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ANNAN FINISH THEIR SEASON IN STYLE
28TH MARCH 1998

Annan completed their SRU TENNENTS 1997/98 Division 2 league campaign with a convincing win over relegation strugglers Cambuslang at Coats Park scoring six tries in the process

With the Championship won and the Division 2 Trophy presented to the team before the game and without three first team regulars in prop Jack Tinning, lock Paul Buckley and scrum half Greig Oliver one could have been forgiven for expecting Annan to take the foot off the gas pedal in this their last league fixture of the season but with Cambuslang needing a single point to stave off relegation they were not going to go down without a fight and it took Annan half the game to subdue Cambuslang's fire and determination..

Annan took the lead in the opening minutes of the game when the Cambuslang forwards were penalised for handling in a ruck which was converted by stand off Dougie Pagan. Annan were then rewarded for a period of sustained pressure in the home 22 when from a ruck on the left touchline the ball, with some fine handling by both forwards and backs, was spun out to the right wing where winger Steven Rae crashed over in the corner. It was Steven Rae who minutes later scored again when from a quickly taken penalty by quick thinking scrum half Gordon Carmichael he was able to cross the line unopposed. Dougie Pagan converted from the touchline and then extended Annan's lead by a further three points when he converted a penalty awarded when the home forwards again handled the ball in a ruck. Cambuslang were not going to go down without a fight and slowly made inroads into the Annan lead before half time. They firstly converted a penalty when the Annan backs were adjudged offside at a scrum and then they scored a fine try by their excellent full back who cleaved his way through some ineffectual Annan tackling to score between the posts which his stand-off converted to take the half time score to Cambuslang 10 Annan 18.

Realising that they may be able to secure a point or even three the home side came out in confident style at the start of the second half and their confidence was rewarded when almost from the restart the scored another fine try this time when their live wire scrum half, with a long floated pass, found his winger who scored in the corner. This unconverted try took Cambuslang within three points of the Annan lead. The visitors then upped their game by a couple of notches and the Annan forwards began to exert tremendous pressure on their counterparts in the set piece and their efforts were soon rewarded when from a scrum ten metres from the home line the ball was released up the blind side for winger Steven Rae to score his hat trick as he powered his way over in the corner. Dougie Pagan again converted from the touchline. Cambuslang cut Annan's lead by three points from a penalty awarded when the visiting forwards killed the ball in a ruck. This, however, was the home sides last excursion into the Annan half as the visitors took a complete stranglehold of the game and scored a further three tries. The first of these was scored by prop Colin Warrick when he was driven over by his forwards when the ball was won at a lineout on the home line following a superb penalty kick up the line by stand-off Dougie Pagan which he also converted. The penultimate score was by centre Stuart Williamson who powered his way through a dispirited home defence to score beside the posts. Dougie Pagan again converted. The last try was a peach with both forwards and backs involved in some excellent close quarter passing before No 8 Andy Renwick broke through the last line of defence to score under the posts which Dougie Pagan converted to take the final score to Cambuslang 18 Annan 46. Minutes later the final whistle went and Annan restarted their celebrations for the second time in a fortnight.

Whilst not a classic over the full 80 minutes this was a excellent spectacle for the large Annan contingent of supporters who had travelled up the M74 to cheer on their team. The most encouraging aspect of the performance being that even with nothing at stake Annan's commitment was excellent for the entire 80 minutes. Annan players who caught the eye were stand off Dougie Pagan and full back Derek Adams in the backs and No 8 Andy Renwick and John Deakin in the forwards.


ANNAN DRAW BUT ARE CHAMPIONS AGAIN
14TH MARCH 1998

Annan draw 10 points all with Murrayfield Wanderers and with results elswhere going Annans' way - Livingston beaten by St Boswells - Annan win their SEVENTH CONSECUTIVE CHAMPIONSHIP - Let the celebrations begin!

