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Violetbank Shield

ANNAN 18 v ABERDEENSHIRE 10
23RD APRIL 2011

Match Photos

A fortnight ago Annan had a fine victory over Highland at Violetbank and it, with results elsewhere that Saturday going Annanís way, lifted them from the bottom of the league. Unfortunately the results in the intervening Saturday didnít quite fall in Annanís favour and they found themselves again in the second relegation spot, with Newton Stewart bottom and relegated, so a win against Aberdeenshire in their last game was a must on Saturday and a hope that results elsewhere would fall their way.

In a hard fought game, played in the main in a constant downpour at Violetbank, both teams put in a hard fought 80 minutes. Annan started brightly and testing the visiting backline defences with some probing kicks, both up and under and grubber, found the visitors somewhat hesitant in defence which along with the constant downpour making handling difficult resulted in numerous errors. Annanís breakthrough came when, following a breenging run by lock Keiron Watret the ball was recycled from the ensuing ruck by scrum half Andrew Jancey whose pass to standoff Craig McCann required him to pick it off his bootlaces left him little option but to kick the ball through the advancing Aberdeenshire defensive line. His deft kick rolled over the try line and his brother winger Scott McCann outstripped the visiting winger and full back to apply enough downward pressure on the ball to satisfy the referee that the try could be awarded. Craig McCannís conversion hit the crossbar.

Annan continued to drive play into the visitorís half but the attacks were undone by some handling errors occasioned in the most part by the effects of the constant downpour. The errors were compounded by the hosts giving away a series of penalties which allowed Aberdeenshire to threaten the Annan line with their driving maul. Annan on the first occasion defended the drive well and eventually after several thrusts by the visiting forwards turned over the ball and cleared their lines. From the ensuing lineout and drive Annan were penalised for collapsing the maul and from the lineout following the award Aberdeenshire once again mauled their way to the line and this time their No 6 managed to twist over the line to score. The conversion was missed.

Annan continued to attack from all parts of the field whether through forwards or backs and judicious use of boot to ball by standoff McCann kept Annan on the front foot for the rest of the half. Annan came close to scoring on a couple of occasions through the driving mauls of the forwards but were unable to ground the ball to the refereeís satisfaction on one occasion. However determined attacking play got its reward when from a ruck the home forwards managed to reclaim a lost ball and with the Aberdeenshire loose forwards sucked into the ruck standoff McCann found his fullback Kevin Jones with a long pass to allow him to score in the corner. This time McCann did not miss the conversion. Annan increased their lead when awarded a penalty when the visiting scrum half was caught offside at a scrum. McCann slotted the award to take Annan into a 15-5 lead at half time.

The second half began with Annan putting themselves under pressure by not claiming the kick off and then giving away a penalty which allowed Aberdeenshire to pressure the home line with driving mauls. Great Annan defence initially kept the visitors attacks at bay but with Annan confined to their own half for most of the 3rd quarter the pressure eventually told and once again from a driving maul the Aberdeenshire No 6 again scored. The try went unconverted. In the final quarter of the match Annan kept play in the visitorís half with standoff McCann controlling the game and keeping his forwards going forward with some fine line kicks. He also had a couple of penalty misses and a drop goal attempt before he slotted a penalty award from the touchline to seal the match for Annan. Final Score Annan 18 Aberdeenshire 10.

All in all, given the difficult weather conditions and the pressing need to win, this was quite an impressive performance by Annan. True the scrums creaked, the lineout misfired and the restart receptions were woeful but they played with the right tactics for the conditions and kept their visitors pinned for long periods in their own half. It is very difficult to identify outstanding players as this was very much a team performance but standoff Craig McCannís exemplary kicking and wing forward Dwayne Barnesís bone crunching tackling deserving of special mention.

Although this was a fine win which gives Annan 5 wins out of 7 outings since the turn of the year results elsewhere did not favour the club with Waysiders winning and Stewartry beating fellow relegation prospects Allan Glens. Annan now have to sweat it out over the next couple of weeks as Allan Glens , who have two games yet to play, only need one point from their remaining two games to overtake Annan and consign Annan to relegation.

The Match sponsors to Saturdays match was the Annan Ladies

The Annan 1st XV Squad: C Warrick, S Wyllie, J Nelson, G Hogg, K Watret, D Wyllie, D Barnes, M Carpenter, A Jancey, C McCann, A Rae, J Bigham, M Griffin, S McCann, K Jones. Replacements: J Crombie, M Thompson, A Copeland.

KILMARNOCK 32 v ANNAN 20
16TH APRIL 2011

This SRU National League Two fixture at Bellsland saw two teams going into the match with everything to play for. Kilmarnock are pushing for promotion and Annan scrapping it out in the bottom five. The opening fifteen minutes were pretty scrappy, with both sides more or less bogged down in midfield, but it was Annan who stated early intent with a well-struck penalty by stand-off Craig McCann. Kilmarnock, though, were beginning to dominate in the scrum with their heavy set of forwards and this was creating a platform for them to have a go at Annan. The Annan tackling on the day was far from being secure, and missed first time tackles were allowing Kilmarnock to take the upper hand. Two first half tries ensued for the home side, both of them preventable, and Annan looked to be up against it. However, in true fighting fashion, they came back with a well-timed try before half time. Kilmarnock, who were frequently guilty of trying to play too much rugby in their own half, were punished when a short pass was brilliantly intercepted by eagle-eyed scrum half Andrew Jancey who powered on to the ball at pace and outstripped a shocked Killie defence to score under the posts. McCann converted and Annan were right back in the game. Half time score Kilmarnock 17 Annan 10.

The second half started badly for Annan when slack tackling allowed the Killie scrum half Montgomery to carve his way through the Annan defence from the half way line to stretch the home sideís lead. Two further tries for Kilmarnock seemed to have put the game beyond Annanís reach, but McCann clawed back another three points from a penalty and Annan seemed re-galvanized when they produced the best try of the match. A rehearsed training ground move saw the ball go wide from the hands of Craig McCann to brother Scott who drew his man and whipped the ball back inside to full back Kevin Jones who used his pace to outsprint the Kilmarnock defence. With the score at 32-20 in Kilmarnockís favour and time running out, Annan were never going to win this game but a crucial bonus point was still possible with another score. This was not to be, however, despite a storming finish.

Annan did well to compete right to the final whistle and pushed Kilmarnock all the way. However, a lot of the tackling was disappointing and they didnít really manage to string a lot of phases together. Andrew Jancey deserves special mention for his work rate and performance and Alan Rae certainly tackled way above his weight, but Annan have played better recently and will be looking for a barnstorming finale against Aberdeenshire at Violetbank on Saturday.

Annan Team: C Warrick, S Wyllie, J Nelson (c); G Hogg, R Craig; D Barnes, C Bell, K Watret; A Jancey, C McCann; S McCann, J Bigham, M Griffine, A Rae; K Jones: Replacements (all used) Ė A Copland, D Wyllie, M Thomson

ANNAN 34 v HIGHLAND 12
9TH APRIL 2011

Match Photos

With 3 games left to play before last Saturday and Annan sitting on the bottom of Division 2 of the SRU National Leagues the answer to avoiding relegation was simple - win 2 of the remaining 3 games. On Saturday Annan took the first step on the journey with their best display for some time with a convincing bonus point win over 4th placed Highland in the warm spring sunshine at Violetbank.

Whatever the motivational technique taken by the Annan coaches prior to Saturdayís match it clearly worked as the match was barely minutes old when from a driving maul following a lineout the home forwards crashed over the try line with lock Keiron Watret accredited with the touchline. The try was converted by standoff Craig McCann. With the Annan forwards in rampant mood they drove play at every opportunity towards the Highland line with a simple game plan of pick and drive and try and keep the ball away from the handy Highland backs. Their efforts were rewarded when they were awarded a penalty within the kicking range of Craig McCann which he duly converted to a further 3 points to give Annan a healthy 10 point lead. In the second quarter Highland had their best spell of the game when they scored two fine tries through their scrum half and stand off who were Highlandís most potent attacking force. With one of the tries converted Highland went into the half time break with a 2 point lead - Annan 10 Highland 12.

