Match reports for the 1st XV
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All previous match reports etc can be found at the Archive page.

FULL MATCH REPORTS: QUICK ACCESS
LEAGUE: HOME
ARDROSSAN
STRATHAVEN
GLASGOW ACCIES
HELENSBURGH
LENZIE
WHITECRAIGS
LEAGUE: AWAY
HELENSBURGH
LENZIE
WHITECRAIGS
ARDROSSAN
WAYSIDERS
STRATHAVEN
GLASGOW ACCIES
CUP GAMES
OTHER GAMES
WIGTOWNSHIRE
STEWARTRY
CARLISLE

GLASGOW ACCIES 26 V ANNAN 24
SATURDAY 16 MARCH 2003

Annan’s second string travelled to Glasgow knowing that by fulfilling the fixture they were the official champions of Division 5 (West) and for the first 30 minutes of this game they looked more like relegation prospects as the Annan defence leaked 4 soft tries and were 26 points down in as many minutes. Although the visitors were without two or three regulars who had been called up to 1st XV duty the squad still has a well balanced look about it and once they had woken up to the fact that they were there to play a game of rugby and not make up the numbers they set about rescuing the game it in a workman like manner. There cause was helped by the example set by their captain lock Neil MacGregor, who leading from the front as usual, set about restoring some pride in his teams performance and began the fight back by scoring Annan’s first try. He was followed minutes later by full back Andy Copland who, coming into the line at pace crashed over the line to score to take the half time score to Glasgow Accies 26 Annan 10

In the second half the visitors continued where they had left off in the first with the forwards driving play deep into the Accies half and with some hard and uncompromising rucking had their hosts reeling. Centre Euan Currie was Annan’s third try scorer when he found a way through the Accies defence to the line. Scrum half Gordon Carmichael added the conversion. At this point captain Neil MacGregor replaced himself with veteran warhorse Neil Halliday who added a different dimension to Annan’s game plan in that his targeting of maul ball meant that the visitors had an abundance of possession in most facets of the game. And it was Neil Halliday himself who scored Annan’s last try with a bullocking run to the line. With Gordon Carmichael adding the conversion this took the score to 26-24 and set up an exciting last ten minutes as Annan strived to turn defeat into victory. However despite a neatly struck drop goal attempt by Gordon Carmichael which faded past the upright Accies defence held on to give them victory. All in all this was a rollicking good game of rugby enjoyed by the small knot of supporters relaxing in the sun. The Annan man of the match was without a doubt was veteran stand off Neil Latimer who for a stand off made a superb wing forward with some bone crushing tackles and excellent drives.

For the record Neil Halliday replaced lock Neil MacGregor and Ross Johnstone replaced Douglas McKay on the wing.

Annan Team: G Wyllie, K. Earl, J Carlyle, N. MacGregor, G. Hogg, S. Wylie, C. Hay, P. Quinn, G Carmichael, N. Latimer, D MacKay, C Hay, E Currie, A Muir, A Copeland. Replacements: P. Bertram, N. Halliday, R. Johnstone

ANNAN 16 V WHITECRAIGS 7
SATURDAY 1 MARCH 2003

On a winner takes all day it was Annan who eventually claimed the Division 5 West league title after a tense and eventful encounter at Violetbank.

What better way to motivate your opponents before the match has even started than to carry your champagne and celebration beers into the changing rooms under the gaze of your opponents? Thankfully it was Whitecraigs who chose this course of action and it only added to Annan’s determination to spoil their apparent over confidence.

Those Annan players who had played in the corresponding fixture earlier in the season only recognised a few faces in the Whitecraigs squad and on the basis of their high skill levels and sharpness during warm up it suggested that their squad had been strengthened considerably for this particular match.

And so to the match itself which started with several mistakes on both sides, all attributable to early nerves, but Whitecraige were first to breach the opposition’s defences when their backs carved through the Annan line with worrying ease to score under the posts. With the try converted things didn’t look promising for Annan although two penalties from Carmichael kept them in touch.

Thankfully Annan’s nerves settled quickly and gradually they began to take control of the game. The Whitecraigs pack was one of the biggest Annan had faced all season and it took tremendous effort from the Annan eight to initially match and then over power their bulkier opponents. P Quinn and J Nelson were a fruitful source of possession from the touchline whilst I Thorburn and S Livingston scrapped for any loose ball on the ground.

Annan’s only try of the game came in the first half. A cleverly placed kick deep into the Whitecraigs 22 forced their full-back to turn and retrieve. He, and everyone else watching thought he had ample time to clear his lines however no one had accounted for the blistering pace of A Muir on the Annan wing who seemed to appear from nowhere to block the clearance kick, gather the ball and dive over for the try. Carmichael converted and Annan headed towards half time with a 13 – 7 lead.

