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Violetbank Trophy

ANNAN 95 v ALLAN GLENS 0
SATURDAY 28TH APRIL 2007

Photos from game

Annan completed their league campaign on Saturday at Violetbank with a comprehensive victory over an Allan Glens side who, despite the score, never stopped battling for the full 80 minutes. Saturdayís game also saw one of Annanís stalwarts Billy Henderson retire from 1st XV rugby after a spell of the best part of 20 years playing for the club. In honour of the occasion Billy led the team out and although he didnít score during the match he showed why he has been a regular 1st XV member for all these years.

Annan started the game with an immediate attack on the visitorsí line and were rewarded with a penalty which centre Craig McCann slotted with some ease. This was followed minutes later by some rampaging play by the home forwards which saw No 8 Michael Scott burst free to score on the left. Annan continued to play fast entertaining rugby for the remainder of the half with Michael Scottís try followed by tries from winger Jonny Callaghan, replacement full back Andrew White, a further try by No 8 Michael Scott, centre Craig McCann and full back Kevin Jones. Craig McCann added 4 conversions to take the half time score Annan 41 Ė 0.

In the second half Annan provided more of the same, and although there was a lull in the game half way through the half, they scored a further 8 tries with No 8 Michael Scott scoring his hat trick with centre Alex Dunbar also scoring three with Kevin Jones, Andrew Jancey, Paul Carruthers and Graham Hogg adding one apiece which added to Craig McCannís 7 conversions took the final score to Annan 95 Allan Glens 0.

All in all this was a fine display by the home side where all of the tries were well crafted and where each one had to be worked for as the visiting side, to their credit, refused to lie down to the Annan onslaught on their line with some determined defensive work.

Annan can now take a well earned rest after a long and protracted league campaign and with promotion secured following last seasonís relegation and a good Cup and Shield run can look forward with some confidence to rugby in Division 1 next season.

Annan Team: C Warrick, P Carruthers (C), S Kelly, B Henderson, G Hogg , B Blower, N Moffat, M Scott, K Hogg, N Smith, A Jancey, C McCann, A Dunbar, J Callaghan, K Jones Replacements: J Nelson, A White (both used)

CAITHNESS 3 v ANNAN 12
SATURDAY 21ST APRIL 2007

Photos from game

Annan have played better games this season but fewer have been as hard fought and as satisfying as this last away fixture in Thurso. It has been a highly successful season for the Violetbank team and despite having to shuffle their playing personnel on this occasion, Annan were in determined mode as they sought to continue their excellent away record.

The first half was a tight affair, with Annan managing to repel any Caithness threats with some excellent tackling and cover. A penalty from Craig McCann gave Annan the lead and even in the early stages it was clear that Caithness were going to have problems breaching the away defence. Despite one or two drives and a hack through which went over the dead ball line, Caithness lacked the penetration to trouble Annan and even with the half-time score at 3-3, the away team was already in control. Alex Dunbar, freshly back from his experience with Scotland Under 17ís and playing his last game as a 16-year-old, made some excellent surges through the Caithness back division and was unlucky not to score after beating four men and being stopped just short of the line.

On a tight pitch, Annan played controlled rugby in the second period and Caithness were frequently pinned back in their own 22 by some excellent line kicking from stand-off Niall Smith. The Annan tackling and pressure was immense with scrum half Keith Hogg and Michael Scott leading the way with big tackles. Scott was also causing problems for the home side by getting across the field and unsettling their back division.

The statistics will show simply that Annan scored a further three penalties from the boot of Craig McCann to give the Dumfriesshire team a 12-3 victory. However, this performance was much more accomplished than the score line suggests. It was a match characterised by Annan commitment, cohesion, determination and discipline. They forced Caithness into making errors and every Annan player put in a great shift. Billy Henderson tormented the life out of the Caithness forwards and Colin Warrick made big yards throughout the match. Andrew Jancey tackled about 5 stones above his weight and a special mention must be made of the two Annan dťbut boys, Conor Trant and Neil Latimer who more than played their part. Latimer rolled back the years by replacing Graham Smith for a crucial 20 minute period in the second half and did the Club proud!

After a 700 mile round trip, this was a highly satisfying result as Annan concluded their away campaign and they will be pleased to have climbed up a league, thus avoiding the lengthy treks to Inverness and Thurso next season. They will now be looking forward to finishing the season in style tomorrow at Violetbank against Allan Glenís.

Annan team: C Warrick, P Carruthers (C), J Crombie; S Kelly, G Hogg; W Henderson, M Scott, G Smith (N Latimer); K Hogg, N Smith; C Trant, C McCann, A Dunbar, A Jancey; J Callaghan

ANNAN 30 v IRVINE 42
SATURDAY 14TH APRIL 2007

Photos from game

Annan crashed out of the SRU Shield on Saturday at a sunny Violetbank to a slick Irvine side, just promoted to the Premiership, but not before they had given them a real battle. The last time these two teams met was in 2003 at Murrayfield in the SRU Bowl final when Annan left with the silverware. With both teams playing a similar wide game an exciting game was anticipated and the good crown who turned out were not disappointed.

Annan started off brightly and immediately drove play into the visitorís half but made life a little difficult for themselves with some sloppy play with dropped passes and knock ons. From a turnover at a ruck Irvine spun the ball wide to their left winger Muir who sprinted a full 50 metres to score. The Irvine full back Stewart landed the conversion. Annan hit back immediately and were rewarded with a penalty award which was gratefully accepted by centre Craig McCann to take the score to 3-7.

Minutes later following another turnover at a ruck cost Annan dear when once again the ball was quickly transferred along the backline for their full back Stewart to score in the corner. Stewart also converted his try to take Irvine into a 14 points to 3 lead. At this moment in time the Annan supporters could have been forgiven for thinking that their team was going to be on the end of a drubbing.

However the Annan team were not going to lie down and slowly worked their way back into the game. Craig McCann reduced the points deficit with a well struck penalty which was cancelled out minutes later by a similar award to the visitors. Then from a quickly taken tap penalty the home forwards drove the ball over the line with flanker Neil Moffat credited with the touchdown. Craig McCann added the extra two points to take the score to 13-17.

Annan continued to dominate possession and territory at this time and from a scrum stand off Niall Smith made a break through the mid field and switched the line of attack and centre Michael Griffen powered over the line to score. McCann again added the extras and Annan were in the lead for the first time in the game. Irvine were now rattled and just before half time with the ball won at a lineout Niall Smith launched a high garryowen and when the visiting 14 failed to gather the ball centre McCann gathered the spilt ball to sprint over to score. He also added the conversion on the stroke of half time to take the score to Annan 27 Irvine 17 at the break.

In the second half Irvine had most of the territorial advantage and they started their fightback with a penalty by their fullback awarded when Annan standoff Niall Smith was adjudged to have pulled down a maul an offence that cost him a yellow card and 10 minutes in the sin bin. Annan, with a man short, held out for a full nine minutes before Irvine following a fine break by their No 8 Filanders set up full back Stewart for a score which he also converted to tie the score at 27 points all.

Annan retook the lead with a penalty by McCann which was cancelled out by Stewart to once again tie the scores at 30 points all. The last ten minutes of the game belonged to the visitors as they scored two tries. The first originated from a scrum thirty metres out from the Annan line Irvine No 8 Filander fed the ball to winger Muir coming in off his left wing and his angle of run opened up the defence for a score near the posts. Stewart converted. The final Irvine try and Muirís hat trick came with five minutes left to play. From a loose ball, the Irvine forwards recycled and two passes along the three-quarter line found Muir who rounded a tiring Annan defence to secure the victory 42 points to 30.

Albeit a disappointing result for Annan this was an extremely exciting and entertaining match which showed that Annan should be able to hold their own in Division 1 next season.

Annan Team: C Warrick, P Carruthers (C), S Kelly, B Henderson, G Hogg , M Scott, N Moffat, G Smith, K Hogg, N Smith, A Jancey, C McCann, M Griffin, J Callaghan, K Jones Replacements: J Nelson, B Blower, A Dunbar, R Gracie (all used)

LANGHOLM 3 v ANNAN 12
SATURDAY 7TH APRIL 2007

Photos from game

It wasnít pretty but it was a historic victory for Annan at a sunny Milntown on Saturday when they beat Langholm on their own patch for the first time. The younger players on the Annan side were probably a little bemused as to why so much store was put on this win but for some of the older Annan players and supporters this was more than just progressing to the quarter final of the SRU Shield competition but the breaking of the Milntown hoodoo. It is quite simple Annan had never, until Saturday that is, beaten their hosts at Milntown. The game itself was riddled with errors and scrappy play but nevertheless provided an exciting match for the large crowd who turned out in the April sunshine to witness the contest. Annan went into an early lead when they were awarded penalty when the home forwards handled in a ruck which was added to later with another award when the Langholm backs were adjudged offside. Both penalties were successfully kicked by centre Craig McCann. One could be forgive in thinking that Annan held the balance of play at this time but in fact it was Langholm who held the territorial advantage for large tracts of the first half. Fortunately for the visitors the Langholm kicker was having an off day as he missed with several attempts although he was on target with one and the teams went into the half time break with the score at Langholm 3 Annan 6.

If the first half had territorially belonged to the home side the second belonged to the visitors. The quality of play was similar to the first half but Annan were making greater inroads into Langholm territory with the back row, in particular, driving play towards the home line. Annan came close a couple of time to breaching the whitewash but some great Langholm defensive work kept the attacks at bay. Annan were rewarded however when they profited from another penalty award which was slotted by Craig McCann. McCann sealed the victory in the last ten minutes when he landed another penalty from just inside the Langholm half to take the score to 3-12 meaning the home side needed to score twice to win. Annan held on to their lead to the final whistle to win.

Not a classic then but a hard ground out victory for the Annan team. Lots of mistakes but also played with lots of pride. The Annan scrum and lineout creaked on several occasions but in the loose, in the second half in particular, Annan held sway with the back row of Graham Smith, Neil Moffat and Michael Scott operating well in the loose. Neil Moffat also showed his promise with a fine, if altogether unexpected, line kick in the second half which left his team mates shell shocked. The backs lacked an incisive edge but full back Kevin Jones did create some problems for the Langholm midfield defence with his mazy runs.

All in all a satisfying result which sets up Annan with a quarter final game this Saturday at Violetbank against Division 1 leaders and promoted Irvine.