Murrayfield Wanderers last defeat in Division 2 was against Annan at the Everholm on 22nd November last year and all of the reports of their improvement were apparent during this fixture at Murrayfield. In the lee of the impressive west stand at Murrayfield in near perfect conditions, with the exception of a cross pitch wind, and with a heavily sanded but firm pitch the conditions were perfect for running rugby in Annan's penultimate league match in Division 3 of the SRU TENNENTS National leagues. In the opening exchanges Annan looked nervous and were lucky not to lose a try within the first ten minutes when on the attack within the home team's 22 a long floated pass, held up in the wind, was intercepted by the Wanderers' left winger who, luckily for Annan was caught and brought down in their 22. Ten minutes later in a similar attacking move another visiting pass was intercepted by the home right winger who was a shade faster than his left counterpart and he sprinted in to score in the corner. Annan continued to press for a score but initially the home defences held firm until from a line out near the Wanderers' line the ball was taken cleanly and was driven over the line by the Annan forwards with wing forward Billy Henderson being credited with the score to level the scores at 5 points apiece. For the remainder of the half the game ebbed and flowed from end to end with the home team edging out the visitors in the territorial stakes with their back row in particular looking more effective in the loose. Half time score Murrayfield Wanderers 5 Annan 5.

In the second half for the majority of the half Annan were in command, especially in the line out which proved a rich seam of possession. Annan launched numerous attacks within the home 22 but seemed happy to spurn several promising scoring chances - one with four man overlap. The pressure did, however, pay dividends when, in an almost carbon copy of the first try, the ball was again secured at a line out but this time instead of driving through the middle of the line the Annan forwards rolled around the tail of the line to drive the ball over the line with this time wing forward Dougie Thomson claiming the touchdown to give the visitors' a five point lead.

Annan continued to dominate for long spells but were unable to crack open the solid home defence. Just when it looked as if Annan had four points in the bag the home team launched their own attack in the last five minutes of the game and while the visitors withstood the pressure and it looked as if they had weathered the storm when they were awarded a scrum in front of their own posts and were expected to clear their lines they instead gave away a needless penalty for handling in the scrum. Wanderers elected to take the scrum from which their live wire scrum half darted over to score in the corner to tie the scores. To the collective relief of the large travelling support the conversion was missed as the final whistle went.

As the Annan players and supporters left the scene to seek the solace of the clubhouse relieved that at least they had secured two points when four had seemed more likely thoughts moved to the final game in a fortnights time against Cambuslang when the Championship would be won or lost. Unknown at that time was the drama which was unfolding at Almond Park where Livingston, in second place and the only team in the Division who could pip Annan for the Championship were playing St Boswells. The game had had a delayed start and when phoned after full time at Wanderers the news was that Livingston were winning 15 points to 9 with 10 minutes to go. However St Boswells had the last say scoring a try in the dying moments which they converted to win the match 16 points to 15. When the result finally filtered through to the Wanderers' clubhouse and the calculations were made the cheering probably could be heard in St Boswells as Annan realised they were Champions for the SEVENTH successive season. There was also a feeling of deja vu as almost a year to the day a similar situation had happened at Howe of Fife where Howe had been unbeaten in Division 3 since been beaten at the Everholm earlier in the season and they beat Annan that day but results that day also went Annan's way and they ended up Champions of Division 3.


ANNAN ALMOST CHAMPIONS
22ND FEBRUARY 1998

Sunday 22nd February - Annan beat Royal High by 4 tries to 3 to gain, not only a win but also the vital bonus point to gain promotion to Division 1 of the SRU Tennents National Leagues for Season 1998/99.

In the first quarter of this rearranged match it looked as if Annan would overwhelm the home team as they struggled to get put of their 22 as the visitors launched wave after wave of attacks at the Royal High line. Staunch defence by the home team was not quite enough and they were penalised twice for killing the ball in rucks and full back Gordon Carmichael slotted both awards to give the visitors a six point cushion. Annan consolidated their lead with a pushover try with the touchdown being credited to No 8 Dougie Thomson.

From the restart Annan fumbled the the ball and were penalised at the ensuing scrum which Royal High took quickly and with the help of some woeful tackling the home side scored in the corner. Annan extended their lead whwn wing forward Billy Henderson was on hand in a backs attack to take the inside pass to score beside the posts. The score was converted to take Annan into a 13 point lead. Prior to half time both sides traded penalties to take the half time score to Royal High 8 Annan 21.

Annan were stunned in the opening minutes of the second half when from a fine handling move the home team scored a converted try under the posts to cut Annan's lead to 6 points which had the Annan supporters' hearts fluttering. Annan increased their lead by a further 3 points thanks to a Gordon Carmichael penalty. Annan began to exert some control on the game with some solid driving play by the forwards setting up some fine ball for their backs to cause the home defences some trouble. It was the forwards however who scored the tries with the first coming from a fine line out take and drive by Billy Henderson with wing forward John Deakin getting the touch down. With the knowledge that the bonus point for a fourth try would ensure promotion to Division 1 of the National Leagues Annan threw everything into the game and were rewarded with a fine try by wing forward Billy Henderson who burst down the wing and spurning the offers of help on both sides scored himself and Annan were into Division 1. Not ever Royal High scoring a consolation try from an interception could halt the celebrations. Final Score Royal High 22 Annan 34.