In previous games when they have gone behind Annan have struggled to overcome the deficit and the small band of Annan supporters expected a similar result on Saturday. However with a new found confidence and determination the home side set about stamping their authority on the match from the restart with the Annan forwards dominating proceedings in their set piece play with one driving maul travelling 40 metres particular outstanding. The home backs were not to be outdone either as they set up several sweeping attacks across their backline. Michael Griffen, playing at outside centre, tormented the visiting mid field defences on numerous occasions and was justly rewarded with not just a try but a hatrick of tries all of which Craig McCann converted. With his determined running and strength in breaking tackles he proved too much of a handful for the visitors. Annan in defence were no slouches either as they held their line intact for the second half denying Highland any chance to score. Craig McCann added a further penalty to consolidate the score line and Annan ran out convincing and worthy winners in the end. Annan 34 Highland 12.

As the happy band of Annan supporters left Violetbank all were left wondering why Annan had left it so late in their league campaign to start playing sparkling rugby. With results elsewhere going Annanís way Annan have leapt off the bottom of the division to 9th but it is still all to play for starting this coming Saturday when Annan travel to Kilmarnock to take on promotion prospects Kilmarnock at Bellsland. The games match sponsor was Cochrane Ltd

Annan 1st XV Squad: C Warrick, S Wyllie, J Nelson, K Watret, G Hogg, C Bell, D Barnes, M Carpenter, A Jancey, C McCann, A Rae, J Bigham, M Griffin, D Wyllie, K Jones Replacements: R Craig, A Jackson, S McCann (all used)

NEWTON STEWART 8 v ANNAN 13
2ND APRIL 2011

Annan emerged winners after a hard fought game at Bladnoch, and though this was no classic game of rugby, it was always enthralling due to the closeness of the scores. With a strong wind blowing down the pitch, Annan were the more successful at adopting the right tactics to suit the conditions and were particularly successful against the wind in the second half, and it was this ability which divided two otherwise well matched teams.

Annan had the benefit of the wind in the first half, and stand off Craig McCann was able to use this to give Annan field position early in the game. This Annan pressure led to four kickable penalty awards going to Annan. The usually reliable McCann missed the first, scored the second, then uncharacteristically missed the next two - possibly misjudging the effect the wind would have on his efforts. On the 20 minute mark McCann was able to get the scoreboard moving again, but this time with a try. Deep in their own half, Newton Stewart telegraphed a pass and McCann intercepted and had a clear run to the line. Unfortunately the conversion missed, but Annan were 8-0 ahead. As happens so often, the other side then scored - this time a drive over after pressure on the Annan line. 8-0 was now 8-5, with Annan's wind advantage coming to an end. In the final moments of the half, Annan mounted their own pressure on the line, and from a mass of bodies Kieron Watret got over for Annan's second try. However one wondered whether Annan's 13-5 lead would be sufficient in the second half.

Newton Stewart began the second half strongly, and when Annan were penalized for not releasing, a straight kick made it 13-8. Annan were to deny the home side any further score, partly by good defensive work, but also by playing the right game. No aimless kicks ahead, but the pick and drive and when necessary the kick to touch. Newton Stewart did have one or two penalty chances, but chose to kick to the corner rather than the posts, and their forward rumbles were not effective in the face of determined Annan defense. And so the game ground towards its end, and a well deserved away win for Annan ‚Äď their first in the league this season.

There were plenty of mistakes in this game, and to these the referee added some of his own, making for a stop - start affair. The forward battle was tight, with Annan having the better of the scrums, and perhaps Newton Stewart shading the rucks - certainly if the number of times Annan were penalized for not releasing is anything to go by. Neither set of backs was able to break free of the defence, though Josh Dennis and Alex Halliday had one good thrust. Most important from the Annan point of view was that they got the winners points, and managed to put the previous week's defeat behind them. They now have three games left, two at home, in their attempt to move above south west rivals Stewartry and Newton Stewart.

Man of the Match ? No one was head and shoulders above the others, but Dwayne Barnes tackled like a demon, while scrum half Andrew Jancey worked as hard as ever.

Annan team: K. Jones; J. Dennis, A. Halliday, J. Bigham, M. Griffin; C. McCann, A. Jancey; C. Warrick, S. Wyllie, J. Nelson, R, Craig, K. Watret, D. Barnes, M. Carpenter, R. Dunlop. Subs all used - A. Rae, G. Hogg, C. Bell.

ALLAN GLENS 58 v ANNAN 9
26TH MARCH 2011

Annan went into this National Two fixture against Allan Glens on the back of some encouraging results and performances and, on paper, this had the prospect of being a fairly tightly contested encounter even although the home side had seen a resurgence in form of late. Annan started briskly enough and had nearly all of the possession for the first fifteen minutes. The backs were moving well, Alex Halliday had a great weaving run and the play was enterprising. Craig McCann slotted a penalty for the away side and things were looking promising. The first sign of Glens pressure led to a good move being thwarted by try saving tackles by Dunlop and Barnes, but a missed first-time tackle, which was to set the pattern for the afternoon, allowed Allan Glens their first try which nudged them into the lead. Annan continued to play adventurous rugby, but for all their pressure they shot themselves in the foot by making mistakes which led to two further tries before half time, countered only by another McCann penalty. Despite a last-ditch tackle byKevin Jones, the opposing No. 6 breached the Annan line for a good try. An overthrow at the lineout gifted the home side another score and an opportunist drop goal by their stand off took the half time score to 18-6.

Annan had played a lot of good rugby in the first half, but alarm bells were already ringing at the ease with which Allan Glens had pierced the Annan defence.

Annan started the second half with purpose and McCann's boot, from just over the half way line, immediately hauled the deficit back to 18-9. What happened thereafter in the space of a calamitous 20 minutes was difficult to comprehend. Allan Glens clearly sensed the porous nature of the Annan defence and took the bit between their teeth, scoring six tries in relatively quick succession as a shell-shocked Annan continued to miss tackles and make vital errors. It has to be said that Allan Glens outplayed Annan in the forwards and their rucking was aggressive and impressive. Over the piece, they looked the fitter team and lacklustre Annan tackling allowed them to play with some confidence.

This wasn't so much a game of missed opportunities as one of missed tackles, slack marking and basic errors. After playing so well recently, this was a bit of a body blow and a setback for a team which was looking forward to a good end of season. They will bounce back after this, but the immediate focus must be in ensuring these crucial first-time tackles. Not many Annan players will be happy with their performances, but Craig McCann did well in trying to get the backs moving, Andrew Jancey was always in the thick of it at scrum half and Robert Craig was the pick of the forwards. Newton Stewart this Saturday and a big improvement required to get a result there!

Annan Team: C Warrick, S Wyllie, J Nelson (c); G Hogg, K Watret; M Carpenter, D Barnes R Dunlop; A Jancey, C McCann; J Dennis, J Bigham, A Halliday, M Griffin; K Jones. Replacements (all used): R Craig, D Wyllie, S McCann

ANNAN 18 v STEWARTRY 11
12TH MARCH 2011

Match Photos

Only twelve of Scotlands fifty-two games were played on Saturday due to the weather and, thanks to the Herculean efforts of the ground staff and volunteers, this National Two clash between the old local rivals was able to go ahead. At stake were vital league points and the Chisholm Cup, competed for annually between the two clubs in memory of former Annan President Peter Chisholm.

Annan stated their intentions early on, driving into the heart of the Stewartry defence and after only a few minutes the home supporters had something to shout about. The Annan forwards made significant inroads into the opposition twenty metres area and the pack drove over, with Colin Warrick scoring the all-important first try. The conversion from Craig McCann wide on the right was a beauty and gave Annan the important early upper hand. The conditions were far from ideal for flowing rugby and much of the play took place in the midfield, with both defences giving little away. The Annan forwards had the upper hand in the set pieces and, on two occasions, drove Stewartry off their own scrum. Despite the difficulties underfoot, the backs too played their part and the return of Michael Griffin, after a long lay-off through injury, seems to have inspired them to up their game.

Despite Annan having the upper hand, Stewartry dug in and, rather against the run of play, scrum half Kerr drove over the Annan line following some good rucking play. This did not deter the home side, however, and they produced another good score before half time. A deft kick through by McCann put the Stewartry defence in trouble and flying winger kevin Jones was on hand to get the touch down. The conversion was narrowly missed and the half-time whistle saw Annan 15-8 to the good.

