All previous match reports etc can be found at the Archive page.
FULL MATCH REPORTS: QUICK ACCESS
PRESTON LODGE 21 v ANNAN 17
SATURDAY 13 APRIL 2002
Annan’s pre-match plans were hampered somewhat by two geographically challenged team members thinking that Prestonpans was somewhere in the vicinity of the Forth Road Bridge! It may indeed have been the last minute team adjustments, which were responsible for Annan being slow out of the starting blocks. Virtually all of the first fifteen minutes belonged to Preston Lodge, yet they lacked the necessary penetration to turn possession into points. Annan picked up the pace of the game and were beginning to display much of their recent good form. The scrummaging was solid and they started to dominate the lineout, rucking was competitive and there was good inter-play between forwards and backs. Yet it was Preston Lodge who took the lead after a brief attacking attacking flurry and an incisive run by their stand off. This, followed by a successful penalty took the half time score to 8-0 in the home team’s favour, which was not really a deserved scoreline but Annan must have rued two early penalty misses by stand off Niall Smith and were very unlucky when an excellent move led to winger Kevin Jones going over in the corner, but a foot on the line led to the ‘try’ being narrowly disallowed.
A further penalty conversion by Preston Lodge early in the second half stretched their lead to 11 points and from here on in Annan were always chasing a score. Lock Stuart Clanachan scored an excellent try following good hands by Annan and the conversion by Niall Smith narrowed the gap to 4 points. Those expecting a dull, end of season encounter were treated to a highly competitive game thereafter. Annan leaked a soft try on the left when poor defensive positioning allowed the cumbersome home outside centre to cross the line with ease.
One of Annan’s strengths in the second period was the line out, particularly when shortened to three men, and it was from one of these that Stuart Clanachan drove over for his second try, Once again the deficit had been narrowed to four points at 16 – 12. A sniping run by the home standoff increased the home side’s lead to 9 points when he scored, but not to be outdone, Annan stand off Niall Smith found space for himself on the left to jink over for an excellent score. The scoring ended here at 21 –17, but the game finished with Annan in the ascendancy and unlucky to head back South with only a bonus point to show for their efforts. Kevin Jones again crossed the PL line, only to have his score chalked off due to a pass, which was adjudged to be fractionally forward.
This was a good performance by Annan, who are now beginning to believe in themselves. The forwards worked well and never gave up and we saw more of what the Annan backs can do when they have the confidence to move the ball wide. Wing forward Robert Currie and lock Stuart Clanachan were outstanding, the latter bagging his 15th try of the season. No 8 Andy Renwick worked tirelessly and centre Andy Render displayed good direct running in the back division, which was marshalled well by the solid looking Niall Smith. A disappointing result, but a courageous performance, which was very heartening. One final point – Annan had two late penalty awards in PL territory and one wonders whether the ‘tap’ moves were the best option given Annan’s lineout dominance!
Annan Team: K. Hogg, P. Minto (A. Eggleton – 30mins), S. Williamson (P. Carruthers – 65mins), A. Render, K. Jones, N. Smith, B. Graham, C. Warrick, N. Moffat, A. Carlyle, G. Smith, S. Clanachan, S. Livingston, R. Currie, A. Renwick. Sub Not Used – J. Nelson
ROSS HIGH 32 v ANNAN 10
SATURDAY 30 MARCH 2002
Annan travelled to Tranent with high hopes of gleaning some points from this fixture in Division 1 of the BT National Leagues and for 40 minutes it looked as if an upset was on the cards as Annan led the favourites at half time with some exciting rugby by both teams on display. Annan were first to get some points on the board when from some driving play by the Annan forwards the home forwards were penalised for killing the ball in a ruck in the opening minutes of the half. Stand off Niall Smith converted the penalty award. Whilst in the loose play Annan had the initial upper hand their set piece scrummage again struggled to provide a stable attacking platform. From a strike against the head the Ross High No 8 picked up from the base of the scrum and cleaved through some disappointing defence from the Annan back row and mid field to score a simple converted try. Annan, however, showed that they were not to be outdone and drove play deep into the home half from the restart. From a ruck within the home 22 wing forward Stuart Clanachan drove the ball on and finding himself half tackled managed to break through the tackle and out sprinted the remaining Ross High defences to score beside the posts. Niall Smith was successful with his conversion to take Annan into a 10 – 7 lead at half time break.