While this was no vintage performance from Annan it was a nail biting 80 minutes and while Annan were in the lead for the entire match Royal High always looked capable of scoring which kept both sets of supporters on the edge of their seats.


A ST VALENTINES DAY MASSACRE
14TH FEBRUARY 1998

After the torrential rain midweek it looked as if this game might be cancelled but an early pitch inspection on Saturday morning deemed the pitch playable. However the pitch was extremely heavy but two of the best sets of forwards in the league made light work of the conditions contributing in no small part to a hugely enjoyable match watched by a sizeable crowd at the Everholm.

Right from the whistle Annan went on the offensive and from their initial attack stand off Dougie Pagan attempted a drop goal which bounced back into the field of play off one of the uprights only to be knocked on by a Dalziel player. From the resulting scrum the ball was spun out along the backs and full back Gordon Carmichael coming into the line at pace crashed over for a try. Annan dominated for the most part of the next 30 minutes but were unable to break down the stubborn visiting defences. During this time there was some fine passages of play with forwards and backs interlinking to drive the game into the Dalziel half at every opportunity. Also in this period Annan were awarded several penalties when the visiting forwards were deemed to have committed offences at rucks. Gordon Carmichael converted two to give the home side a healthy 11 point lead. On the half hour Annan were awarded a further penalty which Dougie Pagan kicked into touch 5 metres from the Dalziel line. From the lineout lock Paul Buckley took a fine two handed catch and the ball was driven towards the visiting try line and from the ensuing ruck hooker Andy Render drove around the side of the ruck to score. Annan continued to dominate for the remainder of the half and went into the half time break with a healthy 16-0 point lead.

The second half started in the same fashion as the first with the home side continuing to dominate in most facets of the play with perhaps the lineout the only exception where neither team was able to gain the ascendency. In the scrums however Annan were in complete control pushing the Dalziel pack around the park at will which denied the visitors any quality ball. Annan during this period managed to take two strikes against the head but again were unable to break down the visiting defences until just as the game was entering the final quarter from a penalty in the Dalziel 22 wing forward Dougie Thomson drove into the heart of the visiting cover defences and from the ensuing ruck the ball was swung out wide where wing forward Billy Henderson was on hand to drive through the last remnants of the Dalziel defences to score. Gordon Carmichael converted the try. With the bonus point beckoning Annan laid seige to the Dalziel line and came close on several occasions but were unable to convert the immense pressure into points. Their closest attempt came when from a fine piece of driving play by their forwards the ball was spun out to inside centre Stuart Williamson who floated out a superb pass to full back Gordon Carmichael who with the line at his mercy failed to hold the ball to score that elusive fourth try.

Over the piece this was undoubtedly one of Annan's best performances of the season with outstanding performances from the Annan tight five. The new half back partnership of Greig Oliver and Dougie Pagan looked assured with the latter in his first game with the firsts for some time looking comfortable and composed both in defence and attack. Annan also had the luxury on Saturday of having four fine kickers in the back division. Annan now need 5 points from the remaining 3 games to be assured of promotion and 11 to win another Championship assuming that Dalziel and Livingston win all their remaining matches and assuming all these are 5 pointers.


ANNAN GO DOWN TO LIVINGSTON
31ST JANUARY 1998

This was the game that Livingston had to win to remain in contention for promotion and Annan wanted to win to maintain their unbeaten record in Division 2 of the SRU TENNENTS National leagues. In the final analysis Livingston's desire was greater than Annan's. Annan remained in contention until late in the game but a late Livingston penalty made the scoreline safe for the home side. Annan although having the better of the set piece play, taking several strikes against the head in the scrums, never really looked to be in control of the game and Livingston ran out worthy winners.

After soaking up some early Livingston pressure, which included a couple of missed long range penalties, Annan took the lead when fullback Gordon Carmichael was presented with an easy penalty opportunity in front of the posts. In the first 30 minutes neither side looked like penetrating the other's defences, until on the half hour mark Annan were dealt a double blow. Livingston moved the ball quickly from the left to the right wing, stretching the Annan cover, and the Livingston winger was knocked into touch by scrum half Greig Oliver at the corner flag. Unfortunately the referee decided that the scrum half's shoulder charge had been illegal, and awarded a penalty try. The easy conversion gave Livingston a 7-3 lead - but Annan also lost the services of Greig Oliver who was hurt in the incident. Annan played on until half time with 14 men in the hope that the scrum half could carry on but had to make two changes at the start of the second half with Barry Graham coming on for the injured scrum half and Alastair Graham replacing winger Steven Rae on the right wing.