The second half was punctuated by penalties, with Annan conceding their fair share, some legitimate, many baffling. The first twenty minutes of the half were fairly even, but it was clear that the Stewartry backs were not going to pose a threat to a solid Annan defence. The pack was as solid in the second half as it was in the first and they provided good platform for the backs who produced some excellent moves in the heavy conditions. One flowing move through the hands of McCann, Jones and Griffin should have brought a further try but Grriffin was bundled into touch at the corner flag.

Stand-off McCann set the seal on a big Annan performance with a penalty to bring the score to 18-11, but narrowly failed with two late drop goal attempts which would have denied Stewartry the losing bonus point. This was a gritty performance from Annan with the entire team contributing to an excellent win. McCann got the backs moving, with Griffin to the fore, the forwards were immense with Michael Carpenter in particular putting in a power of work and Andrew Jancey at scrum half excelled, which led him to receiving the sponsors Man of the Match award from Billy Henderson.

Four vital league points which lifted Annan up the table by a couple of places, but lots of difficult games ahead.

Annan Team: C Warrick, S Wyllie, J Nelson; R Craig, K Watret; M Carpenter, A Jackson, R Dunlop; A Jancey, C McCann; M Griffin, J Bigham, A Halliday, K Jones; J Dennis. Replacements (all used) - D Barnes, A Rae, D Wyllie

ANNAN 24 v GLASGOW ACCIES 13
5TH MARCH 2011

Match Photos/Match Highlights

Annan's recent return to form continued on Saturday with a fine win against Glasgow Accies at Violetbank. The win was based on a dynamic attacking first half performance which laid the foundations for the win allied with a solid defensive performance in the second half when the visitors showed their attacking style of rugby.

Straight from the kick off Annan drove play into the opposition 22 and within the first minute were awarded a penalty when Accies were caught offside at a ruck. Stand off Craig McCann slotted the awards to give the home side a 3 point lead. Annan's tactics of harrying their opponents paid off as Accies were forced into making mistakes. From a knock on by Accies and the ensuing scrum Annan drove the ball down field with a series of rucks and when outside centre Alex Halliday received the ball at pace he cleaved through the fragmented Accies defences to score under the posts. Craig McCann added the extras to take Annan into a 10 point lead.

From the restart Annan again drove play deep into the Accies half and with an excellent display of possession rugby had the visiting defences in disarray at times. Accies, playing a similar open game plan to their hosts had their moments which were thwarted by some indecisive decision making and stalwart home defensive work. From an incisive Annan attack through the backline scrum half Andrew Jancey was just stopped short of the line and the ball was knocked forward by an Accies player in the tackle. From the ensuing scrum No 8 Ben Dennis picked up from the base of the scrum and drove from the line, and when brought down short he set up a ruck which enabled lock Kieron Watret to pick up and drive over for his try. The conversion was missed.

Accies were awarded a penalty on the half way line when Annan handled in a ruck and when Annan were penalised a further 10 metres the visiting standoff made no mistake. Minutes later Annan were awarded a penalty when a visiting forward was caught not releasing in a ruck. Craig McCann slotted the award to take the half time score to Annan 18 Glasgow Accies 3.

If the first half had belonged to Annan the second was shaded by the visitors who began to get their passing game together and cutting out their first half errors put the home defences under considerable pressure at times. The pressure paid off, when unable to break down the stubborn Annan defences, the Accies stand off landed a fine drop goal. Not to be outdone standoff McCann showed his fine drop goal technique minutes later on one of Annan's surges into the visiting 22. McCann added a further penalty following a further attack into the Accies half when they were penalised for going off their feet at a ruck. Accies however responded with some surging play of their own and laid siege to the Annan line in the last quarter of the game. The home defensive work was exemplary as attack after attack was repulsed as over eagerness by the visitors gave away several penalties allowing Annan to clear their lines. Eventually however the defences cracked when, following a series of rucks near the Annan line the Accies hooker drove over to score a consolation try in the final minutes of the game for the visitors to take the final score to Annan 24 Glasgow Accies 13.

This was without doubt the best game seen at Violetbank for some time. The foundations for the win were laid by the Annan forwards whose set piece play and rucking game set up their backs with ample ball and space to work in. The Annan back row in particular were out standing with flanker Ross Dunlop being awarded the Man of The Match Award by the match sponsors APD Ltd. Annan's Aussie No 8 Ben Dennis in his last match before returning home also made an impact in the match with his ball carrying skills to the fore as he consistently broke the gain line with his surging runs.

Despite results elsewhere generally going Annan's way they still remain on the bottom of the Division 2 of the SRU National leagues but have reduced the gap between themselves and fellow strugglers Allan Glen, Stewartry and Waysiders Drumpellier.

Annan 1st XV Squad: C Warrick, S Wyllie, J Nelson, G Hogg, K Watret, A Jackson, R Dunlop, B Dennis, A Jancey, C McCann, M Griffin, J Bigham, A Halliday, K Jones, J Dennis Replacements: A Rae, M Carpenter, D Wyllie (all used)

ANNAN 6 v HAWICK YM 12
19TH FEBRUARY 2011

With two heavy defeats behind them at Mansfield Haugh by the champions elect, one wondered what Annan could do in this home league match to restore some pride. Probably most spectators anticipated a heavy defeat for Annan but that certainly cannot have been the attitude in the Annan dressing room. What transpired was an absorbing match in which the Annan players to a man stood up to the occasion.

With Annan playing their first home game since November 20th, the crowd had their chance to see Annans Aussies Ben and Josh Dennis make their home debuts, and there is little doubt that they have contributed to the teams improved form of late, but so has an increasing belief among the regular squad, with stand off Craig McCann being pivotal to recent form.

Annan began well. Almost from the kick off they drove into the YM half, where the visitors were penalized for holding on. McCann slotted the penalty for a 3-0 lead, but Annan also lost scrum half Andrew Jancey with a neck injury in the same thrust. After a further spell of Annan pressure, the game settled into a pattern in which YM had the bulk of possession and territory, but excellent Annan defence kept their line intact. It began to look as though Annan would go into the break with their slender lead but a scrappy converted try just on the break gave YM a 7-3 lead. Their try came when Annan players failed to ground a bobbling ball in their own goal area and YM took advantage. Still, Annan supporters could reflect on a good halfs work from the home team.

When YM increased their lead just after the restart, thanks to a really good backs try in which the left wing was put in after good passing stretched the Annan defence, the game could have run away from Annan. That it did not was testimony to the hard work of the forwards and gritty determination in defence by the backs. The only further score of the second half was a beauty of a long penalty by McCann from just inside his own half. This brought Annan to within a score, but they were unable to get the territorial advantage which might have produced an upset.

While the soft underfoot conditions probably favoured Annan, there was clearly a resolve that if Annan were to be beaten, YM would have to work for the points. The Annan midfield defence was much improved, while the Annan pack were never subdued. The scrum went Annans way, but the lineout was more of a lottery. The handling and running by the YM backs was impressive, but they were unable to shake off Annans determined defence. In a good team performance, a special word for replacement scrum half Alan Rae, who had a torrid time last week but was much more at ease here, and for lock Michael Thompson making his first start for the 1st XV. Well done to all, including coaches Moffat and Smith, for a performance that really lifted the spirits.

Annan team: J. Dennis; D. Wyllie, A. Halliday, J. Bigham, A. Rae (M. Griffin); C. McCann, A. Jancey (A. Rae); C. Warrick (A. Jackson), S. Wyllie, J. Nelson, M. Thompson, K. Watret, D. Barnes, R. Dunlop, B. Dennis. Also used A. Copland.

HAWICK YM 58 v ANNAN 3
12TH FEBRUARY 2011

Following a victory away to Stewartry in the first round of the National Shield, Annan faced the daunting task of travelling to Mansfield Haugh for Round Two and taking on the high-flying Hawick YM side who are running away with National League Two, having won all of their games to date racking up 587 points in just 14 matches. It was clear from the outset that YM were an attack-minded outfit and Annan found themselves two tries down within the opening ten minutes. Classy play from the Hawick backs saw Armstrong and McColm getting the scores which put the home side in the driving seat. Annan were desperately trying to get into the game and clawed three points back from the boot of Craig McCann. The forwards were competing well, particularly in the scrums, but Annan did not have the necessary penetration in the back division to threaten the YM defence. The slickness of the YM backs brought further tries from McCleod and Borthwick and, with a half-time scoreline of 27-3, Hawick YM were firmly in control.