Their cause was further helped when the Whitecraigs hooker was given 10 minutes in the sin-bin for foul play on half time.

Annan pushed forward in the second half determined to benefit from their numerical advantage and were awarded 2 further penalties which Carmichael unfortunately failed to convert.

Whitecraigs gradually began to claw themselves back into the game with their bulky stand-off posing problems for Annan’s defence. A period of sustained pressure near the Annan line was only weathered through determined defence from the entire Annan team but when a 3-man over-lap appeared 10 yards from Annan’s line, a score looked a certainty. Fortunately A Copeland had other ideas and his powerful tackle dislodged the ball from the Whitecraigs attacker and Annan were able to clear their line.

Annan forced their way back into Whitecraigs’ half and were to remain there for the rest of the match. Carmichael kicked a further penalty and Whitecraigs’ discipline started to deteriorate further and culminated in their tight-head prop receiving a red card for violent play.

At last the final whistle blew and Annan had achieved their goal through a combination of basic teamwork, outstanding commitment and an undying will to win. Notable performances came from A Copeland at full back who was safe under the high ball and threatening in attack and A Muir on the wing, who has improved with every game. His pace and deceptive strength make him a lethal weapon in the kick-and-chase department. Youngsters J Nelson and S Livingston at last displayed glimpses of their undoubted potential with significant contributions in defence. Last but not least a mention is due for the evergreen pair of G Carmichael and I Thorburn. Carmichael’s experience provides stability and control while Thorburn’s energy and commitment belies his years and his appetite for the unsavoury tasks provides a reminder to all that the game is played for enjoyment.

Whilst the standard of some of the games in this league has left a lot to be desired and hasn’t always caught the imagination of the casual spectator it should be remembered that the seconds got themselves down to that standard in the first place and every player involved in the campaign must be congratulated for showing the resolve to rectify the matter. Hopefully this is the start of a rebuilding period from which a few players with genuine first team potential will transpire. Well done lads.

Team: G Wyllie, S Wyllie, J Carlyle, G Coupland,(C Moffat), J Nelson, S Livingston, P Quinn, I Thorburn, G Carmichael, E Hay, D MacKay,(D Wyllie), C Hay, E Currie, A Muir, A Copeland. Reps not used G Hogg, S Tinning, P Bertram, S Wildey.

STRATHAVEN 0 V ANNAN 86
SATURDAY 8 FEBRUARY 2003

Annan’s second string recorded an easy win in this League game against bottom of the table Strathaven, and the score could have been much greater had the referee not shortened each half , and been generous to the hosts at times by penalising Annan, perhaps in an effort to limit the damage. In truth this was as one-sided a game as you could see, partly due to the weakness of the home side, but also because - their confidence sky high, Annan produced some excellent running rugby in spite of the difficult conditions.

Kicking up the slope, Annan took early control of the game, and in the first minutes had scored twice up the ill-defended right wing. By 25 minutes gone, Annan were over 40 points to the good, but at this point the referee began to notice Annan infringements, and the game became bogged down for a while. Three times Strathaven were awarded penalties some ten metres out from the Annan line, but the tap penalties taken "were all swallowed up by solid Annan defence. That was to be the only point of the game in which the Annan line came under any pressure. A further score just, before the break took Annan to 50-0.

Kicking down hill in the second half, Annan totally dominated proceedings, Strathaven hardly ever getting out of their own half, and by the time the referee blew for full time his card recorded a score of 86-0, with fourteen tries and eight conversions. This may have been a slight underestimate, as try as they could, the Annan squad could not come up with less than fifteen tries.

Annan 's play was pleasingly open, with backs and forwards combining well to move the ball around. There was some excellent handling in the backs, more than ones quick and sure hands taking the ball right across the line. The forwards dominated all phases, except perhaps the scrum, where an injury to a Strathaven prop near half time resulted in uncontested scrums for the remainder. Up to that point Annan had driven Strathaven off most of their own ball. Paul Quinn had also helped himself to most of the Strathaven lineout ball. It was perhaps a pity for the home side that Annan had given a couple of first XV bench players a run in this game, as the pace and work o£ the likes of Neil Moffat and Paul O'Donnell proved difficult for the young hosts to handle.

On a day when all Annan players made their contribution, there could be no ‘man of the match', but, the younger players all deserve a mention, David Wyllie, Craig Moffat, Ally Muir, Euan Currie and Stuart Livingston all being under 19

Those claiming tries for Annan were: N. Moffat (3), A. Muir (2), C. Moffat (2), E. Hay (2), C. Bay (2), D. McKay, G. Coupland, P. Quinn, and S, Wyllie. G. Carmichael had eight conversions.