Although finding it difficult to get any rhythm going in the face of some dynamic Livingston tackling, Annan were able to reduce the leeway with another Gordon Carmichael penalty, but then Livingston scored the only clear try of the game with their left winger getting in at the corner after some enterprising back play from the home side. With the score at 12-6 the game was still not beyond Annan, and an opportunist drop goal from a scrum on the home 22 by Gordon Carmichael closed the gap to 3 points. At this point the Annan support was hoping that Annan would be able to step up the pace, and gain some control in the game, but their efforts were frustrated, and Livingston were able to repel the Annan's assaults and use some fine touch line kicks to relieve the pressure on their line and create some pressure of their own. Thus it was that they gained their last two scores, a drop goal to make it 15-9 and a late penalty which robbed Annan even of a bonus point and their unbeaten record in the league.

Annan it has to be said looked somewhat lethargic compared to the fired up home side, although their set piece play was again solid they were unable to gain the ascendancy in the loose where the sharper looking home forwards took the honours. The pick of the Annan players were the front row of Jack Tinning, Andy Render and Colin Warrick. The backs yet again lacking the cutting edge in their attacking play. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the Annan performance was the poor decision making which squandered hard won possession on more than one occasion. Annan, whilst having a seven point lead at the top of the division, now have the prospect of taking on promotion challengers Dalziel, who look as if they are peaking at the right time with a 84 points to nil demolition of Wigtownshire on Saturday, a week on Saturday at the Everholm in their last home league game and then three away fixtures against Royal High, Murrayfield Wanderers and Cambuslang - quite a daunting prospect!


ANNAN WIN IN ARTIC CONDITIONS
24TH JANUARY 1998

In much improved conditions from the previous week's arctic conditions at Cavalry Park in Edinburgh Annan proved too strong for their lively visitors from Cupar. Although playing below their best the home forwards overpowered their visitors in the set piece play but did look a little ponderous in the loose which may have been in part due to the extremely heavy pitch which was only been deemed playable late on Friday after four weeks of being waterlogged.

Annan started brightly and made several surging drives towards the Howe line in the opening minutes but once again failed to capitalise on their forward supremacy in their set piece play and the visitors managed to clear their lines on several occasions by virtue of the superb boot of the visiting stand off Stevens. Annan took the lead eventually on the ten minute mark through a penalty awarded when the Howe backs were caught offside and fullback Gordon Carmichael duly converted the award. He was also on target ten minutes later when the Howe forwards were adjudged to have illegally killed the ball at a ruck. On the half hour Annan got the break through they wanted when from a line out and drive hooker Andy Render picked up the ball and broke up the blind side just inside the Howe half and with a series of side steps which would have done justice to an international stand off he waltzed his way over the Howe line to score, shrugging off several tackles on the way.

Annan increased their lead towards the end of the half when from a line out, following an inch perfect penalty kick by stand off Niall Smith, a metre out from the Howe line lock Paul Buckley took a perfect take and the home forwards drove the ball over the line with wing forward John Deakin scoring his first try for his new club. Gordon Carmichael converted to give Annan a healthy 18 -0 lead at half time.

As had happened the previous Saturday Annan were rocked at the start of the second half when Howe launched an attack and by virtue of some woeful tackling were allowed to score in the corner. Annan struck back and drove play deep into the Howe half and from a penalty awarded in front of the post they scorned the three kickable points and from a planned penalty move wing forward Billy Henderson crashed over between the posts. Gordon Carmichael converted. With three tries scored Annan set about to score that illusive fourth try and the bonus point which has eluded them in recent games. Several attacks were snuffed out by some excellent defence by the Howe backs. Annan again lacked the cutting edge in attack as they seemed unable to prise open the solid visiting defensive line but they did and when it came it was as fine a try as has been seen at the Everholm this season. From a scrum, scrum half Barry Graham fell back and No 8 Dougie Thomson fed wing forward Billy Henderson who in turn fed Barry Graham and with full back Gordon Carmichael coming into the line taking the pass at pace he in turn fed winger Alastair Graham who dived in at the corner to score a memorable try. Howe scored a conciliation converted try in the dying moments of the game to take the final score to Annan 30 Howe of Fife 12.