Annan were playing some good stuff in the forwards, with a notable performance from Ben Dennis, and put pressure on the Hawick line on several occasions, but the elusive tries just wouldn't come. The Hawick side scored a further five tries in the second period through Mabon, McCleod , McCracken and Armstrong (2). Stand off Armstrong oozed class and fully deserved his hat-trick of tries. As for Annan, they battled bravely throughout and were not aided by the early departure through injury of full back Keith Hogg, but they know they did not have one of their better days when they really needed to up their game against a side full of talent and confidence. Poor tackling led to at least 3 of the YM tries and they rarely threatened the Hawick line.

Nevertheless, apart from the contribution of Ben Dennis, there were solid performances from Andrew Jancey, David Wyllie and Callum Bell. Also, Craig McCann tried admirably to get the back line moving, but the YM defence was admirable and mopped up each Annan threat. Annan can now concentrate on trying to pick up points in the league, but first up this Saturday is Hawick YM, this time at Violetbank and after two heavy defeats already this season to the Borders team, Annan know that this will be a formidable task and will really have to play out of their skins in taking on the runaway league leaders.

Annan Team: C Warrick, S Wyllie, J Nelson (c); G Hogg, K Watret; C Bell, R Dunlop, B Dennis; A Rae, C McCann; A Jancey, A Halliday, J Dennis, D Wyllie; K Hogg.

STEWARTRY 10 v ANNAN 11
5TH FEBRUARY 2011

Annan continued their recent resurgence with a hard fought win in the Shield at the Greenlaw. An excellent start put Annan ahead, a lead which they were never to lose, but they had to withstand some fierce pressure at the close to record their first win on the road this season.

After a hesitant start by both teams, in which both missed penalty chances, it was Annan who settled first. Attempting to play the game at pace, they surged down into the Stewartry 22. Further good recycling of the ball and some slick handling had the home defence in trouble, and stand off Craig McCann saw space on the right. His long kick to the right corner allowed centre James Bigham to touch down for Annan. The conversion was missed. Another good attack saw Stewartry offside, and McCann was able to stretch the lead to 8-0.

Stewartry are always dangerous when wounded, and they replied with a fine try of their own. Following a lineout on the Annan 5 metre line, and ensuing rucks on the line, the ball was moved quickly right for their centre to get through a gap to score. The conversion was missed.

Annan had the last say of the half, McCann slotting a second penalty to give Annan a lead of 11-5.

With the rain now more continuous, the second half was much more of a slog for both sides, but it was Stewartry who had the territorial advantage, relieved by a series of kicks out of defence by Annan. Following a penalty kick to the corner, Stewartry laid siege to the Annan line, and got over in the corner. Again the conversion was missed, but Annans lead was now cut to 11-10. With time running out, Stewartry went all out for the win, and again laid siege to Annans lime. This time they got no change from a resolute defence, and when a despairing drop goal attempt failed and Annan cleared, the game was up.

So another very creditable performance from Annan, with McCanns successful kicking and awareness, especially in the first half, key to victory. While the lineout was solid, the scrum creaked after John Nelson and Keiron Watret had gone off. If the ball can be moved more quickly from rucks, the backs will be able to find more room to run, and on the few occasions when they did in this game they looked good. Defence by Annan was good, some jarring tackles going in.

In a sound all round performance, man of the match for Annan was Ben Dennis at No 8, whose work rate was an example to all.

Annans reward for this round 1 win is a visit to high flying Hawick YM in round 2 a week before the two sides meet at Violetbank in the league.

Annan team: C. Warrick. S. Wyllie, J. Nelson, G. Hogg, K. Watret, D. Barnes, R. Dunlop. B. Dennis; A. Rae, C. McCann; A. Jancey, J. Bigham, A. Halliday, D. Wyllie; J. Dennis. Replacements C. Bell, M. Carpenter, S. Haren, M. Thomson.

CAITHNESS 13 v ANNAN 13
29TH JANUARY 2011

After just about the longest trip in Scottish rugby, Annan returned from Thurso with two very valuable points following a fighting performance at Millbank Park. Annan were forced to make several changes, but the overnight stop in Inverness saw them refreshed and raring to go against the mid-table Caithness outfit. Annan started carelessly, though, conceding three penalties which fortunately did not come to fruition. The first quarter was evenly matched and this was to set the tone for most of the game. Following a break-away by the lively Caithness right wing, newcomer Josh Dennis put in a tremendous try-saving tackle in the corner. From the ensuing scrum, Annan were caught sleeping and a slick backs move saw the home side score under the posts.

Annan came straight back at Caithness and were unlucky not to have been rewarded for some fine backs play. Annan had most of the territorial advantage in the first half and got their just rewards with a great try. Strong running by winger Andy Copland led to the ball being shipped quickly right and, with a two-man overlap, Alex Halliday gratefully accepted to dive over for an excellent score. The conversion by Bigham levelled the score at 7-7, the half-time score.

Caught offside shortly after the break, Annan found themselves in arrears at 7-10 but quickly got back into their stride. Craig McCann levelled with a penalty at 10-10 and a further penalty by both side, the Annan score again from McCann took the final score to 13-13.

There were other scoring chances for Annan, notably following a great break by Ross Dunlop when David Wyllie was stopped just short, but Annan just couldnt squeeze that vital winner. Despite being on top for large chunks of the game, Annan had to endure a last five minutes where Caithness were having a last throw of the dice and driving at the Annan defence, but the tackling was excellent and Annan came away with a much-deserved two points.

All of the players contributed to a very pleasing team performance. They battled for each other, played intelligent rugby and put their bodies on the line when it mattered. There were admirable performances from David Wyllie, Andrew Jancey, Dwayne Barnes and Alan Rae and indeed from the rest of the team but it was a masterful display at stand-off from Craig McCann which really caught the eye, his best match in a long time. A good result for the Violetbank side, who can now look forward to picking off a number of teams higher up in the league.

Annan Team: R Craig, S Wyllie, J Nelson (c); G Hogg, M Thomson; D Barnes, D Wyllie, B Dennis; A Rae, C McCann;A Jancey, J Bigham, A Halliday, A Copland; J Dennis

Replacements (all used) R Dunlop, S Haren, N Moffat

BERWICK 21 v ANNAN 0
15TH JANUARY 2011

Without a game for the past seven weeks, Annan travelled to Scremerston to face a Berwick team lying second in National Division One and favourites for promotion with Hawick YM. After the long freeze, it was a gale from the North Sea which greeted the visitors along with heavy conditions underfoot.

The lengthy lay-off was not evident from an Annan point of view and the first fifteen minutes were extremely even, with both teams attempting to play expansive rugby despite the difficult elements. Annans tackling and positional play was good. Nevertheless, they conceded a try following a good driving maul by Berwick, which was converted. Annan stood toe to toe with their opponents and there was little to choose between the teams for most of the match. Annan played a lot of good pick and drive rugby and perhaps with quicker ball at times they could have posed a greater threat to the home defence.

It was Berwick, though, who stretched their lead to 14-0 at the break with a drive following a ruck and No. 8 McDougall plunged over for the home sides second score. A bit cruel, perhaps, given Annans contribution to the game but Berwick did possess the upper hand in the set pieces, which was ultimately Annans undoing. New recruit Ben Dennis did cross the line but the score was, rightly, disallowed for a double movement.

The second half was a very even affair and Annan had some excellent sorties towards the home line, let down on at least two occasions when the final pass in backs moves went astray. The tackling by Annan was top drawer, but they just lacked that bit of incisiveness in attack which could have brought the much sought-after scores. Berwicks third try came from an Annan scrum put-in. The powerful home pack took one against the head, spun the ball out and scored a decisive third try.