Annan team: S. Tinning; A. Muir, E. Currie, C. Hay, D. McKay; E. Hay, G. Carmichael; G. Wylie, S. Wyllie, P. O'Donnell, G. Coupland, D. Wyllie, C. Moffat, N. Moffat, P. Quinn, Replacements all used -S. Livingstone, J. Tinning, S. Wildey.

Annan's next League match is the crunch. Second placed Whitecraigs visit Violetbank on March 1st with the title at stake

ANNAN 54 v LENZIE 7
SATURDAY 25 JANUARY 2003

After some ten minutes of even play Annan took the lead through a Gordon Carmichael penalty, and were never in any trouble thereafter showing much more urgency than at Coatbridge the previous week., Annan dominated all phases of the game, and the fact, that the backs and forwards shared the eight tries shows that there were phases of open play despite the heavy conditions, Annan were forced into changes before the start, scrum half Craig McCann having been called up by the 1st XV, so Gordon Carmichael was at No 9 with Euan Hay taking over at stand off. This proved to be a successful unit, the old man probably shading the man of the match award. He it was who added the first try to his earlier penalty,, with a clear run to the posts,, then added the conversion, to give Annan a 10-0 lead. This had increased to 25-0 by half time, but Lenzie stuck to their game in the second half. A mixture of good defence and the inevitable knock-ons in the conditions meant that the floodgates did not open again for Annan until well into the second half. Relentless pressure eventually took its toll, and Annan ran in a further five second half tries to boost their points tally, Lenzie's sole crumb of comfort was a late penalty try awarded for repeated infringements against five metre tap penalties.

The last act of this game was a sad one. A Lenzie player was tackled just on the final whistle, and as the heap of players sank to the ground it was clear someone was badly hurt. It turned, out to be a badly broken ankle for the visitor. Had the whistle gone 30 seconds earlier he could have enjoyed, his grub and a pint, instead of a bed in the Infirmary.

Try scorers for Annan were G. Carmichael, A. Copland, A. Dickson (2), C. Hay, A. Muir, P. Quinn and I. Thorburn. G. Carmichael added two penalties and four conversions.

There were encouraging performances in the Annan ranks, Ally Muir and Andy Copland showing up well in the backs, while it. was good to see Ally Dickson returning to action after a long period of unavailability. With three games to go, two wins would wrap up the championship for Annan, their most difficult test being Whitecaigs at Annan.

Annan Team: G. Wyllie, S. Wyllie, A. Carlyle, G. Coupland, P. Quinn, S. Livingstone, C. Moffat, I. Thorburn, G. Carmichael, E. Hay, P. Bertram, C. Hay, D. Wyllie, A. Muir, A. Copland Replacements (all used): A. Dickson, D. McKay, K. Earl, S. Widley

WAYSIDERS 10 V ANNAN 10
SATURDAY 18 JANUARY 2003

In as dramatic an end to a game as you could find, Annan snatched a draw from what looked like certain defeat at Coatbridge on Saturday in Division 5 (West) of the Scottish 2nd XV leagues.

Top of the league Annan travelled to Langloan to take on lowly Waysiders but for 70 of the 80 minutes you could have been forgiven for wondering which was which. After a bright first five minutes when excellent rucking and driving play took Annan into the home 22, the game descended into a niggling contest of interminable forward drives and rucks. In this the gnarled home pack held the upper hand. They managed to slow the game down, deny Annan good possession, and even disrupt the Annan lineout. It was only on rare occasions that the ball found its way beyond the half backs, the preferred tactics of both sides being the punt up field or into touch.

One waited in vain for Annan to get their game going, and at half time the home team lead 3-0 thanks to a simple penalty. The second half proved to be more of the same, and when the home scrum half danced in from a scrum in the Annan 22, it looked curtains for Annan with the conversion taking their hosts into a 10-0 lead.

With time running out Annan at last began to get on top, and after a series of rucks on the home line, prop Murray Forbes found a gap right under the posts. Scrum half Craig McCann converted but Annan still trailed by three points. The last act of the game was a penalty to Annan outside the home 22 and to the right of the posts. Old campaigner stand off Gordon Carmichael got his kick straight and it had just enough power to drop over the bar. Annan were pleased Waysiders Drumpellier were not!

On a day when the Annan pack did not shine, and when the three quarters were not brough into play, No 8 Ian Thorburn again showed the commitment and aggression required. What will we do when he retires?