While this was no vintage performance by the Annan team it was a exciting affair with both teams trying to play open attractive rugby. Credit must go to Howe of Fife who ran everything even from deep in their own 22 which contributed greatly to the enjoyment of the game for the spectators at the Everholm. Both teams were affected by the heavy going with the forwards in particular looking slow to the breakdown. Again the forwards were at their most effective in the set piece with the home forwards in total control of the scrums and in the line out lock Paul Buckley reigned supreme stealing several Howe throw ins. The new centre pairing of Stuart Williamson and Dougie Paul looked secure in defence and whilst it may take time to bed in as a potent attacking force there were glimpses that it may prove a successful combination in the long term.


ANNAN WIN IN STORMY EDINBURGH
17TH JANUARY 1998

Annan just managed to beat Portobello in dreadful weather conditions at Calvary Park to maintain their lead at the top of Division 2 of the SRU TENNENTS National Leagues with a 3 tries to 1 victory

During the pre-match warm up the conditions looked well nigh perfect and with the Cavalry Park pitch in excellent condition it looked as if an open game of rugby was in prospect but in the time it took for the teams to come out from the changing rooms after their pre-match team talk the appalling weather being experienced in the north arrived in Edinburgh. It was testament, therefore, of both teams desire to play open rugby that they served up an entertaining and exciting 80 odd minutes of rugby, albeit strewn with errors.

Annan for the second week running decided to play up the slope and against the considerable wind in the first half and set about the task in hand with some gusto driving play from the kick off deep into Portobello territory and whilst their initial efforts were repulsed by some stout home defence the visiting forwards kept control and continued to exert considerable pressure on the Portobello line. In one instance from a line out on the halfway line the visiting forwards drove the home pack back to almost their own line but were unable to capitalise on their pressure and turn it into points. Annan did, however, manage to do just that on the ten minute mark when from a ruck in the middle of the field the ball was spun wide to the wing and winger Steven Rae outpaced the home defence to score in the corner.

Annan continued to dominate for most of the first half but found their lead pegged back, firstly by a penalty awarded in front of the posts when their forwards were adjudged to have handled the ball in a ruck and when they were penalised for a similar offence minutes later they found their lead extinguished and went into the half time break 6 points to 5 down.

With both the wind and the slope to their advantage in the second half and with theirforwards holding sway in the forward exchanges Annan were obvious favourites to retake the lead but they were rocked when in the opening minutes of the half Portobello extended their slender lead with a fine try. Running out of defence and aided and abetted by some lack Annan tackling their full back was on hand to take the ball at pace and score in the corner to take their lead to 11 points to 5. Annanís forwards battled on and set up some fine driving play up the fringes and dominating in the set piece it was only a matter of time before the home defences cracked. Their efforts were rewarded when from a 5 metre scrum the visiting eight drove the home eight back over their own line and No 8 Andy Renwick picked up and drove over to score to reduce Portobelloís lead to a single point. Annan finally regained the lead half way through the half when again from a period of sustained pressure in the Portobello 22 scrum half Greig Oliver, from a ruck in front of the posts, sensing a gap where there didnít seem to be one, eluded the solid home defence to score an excellent try to give Annan a slender four point lead. Portobello realising that the game was not yet lost launched several attacks into the Annan half and it took a firm solid visiting defence to keep their attacks at bay. Greig Oliver on two notable occasions relieved the siege with superb clearance kicks which on one occasion drove the Portobello pack from the Annan 22 to within a couple of metres from their own line. Annan had several chances to increase their lead from a couple of push over attempts but were denied, one by failing to ground the ball over the line and once by the referee penalising the Annan No 8 for breaking his binding before the ball was out of the scrum. When the final whistle went, it was as much a relief to the Annan players and travelling support to get out of the appalling conditions as to have won the game. Annan had scored a vital away victory in terrible conditions and both teams had provided some entertaining rugby to boot. Several players at the end of the match were displaying initial signs of suffering from hypothermia and in fact on an adjoining pitch the Portobello Colts game against Musselburgh had to be abandoned when one of the players collapsed from the effects of hypothermia.