Losing 21-0 was certainly no disgrace against a very useful Berwick outfit and this was actually an excellent effort from Annan. The three converted tries were simply down to Annan having no answer to the Berwick maul and to struggling a bit in the scrum. The Annan commitment was absolutely first class. Every single player did his bit and made Berwick fight all the way for their win. In the dreadful conditions, it was pleasing to have a top-class referee with a feel for the game. Iain Heard from Gala showed just why he is regarded as one of the countrys top referees. Annans spirit was fantastic and this surely will give them the confidence to go forward from here. Difficult to single players out where everyone played their part, but Willie Gray and Andrew Jancey in particular typified the spirit of the day.

Annan Team: C Warrick, S Wyllie, J Nelson (c); G Hogg, R Craig; C Bell, D Barnes, R Dunlop; A Jancey, C McCann; W Gray, J Bigham, D Wyllie, A Copland; K Jones. Replacements (all used) B Dennis, J Dennis, A Jackson

ANNAN 18 v WAYSIDERS 13
20TH NOVEMBER 2010

Match Photos

Annan went into this SRU National Two fixture knowing that a win was an absolute must and, in the end, received a much needed morale booster after edging the Coatbridge side in a closely fought encounter.

Waysiders started at the better pace and had most of the possession in the early stages. They took the lead with a penalty after 10 minutes, but centre James Bigham levelled things for the Violetbank side almost immediately. Waysiders continued to make inroads with their big pack and effective mauling and one such maul after a line-out saw the ball moved out to the centres and a kick through was pounced on by the winger to score. Annan were 3-8 down and Waysiders had certainly looked the part in the first quarter of the game. Annan stuck to their task, however, and drove into opposition territory. Another Bigham penalty reduced the leeway, but the away side continued to play the more adventurous rugby and denied Annan possession. The Annan tackling, though, was superb and time and again this forced the Coatbridge men into making mistakes. Before half time, Annan were awarded another penalty and Bigham slotted it to give Annan a 9-8 lead at the break. This was just reward for their tenacity, despite Waysiders having the better of attacking play and the bulk of the possession.

The second half started brightly for Annan when Bigham took the score to 12-8 with an excellent long range penalty from just inside the opposition half. Astute kicking by stand-off Craig McCann was causiing Waysiders problems, but the away side continued to press. They camped themselves on the Annan line for several minutes, with the Annan defence holding firm. Eventually the pressure was too much, however, and the big Coatbridge forwards rumbled over for a try. This was going to be a real test of character for the young Annan side now, given the number of matches where they have given away scores in the latter stages.

Annan were tackling like demons, none more so than dynamo Dwayne Barnes in the back row. Time and again Waysiders were thwarted, allowing Annan to push into opposition territory. Their patience, grit and determination were rewarded with two further successful penalties by Bigham and they weathered a late storm by Waysiders to hold out for a rare victory.

Every player deserves praise for this tenacious, gutsy performance, with the aforementioned Barnes and Bigham along with Ross Dunlop emerging with special honours. Up against it for large chunks of this match, but a real morale booster for Annan when it was badly needed.

Annan Team: C Warrick, C Bell, J Crombie; G Hogg, K Watret;D Barnes, S Wyllie, R Dunlop; A Rae, S McCann; D Wyllie, J Bigham, S McCann, A Jancey; K Jones (c). Replacements (all used): M Carpenter, A Halliday, B Blower

ANNAN 9 v NEWTON STEWART 22
6TH NOVEMBER 2010

Match Photos

This was another disappointing performance and result for the Annan squad and their supporters at Violetbank on Saturday in their Division 2 encounter in the SRU National Leagues against fellow strugglers Newton Stewart. In a hard fought 1st half neither side looked likely or capable of scoring a try but Annan took advantage of penalty awards to take a 6-0 lead into the half time break. Stand off James Bigham landing both awards.

In the second half it looked as though the home side would be able to handle anything their visitors threw at them and indeed Annan extended their lead to 9-0 with another penalty award slotted by James Bigham before the visitors landed a penalty of their own to reduce Annans lead to 9-3. Annan were forced to rearrange their back line when centre Andrew Jancey had to leave the field of play with an injury.

Newton Stewart began to stretch the home defences and in one instance following a deft chip ahead, which was gathered by the visitors left winger, only a superb tackle by centre Alex Halliday saved a certain score. The pressure continued and from a lineout 5 metres from the Annan line the visiting forwards mauled their way to the line and with the Annan defences drawn into the close quarter defence the ball was released to the left of the ruck enabling the visitors to score in the corner.

A stramach following the scoring of the try led to Annan Captain John Nelson being red carded and a Newton Stewart forward yellow carded. With the conversion of the try missed Annan were left with a single point advantage and 14 men on the field. The numerical advantage to the visitors proved vital as Annan struggled to keep their visitors at bay in the closing stages of the game. Newton Stewart scored again following pressure on the Annan line to make it 9-15 with the conversion. In the closing moments of the game a loose ball was hacked through by the Newton Stewart centre who got the touch down at the posts. With the conversion added this took the final score to Annan 9 Newton Stewart 22.

For most of this game Annan were a match for their visitors but yet again let a match slip away from their control. In truth Annan never really threatened to score a try. Slow ball to the backs gave them little chance to run in open play. In the latter stages of the game the Annan defence lost its shape. The team is badly in need of experience and nous to help them keep the lead under pressure.

Annan 1st XV: C Warrick, Callum Bell, John Nelson, Graham Hogg, K Watret, S Wyllie, D Barnes, R Dunlop, A Rae, J Bigham, A Copland, A Jancey, A Halliday, D Wyllie, K Jones. Repacements (all used): W Braid, R Craig, A Carlyle

With no games scheduled for this coming Saturday Annan now has a little time to regroup and start the second half of the season with some positive results starting with the visit of Waysiders Drumpellier on the 20th November.

GLASGOW ACCIES 31 v ANNAN 10
30TH OCTOBER 2010

In this SRU League Division Two fixture at New Anniesland, Annan got off to the worst possible start and, ultimately, had too steep a hill to climb in their attempts at salvaging something from the game. The first ten minutes had the away side shellshocked as Accies ran in three tries. After only two minutes, the ball reached winger Mike Hermess and poor Annan cover and tackling allowed him in to score in the corner. The second try, only a couple of minutes later was a carbon copy of the first, with porous Annan defence again allowing the powerful winger in for a score. Just as Annan hoped to steady the ship, winger Craig Wright saw a gap and capitalised to nip in for Accies third try. Ten minutes gone - Accies 19 Annan 0. A nightmare start if ever there was one. However, Annan buckled down and their rucking and mauling play denied Accies possession.

It was clear that Annan were determined to have a go through the forwards and indeed they kept possession well with pick and drive play and produced the best forwards display of the season. For long spells, Accies had to defend against a resolute Annan pack and rely on scraps on the breakout. Annan were now playing good rugby and the score at half time was as it was after 10 minutes. The complexion of the game could have changed dramatically had Annan not been denied two perfectly good tries from Colin Warrick due to poor positioning by the referee. When you're down, it seems that you just don't get the breaks!

Ten minutes into the second half and Annan were on the scoresheet with the best try of the game. On their own ten metre line, Halliday fed to scrum half Jancey who covered the length of the pitch before slipping the ball inside to Callum Bell who plunged over for an excellent score. The conversion by Bigham narrowed the deficit to 19-10. The Annan forwards continued to take the game to Accies and there were a few close things on the home line. As Annan continued to press, there was always going to be danger on the breakout.

An attempted clearance from behind the Annan line was charged down and Accies flanker Ker scored a rather fortuitous try. In the dying minutes, Accies scored again following a second tap penalty move, allowing full back Bell to nip in at the corner.

This young Annan side should be proud of their performance against a handy Accies side. The forwards play was a joy to watch and the correct tactics on the day. Top drawer performances from Warrick, Nelson, Haren, Dunlop and Bell in the forwards and centre David Wyllie had his best game in ages. But for that dreadful first ten minutes, who knows..?

Annan Team: C Warrick, C Bell, J Nelson (c); G Hogg, K Watret; N Moffat (D Barnes), R Dunlop, S Haren; A Jancey, J Bigham; S Wyllie, D Wyllie, A Halliday, A Copland; K Jones.