Although Annan had the advantage of the slope in the second half they were against a strengthening wind in the opening quarter of the half and within five minutes the home side had levelled the score when they were awarded a penalty when the Annan backs were caught offside at a ruck. Annan went further behind when the forwards were penalised for holding on to the ball in a ruck. Although the visitors had their moments the game was slowly turning in the home teams favour and half way through the half Ross High scored the best try of the match when from a planned penalty move the Annan defences were left mesmerised as the ball was spun left and then right and the home No 8 scored between the post without a finger being laid on him. Annan continued to press for a score but could not find a way through the well-organised home defences.
Ten minutes from time Annan leaked a further two tries. The first from a mix-up between the Annan right winger and his full back allowing the Ross High left winger to gather the loose ball and score a simple try and the final try from an intercepted pass which ended a miserable 40 minutes for the visitors.
Whilst Annan had played well in the first half the failure of the forwards to set up solid set piece possession began to take its toll on the visiting forwards as the game wore on and the backs were always trying to make ground with poor quality ball behind a retreating scrum on numerous occasions. There is little doubt that the final score line flattered the home team but nevertheless Ross High were well worth their victory which takes them another step closer to promotion. For the record Paul Carruthers replaced Neil Moffat at hooker, Murray Forbes replaced John Carlyle at prop and Graham Smith replaced Billy Henderson at second row.
TRINITY ACCIES 22 v ANNAN 35
SATURDAY 16 MARCH 2002
After playing rugby in driving rain and the bitter cold for most of the season Saturday in Edinburgh was a real tonic both in the sunshine and in the rugby on display by both teams. With both teams on the fringe of the relegation zone this, encounter in Division 1 in the BT National Leagues, was always going to be a game played with a real edge. Annan have, in their past encounters with Trinity Accies, always had the advantage over their hosts winning all six of their past encounters but this season Trinity have had some impressive performances at Bangholm and Annan knew they had a hard game in prospect.
The visitors started the game with real purpose straight from the kick off and immediately drove play into the Trinity 22 and were almost immediately awarded a penalty, which stand off Niall Smith slotted between the posts. From the restart the Annan forwards again drove play back into the Trinity 22 and while, initially, stout home defence kept Annan at bay it was always just a matter of time before something gave and it did as Annan were awarded another penalty, which Niall Smith gratefully accepted. Trinity, however, immediately, struck back with a fine try scored by their full back who came into their line at pace to bisect the Annan defences to score. Fortunately for the visitors the conversion was missed.
Annan increased their lead when Niall Smith again converted a penalty awarded when the home forwards were caught killing the ball in a ruck. Annan then stretched their lead further with the best try of the match when from a great driving display by the Annan forwards the ball was quickly transferred to the backs who swept the ball to winger Kevin Jones to score a fine try behind the posts. Niall Smith added the conversion to give Annan healthy 11-point lead. This lead was increased five minutes later when, again from quick ruck ball, flanker Stuart Clanachan broke free and drove play towards the Trinity line and as he was tackled he released the ball to his supporting backs and centre Andy Render whilst initially stopped short of the line spun out of the tackle and drove over the line to score a further converted try. Trinity, however, were not to be outdone and just prior to the half time whistle scored a fine try of their own through their own speedy backs to take the half time score to Trinity Accies 10 Annan 23.
Although having a healthy lead there was concern at half time that Annan’s scummage was having problems securing their own ball and the midfield defence was having trouble containing the strong running Trinity backs who had ran every available ball in the first half. However these worries were forgotten within minutes of the restart when, from a maul in the home 22 flanker Stuart Clanachan broke free up the blindside to drive over the line to score his twelfth try of the season. Niall Smith just failed with his conversion attempt, which shaved the upright. Trinity in the next ten minutes had their best spell of the game driving their visitors back into their own half and only some stout Annan defences initially kept them at bay. However the pressure eventually told and from a ruck following a scrum in the Annan 22 Trinity drove over to score a converted try.
From the restart Annan drove play back into the home 22 and with a series of driving plays the visiting forwards inched towards the Trinity line. Prop Colin Warrick though he had scored a try when he crashed over the 5-metre line!! The pressure did eventually pay dividends when replacement prop Murray Forbes drove over in the corner from a metre out to score Annan’s fourth try and earned the team a valuable bonus point. Niall Smith who had had a tremendous game with the boot again landed the conversion from the touchline. Trinity had the last word when the scored a late consolation try to earn themselves an equally valuable bonus point for scoring four tries. Final Score Trinity Accies 22 Annan 35.