It is difficult to assess performances on a day such as Saturday but it has to be said that the Annan forwards display was excellent with Greig Oliver the outstanding back. With Murrayfield Wanderers, for the second week in succession, beating the second placed club, Annan are now 11 points clear at the top of Division 2


ANNAN MAINTAIN THEIR GRIP ON THE LEAGUE
10TH JANUARY 1998

Annan maintained their grip on the top of Division 2 of the SRU TENNENTS National Leagues with a 3 try to nil victory over second bottom placed St Boswells at Jenny Moores' Park.

On Saturday 10th January Annan travelled to the Borders to take on second botton placed St Boswells. This was a much improved St Boswells team to the one that played at the Everholm on 27th September with only four of the team that day playing. On an extremely heavy pitch and with a gale blowing the length of the pitch this was the proverbial game of two halves. Annan took the lead with a penalty against the wind but this was quickly cancelled out by two penalties and a dropped goal by the home side to take the half time score to St Boswells 9 Annan 3. With Annan having the benefit of the wind and the slope in the second half, and with the Annan forwards in immense form in the set peice it wasn't long before the visitors scored. Annan's first try came from a fine lineout take and drive by the Annan forwards to drive the ball over the line, prop Colin Warrick grounding the ball. The try was converted by stand-off Naill Smith to give Annan a slender lead. The second try was scored by winger Alastair Graham who powered his way over from 10 metres out. The killer score was scored by full back Dougie Paul who fielded a desperate kick out of defence by the St Boswell's fullback and drove over in the corner to take the final score to St Boswells 9 Annan 20.


ANNAN THRASH WIGTOWNSHIRE
20TH DECEMBER 1997

Annan maintained their grip on the top of Division 2 of the SRU TENNENTS National Leagues with a 9 try demolition of bottom placed Wigtownshire at the Everholm.

In this re-arranged match at the Everholm Annan were too good for bottom placed Wigtownshire. The pitch was extremely heavy and the opposition extremely unfit both of which had a direct bearing on the game. Although Annan were never in trouble in the 80 minutes they found themselves bogged down on several ocassions both in the muddy conditions and hampered by visiting bodies popping up on the pitch were they shouldn't have been!! Annan scored some finely worked tries which were out of the top drawer. Winger Alastair Graham scored a hat trick with centre Stuart Williamson and wing forward Dougie Thomson both scoring two with winger Steven Rae and centre Chris Donabie scoring the remaining two tries.


ANNAN DOWN AND OUT OF THE CUP
7TH DECEMBER 1997

Annan's Cup dreams may be over and while they may be dissapointed with the result they have no need to be dissapointed with their performance against Heriot's FP of Premier Division1 at Goldenacre.

In the final analysis Heriot's may have been stonger and faster than their opponents but this blood and guts display by the Annan forwards, in particular, won the admiration of not only their own travelling support but the home supporters as well. Annan took the lead with a penalty in the opening minute and held it for the first quarter of the game before surrendering it to a fine Heriot's try. Half way through the match Annan could have decided to attempt to close the defensive ranks and try and stifle the Heriot's attacks but instead they continued to launch attacks at all possible times which contributed hugely to the entertainment value of the match. The Annan forwards were magnificent, especially the front row who took four strikes against the head over the piece and they also had the better of the lineout exchanges but it was the home back row and stand-off who made the difference and Heriot's scored eight tries to none. All of Annan's points coming from the boot of full back Gordon Carmichael.


ANNAN POOR BUT EMERGE VICTORIOUS
29TH NOVEMBER 1997

Annan gave one of their poorest performances of the season but were still too good for a spirited Cambuslang side.

Annan beat 4th bottom Cambusland by 3 tries to none with a dismal display at the Everholm. This match was a catalogue of dropped passes, knock ons and wrong options. Annan made every mistake in the books and then some. If a bad dress rehearsal bodes well for the first night then it has to be hoped that Saturday's performance was the dress rehearsal for next weeks fourth round cup match against Heriots FP at Goldenacre. Annan's points were scored by Dougie Thomson (T); Andy Render (T); Paul Buckley (T) and Gogs Carmichael (2C; P)


ANNAN BEAT MURRAYFIELD
23RD NOVEMBER 1997

November 23rd - Annan gave their supporters something to cheer about with a much improved display with an exciting win over a strong rucking Murrayfield Wanderers side

Annan beat 5th placed Murrayfield Wanderers by 3 tries to one in an exciting game at the Everholm. Whilst dominating their visitors in the set piece they were well matched in the loose by an aggresive rucking side who gave as good as they got.Annan's tries came from hooker Andy Render, winger Alastair 'Babe' Graham and centre Stu Williamson with that man full back Gogs Carmichael kicking 5 penalties and three conversions for a 100% record in the match.