Annan Team: G. Wyllie, S. Wyllie, M. Forbes, G. Coupland, J. Nelson, S. Livingstone, P. Quinn, I. Thorburn, C. McCann, G. Carmichael, A. Muir, E. Hay, C. Hay, P. Bertram, A. Copland. Subs used D. McKay, E. Currie, G. Hogg

CARLISLE 5 V ANNAN 24
SATURDAY 14 DECEMBER 2002

Taking a break from league action, the seconds travelled to Carlisle with the intention of avenging the 76 – 0 defeat at Violetbank at the beginning of the season. The team showed a few late changes as a result of injury and unavailability but contained a good mixture of youth and experience. Annan’s success lay in the dominance of their forwards who pushed the Carlisle pack around the park with considerable ease. The experience in the front row of the evergreen J Carlyle and J Tinning, making a welcome return after injury, provided a solid platform in defence and attack.

K Earl and G Hogg were clearly on the same wavelength at the lineout and provided quality possession from the touchline, ably assisted by the versatile C Hay at the front of the line. In the early exchanges the lineout was Carlisle’s best source of possession until their main jumper had to leave the field through injury and from then on in G Hogg dominated the skies. Annan’s first score came from Hogg’s lineout possession. The ball was moved to B Hay in the centre who burst through the Carlisle defence and romped in from the 22 to score under the posts. G Carmichael converted to give Annan a deserved lead.

Annan continued to pressurise the Carlisle line, with the relatively inexperienced back three of P Bertram, A Muir and S Wildey, looking hungry for work throughout, but it was from initial good work by the forwards that the second score was to come. The ball was carried into the Carlisle 22 from where C McCann spun quick ball, which then passed between numerous sets of hands before P Bertram provided the scoring pass to G Carmichael on the loop. Carmichael failed to convert his own score.

This seemed to kick-start Carlisle into action and they thereafter enjoyed their best period in the game. From quality possession on the Annan 22, their stand off noticed some positional inexperience out wide in the Annan ranks and floated a kick to his winger who had a clear run to the line to secure what was to be their only points. Half time came with Annan leading 12 – 5 and the late, but welcome, arrival of A Carlyle meant that A Copeland, who had manfully remained on the pitch despite a recurring wrist injury, could be replaced. C Hay moved to the centre with A Carlyle joining the back row.

The second half continued in much the same vein as the first with Annan’s forwards repeatedly driving their opponents back from scrum and lineout alike. ‘Pick and drive’ was the order of the day and in this role N Macgregor made considerable ground. Their dominance was such that one maul was driven from their 10 metre line into the opposition’s 22. Such was the pace of the drive that a retreating Carlisle prop struggled to keep up with it and was unable to re-join his team mates who were attempting to prevent the surge. As this pattern continued Carlisle became frustrated at their lack of progress and things became heated at times with the referee having to warn players on a number of occasions. An unusual situation arose in the first half when the referee chose to warn S Wyllie, another making a welcome return after injury and playing at the unaccustomed position of blindside flanker, that “he was annoying Carlisle players at mauls”, says it all really.

The third try came, not surprisingly, from a push over scrum with I Thorburn getting the vital touchdown. G Carmichael converted. Annan’s last score came from a lineout 15 metres out from the Carlisle line. G Hogg stole the home team’s throw and a drive over the line by the rest of the forwards resulted in J Carlyle being awarded the finishing touch. On a heavy pitch it was always going to be a forward battle and thankfully Annan were more than up to the task. That said, the defensive play in the Annan back line constantly put their opponents under pressure and frequently forced errors at crucial points in the game.

It would be unfair to single out anyone for special mention as this victory was achieved through the dogged determination of the whole team. The performance certainly made up for last weeks lacklustre league display and it is hoped that the squad can carry this form forward to when league action resumes in the New Year.

Team:- J Carlyle, K Earl, J Tinning, G Hogg, N Macgregor, C Hay, S Wyllie, I Thorburn, C McCann, G Carmichael, P Bertram, B Hay, A Copeland (A Carlyle 40), S Wildey, A Muir.

ANNAN 18 V HELENSBURGH 3
SATURDAY 7 DECEMBER 2002

Although this win keeps Annan’s second string top of Division 5 (West) of the Scottish 2nd XV Leagues this was, over the piece, a poor team performance. The home team had enough possession and territorial advantage to have won the game several times over but lack of control, especially by the forwards, squandered numerous promising chances.

Helensburgh, in the opening minutes, had the better of the exchanges but Annan’s defensive line remained solid and slowly the home forwards worked their way into the game. Annan had several attempts at breaching the visitor’s line but the ball was lost in contact, knocked on or turned over. The home forwards eventually provided the goods when from a scrum the ball was driven to the line and as it squirted out of the side of the ruck prop Grant Wyllie was on hand to pick up and drive over the line. While Annan kept knocking away at the visitor’s line they were unable to add to their score in the first half and it was Helensburgh who, against the general run of play, reduced Annan’s lead to two points when they were awarded a penalty which their stand off duly converted to take the half time score to 5-3.