All in all this was a great game of rugby to watch with some fine rugby on display and must be Annan’s best display of the season so far. There was concern however about Annan’s scrummaging which was under pressure throughout the game and one aspect which the Annan coaches will no doubt be addressing this coming week. Annan are now clear of the relegation zone and are in fact now in 5th position in the league with three re-arranged games to play. Two of the games are away to Ross High (30th March) and Preston Lodge (13th April) both of whom are vying for the second promotion spot and the third against already relegated Gordonians at Violetbank (21st April). So while the Club may not be in line for promotion they certainly will have a direct effect on two of the clubs who have promotion hopes.
ANNAN 22 v CAMBUSLANG 3
SATURDAY 9 MARCH 2002
Annan were determined to erase the memory of their poor performance at Coats Park earlier in the season in this return match at Violetbank and the home side set their stall out straight from the whistle driving play deep into their visitors half and were rewarded for their efforts when they were awarded a penalty which unfortunately was missed. From the restart Annan lost possession and when the backs were caught offside at a ruck the visiting standoff slotted the ensuing penalty award. Again from the restart the home team drove play deep into the visiting 22 and again were awarded a penalty when the Cambuslang backs were caught off side at a ruck, and this time standoff Niall Smith made no mistake and the scores were tied at 3 all. Annan continued to have the territorial advantage and looked odds on to score a try half way through the half when their backs split the visiting defences and with a two man overlap and the line beckoning the lobbing pass from outside centre Andy Render to his winger was intercepted but, thankfully for the home team, knocked on.
The visitors had their best spell in the second quarter as they pressurised the Annan line but the impressive home defences held firm and Annan’s first try came from an error by the visiting left winger who fumbled an Annan kick out of defence. Flanker Stuart Clanachan gratefully scooped up the loose ball just inside the Cambuslang half and out-sprinted the visiting cover defences to score beside the posts. Niall Smith converted the score to take Annan into the break with the score at Annan 10 Cambuslang 3.
In the second half Annan, playing towards the pavilion end, continued to dominate possession and territory with their scrummaging and lineout play a rich seam of quality ball. The Annan back row, in particular, were in rampant form, driving play time and time again over the gain line and claiming more than their fair share of the loose ball on the floor as the visitors’ forwards visibly flagged. From a penalty Niall Smith’s line kick gave Annan the perfect platform for a drive from the ensuing lineout towards the Cambuslang line. Initially it looked as if the visiting forwards had stemmed the Annan drive but three of the forwards spun off the back of the maul and drove the ball over the line with flanker Stuart Clanachan credited with the touchdown. Niall Smith added the conversion. From the restart Cambuslang upped their game and launched a concerted attack on the Annan line, which was repulsed again and again by some superb defensive work. After absorbing the onslaught Annan launched their own attack and with the home forwards driving play into the visitor’s half the ball was released to the backs. The ball was punted over the head of the Cambuslang defensive line by outside centre Andy Render into the path of winger Andrew Eggleton who hacked the ball on over the try line and won the footrace to touch the ball down and claim his first try for the senior team.
With the prospect of a fourth try and a bonus point the Annan support looked to their team to build up the pressure but instead they appeared to take their collective foot of the pedal as they settled for four points instead of five.
All in all this was a good performance by the Annan team with the back row in particular deserving special mention. As a unit they proved a potent attacking force with No 8 Andy Renwick having one of his best games in that position and in defence they harried and disrupted the visiting attacks on numerous occasions. The home scrummaging was always solid and they ruled the sky in the lineouts to provide solid platforms for attacks. The backs, while still lacking a cutting edge in attack, were immense in their defensive role and the Annan line was kept intact throughout the entire 80 minutes.
Special mention must go to veteran prop John Carlyle who was called in to play the entire game due to the club’s prop crisis.
CORSTORPHINE 8 V ANNAN 5
SATURDAY 23 FEBRUARY 2002
As the Annan team bus struggled though blizzard conditions between Biggar and West Linton, it was hard to imagine that this game in Edinburgh would take place. However rounding Hillend the green fields of Edinburgh hove into view, and though the ground at Union Park was soft and wet, conditions could have been much worse. So, the only game to take place in Division 1 kicked off, Corstorphine hoping to continue their good run, Annan anxious to avenge their narrow defeat at Violetbank in October.