Annan Team: C Warrick, P Carruthers (C), S Kelly, B Henderson, G Hogg , M Scott, N Moffat, G Smith, K Hogg, N Smith, A Jancey, C McCann, M Griffin, J Callaghan, K Jones Replacements: J Nelson, B Blower, A Halliday (all used)

ANNAN 28 v CAITHNESS 6
SATURDAY 31ST MARCH 2007

Photos from game

Annan left it late into injury time to score the bonus point try which raised the roof ) at Violetbank (if it had had one) to give them the vital extra point which means First Division rugby returns to Violetbank next season. The nervousness of the Annan team as they tried to settle to the task of gaining promotion to Division 1 of the SRU National Leagues was self evident from the start of this game when the ball was knocked on from the drop out. The visitors from Thurso looked the more composed in the opening exchanges and in fact took the lead in the opening minutes when they were awarded a penalty when the home backs were caught offside. Annan however worked their way back into the game with some excellent driving play by their forwards but were often let down by some careless passes and knock ons when the line was beckoning. Their efforts were eventually rewarded however when they were awarded a penalty in front of the posts when the Caithness forwards handled in a ruck. Centre Craig McCann slotted the kick to tie the scores at 3 all. Annan continued to keep the play in the visitorís 22 and had some chances to score but were denied by some excellent defensive work by the Caithness team. Eventually a deftly flighted chip ahead off the boot of stand off Niall Smith allowed full back Kevin Jones to win the race for the touchdown for an unconverted try. The visitors hit back with some fine driving play of their own and were unlucky not to score as they attacked the Annan line following a lightening break by their inside centre. Although unable to breach the home whitewash they did secure a penalty award to take the score to 8-6. From the restart Annan again drove play deep into the Caithness half and again were rewarded with a penalty to stretch their lead to 11 Ė 6. On the stroke of half time Annan had a scrum well inside the 22 and No 8 Graham Smith with a pick and drive released stand off Niall Smith who with a deft sidestep left the Caithness defences flatfooted to score. Half time score Annan 16 Caithness 6.

Annan started with more purpose in the second half, playing into a stiff northerly wind. They were awarded a penalty in the early exchanges which, held up in the wind, just fell short of the line. Centre Michael Griffen was most alert and was unlucky when he was unable to gather the loose ball to score what looked to be a certain try. Annan continued to press their visitorís line with several players coming close to scoring but it was left to veteran lock Billy Henderson to score when he was fed a delightfully flighted pass by Niall Smith who had opened up the well organised Caithness defence. With the third try scored Annan seemed to stall and allowed their visitors back into the game with a fine spell of attacking rugby of their own. To Annanís credit they kept their defensive shape and denied Caithness a chance to score. With the visitorís onslaught repulsed the home team finished the stronger looking team but as the clock wound down it looked as if Annan would need a point from their two remaining games to clinch promotion. When following an attack on the Caithness line the ball was knocked on and the visitors were awarded a scrum on their five metre line Annanís chances of gaining the bonus point seemed to have disappeared but a heel against the head set a drive for the line by centre Michael Griffen who was stopped short. From the ensuing ruck Michael managed to extricate himself from the ruck pick up the ball and drove over to score the vital bonus point try which means that Division 1 rugby returns to Violetbank next season. With the final whistle following the failed conversion attempt the celebrations began. Final Score Annan 28 Caithness 6.

In the forwards the back row took the plaudits with Michael Scott again having an outstanding game with Niall Smith having a fine game at stand off.

Annan 1st XV squad: C Warrick, P Carruthers (C), S Kelly, B Henderson, J Nelson, M Scott, N Moffat, G Smith, K Hogg, N Smith, A Jancey, C McCann, M Griffin, J Callaghan, K Jones Replacements: G Hogg, B Blower, A Halliday (all used)

ANNAN 25 v LINLITHGOW 14
SATURDAY 24TH MARCH 2007

Photos from game

After their previous weeks superb display against Premier 3 side Ellon in the SRU Shield competition the large home support at Violetbank on Saturday were looking forward to a similar display against the visitors from Mains Park and for 40 minutes they were treated to a great display of flowing attacking rugby. Annan ran the ball with skill and purpose and were able to breach the visitorís first line defences time and time again but some resolute last ditch tackling kept Annan from breaching the whitewash. However scores did come with perseverance and some patience.

Annan were awarded a penalty when on one of their drives in the Linlithgow 22 the visitors were penalised for handling in the ruck. Centre Craig McCann slotted the award. Annanís first try came when the ball was moved at pace from a ruck along the back line and No 8 Graham Smith lurking in the line careered over the whitewash to score an unconverted try. Annan continued to set the pace and some superb breaks by outside centre Michael Griffen should have added to the try tally but unfortunately he lacked support and his efforts went unrewarded. Annan were rewarded however when following a surging run from Graham Smith the ball was hacked on and eventually gathered by winger Andrew Jancey and from the ensuing ruck flanker Neil Moffat acting as scrum half sent a floating pass to centre Michael Griffen who, when tackled, offloaded the ball to full back Kevin Jones who sprinted over to score behind the posts. Craig McCann added the extra two points and added a further penalty before halt time. The visitors, however, just prior to half time showed that the were not to be underestimated as an attacking force as they, after a concerted attack on the Annan line were most unlucky not to score when their winger was adjudged to have hit the corner flag in the act of scoring. Half time score Annan 18 Linlithgow 0.

At half time the talk amongst the supporters was whether Annan could earn a bonus point which has proved so illusive to them throughout this seasonís campaign. The 2nd half was only minutes old when a fumble by the Linlithgow scrum half at a ruck was pounced upon by his opposite number Keith Hogg who hacked on the ball over the try line and won the footrace to score the try. McCann again added the extra 2 points to take the home side into a healthy 25-0 lead. With the best part of half an hour at their disposal everyone assumed that it would be only a matter of time before Annan earned their bonus point. Linlithgow however had other ideas and they set about attacking their hosts at every opportunity. Their efforts were rewarded when their prop Edment intercepted a loose pass to scamper half the length of the pitch to score. A feat he had also performed at the away game in October. The Redís second try came from a scrum 5 metres from the Annan line with the visiting scrum half catching the Annan backrow napping and scampered in to score a converted try. Full time score Annan 25 Linlithgow 14

All in all this was a game of the proverbial two halves with Annan convincingly winning the first half and the visitors winning the second. It was a little disappointing for the supporters that Annan could not get the bonus point but before the match most Annan supporters who had witnessed the away game between the two clubs would have been happy to settle for the win.

In the backs it was heartening to see centre Michael Griffen back to his old self after his injury and young wingers Andrew Jancey and Jonny Callaghan showing up well. In the forwards the back row were imperious in the first half with No 8 Graham Smith worthy of his Man of the Match award from the match sponsors the British Nuclear Group.

Annan 1st XV squad: C Warrick, P Carruthers (C), S Kelly, B Henderson, J Nelson, M Scott, N Moffat, G Smith, K Hogg, N Smith, A Jancey, C McCann, M Griffin, J Callaghan, K Jones Replacements: G Hogg, B Blower, G Lynch (all used)

ELLON 27 v ANNAN 28
SATURDAY 17TH MARCH 2007

With Ellon sitting 5th in Premier 3 and at the end of a four hour car journey, this was always going to be a testing challenge for the Annan side. On a bright but breezy day, Ellon started strongly and good early pressure caught Annan offside at a ruck and allowed Ellon to take a three point lead. This was as good as it got for the home side for the next half hour as Annan dominated with the lineout reigning supreme and the scrummage even taking a few against the head.

From an initial break by flanker Michael Scott, a high tackle by Ellon was penalised and centre Craig McCann slotted the resulting penalty. Almost immediately from the re-start a deep kick was chased by winger Andrew Jancey who bundled the hapless defender into touch on the home 22. From the lineout the Ellon backs were caught offside and once again McCann supplied the three points. Ellon 3 Annan 6.

With Annan increasing the pressure and the home side having difficulty in dealing with the dynamic Annan running lines, a score was coming. From a scrummage 20 metres out, scrum half Keith Hogg scampered down the blind side to feed Jancey. When he was stopped short, the ball was quickly re-cycled and after prop Steve Kelly committed the mid-field defence, the ball was spun to Jonathan Callaghan on the left wing to score in the corner. The conversion was missed. Ellon 3 Annan 11.

Straight from the re-start, stand off Neil Smith put up a high ball which the Ellon full back failed to deal with and centre Michael Griffin scored unopposed under the posts. McCann added the conversion. Ellon 3 Annan 18

With half time approaching, the Ellon number 13 brought them back into the game when he outstripped the Annan defence to score in the corner and with the conversion being successful, the score was Ellon 10 Annan 18. In injury time, a harsh decision of a late tackle against Annan gave Ellon a further chance to reduce the deficit. This was taken and a half time score of Ellon 13 Annan 18 was very flattering to the home side.

The referee was actually heard at half time inquiring as to which side were indeed from the Premiership. The second half started with Ellon upping their game but neither side could gain any significant advantage and kicking for territory was the order of the day. As the half wore on, Ellon were awarded a penalty for handling in the ruck and from the resulting lineout, the home forwards drove over the line. With the conversion, Ellon nosed in front for the first time since the early exchanges. Ellon 20 Annan 18.

Annan went back in front when Craig McCann struck an excellent penalty into what was now becoming a gale. Ellon 20 Annan 21. With the game drawing to a close, the Ellon backs swept down field and the right winger was put free to run behind the posts for a seven pointer to give the home team the lead again. Ellon 27 Annan 21.

Ellon could smell victory and piled on the pressure. With seconds to go, they were awarded a scrummage on the Annan line and at this time the small contingent of Annanites on the touchline thought the game was over. With the last play of the game, the Ellon stand off for some inexplicable reason threw a long miss pass which was intercepted by Annan full back Kevin Jones. With everyone looking on in stunned astonishment, he proceeded to sprint the 100 metres being chased all the way by the Ellon winger. His usual fluent running style started to show cracks at about 80 metres but he hung on to score under the posts. The referee awarded the try and stated that time was up. Ellon 27 Annan 26. It was left to Craig McCann to kick the simple conversion if anything is simple in a situation such as this. He held his nerve and Annan ran out winners by 28 to 27.

Wow! What a game. An excellent away win against a team going well two divisions above Annan. This shows that when Annan concentrate and work as a team, they have the individual and collective talent to live with Premiership clubs. It would be unfair to single out any individuals but credit must go to Kevin Jones for finding the energy to sprint 100metres at the end of a gruelling game of rugby and the forwards must be commended for never taking a backward step and producing quality ball from both tight and loose aspects. The only unfortunate part of the day, was that while his team were doing him proud, Coach White was heading home in a recovery vehicle after car problems on the way up. Unlucky Kenny but I'm sure Kevin will be happy to tell more than once about the final try. The journey home flew past. In the next round of the Shield, Annan are away to Langholm on April 7th.

Annan 1st XV Squad: C Warrick, P Carruthers, S Kelly, B Henderson, (G Hogg), J Nelson (B Blower), M Scott, N Moffat, G Smith, K Hogg, N Smith, A Jancey, C McCann, M Griffin, J Callaghan, K Jones

FALKIRK 33 v ANNAN 13
SATURDAY 3RD MARCH 2007

Back in October, Annan produced a stirring performance when they outgunned Falkirk at Violetbank. This time around, it was the league leaders who turned in a performance which shows why they merit being top of the table and indeed they clinched promotion on their home patch on a day when Annan only really performed in the second half. At the inappropriately named Sunnyside, where both teams encountered difficulties on an extremely glutinous pitch, Falkirk started very strongly and put Annan under pressure from the kick-off.