HAWICK YM 60 v ANNAN 5
23RD OCTOBER 2010

Annan started brightly against the 100% league leaders and having conceded an early penalty took the lead with an opportunistic try by Alan Rae who charged down a clearance kick and ran 25 metres to score.

YM then took a grip on the game with 3 quick tries, mainly as a result of poor Annan tackling. A sin binning for repeated penalty infringements did not help the cause and Annan were glad to get to half time only 29-5 down Annan had the breeze in the second half but this was of little benefit with YM scoring at regular intervals, often with men to spare.

In the last 10 mins Annan managed to stem the tide and had a long period of pressure on the YM line but strong defence prevented a consolation score YM's high tempo off-loading game was too much for this inexperienced Annan team. However,they contributed to their own downfall by poor defensive alignment and first up tackling.

In attack Annan were indecisive and gave away possession too readily with poor kicking.

There can be no faulting team effort but defensive organisation and attacking strategy can only be improved on the training pitch with a full squad of players

Annan Team: C Warrick C Bell J Crombie G Hogg (K Watret) J Nelson (C) R Dunlop D Barnes M Carpenter A Rae J Bigham D Wylie (S Wylie) A Halliday A Jancey A Copland (A Carlyle) K Jones

ANNAN 9 v CAITHNESS 36
16TH OCTOBER 2010

Match Photos/Match Highlights

This was the fourth meeting between the clubs, Annan having won the previous three, but this was something of a basement battle, both clubs having won only one game in seven. Despite the fact that Annan had to make changes to their lineup again, there was still hope that with home advantage they could come out on top.

Although the score at half time was 6-10 to the visitors, which Annan closed to 9-10 early in the second half, the writing on the wall was clear. Caithness looked the more eager and balanced side, and dominated possession and territory for the first 40 minutes. The early exchanges allowed Annan to get ahead. Right at the start Caithness went offside, and Adam Carlyle slotted the kick. A similar award to Caithness shortly after drew the sides level, before Carlyle was presented with another chance when Caithness infringed at a ruck, to make it 6-3.

Caithness were stretching the Annan defence, moving the ball across the field, and on more that one occasion only a desperate tackle or a misplaced final pass prevented them from adding to their tally. The breakthrough came when lock Morris was put over on the right, and allowed to make the posts. Stand off Brims added the extras to give the visitors a 10-6 half time lead.

At least Annan had competed in the first half, but they would have to play much better in the second if they were to salvage the game. A brisk start by Annan gave some hope. Caithness failed to roll away after a tackle, and Carlyle brought Annan to 9-10. Any hopes Annan and their supporters had of a come back were cruelly dashed in the space of five minutes. First centre Sangster was allowed to run through from half way, and shortly after a short pass put flanker Sutherland through a gap in the Annan defence. With Brims converting both, Annan were now 9-24 down. At this stage Annan had their best spell. Long pressure on the visitors line looked sure to provide a score, but the defence held firm. Two late scores for the visitors rubbed salt in the wound. The first an interception try, the second when an Annan clearance kick rebounded onto the Annan line just in front of a visiting player. Rough justice that one, because Kevin Jones had made a great 'try saving' tackle seconds before.

No disguising the fact that this was a poor performance from Annan against a workmanlike and committed Caithness. Andrew Jancey and Kevin Jones were the pick of the Annan players, with Sean Haren, John Nelson and Ally Jackson working hard in the pack. Adam Carlyle came through his 1st XV debut with some good touches. Lack of depth in the Annan ranks is now being exposed. They can but pick themselves up and try to improve individually and collectively every game.

Annan team: C. Warrick, S. Haren, J. Crombie, K. Watret, G. Hogg, R. Dunlop, M. Carpenter, J. Nelson; A. Jancey, A. Carlyle; A. Copland, D. Wyllie, A. Halliday, C. Bell; K. Jones. Replacements used A. Jackson, S. Wyllie, C. Nicholson.

HIGHLAND 48 v ANNAN 10
9TH OCTOBER 2010

Match Photos

Annan went in to this National Division 2 fixture at Canal Park, Inverness with a patched up team due to injuries and unavailability and ended up on the receiving end of a comprehensive defeat. From the kick-off, it was Highland who exerted all the pressure and it took some pretty brave defending by Annan to keep them at bay during the first ten minutes when Annan hardly had their hands on the ball. The first breakthrough for the home side when an overlap was created for winger Sim to score in the corner. Slack tackling allowed full back Dillon in for a score and when the Highland No. 7 picked up from the base of the scrum to plunge over for Highlands third try, the writing was on the wall for the visitors. Annan did have some good spells of attacking play before the break, with good forays by Copland and Jancey in particular, but two further tries by Highland, and a solitary penalty by Scott McCann for Annan, brought the half time score to 29-3, an impossible deficit to retrieve. The Annan cause was certainly not helped by the withdrawal of Jonny Callaghan with a dislocated shoulder.

The second half continued in much the same vein as the first, with Highland running the ball at every opportunity. It has to be said that Highland were a very good team, with quality throughout the side. On this form, they will be a match for any team in the league. They had a strong pack and their backs oozed class. With four Fijians in their side, three of them in the backs, they played some sparkling running rugby and Annan had no answers. Annan did play better rugby in the second half and had a better share of possession, but the Inverness side ran in four more tries for a convincing victory. Full marks to Annan for a brave effort and this was rewarded with a late try from Andrew Jancey following a chip through by Scott McCann. Annan battled to the end when many teams would have caved in and there were good performances by Jancey, Dunlop and Forrest in particular. This game is now history and Annan have an opportunity to get back on track with a home fixture against Caithness this Saturday.

Annan team: C Warrick, S Haren, J Crombie; G Hogg, C Nicholson (N Moffat); D Wyllie, R Dunlop, J Nelson (c); S McCann, N Smith; A Jancey, J Callaghan (G Forrest), A Halliday, A Copland; K Jones

ANNAN 15 v BERWICK 34
2ND OCTOBER 2010

Match Photos/Match Highlights

nother disappointing week for Annan. There was no doubt that Berwick deserved their victory, but Annan were handicapped by the loss of both scrum half Clark after five minutes and stand off McCann after half an hour. How the game would have panned out if Annan had not been forced into a series of changes who knows, but in all probability they would have been closer at the finish.

Annan began brightly, taking the game into the Berwick 22, but on five minutes the game changed. Berwick kicked to the left corner, stole the ensuing lineout and moved the ball quickly across the backs, and centre Hackett broke through for the first try. The conversion, also by Hackett, was good. To compound Annans problems, scrum half Mark Clark was forced off with a suspected dislocated shoulder, Andrew Jancey going to scrum half and Andy Copland to wing. The Annan support was encouraged by a quick Annan riposte. Again enjoying play in the Berwick 22, stand off McCann threw out a long pass to his left, which found hooker Callum Bell out wide, and he scampered in at the corner. With the conversion missed, Annan were 5-7 down.

On 20 minutes Berwick doubled their tally. A heel against the head in the Annan 22, and again centre Hackett got over wide out, and then converted his try. Annan reduced the leeway when Craig McCann converted a long penalty given for a high tackle, but the stand off was then forced off with an ankle injury. Berwick had the last word of the half when Hackett succeeded with a penalty for an Annan infringement in the tackle. 17-8 to the visitors at half time.

At this stage Annan still seemed to be in with a chance, kicking towards the pavilion, but they would have to be first on the scoreboard. In fact it was Berwick who extended their lead. First Hackett punished an Annan offside, before winger Hill beat the Annan defence to get in at the posts, allowing an easy conversion. At 27-8 down, Annan were in trouble. To their credit Annan dominated most of the remainder of the game, but a kick ahead try by Berwick wing Webster, against the run of play, and the resulting conversion, sealed the points for the visitors. The game ended with a sustained effort from Annan on the Berwick line. Callum Bell got over but dropped the ball in crossing the line. Graham Smith appeared to be over, but the ball was not grounded. Just when it looked as though Annans efforts would be thwarted, the ball emerged from a ruck on the right which Captain John Nelson scooped up to dive over the whitewash to score. James Bigham rounded off the scoring with a good conversion.

There is no doubt that Berwick deserved their win. Their backs had greater penetration, and their bigger forwards had the advantage in the scrums and the loose. However it is not often that a team loses both half backs, and later in the game wing Andy Copland, finishing the game with ten forwards on the field.