In the end Corstorphine had their win, but the disappointment etched on the Annan faces was a reflection of the fact that Annan had had the better of the game, and had just failed to convert that into points.
Annan kicked off, won the ball, and set up a ten-minute period of pressure around the home 22. Though unable to cross the home line, the Annan pressure did force Corstorphine into conceding two penalties, very much within range, but both efforts drifted past the left hand upright. As feared, when Corstorphine did manage an assault into Annan territory, a resulting penalty was successful and was to separate the teams at half time. The home side did come more into the game as the half progressed, and their stand off Muru had the time and space to set his line in motion. Annan’s defence proved as tough a nut to crack as Corstorphine’s, however, and at half time Annan could feel on balance that they should have been ahead.
Annan continued to have the greater share of possession in the second period, but it was hard going driving the ball up field. Annan were just unable to find that elusive gap in the home defence. Somewhat against the run of play Corstorphine extended their lead. A kick deep into Annan territory, had the visiting defence in trouble, and when the ball was won by Corstorphine, the right-winger Zavarori was able to beat two men to score near the corner. The conversion failed, but Annan now had to score twice to overcome the 0-8 deficit. Both defences were called into action as play swung from end to end, but more often to the Corstorphine end, and from one spe1l of pressure on the home line Annan got the score they so richly deserved. The ball was fed back to the Corstorphine fullback behind his own line, his clearance kick rebounded into the in goal area and Annan scrum half Barry Graham was on it first to score. The conversion failed but at 8-5 to the home side, the scene was set for a tense final period. One chance came when Annan right wing Kevin Jones ran into the centre of the Corstorphine 22, but his kick ahead into the goal area coincided with two defenders hitting him hard. He was replaced by Euan Hay, and Annan’s appeals for a penalty were ignored by the ref. The final minutes were played out on the Corstorphine line but the home defence held out, and the final act of the game was a clearance kick. The whistles of the home crowd urging the ref to blow for time up were as good a testimony as any to the challenge mounted by Annan.
If Annan were guilty of one or two aimless kicks out of defence, the bulk of their play was good, and a fifteen-man effort. The lineout, which Corstorphine had troubled in October, was well served by Billy Henderson, Graham Smith and Stuart Clanachan. FIanker Bob Currie seemed to be everywhere on the field. The handling of the backs defied the conditions, and their defence was nearly always sound. Centres Stuart Williamson and Andy Render had big games. In addition Annan kept home stand off Muru much quieter after half time. Yet at the end of the day Annan’s only reward was a bonus point. They deserved more.
Annan team: C. Warrick, N. Moffat, D. Irving (J. Carlyle 65 mins), W. Henderson, G. Smith, S. Clanachan, R. Currie, A. Renwick, B. Graham, N. Smith, A. Eggleton, S. Williamson, A. Render, K. Jones (E. Hay 70 mins), K. Hogg.
DUNFERMLINE 27 V ANNAN 0
SATURDAY 19 JANUARY 2002
After three consecutive wins on the trot, and with their hosts having had three defeats in the same period, the happy band of Annan supporters who traveled to McKane Park on Saturday were hoping that their team could cause an upset to the league leaders in this Division 1 of the BT National Leagues. Unfortunately this air of confidence and expectancy had not filtered down to the Annan squad and coaches who, from the moment they appeared on the pitch put in one of their most disappointing performances of the season. Within ten minutes of the start they were 13 points adrift and from that point never looked capable of making any inroads into the points deficit.
With the home side visibly nervy in front of their home support after their recent run of disappointing results one would have expected Annan to have tried to capitalize on this factor by playing their rugby in their opponents faces but instead they appeared to stand off their opponents letting them find their feet. In the opening minutes Annan conceded a penalty when their backs were caught offside at a ruck, which the home side converted. From the restart the ball was gathered by the home forwards who set up a ruck within their own half. The Dunfermline scrum half gathered the ball from the base of the ruck and set off on a run to the Annan line where he scored between the posts with hardly an Annan hand touching him. With the conversion added and a further penalty added, again awarded for the visiting backs being caught off side at a ruck, the home side had a comfortable lead after only 10 minutes.