An early score was not long in coming. Following quick ruck ball, play spun left to Morrell who outstripped the Annan cover on his left wing to sprint in at the corner. Falkirk were bringing their backs into play at every opportunity in the early phases and winger Morrell delighted the home crowd with a try which was a virtual carbon copy of his first touchdown. At this stage, Annan seemed edgy and didnít look comfortable on the ball. This lack of assurance was in direct contrast to a home side which had their tails up and who were superbly orchestrated by stand-off Mark McKenzie who was certainly setting the home backs in motion and pinning Annan back with some astute touch kicking.

Annan conceded two more tries before half time and the manner in which they conceded both scores was disappointing. A midfield defence which has performed heroics all season was found lacking when missed tackles allowed scrum half Henderson and outside centre McAllister in for scores which could have been avoided. Annan did claw back a converted penalty from McCann but, with three of Falkirkís tries converted by McKenzie, Falkirk were in the driving seat with a comfortable 26-3 half-time lead.

Annan started the second half in determined fashion, but the game was put out of their reach when winger Morrell scorched down the left wing once again to complete his hat trick. For the remainder of the half, Annan produced the sort of rugby which had been lacking in the first period. They took the game to Falkirk, their midfield defence was resolute and their fitness certainly showed in the final quarter. Alex Dunbar scored a good try for the Violetbank side and Andrew Jancey displayed courage and strength to score in the corner following some good interplay which began with some excellent work from scrum half Hogg who had worked tirelessly all afternoon.

Annan could have had more scores with a bit of good fortune and more sympathetic refereeing, but in truth they had left themselves a mountain to climb by having defensive frailties exposed in the earlier part of the match. Nevertheless, their battling qualities, typified by an excellent performance by young substitute Ewan Braid, were admirable and they had Falkirk under the cosh for a considerably part of the second half.

Annan have four league matches left and their fate is very much in their own hands. Three of these games are at home and promotion beckons if the Violetbank side can dig in, tighten up the defence and reproduce the assured performances which have become their trademark this season. At the end of the day, three defeats out of seventeen matches is a pretty good report card to date - and the finishing line is just about in sight!

Annan Team: C Warrick, P Carruthers (C), S Kelly, G Hogg, M Carpenter, W Henderson, N Moffat, G Smith, K Hogg, N Smith, A Jancey, C McCann, A Dunbar, A Halliday, K Jones. Replacements: J Callaghan, J Nelson, E Braid (all used)

ANNAN 22 v KILMARNOCK 0
SATURDAY 17TH FEBRUARY 2007

Photos from game

Annan knew after their earlier meeting at Bellsland that their visitors would prove a bit of a handful upfront and so it proved to be in this Division 2 encounter of the BT National Leagues. The game was moved to the Everholm which was a bit firmer underfoot than Violetbank and a healthy crowd enjoyed the game in warm sunshine for the most part of the game.

It had been expected that the lighter, younger and speedier home team would play a wide game and wear their heavier and more experienced - in the forwards anyway Ė visitors down and in the first 10 minutes and that is exactly what they did. However the Kilmarnock defenses stood firm in the opening encounters and Annan were unable to make the most of their possession and territorial advantage. Annan then seemed to retreat into their shells and Kilmarnock with their limited 10 man game made it very difficult for the home team to get their hands on the ball and the match developed into a pick and drive contest as the visitors tried to rumble their way to the Annan try line. Annan to their credit held firm and repelled rolling maul after rolling maul which seemed to be their visitorís only tactic. Luckily for Annan the visiting stand off had not brought his kicking boots and missed two easy penalty awards and it was the home side who led at half time by a finely struck penalty from the boot of centre Craig McCann awarded when the Kilmarnock forwards transgressed at a ruck.

No doubt words of wisdom were spoken by the Annan coaches at the break as Annan came out in the second half and played the type of game they should have been playing in the first. It was not long therefore before the slick looking home backs let loose and with a simple move the ball was moved through several pairs of hands and full back Kevin Jones coming into the line at speed cleaved through the visitorís despairing defenses to score a terrific try. The conversion was missed by Craig McCann.

Annan were now in full control of the match and although Kilmarnock tried to impose their style of play on the game when in possession Annan were not to revert to their first half errors. The Annan back row were now pillaging at will and set up some excellent ball for their backs.

Annanís second try when it game was, in its way, a bit of a classic. Centre Alex Dunbar made one of his now trademark breaks through the centre, skillfully kicked the ball through the advancing Kilmarnock back line. He had to hack the ball on again as the bounce did not play into his hands. The ball bounced back of the upright and he was first there to pick the ball up and touch the ball down for the try. Craig McCann added the extra two points. By this time Annan were in total control and it wasnít long before they added to their try count when from a scrum in the visitorís 22 when No 8 Graham Smith, with a simple move from his pick up at the base of the scrum, set his backs off on a simple move with the ball moved to replacement winger Jonny Callaghan who scored in the corner despite the attentions of his opposite number. Craig McCann converted the try with a magnificent kick from the touchline. Although Annan continued to strive for the fourth try they were unable to gain the illusive bonus point.

This was a workmanlike performance from Annan and whilst things did not quite go to plan in the first half they kept their heads and adjusted their game plan in the second halt to overcome what has to be said was a one dimensional Kilmarnock side. This was a good team performance from the Annan squad but once again scrum half Keith Hogg took the honours as the match sponsor APDís Man of the Match.

Annan 1st XV: C Warrick, P Carruthers (C), S Kelly, G Hogg, M Carpenter, W Henderson, N Moffat, G Smith, K Hogg, N Smith, A Jancey, C McCann, A Dunbar, A Halliday, K Jones Replacements: J Callaghan, K Watret,E Braid (all used)

ANNAN 22 v STEWARTRY 14
SATURDAY 3RD FEBRUARY 2007

Photos from game

After a fraught week when it looked as if they might have to travel to Caithness, Annan were mightily relieved that the SRU Championship committee agreed to the Clubís request to play the re-arranged fixture against Stewartry instead. The fixture, as well as being a league match, had the added incentive of also being for the Chisholm Memorial Cup. Whilst Stewartry have never beaten Annan in the leagues they were the current holders of the Cup and lead the series 5 to 3.

The game was played in a heavy mist which made it difficult for both teams and even more difficult for the hardy spectators who had turned out to watch. Both teams tried to make light of the difficult conditions but it was the home side who had the balance of play in the first half although it took them 20 minutes to open the scoring. From a series of rucks the ball was fed to centre Alex Dunbar who sliced through the mist and the visiting cover defence to score in the corner. Centre Craig McCann converted the try from the touchline.

McCann added a further three points late on in the half when the Stewartry forwards were penalised for being offside at a ruck to take the half time score to Annan 10 Stewartry 0.

Whilst the home sideís play was error strewn Annan continued to have the balance of play but it was the visitorís who scored first in the half when their forwards mauled their way over the line to score a converted try. With the score at 10 Ė 7 there was an element of edginess in Annanís play as the visitors upped their game. Annanís nerves were eased when wing forward Michael Scott drove up the middle of the park and popped the ball to centre Alex Dunbar who once again cleaved his way through the Stewartry defences to score. Although Craig McCann missed a relatively easy conversion he atoned for his miss minutes later. From another series of drives from a lineout the ball was slipped out of the tackle to McCann who chipped the ball over the advancing Stewartry backs, gathered the ball and scored between the posts. He was on target with the conversion to take the home side into a healthy 22 -7 lead.

The last word however went to the visitors when their inside centre intercepted an inside pass, when Annan were trying to run the ball out of defence, to score under the sticks. The conversion was the last act of the game and Annan had gained the league points and regained the Chisholm Cup as well. The Cup was presented to Annanís Club Captain Paul Carruthers by Jimmy Chisholm the son of the late Peter Chisholm a former President of Annan RFC.

Annan team: C Warrick, P Carruthers (C), M Carpenter, W Henderson, J Nelson, M Scott, N Moffat, G Smith, K Hogg, N Smith, A Jancey, C McCann, A Dunbar, J Callaghan, K Jones. Replacements: E Braid, G Hogg (Both used)

HOWE OF FIFE 15 v ANNAN 15
SATURDAY 27TH JANUARY 2007

Photos from game

Duffus Park in Cupar was in remarkably good shape for this crucial league fixture. It was a match which Howe of Fife were desperate to win to keep within striking distance of the top three teams. There were some lively opening exchanges from both teams, each capable of playing good opening rugby, and Annan got into top gear early on to pose the home team some real problems. A great break by Graham Smith could have led to the opening score but no-one was on his shoulder at the vital moment. The first try wasnít long in coming after a spell of concerted pressure from Annan. Following turnover ball from a ruck, the ball was taken on by Michael Scott who went to ground and laid the ball back to Billy Henderson lurking on the wing who drove on for a fine score.

Annan were playing fluid rugby in the opening quarter with good handling and plenty of possession. To the fore was Colin Warrick with some bullocking runs and Kevin Jones was looking sharp after a lengthy lay-off. Craig McCann slotted a penalty and this was followed by a trademark Alex Dunbar try. From a ruck just over half way, Alex Halliday fed the ball to the young outside centre who set off on a mazy run, leaving five Howe defenders in his wake in the process of completing a brilliant individual score which McCann converted with ease. Annan were flying at at this stage, looking sharp and anticipating a comfortable victory. Instead of turning the screw and capitalising on their early enterprising play, they seemed to retreat into their shell and allowed Howe of Fife to get back into the game. A phase of possession from the home team pinned Annan back in their own 22 and a missed tackle allowed Imrie to come in off the wing to score under the posts. Annan went in 15-7 ahead at half time ruing the fact that they had lacked that killer instinct at 15-0 ahead, letting the pace of the game drop in the process.

The second half was a disappointing one from an Annan point of view, with Howe of Fife coming much more into the game and forcing Annan to play on the back foot for lengthy spells. Annan did have clear-cut chances to score nevertheless. Two good attacking moves across the backs came to nothing in the end with the final pass going astray. Annan began to give the ball away too cheaply and were putting themselves under pressure by missing touch and allowing players to become isolated in attack, thus giving away unnecessary penalties for not releasing. Howeís second try was a pretty soft affair. A kick ahead was not cleared and winger Imrie pounced and sped in to narrow the score to 15-12. Annan looked like hanging on but gave away a penalty in the final few minutes which was well converted by Turpie to give the home side a draw. The feeling in the Annan camp was that this was two points dropped rather than two gained. The opening twenty minutes were as good it gets in terms of exciting, handling rugby but Annan have got to show a bit more ruthlessness when they are in the ascendancy.

Annan team: C Warrick, P Carruthers, S Kelly(J Crombie); W Henderson, J Nelson(B Blower); M Scott, N Moffat, G Smith; K Hogg, N Smith; A Halliday, C McCann, A Dunbar, A Jancey(J Callaghan), K Jones

ANNAN 26 v DUNFERMLINE 29
SATURDAY 20TH JANUARY 2007

Photos from game

What a cracker of a Cup game this proved to be with Annan, as National 2 underdogs, against the favourites Dunfermline from Premier 3. The game was moved to Annanís old hunting ground at the Everholm, thanks to the efforts of the Annandale Sports & Leisure Trust as Violetbank was still waterlogged.