ANNAN DRAW IN A POOR GAME
15TH NOVEMBER 1997

Annan for the second week in succession gave a poor display drawing with Royal High at the Everholm 20 - 20

Annan were rocked by a spirited display by Edinburgh side Royal High who lead Annan at half time 10 - 8 and were unlucky not to win the game winning the try count 2 to 1. Annan had full back Gordon Carmichael to thank for managing to keep them in the game as he landed five penalties. Leading 20 points to 13 with 5 minutes to go Annan though they had won the game but Royal High had other ideas and in the final minutes of the game they scored a try under the posts to earn their draw.


ANNAN WIN IN THE CUP - BUT ONLY JUST!!
8TH NOVEMBER 1997

Annan progressed to the 4th Round of the SRU TENNENTS VELVET CUP with one of their poorest displays of the season against Hutcheson Aloysians at Auldhouse

The difference between the two teams was that Annan had a kicker and Hutcheson Aloysians didn't. After going behind by a converted try to a penalty Annan fought their way back by the boot of scrum half Gordon Carmichael who scored all Annan's points with 3 penalties. This was a game that neither team deserved to win - thankfully it didn't need to go to extra time!! Final Score Hutcheson Aloysians 7 Annan 9.


ANNAN RETAIN 1ST PLACE
1ST NOVEMBER 1997

ANNAN do it again beating Dalziel at Cleland Estate, Motherwell to retain their top spot in Division 2 of the SRU TENNENTS NATIONAL LEAGUES 22 - 9.

After last Saturdays tense affair against Livingston the Annan supporters had another against previousely unbeaten Dalziel at Cleland Estate. After weathering the initial storm when the home side took the lead with a penalty after some dynamic rucking by the best front five Annan have come up against for some time drove Annan back deep into their 22. Annan fought their way back into the game with a series of penalties to take a 9 -6 point lead. Then in a break out from their own 22 the Annan backs and back row combined in a sparkling handling move down the field for stand off Niall Smith to take the scoring pass to score a converted try under the posts. Annan went into the second half with a 16 - 9 point lead. The only scoring in the second half was a further 2 penalties by full back Gordon Carmichael. After the great try the other outstanding point of the match was the Annan defence which was fantastic with the Annan backrow in particular putting in some big hits. Annan next Saturday (8th November) play Division 1 Hutcheson/Aloysians in the third round of the SRU TENNENTS VELVET CUP.


ANNAN BEAT LIVINGSTOP TO STAY TOP
25TH OCTOBER 1997

Annan beat the previously unbeaten Livingston at the Everholm to retain their top spot in Division 2 of the SRU TENNENTS NATIONAL LEAGUES 22 - 5.

Annan had their hardest game to date in Division 2 of the SRU TENNENTS LEAGUES against Livingston. Livingston, with a large vocal travelling support, gave Annan their sternest test to date in the League and only superb defensive work prior to and immediately after half time kept the visitors from scoring. Although they did score a consolation try seconds from full time. The game was a stop start affair with both sides giving away a plethora of penalties awarded by a rather pernickety referee. Nevertheless the tension was palpable throughout this immensely exciting game. Annan secured their victory through tries by stand off Niall Smith, and wing forwards Billy Henderson and Dougie Thomson. Full back Gordon Carmichael completed the scoring with a penalty and two conversions. Annan have another table topping meeting next Saturday (1st November) against the only other unbeaten side in the Division - Dalziel at Cleland Estate - watch this space!


ANOTHER WIN FOR ANNAN
18TH OCTOBER 1997

October 18th - Annan ground out a fine win at Duffus Park to retain their top spot in Division 2 of the SRU TENNENTS NATIONAL LEAGUES

Annan had to fight hard to beat an extremely handy looking Howe of Fife side whose back division caused Annan a lot of problems. It was the Annan forwards who won the match when, in the second half, they changed their game plan and drove their way to victory with a great rucking display. This result was made all the sweeter when it was realised that Howe of Fife had not been beaten at home in a league match for a season and a half. Annan tries were scored by stand off Niall Smith, scrum half Greg Oliver, wing forward Billy Henderson and lock Neil MacGregor. Centre Gordon Carmichael completed the scoring landing two penalties and two conversions.