At the start of the second half Helensburgh came out with all guns blazing and rocked the home team with some great driving play but to Annan’s credit their defences held firm. Against the run of play it was the home team who increased their lead when stand off Gordon Carmichael landed a penalty awarded when the Helensburgh forwards were penalised for not releasing the ball in a ruck. In the final quarter Annan increased their lead when from a driving maul, which started on the 22, prop James Gilmour drove over to score. In the final minutes from a scrum No 8 Ian Thorburn picked up and drove towards the line and from the ensuing ruck lock Graham Smith drove over to score to take the final score to Annan 2nd XV 18 Helensburgh 2nd XV 3.

Annan Team: G.Wyllie, K. Earl (A. Carlyle), J. Gilmour, N. MacGregor, G. Coupland (G. Smith), C. Hay, P. Quinn, I. Thorburn, K. Hogg, G. Carmichael, S. Tinning, E. Hay, B. Hay, A. Muir, A. Copland.

ARDROSSAN 3 V ANNAN 6
SATURDAY 30 NOVEMBER 2002

A Saint Andrew's Day feast of flowing, exciting rugby this certainly wasn't! The game matched the weather, and that was pretty dreich. However, all credit to Annan for coming back from Ardossan with a win, which keeps them firmly in the driving seat at the top of Division 5 (West) of the Scottish 2nd XV Leagues.

With a home match against Helensburgh this Saturday, they should further consolidate their position as they go into the Christmas league recess. The Annan XV at Ardrossan was a blend of experience and youth, with three Colts (Craig McCann, Craig Moffat and David Wyllie) in the side. The first half was eminently forgettable, although Annan put up some stout defence to resist early Ardrossan pressure, being pinned into their own 22 for the first ten minutes. Although Ardrossan had lots of early possession, it has to be said that they did not really appear to know what to do with it. Annan, for their part seemed disjointed and panicky, although there was some improvement as half-time approached. One area which Annan completely dominated was the scrummage, with the Ardrossan pack retreating at a rate of knots and, after a jittery start, Craig McCann started putting in some fine touchline kicking. Half-time 0-0. Annan dominated the second period, but were unable to turn this dominance into points. Two penalties from McCann brought the points home to Annan. Not a huge number of plus points, but their were fine performances from I Thorburn and K Hogg. The three Colts performed well and winger Ally Muir is improving with every game, putting in solid tackles and looking dangerous when given some space. A pleasing and important victory, but Annan know that this was not one of their more convincing performances.

Annan Team: G.Wyllie, K. Earl, A. Carlyle, N. MacGregor, G. Coupland (G. Hogg), S. Livingstone (D. Wyllie), C. Moffat, I. Thorburn, K. Hogg, C. McCann, P. Bertram (S. Tinning), B. Hay, C. Hay, A. Muir, A. Copland.

STEWARTRY 16 V ANNAN 15
SATURDAY 9 NOVEMBER 2002

Taking a break from their league campaign Annan’s second string travelled to the Greenlaw on Saturday to take on their counterparts from Stewartry in a friendly. The game, as an advert for rugby, did little to enhance the game in Castle Douglas as both teams served up some pretty poor rugby fare.

All in all the home team deserved their victory as they made less mistakes with their forwards turning over more ball than their visitors. Stewartry scored first when a dropped ball in the back line allowed the home centre to pick up the loose ball and win the race for the line. Annan’s Captain lock Neil MacGregor balanced the scores when from a rollicking drive he crashed over to score. Stand off Michael Rennie’s conversion took Annan into a two point lead and that was the way the score remained up to half time.

Veteran winger Alastair Graham was replaced at half time by Ally Muir who made an instant impact when from his first touch of the ball scored a fine try when he won the foot race to the line when centre Euan Hay put in a probing kick behind the advancing home backs. Stewartry fought back and scored a fine unconverted try of their own to reduce the Annan lead to two points before retaking the lead when they landed a penalty. Annan, however, were not to be outdone when Michael Rennie popped over a drop goal to retake the lead. However justice was done for the home side when in the dying moments of the game Stewartry landed a further penalty award to win the game by 16 points to 15.