Annan started the game with a gusting wind at their back and repulsed the initial surge by their visitors and launched attacks of their own. Whilst the initial opening skirmishes were scrappy Annan were rewarded for their driving play with two penalty awards in quick succession which centre Craig McCann slotted with some ease despite the gusting wind. The home side, to most onlookersí surprise, were more than matching their more illustrious opponents in most facets of the game with the back row in particular looking most impressive in the loose. From a scrum well into the Dunfermline 22 a finely executed back row move, involving an inside pass from scrum half Keith Hogg to No 8 Graham Smith saw Smith glide in for a try behind the posts which McCann converted. Annan were playing a wide, controlled game which had their visitors in some disarray. From a gathered ball in Annanís 22, centre Alex Dunbar, instead of heeding cries from the touchline to kick for touch, set off on a breenging run through the visitorís midfield defenses. He fed prop Colin Warrick who in turn offloaded to winger Andrew Jancey who made 30 metres before tackled and found that man Warrick on his inside Ė where he came from is anyoneís guess. Warrick with an surprising turn of pace looked as if he might score but realizing he wasnít going to make it popped the ball to wing forward Neil Moffat who in turn fed right winger Alex Halliday who had come across from his wing to sprint in to score behind the posts. Once again McCann obliged with the extras. With Annan 20 points to nil up the supporters of both sided were more than a little shell shocked. Five minutes from the end of the first half Dunfermline launched an attack down the right side of the pitch which saw their winger Low score an unconverted try in the corner. Annanís reply was swift and from their next foray into the visitorís 22 they were awarded a penalty which McCann again converted to 3 points. Half time score Annan 23 Dunfermline 5

The half time discussions centered on whether the home side had a big enough lead having to play into the teeth of the gusting gale conditions. Dunfermlineís answer was swift with their substitute winger Wallace scoring a converted try under the posts with embarrassing ease. Annan, despite the conditions, to their credit still tried to play a fast, flowing, wide game but were punished when the Dunfermline centre Kaisa intercepted a loose pass in the Annan midfield to score under the posts. McColl was again on target to take the score to 4 point difference. A second try from Wallace 10 minutes later put the visitors into the lead for the first time in the match; McColl added the conversion to make it 23 - 26 with 10 minutes to go.

Minutes later Annan were awarded a penalty 40 metres out and just to show that God was an Annan man on Saturday the sun came out and the wind disappeared for the kick as it sailed between the posts to tie the score 26 all. As the kick bisected the posts the sun vanished and the gale returned worse than ever! Dunfermline were not to be outdone however and with the game slipping towards extra time the visitors were awarded a penalty on the right side of the pitch and McColl judging the gusting wind superbly, with a magnificent kick he sent the ball sailing between the posts to take the final score to Annan 26 Dunfermline 29.

Whilst a disappointing result for the Annan side and their supporters everyone who was there came away with the knowledge that they had witnessed a terrific game of highly entertaining rugby given the conditions. Every player gave their all with the prop Colin Warrick deserving of special, mention along with the back row of Neil Moffat, Graham Smith and Michael Scott outstanding with the latter this correspondents man of the match.

Annan team: C Warrick, P Carruthers(C), S Kelly, B Blower (J Nelson), W Henderson, M Scott, N Moffat, G Smith, K Hogg, N Smith, A Jancey (G Lynch), C McCann, A Dunbar (A White), A Halliday, K Jones.

GARNOCK 13 v ANNAN 3
SATURDAY 6TH JANUARY 2007

This was always going to be a closely contested affair, with Garnock the only team to have defeated Annan in the league Ė back in September at Violetbank. Annan started strongly and it was clear from the outset that they wanted to play the brand of running rugby which had seen them winning twelve out of thirteen league encounters to date. They had the lionís share of possession in the first quarter but failed to pierce a resolute Garnock defence. The first score was certainly against the run of play. Garnock stole an Annan line-out and the ensuing passage of play saw them spin the ball across the backs, culminating in the winger touching down in the corner. Garnockís second try began with a scrum against the head, followed by a speculative kick ahead. The Annan defence was caught sleeping and in a scramble on the line the Garnock number 7 just managed to get his fingers to the ball to touch down. This was cruel luck on an Annan team which had played by far the best rugby in the first half. The heavier Garnock pack had relied to a great extent on the driving maul Ė not very pretty, but effective nevertheless. Craig McCann slotted a penalty to make the half-time score 10-3 to the home side, a score line which Annan barely deserved.

The contrast in styles of play continued throughout the second half, with Annan looking threatening but there were uncharacteristic handling errors by the backs who were not firing on all cylinders. To be fair, the backs were not receiving great ball, this largely due to the fact that Garnock killed the ball time and again and this, frustratingly, was not being penalised. As the game progressed, Garnock just looked that bit sharper in the forwards, especially in the loose, but Annan gave their all and were unlucky that the ball went to ground at crucial moments as they continued to build attacking moves together. Garnock managed to deny Annan a bonus point with a drop goal from stand-off Jacobsen who has now amassed an incredible 2710 points for the home team.

This was a disappointing defeat for Annan, although they can take heart from the fact that theirs was the more attractive style of play. For once, though, the lucky breaks just werenít there and the error count was a bit higher than usual. The most fascinating contest was between the two scrum halves, McCrorie of Garnock and Annanís Keith Hogg who both had excellent games.

Annan must now focus on the campaign ahead. With Garnock closing to within one point of Annan and Linlithgow continuing to pick up points, a home win is a must for the Violetbank side against Allan Glenís this Saturday.

Annan 1st XV: C Warrick, P Carruthers, J Crombie, W Henderson, G Hogg, M Scott, N Moffat, G Smith, K Hogg, A White, A Jancey, C McCann, A Dunbar, M Griffen, N Smith Replacements: M Carpenter, B Blower, A Halliday

ANNAN 16 v HIGHLAND 6
SATURDAY 16TH DECEMBER 2006

After Annanís terrific display at Canal Park in September, when they ran in 5 tries in an emphatic 44-7 win, one would have thought that a five pointer home win would have been on the cards. However since then Highlandís performances have improved considerably and though they lie fourth from bottom they have given their opposition a hard game on most occasions.

With both pitches at Violetbank deemed unplayable this Division 2 match in the SRU National Leagues was moved to Annan Academyís pitch and a healthy pre Christmas crowd enjoyed a mixed bag of rugby with both teams attempting to play open rugby albeit punctuated with handling errors and the referees whistle. In the opening quarter Annan, playing down the slope and with the wintry sun at their backs, laid siege to the Highland line and were rewarded with a penalty when a Highland forward handled in a ruck. Centre Craig McCann slotted the three points with some ease. The home side continued to press on the visitorís line and looked to have scored when from a deft kick through the Highland defences by winger Andrew Jancey, standoff Andrew White appeared to win the race to touch the ball down in the dead ball area. The referee chalked the try off deeming that it had been touched down outside the field of play. Annan were denied again minutes later when centre Alex Dunbar got the ball down on the line, unfortunately the referee was unsighted and again chalked off the score. Annan were not to be denied however and from the ensuing 5 metre scrum scrum half Keith Hogg darted over to score with Craig McCann adding the extra two points. McCann was on target again in the final minutes of the half with a penalty award to take the score to Annan 12 Highland 0 at the half way mark.

Highland started off the second half with some purpose and using their very handy Fijian centres to some advantage created several problems for the usually solid Annan defences and were rewarded eventually with a penalty when the home backs strayed off side. Annan hit back almost immediately and were awarded a similar penalty which Craig McCann duly slotted to maintain a 13 point lead. The home side continued to have the upper hand but were unable to breach the well organised Highland defences. On one occasion in the later stages of the game however a grubber kick behind the advancing visiting defences allowed winger Alex Halliday to win the sprint for the line unfortunately he knocked on in the act of grounding the ball. The visitors had the last say in the game when they slotted a further penalty to take the final score of Annan 16 Highland 6.

So no bonus point performance by Annan but another workmanlike if uninspiring display by the squad. The forwards worked hard and whilst their normally secure lineout stuttered in delivery they compensated for this by disrupting the Highland lineout on several occasions. Their scrummaging however grew stronger as the match progressed as the opposition tired with a couple of strikes against the head to their credit. The backs did not appear as penetrative as usual but this may have been due to the smaller pitch which is several metres narrower than the full sized Violetbank pitches. However this was another win for the Annan side who remain in second place in the league six points behind Falkirk but with a game in hand over the leaders.

Annan now have a break from league rugby over the festive period with the return match against Garnock at Lochshore on the 6th of January eagerly anticipated as Garnock are the only team to beat them this season. The Annan Committee and players would like to take this opportunity to wish all their supporters and sponsors a Merry Xmas and best wishes for 2007 and look forward to their continued support for the rest of the season.

Annan 1st XV Squad: C Warrick, P Carruthers (Capt), J Crombie , G Hogg (M Carpenter), J Nelson (K Watret), W Henderson, M Scott, G Smith, K Hogg, A Smith, A Jancey, C McCann, A Dunbar, J Callaghan (A Halliday), N Smith

ANNAN 76 v STRATHCLYDE POLICE 3
SATURDAY 9TH DECEMBER 2006

Photos from game

Annan made it to the 4th round draw for the SRU National Cup for the first time after a comprehensive victory over Strathclyde Police (aka the Men in Black) in their 3rd Round encounter at Violetbank on Saturday. Annan scored 12 tries without reply in an exciting duel in the wintry sun. After a week of heavy rain there was some doubt if the game would go ahead as the Violetbank pitches were waterlogged but with some work the main pitch was deemed playable on Friday afternoon and although heavy both teams managed to make light of the conditions as they played some entertaining running rugby.

With the Police playing in West League Division 2 Pool 1, which they sit atop, some 3 leagues below their hosts and despite the obvious gap between the teams it took the home side 10 minutes to break down the Police defences and score their first try. The ball was run out of the Annan half in a sparkling backs move instigated by stand off Andrew White who when stopped offloaded the ball on his inside to winger Andrew Jancey who scored beside the posts.

For the rest of the first half tries came at regular intervals for the hosts. Centre Alex Dunbar side stepped his way to the line after the ball was turned over at a lineout in the visitorís 22; winger Andrew Jancey scored his second when full back Niall Smith swept into the line to provide the overlap and Jancey sent the Police fullback the wrong way with a deft sidestep; scrum half Keith Hogg was next on the score sheet when, from a No 8 pickup at the base of the scrum, some fine inter-passing between No8 Graham Smith and the scrum half sent him in for a score; Graham Smith himself provided the next when he popped up in the outside centre position to take the scoring pass; centre Alex Dunbar scored his second try from turn over ball at a ruck in the home half and ran through some paper thin defences to score; wing forward Michael Scott set up the next score when from the drop out he received the ball and drove play deep into the visitorís 22 and from the ensuing ruck full back Niall Smith came into the line to score; the last try of the half was scored by centre Craig McCann when, with some excellent handling the ball was moved from one side of the pitch to the other, he changed the angle of attack to breach the whitewash untouched. McCann added the conversion of his own try and 6 of the others to take the half time score to Annan 54 Strathclyde Police 0.