For the next 20 minutes, although having the bulk of the possession Dunfermline were unable to break down the visiting defences. Annan, however, when they did have the ball, seemed incapable of sustaining any pressure as they were turned over on numerous occasions. Then, from a penalty award to the hosts, which their stand off kicked to touch on the Annan 5 metre line, the ensuing line out was won by a superb leap by lock Graham Smith against the throw. Inexplicably, instead of the ball being presented to the Annan stand off to clear his lines the Annan forwards tried to drive the ball out of their 22. Possession was lost in a turn over and the home forwards set up their own ruck from which the ball was driven over for a fine score. With the conversion added Annan went into the half time break 20 points to nil behind.
Early in the second half Annan’s cause was not helped when scrum half Barry Graham had to retire injured with a leg knock. This required some reorganization of the Annan line up with full back Keith Hogg moving into the scrum half berth, winger Kevin Jones moving to full back and replacement Alan Rae moving into the wing spot. Although still up against the odds Annan did, in the middle section of the half, have a couple of good attacking opportunities, which unfortunately ended with penalty awards against the visitors allowing the home side to clear their lines. The only score of the second half came when, from a penalty award, the home backs moved the ball wide and the ball carrier was driven towards the line. There was some dubiety about the grounding of the ball as the ball carrier, firstly seemed to drop the ball short of the line, re-gather it, and then in not a double movement but a triple movement break the try line. However the try was awarded and converted and Annan were 27 points adrift.
It was somewhat ironic that the biggest cheer of the day from the visiting supporters came at the final whistle in recognition that with the home side having spent the last ten minutes of the game battering away at the Annan line in an attempt to get a bonus point for scoring a fourth try Annan had kept them out. The home team must also be worried, as they were a shadow of the team who sparkled in their victory at Violetbank earlier in the season and really should have punished this hapless performance by the Annan team with several more tries.
All in all this was a most disappointing performance from the Annan squad and coaches who seem to have settled for mediocrity now that they seem to think they are safe from relegation which is a dangerous and worrying assumption. If Glenrothes, the second bottom team in the league, had sneaked a result on Saturday Annan’s future in Division 1 could have been in jeopardy and indeed is still not assured with three away games still to play and only two at home.
On the plus side Annan’s three Colts who played on Saturday, flanker Stewart Livingstone, and wingers Andrew Eggleton and Alan Rae all had confident outings in the senior squad. For the record prop Colin Warrick was replaced by Jack Tinning and flanker Stuart Clanachan was replaced by Paul Minto.
ANNAN 17 V KILMARNOCK FALCONS 6
SATURDAY 12 JANUARY 2002
Annan consolidated their position in Division 1 of the BT National Leagues with this fine win over Kilmarnock, at the save time putting paid to any last hoped the visitors might have had of promotion this season. Apart from the opening quarter, Annan were dominant, and finished the game strongly to deny the visitors any glimmer of hope.
Kilmarnock began well. Their forwards gained the bulk of possession, drove into the Annan half, and their backs attempted to secure the breakthrough. The Annan defence stood up wel1 to the test, as they did throughout, and it was Annan to take the lead on a rare foray into the Kilmarnock 22 when Killie were penalised for not releasing. Stand off Niall Smith had an easy conversion to give Amman a 3-0 lead. As happens so often, the reply was almost instant, when Annan were similarly penalised and Kilmarnock fullback Robbie Stewart levelled the scores.
As the half wore on Annan began to get into their stride, and pressure in the Kilmarnock 22 resulted in another easy penalty for Niall Smith, and a 6-3 lead for Annan. Annan came closest to scoring the first try when centre Andy Render kicked through for left-winger Andrew Eggleton to chase, but Kilmarnock got there first. So Annan turned to kick towards the town 6-3 ahead.
The second half belonged almost entirely to Annan, to kept possession well, kicked intelligently, and gave Kilmarnock little chance to penetrate the Annan 22. The only try of the game one early in the second half. Annan moved the ball right inside the Kilmarnock 22, Andy Render put through another grubber kick into the goal area, and this time right wing Kevin Jones was unchallenged in getting the touch. Kilmarnock reduced the deficit through another Stewart penalty on a rare visit upfield, but from there on it was all Annan. Niall Smith slotted two out of three penalty attempts to take Annan to an unassailable position. and the game finished with the visitors penned in their own half.