Annan team: C. Warrick, C. Bell, J. Nelson, G. Hogg, K. Watret, R. Dunlop, , A. Jackson, M. Carpenter, M. Clark, C. McCann, A. Jancey, J. Bigham, A. Halliday, D. Wyllie, K. Jones. Subs used D. Barnes, G. Smith, A. Copland.

STEWARTRY 33 v ANNAN 21
25TH SEPTEMBER 2010

Match Photos

This SRU National Division 2 encounter at the Greenlaw was anticipated as a possible turn around in fortunes for the young Annan side following recent disappointments. In the end, it was not to be and Stewartry gained their first victory over Annan in National League games. How this one got away is difficult to explain. One thing is certain, though this was the most exciting encounter ever between these local rivals.

It was a fast, open, pulsating game of rugby. After surviving an early scare when Callum Bell had to use all of his pace to put in a try-saving tackle on the Stewartry winger, it was the home side who took the lead with a penalty from stand off Muir. Missed tackles led to Annan going 0-10 down when the Stewartry No. 7 weaved his way through a static Annan defence. This seemed to galvanize the Violetbank side into action and they took the game to Stewartry, playing some excellent rugby. The home side were persistently infringing at the breakdown and it was somewhat of a surprise that the referee did not take sterner action than the award of penalties. Craig McCann slotted one penalty and this was followed by a great score. A break by Bigham, fed out to Captain John Nelson who plunged over the whitewash.

Annan were having a great spell. A Jancey try was disallowed, and Ewan Braid was almost over the line when injured and forced to retire. Ironically, the only player yellow carded was Annans Bell and during his ten-minute spell in the bin, Annan produced possibly their best spell of the match. Half time - Stewartry 16 Annan 8.

McCann pulled back another three points with the boot, a great break by winger Jancey would have produced a try had the support arrived in time. However, Alex Halliday, who had a great game, waltzed past several defenders after a neat pass from McCann. A conversion and a subsequent penalty from McCann meant that Annan were now leading 21-16. A controversial decision by the referee, who was clearly out of his depth, denied Alex Halliday a superb try, the referee being miles behind play. Arguably, the game could have been won there and then.

Some poor tackling and an inability to close the game down ultimately cost Annan this one. In an almost unbelievable last fifteen minutes, Annan threw this one away after having Stewartry under the cosh. An interception try, a try following a kick through and a fortunate bounce, a couple of penalties and a conversion put paid to Annans hopes. Annan didnt put Stewartry to the sword when they could have and the Greenlaw men got out of jail. This young Annan team played well for most of the match, but tackling has to improve and they have to find that killer instinct.

Annan Team: C Warrick, C Bell, J Nelson (c); G Hogg, K Watret (R Craig); R Dunlop, E Braid (A Jackson), M Carpenter; A Rae, C McCann; A Jancey, J Bigham, S McCann (D Wyllie), A Halliday; M Clark

ANNAN 21 v KILMARNOCK 22
18TH SEPTEMBER 2010

Match Photos/Match Highlights

A somewhat stunned Annan support left Violetbank on Saturday, hardly able to believe that Annan had lost this game. From a seemingly safe position entering the last quarter, Annan lost their lead for the first time with almost the last kick of the game in their latest Division 2 encounter in the SRU National Leagues.

Annan kicked off towards the pavilion, with a helpful breeze at their backs, and certainly had the better of the first half. Pressure put on Kilmarnock in their own half resulted in a number of penalty awards to Annan, which stand off James Bigham was only too pleased to bang over. With one successful kick to Kilmarnock, Annan established a 9-3 lead, before, late in the half they scored a fine try. From near half way, centre Scott McCann broke down the blind side. Neat inter-passing with Bigham took them to the Kilmarnock 22, and when hooker Callum Bell took over he had support options which he did not need to get over near the posts. Bighams conversion gave Annan a healthy 16-3 lead at half time.

With the benefit of the breeze, and a good kicker in stand off Colin Sturgeon, it was obvious that Kilmarnock would be able to gain more territorial advantage then they had in the first half, and with possession and pressure beginning to favour the visitors, the penalties began to go against Annan. 16-3 became 16-9, but Annan seemed more than able to weather the storm. A long spell of pressure on the Kilmarnock line was twice repelled before prop Colin Warrick picked up after a tackle and was able to cross without opposition. The conversion missed, but at 21-9 and with 20 minutes to go, it seemed Annan must win..

When the Kilmarnock pressure resumed, so did the penalties, and Sturgeon, who seemed infallible with the boot, brought the visitors to 21-15 and within range of victory, as time began to run out. When he missed for the first time with another penalty, the Annan support breathed more easily, but then an Annan 22 drop kick was snapped up on the Kilmarnock right, and with the Annan defence in some disarray the Annan line was crossed. Now leading 21-20, the result would depend on the conversion and Sturgeon made it. There was time for Annan to restart, but for little else.

Annan showed in this game that they have the ability to win these games and this was a reasonable Kilmarnock side. When the tide was flowing against Annan late in the game, there was a need for leadership and cool heads, which may come with experience. While the lineout was improved, and the scrum though far from perfect better than of late .Annan were outmuscled in the rucks and the Annan backs could have done with much quicker ball. Good to see Mark Clark back in action, though, playing this game at fullback. Hopefully Annan will return to full strength over the next two weeks.

Annan team: C. Warrick, C. Bell, J. Nelson, G. Hogg, M. Carpenter, R. Dunlop, S. Roberts, E. Braid, A. Rae, J. Bigham, A. Jancey, S. McCann, A. Halliday, W. Gray, M. Clark. Subs used A. Jackson, K. Watret.

ABERDEENSHIRE 26 v ANNAN 13
11TH SEPTEMBER 2010

Match Photos

Annan made their 3rd longest journey of this seasons campaign to take on Aberdeenshire at the Woodside Sports Complex on Saturday. The home side started the better of the two sides and immediately drove the game towards their visitors line but the Annan defence was up to the initial onslaught and counter-attacked with an attack of their own which brought its reward when awarded a penalty when a home forward transgressed at a ruck. Stand-off James Bigham slotted the award and Annan were in the lead. Aberdeenshire had a chance to equalise minutes later when they were awarded a penalty in similar circumstances but their stand-off was well off target. From the 22 restart the ball was fumbled and from the ensuing scrum the home scrum half scored a fine blindside try. The try was converted by the home stand off.

With the heavier home forwards dominant in the scrums and mauls the home tactic was to kick the ball into the corners. From a penalty award the ball was kicked into the corner and from the catch at the lineout the ball was driven over for the home forwards to score in the corner. The try went unconverted. Annan were now 12 - 3 down and staring a heavy defeat in the face as the Aberdeenshire forwards looked to be in total control of the set piece play as Annan lost several scrums against the head. The visitors were determined that this was not going to be the case and despite struggling at scrums battled their way back up field into the home 22. When the Aberdeenshire standoff attempted to clear his lines Annan centre David Wyllie charged down his kick and gathering the loose ball outsprinted the home defence to score between the posts. James Bigham added the extra 2 points to take Annan to within 2 points of their hosts. Minutes later Annan retook the lead when once again the home forwards were penalised for handling in a ruck and once again James Bigham was accurate with the boot to take Annan into the half time interval with a 1 point lead at Aberdeenshire 12 Annan 13.

In the second half Aberdeenshire squandered possession by continually trying to kick to the corners but as often as not the kicks failed to reach and Annan were allowed to clear their lines or counter attack. Amazingly enough, although the visitors line was under a constant siege, they managed to keep their slender lead for almost 30 minutes before the inevitable eventually happened and the defensive line was breached by the home forwards when from another lineout drive they drove over to score a converted try.

Despite struggling in the scrum Annan surprised their hosts when they turned the tables towards the end of the game when they drove their opponents off their own ball only to be out rucked at the ensuing ruck. The ball was picked up by the home sides Samoan No 8 who crashed over to score a converted try to take the final score to 26 - 13.

Key to Annans defeat was their problems at the set piece both in the scrums and lineout which will no doubt be concentrating the minds of the Annan coaches in the coming weeks. Similarly the Annan selectors will be hoping with several players to make their comeback after injuries and unavailability that the side will begin to take on a more settled look.