In the second half the visitors upped their game with their hosts seeming to take their foot of the pedal somewhat. Annan lost their shape for the third quarter of the match as they played more as individuals rather than the team ethic. Normal service was resumed eventually when from a loose ball won on the ground by wing forward Neill Moffat the ball found its way to winger Alex Halliday who popped the ball up to No 8 Graham Smith who strode in for his second try. The Men in Black had their best spell of the match after this score and were rewarded for their efforts when an Annan forward were penalised for handling in the ruck which the converted into 3 points. Annan hit back almost immediately as they increased the intensity of their play and scored the best try of the match when from a lineout the ball was fed with some speed through forwards and backs hands to Alex Dunbar who burst through the visitorís last line of defence despite the attention of three of Strathclydeís finest to score his hat trick.

Annan continued to dominate in the final quarter of the match and finished off in some style, firstly with a try from prop Steve Kelly who galloped in from 30 metres out after driving through a ruck and the final try completed Graham Smithís hat trick when, after some incisive backs play and deft handling, he again found himself in the backs line and swept over to score. Craig McCann converted one of the tries to take the final score to Annan 76 Strathclyde Police 3.

All in all this was a fine performance by Annan in difficult underfoot conditions where they ruled the lineout and were half a metre quicker in the loose. Only in the scrums and in the mauls did the home side find life a little more difficult against a well drilled Police pack. The Annan backrow were outstanding with No 8 Graham Smith possibly the best ball carrier on the pitch and scrum half Keith Hogg and centre Alex Dunbar the pick of an excellent backs performance. However the outstanding Annan player for this correspondent was wing forward young Michael Scott who covered every square inch of the pitch both in attack and defence.

Annanís win did have a price however with both Neil Moffat and Bruce Blower injured and out of the reckoning for a couple of weeks.

Annan Team: J Crombie (M Carpenter), P Carruthers (Capt), S Kelly, G Hogg, B Blower(J Nelson), M Scott, N Moffat, G Smith, K Hogg, A Smith, A Jancey, C McCann, A Dunbar, G Lynch (J Callaghan), N Smith

DUNS 7 v ANNAN 31
SATURDAY 2ND DECEMBER 2006

Photos from game

With Duns lying bottom of National Division 2 Annan had the chance to break their sequence of losing games at Hardens Field, and this they did in some style. Showing greater determination and skill Annan eventually overpowered Duns to record a valuable bonus point on a day when two of their challengers lost ground.

Despite some heavy rain before kick off, the ground was in good condition and the rain stayed away for the entire game, while there was just enough wind to give the advantage to the team kicking ďdown hillĒ. Duns had this advantage in the first half, but it was Annan who dominated both territory and possession. That the game was scoreless after 20 minutes was due to over-eagerness on Annanís part, fumbles, errors and some doughty defending. The breakthrough came shortly after. Pressure on the Duns line then saw the ball moved smartly left for centre Alex Dunbar to power through for the try. Craig McCann converted.

Smiles on the Annan supporters faces were soon removed, however, when the Duns outside centre intercepted a loose Annan pass inside his own half and made off for the posts. An easy conversion leveled the scores and led to a few jittery moments as Duns attempted to pressure Annan in their own half. Nerves were settled near half time. Again the ball was taken up to the Duns line, and again moved left to find prop Colin Warrick wide. His thrust for the line failed, but the irrepressible Neil Moffat was on hand to scoop up and dive over. McCann made an excellent job of the difficult conversion for Annan to lead 14-7 at the break.

If Annan had dominated the first half, they were in even greater control in the second. Occasional Duns sorties usually found them kicked back inside their own 22, and as the home side tired, Annanís open play began to create gaps. Neil Moffat got his second, after scrum half Keith Hogg had nipped round the blind side of a ruck on the left. His third try was an excellent one, on the end of a good passing movement on the right. After beating one man he shot through a gap in the Duns defence like a back. McCann converted to give Annan a clear 26-7 lead, and with four tries Annan had their bonus.

Annanís final try came from debutant replacement left wing Jonathan Callaghan, who squeezed in after some crisp handling from Keith Hogg and Niall Smith. There is no doubt Annan were up for this game, and there was some good play all round. The set pieces were strong, Graham Smith a tower of strength in the lineout. Defence was solid and handling often a delight to watch. There were a number of occasions on which overlaps were spurned which might have led to further scores, and awareness of this will no doubt be in the coachesí minds.

For ďman of the matchĒ, from several contenders, it has to be flanker Neil Moffat. Not only did he get his hat-trick, but his all round eagerness and skill with ball in hand made the wee one a tormentor in chief of luckless Duns.

Annan team: C. Warrick (J. Crombie), P. Carruthers, S. Kelly, G. Hogg (J. Nelson), B. Blower, M. Scott, N. Moffat, G. Smith, K. Hogg, N. Smith, A. Jancey (J. Callaghan), C. McCann, A. Dunbar, M. Griffin, G. Lynch.

ANNAN 18 v GLASGOW ACCIES 0
SATURDAY 11TH OCTOBER 2006

When the pitch inspection was made on Saturday morning little did anyone expect that Violetbank would be deluged with rain for the best part of three hours thereafter which along with near gale conditions made for difficult conditions come the kick off. Both teams however tried to make light of the dreadful conditions and when possible attempted to play open running rugby in this Division 2 match in the SRU National Leagues.

In the first half both teams had their moments as play was driven from end to end with the heavier visiting forwards just holding the edge in the mauls but the home side looking sharper in the loose and in the lineouts where they made life extremely difficult for the visitors. Annan had considerable possession in the first half but were unable to drive home their territorial advantage, until that is a driving run by prop Colin Warrick took play within 5 metres of the Accies line. When from the ensuing ruck the Accies forwards prevented fair release of the ball centre Craig McCann was on hand to slot the penalty award. Whilst both teams slogged it out in the mud for the remainder of the half this ended the first half scoring. Half time score Annan 3 Glasgow Accies 0

The second half saw the home side begin to exert sustained pressure with Accies contained for the most part within their own half. The pressure eventually told as Accies conceded a number of penalties within kicking range of Craig McCann who slotted one and was extremely close on a couple of other occasions. Although coming close on several occasions both through forwards and backs moves Annan were unable to breach the home defences until within the final 10 minutes of the game from a scrum the ball was worked to centre Alex Dunbar who eluded the despairing tackles of the Accies defences to score. Craig McCann added the extra two points.

Annan continued to retain possession and with a series of driving plays became encamped within the Accies 22. From a series of rucks play the ball was spread left and then right and when scrum half Keith Hogg became trapped at the bottom of a ruck wing forward Neil Moffat, as stand in scrum half spun a delightful pass out to the right and with deft hands the ball found it way out to winger Andrew Jancey who scored in the corner. Craig McCannís attempted conversion missed signalling the end of the match.

This was another fine win for the Annan side who retain their second place spot in the league. Both teams have to be congratulated for attempting to play open flowing rugby in conditions which looked more suitable for a 10 man game.

The forwards must be congratulated for their Herculean effort in the mud and it was evident in the last quarter of the match which was the fitter team to cope with the energy sapping conditions. In the backs scrum half Keith Hogg seemed to relish his comeback and the conditions with Craig McCann once again having a fine match. The only casualty in the match appears to have been the Violetbank pitch which will require some work to make it playable for next Saturdayís match against Stewartry

Annan 1st XV: C Warrick ( J Crombie), P Carruthers (Capt), S Kelly; G Hogg, B Henderson, M Scott, N Moffat, G Smith, K Hogg, A White G Lynch), A Jancey, C McCann, A Dunbar, M Griffin, N Smith

LINLITHGOW 22 v ANNAN 28
SATURDAY 28TH OCTOBER 2006

Annan notched up their sixth consecutive away victory at Linlithgow in a tough encounter which was in the balance right up to the final whistle. Linlithgow started strongly and gave early indications that they intended to power their way to the Annan line with their rolling mauls. Annan managed to soak up all of the pressure with some excellent defensive tackling, although they did give away too many penalties in the process. Fortunately for the away side, Linlithgow only kicked two of these to take a 6-0 lead.

Despite Linlithgow having the greater amount of possession, Annan scored two fine tries in the first half. A break by Graham Smith from a scrum led to the ball being spun across the backs, with Craig McCann feeding Niall Smith who slipped a late pass to Michael Griffin for the winger to go in for an impressive try in the corner. Griffin grabbed his second try when he latched on to an intelligent kick through by stand-off Andrew White and touched down between the posts with McCann adding the conversion. Annan conceded yet another penalty before half-time to leave them with a slender 12-9 lead at the break. A lot of the first period had been played in the Annan 22 with Annan facing a stiff breeze, but solid defence coupled with Linlithgowís limited game plan kept the Violetbank side well in the game.

The second half was an exciting affair with the scoreboard ticking over at regular intervals. Annan were pressing for an early score when a pass was intercepted by The Redsí prop Edment who galloped the full length of the pitch for an unexpected score and took Linlithgow into a 16-12 lead. A long-range McCann penalty narrowed the deficit to one point and then the centre slotted another excellent penalty to put Annan in the lead 18-16. Linlithgow were now spreading the ball more and enjoying loads of possession. With the vociferous home support urging their side on, the Mains Park side produced two cracking drop goals from scrum half Hammond and full back McDavid.

Annan were 21-22 down with five minutes to go, but left their best move to the last. McCann dummied a drop-goal attempt and fed Niall Smith, the ball went inside to White, outside to Lynch and back inside to flanker Michael Scott who crashed over for the decisive score, again converted by McCann.

Yet another important victory for Annan, who looked a bit lethargic on the day and showed a lack of composure at times which put them under pressure at the back. Linlithgow were technically very good and Annan had to dig deep once again to grind out a victory with a lower than usual amount of ball possession.

The victory keeps the Violetbank side in second position behind Falkirk and contemplating the long journey north to Thurso this weekend to face Caithness, thus completing the first half of the season.

Annan team: C Warrick (J Gilmour), P Carruthers, S Kelly; B Blower, W Henderson; M Scott(G Hogg), N Moffat, G Smith; A Jancey, A White; A Halliday(G Lynch), C McCann, A Dunbar, M Griffin; N Smith

ANNAN 29 v FALKIRK 14
SATURDAY 21ST OCTOBER 2006

Photos from game

This season, so far, Annan have played some of their best rugby away from home but on Saturday their loyal supporters who turn out at Violetbank in all weathers were treated to a pulsating game of exciting rugby featuring the two top teams in Division 2 of the National Leagues. Falkirk who before Saturday had only lost three games in their last three seasons were beaten by a determined Annan side who showed that a young, fit, and enthusiastic side with no little skill were more than a match for the age and experience of their visitors.