This was a game which was lost by the Annan forwards who lost too much possession and failed to impress in the loose. The lineout which is normally one of Annan’s strengths was a shambles and only in the set piece scrummage did parity prevail

ANNAN 36 V GLASGOW ACCIES 0
SATURDAY 2 NOVEMBER 2002

Again Annan were able to field a strong team, with full replacements, for this Scottish 2nd XV League match in Division 5 (West) at Violetbank against a Glasgow side which had started the league campaign well, but had recently started to slip.

For the first quarter of an hour the visitors looked lively, and ran at Annan on every opportunity. Transgressions by Annan ensured that Accies were able to keep the game out of their own 22, and that Annan were unable to create any continuity in their play. At that point the Annan backs were given a chance to run the ball, and outside centre Euan Hay carved through with ease to the posts for a try, which Michael Rennie converted. As Annan began to get on top, and to secure better ball, stand off Gordon Carmichael was able to set his backs running frequently, and they ran in a further three tries before half time. Two came from inside centre Michael Rennie, one going through a gap, the other looping outside wing Colin Rodger. The fourth came from copybook draw and pass from the Annan backs, allowing left wing Colin Rodger to get in at the corner. With Michael Rennie converting one other, Annan seemed home, if not dry, at half time,

Michael Rennie had been replaced just before half time with a tweaked hamstring, Bruce Hay coming on, and at half time No 8 Ian Thorburn was replaced by Neil Bell. Unfortunately for both sides the rain, which had begun around 20 minutes, was to continue for the second half, and errors by both teams multiplied creating a stop-start pattern. Annan were always on top, and it is difficult to remember an occasion in the second half when Accies got anywhere near the Annan line. Annan had to content themselves with two more tries, one from fullback Michael Anderson, while Euan Hay got his second. Stand off Gordon Carmichael added one conversion.

So a comfortable win for Annan against a young and plucky visiting team, but there were certainly aspects of play, which can be improved. The forwards did not dominate as much as they would have liked, either in scrum or lineout, even if they did eventually secure most lineout ball by one means or another. Greater cohesion is needed, and more dynamic rucking to produce the quick ball which would nave allowed the talented back division even more opportunities. Annan!s match winners on the day were Gordon Carmichael, Michael Rennie, Mike Anderson and Euan Hay.

One for the record books, and to shame all those past 50 who no longer run touch, the Glasgow Accies match rep and touch judge was 80 years young, and claimed, to be deaf in one ear and blind in one eye. Perhaps he should take up refereeing!

Annan team: S. Holliday, K. Earl, G. Wylie, G. Coupland, M. Newton, S. Livingstone, P. Quinn, I. Thorburn (N. Bell), R. Johnstone, G. Carmichael, C. Rodger, M. Rennie (B. Hay) E. Hay , D. McKay (C. Hay)f M. Anderson. Subs not used A. Muir, S. Wildey.

WHITECRAIGS 8 V ANNAN 13
SATURDAY 26 OCTOBER 2002

Annan’s second string took to the road to play league leaders in Division 5 (West) of the Scottish 2nd XV Leagues with not just a full team but also a full compliment of replacements. The stakes were high in this game with unbeaten Whitecraigs sitting top of the league with Annan in second place.

Things did not go quite according to plan for Annan to begin with as they were 3-0 down in the opening minutes when they conceded a penalty when they were caught offside. This, however, is a spirited 2nd XV with the older and more experienced players cajoling and encouraging the younger and newer members of the squad. Annan went in front with a finely worked try finished off by full back Michael Anderson. Whitecraigs then crafted a fine try of their own to retake the lead just before half time at 8-5.

In the second half Annan out with all guns blazing and it was no surprise when wing forward scored a fine try down the narrow side. With the visitors 10-3 in front and with the bulk of the possession and territorial advantage Annan just could not get the breaks or rub of the green to finish off the game that was until the final minute of the game when the Whitecraigs centre gave away a needless penalty which centre Michael Rennie slotted to take the final score to Whitecraigs 2nd XV 8 Annan 2nd XV 13.

Annan 2nds now sit top of the league and if they can keep this spirited and talented squad together they should remain there for the rest of the season.

ANNAN 90 V STRATHAVEN 0
SATURDAY 19 OCTOBER 2002

Strathaven arrived short-handed and conceded the league points in return for the loan of Annan players, prop Darren Irving and back Ally Muir in the first half, and some of Annan’s replacement players in the second period. Thanks are due to the visitors for coming, and allowing the 2nds to get a game at home. One of the knock-on effects off the concession of the points was that Annan were able to give all eight of their replacements a game. Such was the turn out that captain Neil MacGregor, still feeling the effects of flu, was able to watch this one from the sidelines.