Annan 1st XV Squad: C Warrick, C Bell, J Nelson (C), G Hogg( B Blower), R Dunlop, D Barnes, S Roberts, E Braid, A Rae, J Bigham, A Jancey, D Wyllie, A Halliday, A Copeland(N Smith), K Jones.

ANNAN 20 v ALLAN GLENS 0
4TH SEPTEMBER 2010

Match Photos/Match Highlights

They do say defences win games and that is exactly what Annan did on Saturday at Violetbank against newly promoted Allan Glens from Bishopriggs. Annan started this game in Division 2 of the SRU National Leagues brightly on a glorious day for rugby at Violetbank and from the kick off attacked the visitors line keeping play well within the Allan Glens half for long periods. Their perseverance was rewarded when the visiting forwards were caught offside at a ruck and stand off Craig McCann landed the penalty award. McCann was again on target minutes later when the referee again penalised the Glens forwards for an indiscretion at a ruck and Annan were 6 point up.

The visitors began to exert pressure through their set piece play with Annans scrummaging proving to be their Achilles heel and launched several attacks on the home line but the Annan defensive line held and following such an attack the ball was turned over at a ruck and full back Kevin Jones drove play to 5 metres from half way and from the ensuing ruck standoff Craig McCann put in a magnificent raking kick out of defence which ended 5 metres from the visitors line. Allan Glens were having as much trouble with their lineouts as Annan were during the match and the lineout following McCanns kick proved such a case. The Glens hooker overthrew, missed his man and lock Keiron Watret latched onto the ball and crashed over to score.

Craig McCann added the extras to take Annan into a 13-0 half time lead.

The second half continued in a similar vein to the first with the visitors continuing to dominate in the set piece and Annan putting in a superb defensive performance and winning the battle on the deck turning over ball on several crucial occasions. The game ebbed and flowed from end to end with the home side looking the more inventive in the backs. The visitors seemed to have used up all of the set piece moves and were not able to break through the home lines. From a Glens lineout within their 22 the ball fell to their standoff who had his kick half charged down. Winger Andrew Jancey collected the ball midfield and drove straight back into the Glens half and when stopped lock Ross Dunlop picked up the ball at the ensuing ruck and set a sweeping move in motion the ball passing through the hands of stand off Craig McCann, lock Graham Hogg, centre Scott McCann and finally winger Alex Halliday who scored in the corner.

Craig McCann added a difficult conversion from the touchline to take Annan into a 20 - 0 lead. Despite Glens throwing everything at the home line in desperation to get a consolation score once again the home defences stood up to the enslaught. Final Score Annan 20 Allan Glens 0.

Despite problems in the set piece which the Annan coaches, hopefully will be addressing in the coming weeks, this was an encouraging win for the home side. The Annan back row were magnificent in disrupting the visitors attacks off the scrums especially given their dominance in that area. Wing forward Euan Braid deserves special mention with his abrasive tackling and all round defensive work a master-class in the back row arts.

Annan 1st XV Squad: C Warrick, C Bell, C Nicholson (K Watret) G Hogg; J Nelson (C), R Dunlop, E Braid, M Carpenter, A Rae, C McCann, A Jancey, D Wyllie,(S McCann), A Halliday, A Copland, K Jones.

WAYSIDERS DRUMPELLIER 24 v ANNAN 17
28TH AUGUST 2010

Match Photos

Any notion that Annan had that early success would be easily come by in National Division Two was swiftly dispelled at Coatbridge on Saturday, with Annan returning home with only a bonus point and not the win they had been looking for to kick-start their campaign. Both teams seemed a bit edgy in the early stages, but it was Annan who stated their intentions first with a good move up the left wing which almost brought a score. Although Annan were trying to play an expansive game, there was an impatience about their play which led to a number of handling errors. Nevertheless, it was the Violetbank side which took the lead. Following a scrum, captain John Nelson set up a ruck, the ball went through several hands and Ross Dunlop fed to winger Andrew Jancey who scored an excellent try in the corner after beating three men. Craig McCann slotted over a great conversion and this really should have been the try which settled Annan into a rhythm, with Waysiders looking a wee bit rattled.

Waysiders scored two tries before half time, both of which displayed Annan weaknesses on the day. Waysiders shoved Annan off the ball at a scrum on 22 metres, and the ball reached their stand off who went in for a straightforward score. McCann converted a penalty to put Annan back into a 10-7 lead but this advantage was undone when the home sides towering No. 5 brushed aside some ineffectual tackling to take Waysiders into a half-time lead of 12-10.

The second half started in Annans favour almost from the whistle with winger Andrew Jancey having the vision and alertness to intercept a pass and go in from long range for his second try, again converted by McCann. Despite not playing at their best, Annan now had their noses in front at 17-12. Waysiders then had their best spell of the game. They were giving Annan a pretty torrid time in the scrums and began to gain a large chunk of possession. Following a scrum, they scored a try in the corner to bring the scores level and late in the match a kick and chase resulted in the Waysiders centre winning the foot race for the final try. Annan had had their chances to win the game and, with better handling, could have scored at least another couple of tries.

This is a game that Annan must learn from. The set pieces were not good enough against, admittedly, a much bulkier Waysiders pack but there will be a few more large packs around the corner as the season progresses! The handling was disappointing after some good stuff in pre-season and there was a lack of composure at crucial times. Tackling is usually one of Annans strong points. This was found wanting at times on Saturday. There was some good, adventurous play but in the second half Annan just didn't get enough ball due to the problems in the set pieces. Two players stood out for the Violetbank side Sam Roberts who worked tirelessly in the back row and winger Andrew Jancey who, apart from his two tries, had a superb all-round game.

Annan Team - C Warrick, C Bell, C Nicholson (G Hogg); R Dunlop, M Carpenter; S Roberts, E Braid (D Barnes), J Nelson (c); A Rae, J Bigham; A Jancey, D Wyllie, A Halliday, A Copland (C McCann); K Jones.

VIOLETBANK SHIELD
21ST AUGUST 2010

Match Photos/Match Highlights

Annan RFCs Super 15 aside Violetbank Tournament was eventually won by Premier 3 Hamilton who beat Dumfries in a closely fought final. On a superb day for rugby the spectators were treated to some excellent rugby over the afternoon with teams from Annan, Cambuslang, Stewartry, Upper Eden and Wigton competing. Acton Nomads who were the eighth team did turn up but with insufficient numbers to form a team so the organisers rearranged League 1 with only 3 teams but each match played over two 22.5 minute halves.

League 1 saw Cambuslang beaten 51 - 5 by Hamilton and 59 - 0 by Annan. Annans scores coming from tries from Alex Halliday (4), Kevin Jones (2), Craig McCann, Colin Warrick, and Andrew Jancey. Craig McCann converted 7 of the tries to complete the scoring. Annan were beaten by Hamilton 26 - 5 with Annans only score coming from a drive over score with prop Colin Warrick awarded the touchdown. With two wins out of two Hamilton progressed to the final.

League 2 saw Dumfries beat Wigton 19 - 0, Upper Eden 38 - 0, and Stewartry 29 - 7 to progress to the final. Other scores from League 2 were Stewartry 3 Upper Eden 0, Stewartry 5 Wigton 0, Upper Eden 0 Wigton 12.

In a closely contested final it became apparent that it was going to take something special to break the two well marshalled defences with no scoring before half time. In the second half from a Dumfries attack the ball went loose and Crawford kicked ahead for Hamilton. Inglis kicked ahead again. In a foot race with Dumfries's Rory Steele the Hamilton centre was clearly in the lead but as the ball went over the line Steele tackled the Hamilton player to pull him to the ground. Without hesitation the referee indicated a penalty try which McLeish converted from under the posts to put the Bulls 7 - 0 ahead. Hamilton went further ahead when they were awarded a penalty in front of the posts with minutes left to secure the win. Final Score Hamilton 10 Dumfries 0.

All in all this was one of the best Violetbank Tournaments over the last 10 years with some exciting rugby on display. The Club would like to thank James Mason for his organisation of the event and to tournament sponsors TN Trawlers and Murray Bell.

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