry 29.

This was an enthralling match full of passion, excellent play and bucket loads of mistakes which all added to the thrill of a derby match. One local worthy insisted that it 'wusnie a proper derby match as there wusnie ony fechting'

Annan's plus points were in their set piece play where their scrummaging and lineouts were solid. Areas to work on for the coaches though with some of their defensive work needing improvement.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, R Hetherington, N Coupland, M Thompson, D Nordon, C Bell, S Haren, J Bingham, C McCann (C), W Gray, J Callaghan, A Halliday, J Kirby, J Whiteside

Replacements:. C Smith, D Robson, T Sloan (used), A Allison.


CAMBUSLANG v ANNAN
TENNENT'S WEST DIVISION 1
13TH OCTOBER 2018

CLOSE BUT NOT QUITE

Report by Niall "Baz" Smith

Annan travelled to Cambuslang for the second time in as many months hoping to repeat the narrow victory earned in August on cup business. Heavy rain overnight and throughout the day meant that the match had to be moved onto the narrower reserve pitch. Which meant Annan's potent backline would need to work harder for space.

Annan started the match on the attack with good hard running from the forward pack driving play into the opposition half. However, after 10 minutes a loose ball from a kick through was collected by the Cambuslang full back who broke several tackles to race away and put his winger in for a counter attack try.

Annan continued probing for gaps but excellent home defence compounded by handling errors meant they couldn't break through, only having to settle for a Craig McCann penalty.

This spurred the home side on and on the half hour mark doubled their try count making the most of some slack Annan defensive work, 14-3 to Cambuslang.

Just a few minutes later, some excellent interplay by the Annan forwards was undone when a wide pass was intercepted and Cambuslang had another score under the posts. 21-3 and Annan were facing the possibility of being out of the game before half time.

This appeared to focus some minds and Annan struck back moments later with Jonathan Callaghan scoring after a neat break by McCann who converted the try. Almost immediately later Annan were back in the home 22 pushing for another score, however they had to settle for a penalty and on the stroke of half time took the 3 points.

Half time: Cambuslang 21-13 Annan

The second half started in a similar fashion to the first with Annan's attack struggling to click. After a couple of handling errors, they were pushed back towards the line by the powerful Cambuslang scrum. From this the home number 8 strolled in for a 4th try and bonus point after 50 minutes. 28-13.

The final 30 minutes were then dominated by Annan who kept the ball in the opposition half with good tactical kicking. The line out, which was excellent all day, provided a good attacking base from which Kieron Watret smashed over for a converted try shortly after another McCann penalty, bringing the score to 28-23.

In the final 10 minutes Annan again were pressurising the home line and after concerted pressure James Bigham sneaked round the fringe of the ruck to score. Unfortunately McCann couldn't add the extras this time so the game was tied at 28 each with 5 minutes to go.

Cambuslang had a chance to kick a penalty to win with 2 minutes on the clock but inexplicably chose to go for the corner, Annan defended strongly on this occasion to hold out for a draw.

Neither side really deserved to win a rather scrappy match in difficult conditions. Annan remain unbeaten away from home this season but once again had to conjure up a fantastic come back to salvage a draw. This indicates a great resilience within the squad, but too often little handling mistakes and missed tackles put the team under pressure early on in matches.

Annan's best players on the day were Kieron Watret, Neal Coupland and Kieron Warrick who carried the ball strongly. The latter also having a good day in the line out with the returning Michael Thompson.

Annan 1st XV squad: R Glass, K Warrick, M Crombie, M Thompson, N Coupland, D Nordon, C Smith, C Bell, J Bigham, C McCann, J Kirby, J Callaghan, A Halliday, H Houdley, J Whiteside

Replacements: K Watret, D Robson. R Brown - All replacements played.


ANNAN v CUMNOCK
TENNENT'S WEST DIVISION 1
6TH OCTOBER 2018

BONUS POINT WIN FOR THE LADS

Report by Alan Robertson (Match Photos (opens in a new tab) / Match Highlights )

At a sunny Violetbank, the 1st XV took to the pitch to take on Cumnock in their latest Tennent's West 1 match on Saturday. In the first 20 it was nip and tuck as both teams tested each other's defences. Annan had a couple of chances but were kept from crossing the whitewash by some sterling Cumnock defensive work.

On one occasion it looked as if a score was a certainty as the home forwards battled to within a metre of the line only, when the ball was spun out through the backs, it was intercepted on the line and the Cumnock standoff set off for the other end of the pitch only to be kept out by some great defensive work by the home side.

It wasn't until the 23 minute that the scoreboard started ticking over and it was to Annan's benefit. From a fine piece of play through the hands Annan centre Alex Halliday broke through into the visiting 22 and he attempted a neat little kick through which was knocked on by the Cumnock fullback. From the ensuing scrum the ball was driven forward and the ball was released, from the resultant ruck, to lock Neal Coupland who powered his way over for second try of the season. The try was converted by Captain Craig McCann.

Both sides continued to attack for the remainder of the half but the score board remained at Annan 7 Cumnock 0 due in the main to well organised defences by both teams.