Clearly this was not much of a contest, though the visitors did compete until the end, but in the first half the Annan pack made a bit of a meal of things, their play being a bit too loose, fast and furious. They tightened up their game in the second half. The backs, marshalled by stand-off Gordon Carmichael had something of a field day, especially late in the game when they were able to run in tries almost at will against a tiring opposition. The first half did see one move for the record books. Centre Euan Hay passed to centre Bruce Hay, he then passed to himself (work that one out) and then to Caird Hay, who scored. There were good debuts for Ally Dixon at lock and for Michael Rennie, who came in to the centre for the second half. More mature reader may be interested to know that the young Strathaven stand-off was the son of former Annan player John Getty.

This week will be a much more serious affair, when the seconds visit league leaders Whitecraigs, currently unbeaten, but if a strong squad can be assembled a win is certainly possible.

For the record Annan scored 16 tries (or was it 18? ) through: A. Carlyle, C. Wylie, N. Bell (2), D McKay (2), M. Anderson (2), M. Rennie (2), E. Hay, C. Hay, G. Carmichael, P Bertram, A.Graham and R. Johnstone. There were 5 conversions (or was it 7 ?), four from Gordon Carmichael and one from Michael Rennie.

Annan team: C. Wylie, A. Carlyle, J. Gilmour, C. Coupland A. Dixon, D. McKay, N. Bell, I. Thorburn (S. Livingstione), C. Rodger, C. Carmichael, P. Bertram (A. Copland), E. Hay, B. Hay (N. Rennie), C. Hay (R. Johnstone), M. Anderson, A. Graham. D. Irving and A. Muir played for Strathaven for the full game. The visitors were most impressed with referee Rod Thorburn, whom Annan players probably take for granted.

LENZIE 0 V ANNAN 7
SATURDAY 12 OCTOBER 2002

After call ups to the first team and call off’s by the ‘can’t travel, won’t travel brigade’ it was due to the hard work of Captain Euan Hay that Annan managed to put out a full XV. Despite the problems Annan attacked from the start with some spirited play. The Annan lineout was particularly effective with stand off Gordon Carmichael able to pin down Lenzie with his precise line kicking and it was not long before scrum-half Kenny Hogg went over for the try duly converted by Carmichael.

Annan put together some well worked back moves but were unable to breach the Lenzie defence again in the wet underfoot conditions. The second half saw a determined effort by Lenzie who looked dangerous on several occasions. Then 15 minutes from the end James Gilmour was sin binned and Annan were down to 14 men. Determined tackling and the boot of Carmichael saved Annan and this makeshift team got some hard earned league points

HELENSBURGH 22 V ANNAN 17
SATURDAY 28 SEPTEMBER 2002

It was a familiar story on Saturday morning, with ten of the selected squad for this game unavailable, and Captain Neil MacGregor forced into telephone action to ensure that a full team could travel, the bus finally leaving an hour late. Thanks are due to Murray Forbes, Douglas McKay Gavin Lynch, Neil Latimer and Ally Muir for filling in.

Annan got off to a good start at Ardencaple, with some good driving forward play, and took the lead when prop Murray Forbes crashed over near the posts. Stand off Neil Latimer converted for a 7—0 lead. This was short 1ived however, as the more expansive Helensburgh XV found a gap in the Annan defence and converted to level the score. A further converted try before half time gave the home side a 14— 7 lead.

With not a lot between the teams, Annan certainly believed they could take the game, and when Captain and lock Neil MacGregor crashed over this looked possible. Though the conversion attempt failed, Annan were only two points adrift at 12-14. Unfortunately Annan gave away a score almost immediately, and then another, to go 12—22 behind. Late forward pressure gave No 8 Stewart Livingstone the chance to score, but it was too late for Annan to take the game.

Annan dominated the set piece, especially in the second half, giving the home scrum a torrid time, and as scrum followed scrum poor Murray Forbes was wishing Annan had had a prop in reserve. Douglas McKay replaced lock Paul Quinn in the second half, and continued Quinn's good work in the lineout. Ally Muir got a run on the wing in place of Bob Copland late on. Unfortunately for Annan their dominance of the scrum and lineout was not enough to create a win, and their general game was too limited in scope to overcome a lively but limited home side. One struggles to remember a single Annan backs move throughout, despite the fact that centres Chris Donabie and Colin Roger looked eager when they did come across a ball.

Annan team: B. Hay; P. Bertram, C. Rodger, C. Donabie, R. Copland, (A.Muir); N. Latimer, C. Lynch; 13. D. Irving, P. O’Donnell 14. M.Forbes, N.MacGregor, P.Quinn (D. McKay), C. Hay, N. Bell, S. Livingstone.