ANNAN EASE INTO THE NEXT ROUND
11TH OCTOBER 1997

Annan cruise into the third round of the SRU TENNENTS VELVET CUP beating Strathclyde University 96 - 0

Annan completely destroyed the students with a 16 try blitz in a one sided game at Stepps in Glasgow. Their forwards were in total command in all aspects of the game and only some sloppy handling outside the scrum kept the score from getting into three figures. Stand off Niall Smith and winger Steven Rae, two of the youngest players in the team scored hat-tricks with prop Colin Warrick having an outstanding game and scoring two tries.


100% START RETAINED
4TH OCTOBER 1997

3 out of 3. Thats what Annan are after thumping Portobello in the top of the table clash. Annan scored 7 tries in a game were Annan did all the running and Potobello did all the talking....to the ref...non-stop. Annan dominated this game right from the start scoring 4 fantastic tries to be 27-0 up at half-time. The 2nd try by Babe Graham was a superb try in the top corner after a fantastic running move by the Annan backs. In the second half Portobello lost their cool with the ref, but they started to get back into the game. Annan were a bit scrapy for the first 20 minuted but found their rhythm again, scoring a further 3 superb tries. Portobello scored a try. It was ok. The tries came from Babe Graham - 2, Greg Oliver - 2, Andy Renwick - 1 and Billy Henderson - 2. Gogs Carmichael kicked 4 conversions and a penalty. Final score Annan 46 Portobello 8. Portobello looked a pretty good side but they just lost their cool with the ref and forgot to do the rugby. Annan were just GREAT!!!!....I may be biased but its a good bias!!!

Annan take a break from league action next week when they face Strathclyde University in the Second Round of the Tennents 1556 Cup.


ANOTHER WIN ANOTHER DOLLAR
27TH SEPTEMBER 1997

The boys do it again. This time thumping St Boswells 51-12. Annan face a tougher test on the 4th of October when they entertain Portobello, who are currently 2nd top. Annan have never played Portobello before and we know little about them. All we do know is that they have nice beaches and you can buy "kiss me quick" hats for under £2 from all good stockists.


BILL ROBSON DIES
24TH SEPTEMBER 1997

Annan RFC lost one of of its favourite sons on Wednesdy 24th September when Bill Robson died after a relatively short illness at the age of 69. Bill, although never having played for Annan (born in Carlisle and played for Carlisle in his younger years) was one of Annan's most loyal and vocal supporters and his vocal encouragement of "get some fire in yer bellies" & "get hoongri Annan" in his broad Cumbrian accent will be sadly missed at the Everholm in the coming seasons. Bill was also the Clubs Saturday night doorman and made lots of friends with the clubs younger members. He will sadly missed by all. It is hoped that we he will be remembered in the coming seasons by a trophy being presented by his daughter Sheila in his honor.


SCOTTISH INTERNATIONALIST SIGNS FOR ANNAN
SEPTEMBER 1997

Yup it had to happen, the big names of Scottish Rugby are signing for our club!! Well kind of. Annan have signed 2 players for the coming season. The first is Stuart Clanahan, aged 20, who joins us from our near neighbours Dumfries. Stuart made his mark on the Tour of Texas but gained 40 stitches for his troubles. Stuart is off to Oz though for six months but will be back in time for the Cup final against Melrose at Murrayfield that Annan will involved in (maybe!!). Annans second signing is GREG OLIVER. Greg is a former Scotland Internationalist (oh yes he is!!) with 3 caps and who played all of his club rugby at Hawick. He has brought a wealth of experience to the club and it is hoped that he and 19 year old Niall "Baz" Smith, the clubs talented stand-off, will form a fruitfulL partnership in the coming seasons. I hope he just scores lots of tries and stuff.


ANNAN TOURISTS RETURN FROM TEXAS
AUGUST 16TH 1997

Yup, after 17 days in the land called Texas, the Annan Tourists return. The team played 5 games on the tour, winning 4 and losing 1.. I have heard that there is a lot of gossip to be told, but all the Tourists have been sworn to secrecy. I have learnt though, that Stuart "Booboo" Elliot is rather bigger than Sean "Calhoun" McGauchie. What this means I do not know. I have asked two of the more mature tourists on this tour to provide some futher details, but none was forthcoming.

I have been asked by the entire Annan Tour party to thank their Texan hosts for their welcome & hospitality. They want to thank San Antonio RFC, Austin RFC, Texas RFC, Fort Worth RFC & Dallas Reds RFC for their friendliness that made this tour to Texas a great success. Cheers Texas folk.........you've made a lot of new friends from Annan.