In the final 5 minutes Annan's full back Josh Whiteside sustained a head knock and was replaced at full back by Harry Houlday with replacement James Bigham taking over the scrum half role also Cumnock were reduced to 14 men when the visiting No 1 was penalised for an illegal clear out at a ruck.

Half Time score: Annan 7 Cumnock 0 and all to play for.

The second half started in similar fashion to the first and it wasn't until the 53 minute until the next score. And it was deja vu time, as Neal Coupland, from a ruck on the visitor's line powered his way over to score and Craig McCann added the extras to made it 14-0.

Not long after it was 21-0 when following a great break by centre Jonny Callaghan his centre partner Alex Halliday was on hand to take the scoring pass to score his 4th try of the season. Craig McCann again added the conversion.

Could Cumnock get back into the game or could Annan seal a try bonus point?

The supporters did not have to wait long for the answer as full back Harry Houldey crossed the whitewash following a fine back line attack across the pitch. His 2nd of the season. Craig McCann again with the conversion and it was 28-0.

A few minutes later Neal Coupland got his hat-trick. From a ruck in the centre of the 22 Neal received the ball and drove his way over leaving several Cumnock defenders in his wake. 5 from 5 from Craig McCann and it 35-0. Neal is now top 1st XV try scorer for the season along with Alex Halliday on 4 tries

And at the death winger James Kirby made it 40-0. Craig of course made it 6 from 6 and it ended Annan 1st XV 42 v Cumnock 0.

All in all a very satisfying victory from the Annan squad albeit a far from perfect performance with numerous handling errors but the positive points are the much improved scrummaging and improving line-out displays. Annan are trying to play a fast expansive game and with that comes high risk but these risks were thankfully ameliorated by some well organised defensive work.

Annan's Man of the Match was unsurprisingly awarded to lock Neal Coupland not only for his hat-trick but also his dynamic ball carrying display. The Cumnock Man of the Match was awarded to their live wire scrum half who was a thorn in the side of the hosts throughout the 80 minutes.

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, R Hetherington, N Coupland, D Nordon, D Barnes, C Bell, S Haren, H Houlday, C McCann (C), J Kirby, J Callaghan, A Halliday, A Torbett, J Whiteside

Replacements: D Robson, J Bigham, S Nicholson (all used)

Annan 2nd XV League game against Cumnock 2nds in West 2 of the Tennants Regional Reserve league was postponed due to the unfortunate death of one of their players during the week.

The Annan Club passes on their condolences to his family and all his friends and fellow club-mates. A minutes silence was observed prior to the 1st XV match as a mark of respect.


ANNAN v EAST KILBRIDE
TENNENT'S WEST DIVISION 1
22ND SEPTEMBER 2018

BAD DAY AT THE OFFICE

Report by Gus Robertson (Match Photos (opens in a new tab) / Match Highlights )

The Annan 1st XV team took to Violetbank pitch hoping to extend their best start to a West 1 league campaign taking on fellow 50th Anniversary club East Kilbride.

A 4th win would be the teams best start since the 2012/13 season in West 2. For those wondering, we drew the 4th game in 2015/16.

It was going to be a tough ask though against an East Kilbride team who were 30 seconds away from making it 3 from 3 themselves last weekend.

It took until the 10th minute until the first points on the board and, thanks to the boot of Captain McCann, it was for Annan 3-0.

However it was the visitors who crossed the whitewash first when 5 minutes later after some sustained pressure a well worked converted try made it 7-3.

And not long after it was 12-3 after another East Kilbride try. Not the best quarter of rugby for Annan..

But the 1st XV have been here before over the last few matches and have always came back strongly. Could they do it again?

Well no, as not long after it was 19-3 and it was looking like damage limitation for the lads.

But it was Annan who scored next though as some East Kilbride indiscipline meant the boot of McCann made it 19-6.

Any thoughts of a comeback were dampened though as a few minutes later, East Kilbride scored their bonus point try and it was 26-6.

However the home support were given something to cheer about as on the stroke of half time Captain McCann scored a great try. He also converted and so the half time score was 13-26 to East Kilbride.

The lads were 13 points down last weekend at half-time to Strathendrick and won the game, could they do it again?

It didn't look good as an early East Kilbride try made it 31-13. Game over now?

Well you would think but with 18 to go, Jonny C with his 2nd of the season scored and with Craig succesful with the conversation it was 31-20 and chances?

And a phrase that you will have never read on these reports, the next score could now prove crucial.

Annan were creating chances but the East Kilbride defence was on top and with a few minutes to go East Kilbride scored their 6th try to take the score to 36-20 and thats how it ended.

Congratulations to East Kilbride who now have a chance of going top next week as the other teams at the top are playing in the Shield.

As for Annan, the 1st XV take a break and a chance to regroup as their game v Greenock Wanderers has been put back until next year as Greenock are still in the Shield.

Annan's next match is at home to Cumnock on the 6th October - 3 wins from 4 is still a decent return though!

Annan 1st XV Squad: R Glass, K Warrick, R Hetherington, D Nordon, D Robson, C Smith, C Bell, S Haren, H Houldey, C McCann(C), J Kirby, J Callaghan, A Jancey, A Torbett, J Whiteside

Replacements: M Carpenter, S Nicholson, M Crombie, (used) M Thorburn (not used)


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, R Brown (all used), C 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
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.