In the first quarter of the game Falkirk had the home side under the cosh as they battered away at the Annan line and in that time the visitors spurred three highly kickable penalties and instead kicked to the corner. Their ploy, which has obviously served them well in their previous games, being to take and drive over from the ensuing lineouts. Three times they tried and three times they failed as the home defences held firm. Eventually they got the message and although missing with one penalty attempt they capitalised on three others to take them into a 9 points to 0 lead. It was by no manner of means one way traffic in the first half for the visitors as the home launched several attacks of their own but they likewise were unable to breach the Falkirk line.

In the second half with the sun and slight wind at their backs Annan set about reducing the 9 point deficit and the large Violetbank crowd didnít have long to wait. From a turnover of possession the ball was firstly fed to the right wing and then transferred across the pitch to the left wing with some deft handling. Finally from a ruck in the Falkirk 22 the ball was fed to standoff Andrew White who with a cunningly disguised short pass to centre Alex Dunbar on the crash ball allowed the centre to break through the visiting defences to score. The conversion was missed. Falkirk hit back immediately with some fine driving play through their forwards and from a ruck in front of the posts they worked the ball to their right winger who crashed over in the corner to take the score to Annan 5 Falkirk 14. From that point the game was dominated by Annan as they drove relentlessly to firstly to reduce the deficit which they did by two penalty kicks from just inside the Annan half superbly struck by centre Craig McCann. With the score at 11-14 Annan took the lead with a finely worked try. From a cross field kick by Andrew White to winger Michael Griffen the ball was recycled out of a ruck and spun across field by forwards and backs with lock Billy Henderson bursting through the Falkirk midfield defence. He fed the ball to No 8 Graham Smith who when held up just short of the line managed to pop the ball up to Alex Halliday who had come off his wing in support and took the inside pass to score. Craig McCann added the conversion to take Annan into a 4 point lead.

Annan continued to press home their territorial advantage and Craig McCann increased the home sideís scoreline by a further two superbly struck long range penalties. The icing on the cake for the home side came when centre Alex Dunbar latched onto a loose pass back out of a Falkirk ruck and when tackled found stand off Andrew White on his shoulder who in turn when taken to ground flipped a pop pass to wing forward Neil Moffat. Moffat with a superb floated pass found lock Billy Henderson who crashed over to score. Craig McCannís missed conversion brought the final whistle and the celebrations began. Final Score Annan 29 Falkirk 14.

This was by far Annanís best performance this season with the first half displaying the very best of the Annan defences and the second half showing Annanís attacking capabilities. The Annan backrow was outstanding with the tight five not far behind. In the backs stand off Andrew White had a fine game on his return from injury with centre Alex Dunbarís fine line breaking runs adding fire to the attack with fellow centre Craig McCannís place kicking a joy to behold.

Annan 1st XV Squad: C Warrick (J Tinning), P Carruthers (Capt), S Kelly; J Nelson, B Henderson, B Bower (M Scott), N Moffat, G Smith, A Jancey, A White, A Halliday (G Lynch), C McCann, A Dunbar, M Griffin, N Smith

KILMARNOCK 15 v ANNAN 17
SATURDAY 14TH OCTOBER 2006

Kilmarnockís recent form suggested that this was always going to be a close match and that was precisely what transpired, with Annan snatching a dramatic victory in injury time. Kilmarnock had a very powerful pack and it was no surprise that they largely played a 10 man game. Annanís first half performance was uncharacteristically below par and allowed Kilmarnock to dominate for lengthy spells. Killie were first on the scoreboard with a penalty shortly after a sliced first effort from stand-off McCann.

Although Annan did show some promising early glimpses, notably with bursts from Henderson and Dunbar, Kilmarnock had the lionís share of first half possession and, on one of the few occasions when they spun the ball wide, loose Annan tackling allowed them in for a deserved try which was converted with ease.

10-0 down at half-time, Annan had failed to test the Kilmarnock defence and knew they had to up their game in the second period. Some enterprising play led to a kick through and Halliday chase. The young winger outstripped the Killie defence and was held back as he appeared to be on the brink of scoring. Mysteriously, the referee decided not to award a penalty try and Annan were still chasing their first points of the game.

The first Annan try, when it came, was worth waiting for. Shifting the ball at pace, there was good handling from Griffin, Moffat and Henderson before the ball was fed to substitute Euan Braid whose pace put him in for a good score which was converted by McCann. Annan were now much more in the game and Henderson and Moffat were inspirational.

Killie it was, though, who scored what looked as if it was going to be the killer try. A line-out for the home side on the Annan five-metre line was won by Annan, the tap back was allowed to bounce and the Kilmarnock hooker reacted quickly to pounce through the gap for an opportunist try. With the score now at 15-7 for the Bellsland side, time was running out for Annan. However, they continued playing disciplined rugby and showed real character in the final 15 minutes.

The second Annan try came from a break-out by Henderson who fed centre Michael Griffin in the right wing position. Griff pinned back his ears and scored a marvellous try from 40 metres out. With McCann slotting the conversion, there was only one point in it and both sets of supporters had to endure a nailbiting finish. In time added on for stoppages, Annan were pressing hard and were awarded a scrum 20 metres out. Scrum half Jancey whipped the ball to Craig McCann who scored a drop goal in as dramatic an ending as you could imagine.

This was rough justice for Kilmarnock who perhaps deserved to shade the game. Annan got out of jail at the end of an under-par performance to maintain their unbeaten away record. Character and belief took them through in the end, but they will have to play a lot better than this if wish to be serious contenders for promotion as the season unfolds.

Team: C Warrick (J Crombie), P Carruthers, S Kelly; J Nelson, W Henderson; N Moffat, M Scott(B Blower), G Smith; A Jancey, C McCann; G Lynch(E Braid), A Dunbar, M Griffin, A Halliday; J Crowther

ANNAN 18 v HOWE OF FIFE 14
SATURDAY 7TH OCTOBER 2006

Photos from game

In a proverbial game of two halves Annan held on to a tenuous lead to win this enthralling encounter at a wind swept Violetbank on Saturday. The game was no classic, full of errors and wrong options but it was exciting nevertheless.

Annan, who were fielding a new half back partnership of Andrew Jancey and Craig McCann, used the strong wind at their backs in the first half to try and keep play deep in the Howe half. This they did, in some measure, by the boot of stand off McCann. However the visitors, keeping the ball in hand, and using their lively backs made several dangerous incursions into the home 22 and only terrific defensive work by the entire Annan team kept the visitors from breaching the whitewash.

The Annan pressure however told and Craig McCann slotted a penalty 10 minutes into the half to take the lead. The game was developing into a one of attack and counter attack by both teams. However half way through the half winger Alex Halliday gathered the ball following a kick out of defence by the Howe stand off and set off on one of his mazy runs and when he was eventually tackled he popped the ball up to prop Steve Kelly who, when tap tackled, managed to conjure up a delightful scrum half diving pass to No 8 Graham Smith who galloped over the line to score. Craig McCann added a superb touchline conversion to take Annan into a 10 point lead. Just before half time McCann added a further penalty to take Annan into the half time break with a 13-0 lead.

Most of the touchline discussion at the break centred on whether a 13 point lead going into the second half against a strengthening wind would be enough for the home side to earn a home victory. As it transpired Howe did not take full advantage of the wind and instead tried to keep the ball in hand which did pay them dividends when, with the half only minutes old, the visiting backs in a simple backs move with their full back creating the extra man scored in the corner. The Howe stand off whose line kicking throughout the game was somewhat erratic made no mistake with a magnificent conversion from the touchline.

Annan struck back minutes later when centre Alex Dunbar made a break through a crowded midfield and fed winger Alex Halliday who sprinted up the touchline and when he was about to be tackled by the Howe fullback popped the ball inside. The ball bounced into the grateful hands of prop Steve Kelly who charged to the line. He almost celebrated too soon as he was smother tackled by the Howe stand off on the line and whilst he was turned onto his back he managed to reach out and touch the ball down to score. Craig McCann was inches wide with his conversion attempt into the wind.

The visitors were not finished yet however and upped their game and laid siege on the Annan line. Their perseverance was rewarded when from a series of rucks and mauls on the Annan line they were deemed to have grounded the ball over the line. Their stand off once again landed a fine conversion from the touchline to take the score to Annan 18 Howe of Fife 14. The final 10 minutes of the half was a nailbiting affair for both sets of supporters as Howe tried to find the effort to gain the vital score. Annan however were not to be denied their home victory as they defended magnificently and when the final whistle went there was audible relief around the ground.

Whilst no classic this however was a match of pulsating entertainment for those who watched which in truth had it been played a couple of seasons ago Annan would most probably have lost. This time the home players stood up to the mark and impressive performances once again from the Ďyoung gunsí Andrew Jancey, Alex Halliday, Alex Dunbar in the backs and Michael Scott in the forwards. These performances was aided and abetted by some fine performances by some of the old guard with props Colin Warrick and Steve Kelly, along with veteran lock/No8 Billy Henderson putting in performances which belied their years. Also outstanding was the 80 minute performance of flanker Neil ĎThe Hobbití Moffat who won enough ball on the grounds to win a barrow load of matches.

ANNAN TEAM: C Warrick (J Gilmour), P Carruthers, S Kelly; M Carpenter( J Nelson), W Henderson ( B Blower); M Scott, N Moffat, G Smith; A Jancey, C McCann, G Lynch, A Dunbar, M Griffin, A Halliday; J Crowther

ALLAN GLENS 5 v ANNAN 27
SATURDAY 30TH SEPTEMBER 2006

Annan needed to get back on track following last weekís defeat against Garnock and they did exactly that with a good win at Bishopbriggs against Allan Glenís.

Glens struck first in only two minutes however when Annan were caught sleeping. Their scrum half found himself in acres of space following a line-out and he fed to the number eight for an easy score. Annan were then galvanized into action and produced a first half display which was extremely competent. Craig McCann slotted a penalty which was the prelude to some very good rugby from the Violetbank side after a rather sluggish first fifteen minutes. Annanís first try set the scene for things to come. Good handling, involving Andrew White, Michael Scott and Alex Dunbar led to Michael Griffin bursting through the middle, breaking three big tackles to score under the posts with McCann adding the conversion.

In eighteen minutes, Annan went further ahead. With a move straight from the training ground, Andrew Jancey switched wings and went on a tremendous run. When he was stopped just short of the line, Alex Halliday picked up and scored a good try, again converted by McCann.. At this stage of the game, Annan were well in command, helped in no short measure by Andrew Whiteís touch kicking which was imperious. The third try came from a piece of Craig McCann audacity when, following a scrum, he darted down the blind side to score a stereotypical scrum half try. Annan had Glens on the rack again towards the end of the half and a period of sustained pressure led to Andrew White scoring a glorious try under the posts after a double dummy flummoxed the home defence.

Annan led 27-5 at half time and that was the way the score remained at full time. The second half was a pretty scrappy, error-strewn affair and Annan really should have made their superiority show. That they did not manage to do this was due largely to not playing an expansive game. The forwards tended to take the ball forward in too many phases instead of spinning the ball wide. It has to be said, too, that Allan Glenís upped their performance in the second half and, to Annanís credit, the Violetbank teamís defence was rock solid.