ANNAN 64 V ARDROSSAN 6
SATURDAY 21 SEPTEMBER 2002

What a difference a week makes! Large numbers at training this week, renewed commitment, a sizeable squad to choose from – all of these were contributory factors in a comprehensive routing of Ardrossan at Violetbank on Saturday in Annan 2nd XV’s first league match of the season in Division 5 West of the Scottish 2nd XV Leagues gave a boost to club morale and proved that a number of players in the side are more than capable of pushing for 1st XV places and helping the club in its quest for Premiership rugby. Although Annan started Saturday’s match slowly, indeed they had to soak up early pressure from Ardrossan, they quickly got into their stride, after falling behind to an early penalty. Good work from Neil Bell and Philip Bertram allowed prop James Gilmour to make good ground before feeding to Graham Smith who ran in from half way for an excellent score. Another penalty to Ardrossan put the visitors into a 6-5 lead, but Annan responded with flowing, confident rugby. Good hands, culminating in a long pass out from stand off Gordon Carmichael lead to Philip Bertram scoring an easy try – and he still had an overlap outside him!

Wily Carmichael was beginning to control things and he showed that he had lost none of his class after a long lay-off through injury. Ardrossan were fighting bravely in the first half, but their challenge was dented just before half time when prop James Gilmour handed off three players to power his way over in the corner. Half time score: Annan 15 Ardrossan 6.

The second half was a revelation as Annan scored a further seven tries, all of them converted by Gordon Carmichael. The floodgates opened just five minutes into the second period, when a pick-up and drive from Graham Smith at a scrum resulted in another fine score. Tries followed at regular intervals from Paul Quinn, Ross Johnstone (twice), Graham Smith, Andy Copland and Iain Kerr. This was an extremely pleasing performance from a hungry Annan team who played with composure and skill throughout, and whose team work and commitment were very impressive. There was excellent linking between forwards and backs, the game was played at pace and their was a desire to keep the ball in hand. An excellent start to the league campaign, which sets the benchmark for more demanding games over the coming months, beginning with this week’s away fixture at Helensburgh.

WIGTOWNSHIRE 0 V ANNAN 31
SATURDAY 7 SEPTEMBER 2002

This was a welcome win for the 2nds, even if achieved with the help of the Shire front row drafted in when Annan were forced to leave with only thirteen men, none with front row experience. Nevertheless there were some heartening performances in the Annan ranks, and apart from the five tries scored there was some resolute defence, which kept the line intact during spells of ‘Shire pressure.

Annan began well, keeping possession and moving the ball well through the hands, and were soon 12-0 ahead. First blow was struck by stand off Euan Hay, who spotted a gap in the home defence and darted through to the posts, then converted his own try. Next on the score sheet was Annan’s ‘Shire’ tight head, Cameron MacGregor, who barged over from a maul near the line.

The game became much more even as the half progressed, Annan losing captain and lock Neil MacGregor after 14 minutes with a groin strain. As he put it he had spent longer eating his rolls during the stop at Skyreburn than he spent on the pitch. Nevertheless big Neil’s influence was everywhere to be seen before, during and after the game. Annan came under increasing pressure towards half time, but good defence preserved their lead.

With slight wind and rain advantage in the second half, Annan had the territorial advantage, helped by some fine line kicking from Hay, but both sides were guilty of numerous errors due to the frantic nature of some of the play, and the greasy conditions. Annan lost centre Chris Donabie with a damaged shoulder, and he was replaced by a ‘Shire volunteer, but as the game neared its end Annan got the breaks again. A second barging try for Annan’s Shire tight head was followed by a typical close range effort from No 8 James Mason, and finally Euan Hay scored his second. Two Hay conversions made up the final score of 31—0.

This game was played in an excellent spirit, and many thanks are due to ‘Shire for their generous help on the day. While every Amman player contributed to this result, they won’t get an opposition front row in league games. Particular mention should go to two of last year’s Colts, Colin Rodger at centre and Stewart Livingstone at open side, and also to Andy Copland who had a sound game at fullback after injury blighted last season. Barry Graham was, as expected, a tower of strength at scrum half.

While Annan’s domination of the set piece could not all be attributed to their own players, Kieran Watret and Neil MacGregor made a weighty second row at the start, and Kenny Carter proved the main source of ball in the lineout. There were glimpses of good back play especially in the opening quarter. Definitely something to build on for the league games ahead, particularly if some of those injured or unavailable can return.

Annan team: A. Copland; N. Bell, C. Donabie, C. Rodger, P. Bertram; E.Hay, B.Graham; Shire, Shire, Shire, N. MacGregor (C. Hay), K. Carter, S. Livingstone, J. Mason.

Scores:E. Hay (Tries 2, conversions 3), C. MacGregor (Tries 2), J. Mason (Try).

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