This was another good performance from the young Annan side and it keeps them in second place in the league. John Nelson had his biggest game of the season, Michael Scott was as industrious as ever, Steve Kelly had a couple of bullocking runs but, more than anything else, the team cohesion and belief keeps on growing. Despite an acute injury list, Annan are playing to a system that is working well and every player is playing for the jersey.

Annan Team: C Warrick ( J Crombie), N Moffat (B Blower), S Kelly; M Carpenter, J Nelson; M Scott, W Henderson, G Smith; C McCann, A White; S Jancey, A Dunbar, M Griffin, A Halliday; G Lynch (J Crowther)

ANNAN 0 v GARNOCK 27
SATURDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER 2006

No doubt this result raised a few eyebrows in other clubs, but it did not come as a total surprise to those who know Garnock. With the visitors back at full strength after a couple of weeks without their major playmakers, and with Annan having lost their half back pairing of the past four weeks, this was always going to be a major test for Annan. In the end they had to accept that on the day Garnock were worthy winners.

Annan got off to a good start, mounting early pressure, but missed their first penalty chance. As the game progressed it became apparent that the Garnock forwards were going to be a handful. They were the more committed in the loose, and gave nothing away in the set piece. Allied to that was a strong midfield defence that put pressure on Annan possession, stifling any Annan moves before the home backs could get into their stride. First blood went to Garnock, when stand off Gareth McCrorie danced through untouched from a five metre scrum. Fullback Kurt Jacobson converted.

Annanís hopes of a quick reply seemed on as Dunbar and Griffin sallied up the right wing, but the chance was lost. Annanís cause was not helped when in succession they lost No 8 Graham Smith with an eye injury and then stand off Niall Smith with a pulled hamstring. Garnock took advantage by scoring their second try, moving the ball quickly right for winger Fraser Thomson to get round the defence. Though the conversion was missed, Jacobson then dropped a goal from just outside the Annan 22 to make in 15-0. Garnock struck again before half time , this time left wing Michael Jamieson getting over. At 20-0 down at half time, Annan needed to up their game in the second period.

To some extent Annan did this, but still found it difficult to make progress against robust defence. Garnock seemed just that bit stronger and more mature, and Annan were not allowed to develop their game. Again bad luck struck Annan, with fullback Kevin Jones receiving a bad head injury in the tackle, leading to further changes to the Annan back line. Shortly after, Garnock wrapped up the scoring when lock Jamie Brocket picked up from a ruck near the Annan line and crossed unopposed, and Jacobson converted. Annanís youngsters should not be too downhearted at this result. Garnock at full strength will be a handful for any side in this division. Annan may have to dig deep over the next few weeks, but they have the talent to get back to winning ways.

Annan team: K. Jones; M. Griffin, A. Dunbar, C. McCann, A. Halliday; N. Smith, B. Graham; C. Warrick, P. Carruthers, S. Kelly, J. Nelson, W. Henderson, M. Scott, N. Moffat, G. Smith. Replacements (all used) M. Carpenter, G. Lynch, J. Tinning.

HIGHLAND 7 v ANNAN 44
SATURDAY 16TH SEPTEMBER 2006

The sizeable crowd at canal Park in Inverness witnessed a match in which both teams were committed to open, running rugby and in the process Annan produced one of their best ever away performances to record a resounding victory which keeps them at the top of the league.

The opening period was played at a cracking pace and Highland had a fair amount of early pressure. Annan took the lead with a McCann penalty, but Highland fought back almost immediately. A wayward Annan kick gave Highland possession and slack tackling allowed the home side to breach the Annan try line with a neat score which was converted. Although the Highland tails were up, Annan kept their composure and shape and started to build together some good moves. Some great interplay led to a penalty on the opposition 5 metre line. A quick tap and feed to prop Steve Kelly was an invitation for the big prop to crash through the Highland defence and plough over for a try.

Annan went further ahead when centre Alex Dunbar broke through three big tackles to stretch over for a score by the posts. A McCann penalty took the half time score to 20-7 for the Violetbank side and Annan were by now playing sparkling rugby. The set pieces were secure and Billy Henderson was causing all sorts of problems at the line-out on the home put-in.

Highland were obviously stunned by the pace at which Annan were playing the game and, as a result, the Canal Park side lost a bit of their shape in the second half. They simply had no answer to Annanís flowing style of play. Craig McCann slotted a penalty to take the score to 23-7 and an interception try from half-way by full back Gavin Lynch took the score to 30-7. Annanís onslaught was relentless and their final two tries were absolute beauties. Some great handling put Steve Kelly in the clear and the propís powering run was a joy to watch as he fed Andrew White at the last moment for an easy score.

With the bonus point secured, Annan finished with another excellent White try as the stand off dummied two players to go in under the posts following an Annan line-out. All five tries were converted by centre Craig McCann. This was an Annan performance which was a joy to watch and a real team effort. The quality of their play was excellent and they kept their foot on the gas for the full eighty minutes.

Teamwork and confidence are the key to Annanís play at the moment and, where enforced team changes are made, replacements are slotting in to the system with ease. Competition for places is keener than for many years and this young side is going to keep on improving. Every Annan player did his bit on Saturday. Difficult to single out individuals, but once again Michael Scott was always in the thick of the action covering an amazing amount of ground, Keith Hogg was constantly scavenging in the loose and Colin Warrickís burrowing drives were a treat to behold. Open, flowing rugby is always great to watch and this was an Annan performance straight out of the top drawer.

Team: C Warrick (J Crombie), P Carruthers, S Kelly; J Nelson, M Carpenter; N Moffat (E Braid), M Scott, W Henderson; K Hogg, A White; A Halliday, C McCann, A Dunbar, M Griffin; G Lynch

ANNAN 71 v DUNS 7
SATURDAY 9TH SEPTEMBER 2006

After two fine away wins at Glasgow Accies and Stewartry there were high hopes for a convincing home performance at home against old Border rivals Duns. There was some trepidation though as the home side were without their normal centre pairing and another couple of first team regulars. The doubts were short lived as Annan put on a great team performance against their visitors who were also without several of their regulars.

Annan were quickly into their game and in the opening minutes, after a surge into the Duns 22 they were awarded a penalty which centre Craig McCann failed to convert into points. However it was only minutes later from a scrum on the right the ball was quickly transferred through the hands and full back Kevin Jones sprinted through the flatfooted Dunís defence to score in the corner. Craig McCann made no mistake this time and added the extra 2 points. The home side continued to pound away in the visitorís half and again with the ball won at a ruck on the right side of the field the ball was spun along the back line with centre Alex Dunbar ploughing through the visiting mid field defences released the ball to winger Andrew Jancey who scored in the corner. Craig McCann again added the extras.

Duns then had their best spell of the game when they drove Annan back into their own 22 and were unlucky when their forward drive was held up on the line by some terrific Annan defensive work. Annan managed to turn over the ball and ran the ball from behind their own line and with some splendid interplay between forwards were only stopped by a last ditch tackle on centre Craig McCann who was driven into touch inches from the line. Centre Alex Dunbar was also denied a try following a dynamic burst through the visitorís midfield and as he drove for the line he appeared to throw the ball forward, which he caught, and crashed over the try line. The referee chalked his effort off as he deemed the ball had been passed forward! However the line was breached minutes later when, from a lineout 10 metres out, the ball was driven over by prop Colin Warrick in one of his trademark tries. The conversion was missed.

Annan continued to dominate in most facets of the game, although their lineout appeared to stutter now and again. Full back Kevin Jones scored his second try when, again attacking from within their own half the home backs cut a swathe through the visiting back line with Kevin latching onto an inside pass to out sprint the despairing Dunís defence to score. Craig McCann added the conversion. Centre Alex Dunbar who had been denied his Ďtryí earlier got his name on the score sheet before half time when, following a break by centre Craig McCann he set up Alex to score beside the posts. Craig McCannís conversion ended the scoring in the first half. Annan 33 Duns 0.

In the second half Annan continued where they had left off at the end of the first. From a No 8 pick up at the base of the scrum Graham Smith released his backs and replacement winger Gavin Lynch scored in the corner. The conversion was missed by stand off Andrew White. Literally minutes later it was Graham Smith himself who popping up in the back line following a turn over in the Dunís 22 sprinted over to score. Andrew White made no mistake with the conversion. More and more mistakes were now beginning to creep into the visitorís game and following a scrum on the half way line centre Alex Dunbar ran in a try from the half way line converted by Andrew White. Winger Gavin Lynch scored his second try when from another turnover of possession the crisp handling of the backs set up an easy score in the corner. Andrew White converted the try from the touchline.

Alex Dunbar scored his hat trick with a further unconverted try before winger Alex Halliday side stepped his way over the line to finish the scoring for the home team. Andrew White converted the try. Duns scored a consolation try just prior to Alex Hallidayís when from a speculative kick ahead the ball bounced awkwardly for the Annan last line of defence and the Dunís outside centre grounded the ball over the line. Final score Annan 71 Duns 7.

All in all this was a fine team performance which gladdened the hearts of the Annan faithful after a couple of disappointing seasons. Whilst there will be sterner tests ahead for the Annan team it was gratifying to see the young players in the team stepping up to the mark. In the forwards prop Colin Warrick, No 8 Graham Smith and young wing forward Michael Scott had remarkable games. The latter must have covered every inch of the Violetbank field. In the backs the half back pairing of Craig McCann and Alex Dunbar worked extremely well and must have the normal incumbents more than a little worried. Annan now sit top Division 2 of the SRU National Leagues.

Annan Team: C Warrick, P Carruthers (C), J Crombie (J Tinning), J Nelson, (M Carpenter) B Henderson, M Scott, N Moffat, G Smith, K Hogg, A White, A Halliday, C McCann, A Dunbar, A Jancey,(G Lynch), K Jones.

STEWARTRY 0 v ANNAN 24
SATURDAY 2ND SEPTEMBER 2006

Annan put in a workmanlike performance on Saturday at a rain sodden and wind swept Greenlaw to defeat, what has to be said, was a disappointing Stewartry side. After several seasons of close run affairs this was Annan biggest win over the home side in the National Leagues. The first half, in the early exchanges, was a fairly even affair but it was not long before Annan made inroads into the home half and with some enterprising interplay between forwards and backs were unlucky on a couple of occasions not to breach the whitewash. However it was only a matter of time before Annan put some points on the scoreboard and when the Stewartry forwards were penalised at a ruck stand off Andrew White kicked the 3 points.

Annan continued to apply the pressure in the home 22 and they were awarded with a further penalty. Andrew Whiteís attempt rebounded of the upright which was snaffled up by the Annan forwards but from the ensuing ruck the ball was turned over by the Stewartry forwards and fed back to their standoff. His attempted kick out of defence was charged down by centre Niall Smith and wing forward Michael Carpenter was on hand to dive on the loose ball and claim his first try for the 1st XV. The try was converted by Craig McCann who also added a further penalty to take the half time score to Stewartry 0 Annan 13.

In the second half Annan was in control of most facets of the game and only stout Stewartry defence kept the Annan attacks at bay. With the visitors rarely out of the home 22 scores were inevitable and Craig McCann added a further two penalties as the home team gave away numerous penalties as their frustration began to boil over. Annanís final points came from a finely worked try by replacement winger Alex Dunbar who powered over the line despite the close attentions of several home players for his first try for the 1st XV. Final Score Stewartry 0 Annan 24.

Before the start of the season few, even the most stalwart, Annan supporters would have believed that Annan would be sitting with two away wins under their belts after only two games. The team, while still some way from the complete article are showing signs of things, hopefully, to come. On Saturday the Annan forwards controlled the lineout and got stronger in the scrums as the game progressed. In the loose play the backrow looked most effective with replacement Michael Scott on his 1st XV debut looking a real prospect for the future along with back Alex Dunbar another product of the Annan youth sides. Scrum Half Keith Hogg had an outstanding match making life a misery for his opposite number. The only fly in the ointment was the injury to wing forward Paul OíDonnell who suffered cruciate damage to his knee which will keep him out for the rest of the season.

Annan 1st XV: C Warrick,( J Gilmour), P Carruthers (C), S Kelly, G Hogg, J Nelson, P OíDonnell,( M Scott), M Carpenter , G Smith, K Hogg, A White, C McCann, N Smith, M Griffen, A Jancey,(A Dunbar) K Jones

GLASGOW ACCIES 6 v ANNAN 38
SATURDAY 26TH AUGUST 2006

Photos from game

Annan had the perfect start to their league campaign with an emphatic away win at New Anniesland on Saturday with a bonus point 5 try victory. With the main New Anniesland pitch being used for cricket the match was played on Accies alternative pitch which is slightly smaller than the main pitch. There was a worry that the width of the pitch might thwart Annanís expansive play tactics but the worry was short lived as the visitors, after a tentative opening 20 minutes by both teams, saw Annan put in a pretty impressive performance.

Both teams had a nervy start as is the norm in most opening Saturdays of the league season and it took 20 minutes for the stalemate to be broken when Annan were penalised at a ruck and the Accies scrum half slotted the 3 points. Annan hit back almost immediately with a sweeping move across the pitch with winger Craig McCann crashing over in the corner. Standoff Andrew White added the conversion. Andrew White added a further two penalties along with Accies adding one to take the halt time score to Glasgow Accies 6 Annan 13.

In the second half Annan began to take control of the game and from a period of concerted pressure in the Accies 22 Andrew White landed a drop goal to extend the visitors lead by 10 points. Scrum half Keith Hogg, who had been making life extremely uncomfortable for his opposite number at the set piece, was next on the score sheet when from a five metre scrum he outpaced the home back row to nip into score despite the close attentions of the Accies No 8. When winger Andrew Jancey was injured in a tackle near the Accies line replacement Alex Halliday was brought on and almost from his first touch of the ball scored in the corner following a fine piece of interplay between forwards and backs.

Despite a couple of incursions into the Annan 22 the home team were unable to break through the tenacious visiting defences and on a couple of occasions superb cover tackles by full back Kevin Jones saved the day. Annanís bonus point fourth try was scored by prop Steve Kelly who drove through a ruck following a lineout on the Accies 5 metre line to score. Annan, however, left the best to last.

On a visit into the Annan 22 the Accies standoff kicked ahead over the advancing Annan defensive line and full back Kevin Jones in gathering the ball in the dead ball area found himself under the close attentions of the advancing Accies attack. In kicking the ball to touch from an extremely narrow angle he only managed to make the five metre line. From the ensuing lineout No 8 Graham Smith won the ball against the Accies throw and set off on a rampaging run through the midfield. He off loaded the ball to wing forward Neil Moffat and from that point the ball was moved through what looked like virtually ever Annan playersí hands and when standoff Andrew White found himself tackled near the left touchline he threw an outrageous overhead pass which found winger Craig McCann on his inside who sprinted in to score between the posts. This try was undoubtedly one of the best if not the best try scored by Annan. With Craig McCann converting his own try the final score was set at Glasgow Accies 6 Annan 38 and in truth it could have been more as on several occasions with clear overlaps the ball was dropped or knocked on.

All in all this was a most satisfying win for Annan especially away from home in their first league game of the season. Interestingly enough the last time Annan won in similar circumstances was in their opening game of the season in 1997 when they beat Wigtowshire 43 -7 in National Division 2 on the way up.

Annanís set piece game was solid with the lineout in particular operating well with several won against the throw. In the loose the Annan backrow excelled with Neil Moffat and Paul OíDonnell scavenging well with No 8 Graham Smith at his rampaging best. The Annan backs were in fine form and rarely took a backward step with the pairing of Keith Hogg and Andrew White looking the part at half back.

While it is difficult to assess how good this team is after just one league game there is a feeling that they can play better and given time to gel and remain injury free they could be in at the reckoning by the end of the season.

Annan Team: C Warrick (J Crombie), P Carruthers, S Kelly, G Hogg, J Nelson (M Carpenter), N Moffat, P OíDonnell, K Hogg, A White, N Smith, M Griffen, S Jancey (A Halliday), K Jones.

VIOLETBANK TROPHY
SATURDAY 19TH AUGUST 2005

The annual Violetbank 15-a-side challenge took place last Saturday and provided a feast of entertainment for all present and an opportunity for the participating teams to gauge progress made in summer training before the league campaigns begin this week. Unfortunately, Livingston pulled out at the 11th hour so the game times were lengthened in their league. The Tournament results were:

LEAGUE A

Netherhall 0 v Annan 14
Stewartry 10 v Hawick Quins 0
Hawick Quins 14 v Netherhall 14
Stewartry 7 v Annan 17
Stewartry 28 v Netherhall 0
Hawick Quins 3 v Annan 5

Annan started off with a solid performance against Netherhall Old Boys from Maryport and scored within the first five minutes with a fine driven over try with prop Colin Warrick getting the touchdown. Annanís second was scored by youngster Alex Halliday who side stepped the Netherhall full back to score after a splendid backs move. Standoff Andrew White added two fine conversions from the touchline to complete the scoring.

Next up were old rivals Stewartry who as usual provided Annan with a stern test and although No 8 Graham Smith romped in for a simple try early on which winger Craig McCann converted Stewartry fought back with an opportunist try which was converted to tie the scores. Just before half time a Craig McCann penalty took Annan into the second half with a 3 point lead. In the second half both teams battled hard to breach the whitewash but it was Annan standoff Andrew White who, with an outrageous double dummy sprinted over to score. He also converted his own try.

Annanís last game in League A was against old Border rivals Hawick Harlequins. In a tough tussle in the first half wing forward Bruce Blower powered over in the corner to score. Quins fought back with a penalty to take the half time score to 5-3. In the second half Annan had enough possession to have won a barrow load of games but some stuffy defence from the borderers kept their line intact, although Annan did cross the line 3 times but the tries were disallowed.

LEAGUE B

Dumfries 0 v Langholm 16
Wigton 3 v Langholm 13
Wigton 0 v Dumfries 22

Langholmís march to the final started with a hard fought win over Dumfries and an equally hard game against Cumbrian side Wigton.

FINAL - ANNAN 42 LANGHOLM 3

Annanís young guns stepped up to the mark in the final and showed that given time they will be a force to be reckoned with. Annan had a dream start in the opening minutes when from a finely crafted kick over the heads of the advancing Langholm backs full back Kevin Jones latched on to the ball to land the opening score. Annan continued to spread the ball wide at every opportunity and playing the game at pace they stretched the Langholm defences time and time again. From a fine drive up the touchline lock John Nelson received an inside pass to score. Next in line was winger Craig McCann who outstripped the cover defences to win the race to ground the ball after stand off Andrew White launched another crafty kick. With Craig McCann adding all three conversions Annan went into the half time huddle 21 points to 3 in the lead.

Langholm came straight out at the beginning of the second half with all guns blazing but were hit almost immediately with a killer blow when prop Steve Kelly latched onto an inside pass following a defensive mistake by Langholm and scampered into score. Within minutes No 8 Graham Smith had notched up another score with a simple pick up and drive through a despairing defence. Annanís last score was a peach. After a crunching tackle on the Langholm inside centre the dislodged ball was scooped up and an attack launched down the touchline. Full back came into the wing position and out sprinted the Langholm winger and with his opposite number bearing down on him he coolly chipped the ball over his head and won the footrace to the line. With Andrew White adding all three conversions Annan had scored their biggest ever victory over rivals Langholm with the final score 42 points to 3.

After six years and having been runners up in four previous finals Annan were justifiably cock-a-hoop at winning their own tournament. Especially pleasing for the coaches was the performances of the young players who have stepped up from last years Colts squad who all deserve a mention: Bruce Blower, Andrew White, Andrew Jancey, Alex Halliday, Jonathon Crombie and Michael Carpenter. All in all a most satisfying pre season warm up for the Annan club with Carlisle also beaten 18-12 the previous week and with a bit of a buzz about the club the club are looking to make their mark in Division 2 of the SRU National Leagues which starts on Saturday. But all this will be for nought if they do not hit the ground running this season after losing their opening games last season which made life difficult for the rest of the season

ANNAN 22 v DUMFRIES 22
FRIDAY 4TH AUGUST 2006

Annanís trial match, played last Friday evening at Violetbank against Dumfries was deemed an excellent exercise by the Annan coaches. Played in four twenty minute quarters it gave both sets of coaches an ideal opportunity to put into practice moves and drills from the pre season training paddock. It was obvious where Dumfriesís success has come from over the past three seasons with their large well drilled pack and their likewise large set of backs blending well. The Annan forwards competed well in the lineouts and scrums and their defences held out well apart from the third quarter when they leaked a brace of tries. The home backs looked particularly sharp and blended well with good handling and some well worked moves. The coaches were especially impressed with the enthusiasm of the youngsters who have made the step up from colts to the senior squad with winger Andrew Jancey epitomising the work ethic of the former colts with a good performance on the wing in his first outing for the 1st XV.

Annan scored four tries and Dumfries three with a conversion for the home side and two from the visitors who also added a penalty to tie the scores at 22 point all at the end of the eighty minutes. Annanís points came from tries from full back Kevin Jones (2), stand off Andrew White and No 8 Graham Smith. Graham Smithís try was the try of the night with the ball whipped from one side of the field to the other and back again before he plunged over the line to score. Andrew White added the conversion.

All in all this was a good workout for both teams. Annanís head coach Kenny White stated that while the forwards set piece play overall was good he felt there was still lots to work on with their ball retention and decision making in turn over situations where they lacked precision in deed and thought. On the negative side he also felt that the penalty count was too high and it was something that he and the other coaches would be looking to address before the beginning of the season. However it was extremely encouraging to see so many players turning up to the session with the 2nd XV well represented on the night. The only injury on the night was to wing forward Neil Moffat who suffered a head injury early on but will be fit for the start of the league season.

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