This was a real team effort from Annan, with all players emerging with credit. The forwards worked tirelessly. The scrum was good, but lost one or two against the head. The lineout improved after a shaky start and several Kilmarnock throws ware snaffled. The backs defended with gusto, putting their opponents under continuous pressure, and handled well in attack, which cannot be said of Kilmarnock. A good debut on the left wing for Colt Andrew Eggleton completed a very satisfactory afternoon for Annan.
Annan Team; C.Warrick, N. Moffat, D. Irving, (J. Tinning), W. Henderson. G. Smith, A. Renwick, R. Currie, S. Clanachan, B. Graham, N. Smith, A. Eggleton, A. Render, S. Williamson, K. Jones, .K. Hogg. Replacements not used: E. Hay, M. Forbes.
STEWARTRY 19 V ANNAN 7
SATURDAY 29 DECEMBER 2001
Annan lost this Festive Friendly at the Green1aw by three tries to one and so Stewartry took the Peter Chisholm Trophy for the first time since 1998. On a bitterly cold day, the 3rd team pitch at Greenlaw was playable, and a good crowd braved the Arctic conditions to witness an entertaining game played in the competitive spirit usual to this fixture.
Both teams were under strength, and Annan took the chance to give some first team experience to five Colts and student Ray Fulton. Fulton opened at tight head, with Craig McCann at right wing and Keith Nelson at lock. Annan opened brightly, and from the kick off drove into the Stewartry 22, forcing the home side into conceding a penalty. Normally an easy kick for McCann, this one slid past the left hand post. Annan were to regret this as from there on the home pack took charge of proceedings, and mounted some sustained pressure in the Annan half. First over the Annan line was scrum half Brian Yates from short range, the try goaled by George Wallace gave Stewartry a 7—0 lead after 12 minutes. Two further tries came before half time. First, on 27 minutes, Mungo Bryson crashed over from a rolling maul, before on 36 minutes Paul Swalwell took an Annan lineout near half way, and broke clear for an easy score. Wallace converted the latter for a 19-0 half time lead.
Annan’s set piece had been under some pressure in the first half1 not aided by the early loss of hooker Paul Carruthers, with the result that the normally dominant Annan lineout was less so than usual, and with the scrum in retreat, Annan had found themselves on the back foot. The Annan backs had looked sharp when they were given the ball, with scrum half Barry Graham and stand off Niall Smith in particularly good form. Turning to take advantage of the slope and the breeze for the second half Amman made a number of changes. Darren Irving replaced Ray Fulton at tight head, and Billy Henderson moved from back row to lock for Keith Nelson, Colt Stewart Livingstone coming on to the flank. Jack Tinning had earlier moved from back row to hooker when Paul Carruthers was forced off.
Annan had much the better of the second half in terms of territory and possession, but found there was no way through the Stewartry forwards. They might have done better to have, tried to move the ball wide to find that elusive gap in defense. Annan were forced into further changes in the second halt, stand off Niall Smith taking a knock. He was replaced by Craig McCann, while Colt Alan Rae came on to Craig McCann’s place on the wing. Later another Colt, Andrew Egg1eton, came on at centre for Kevin Jones, for his first run since breaking a wrist against Stewartry Colts in September It was Andrew Eggleton who got Annan’s consolation score at the end, latching onto a ball after some sloppy Stewartry play to run in at the posts, allowing his fellow Colt Craig McCann to convert.
So Stewartry deserved their win, for their ability to turn first half possession into points, and while the Annan coaches were pleased with much of the Annan play and with the chance to see what promising youngsters could do at this 1eve1. Annan did miss their big men Stuart Clanachan and Graham Smith. Best for Annan on the day were Keith Hogg and Niall Smith in the backs, with Jack Tinning and Andy Renwick showing up well in the forwards. Andy Render came through his return after injury without mishap.
Annan Team: C. Warrick, P. Carruthers (J. Tinning), R. Fulton (D. Irving), N. Newton, K. Nelson (W. Henderson), N. Moffat, W. Henderson (S. Livingston), A. Renwick, B. Graham, N. Smith (C. McCann), S. Williamson, A. Render, K. Jones (A. Eggleton), C. McCann (A. Rae), K. Hogg.
ANNAN 23 V GLENROTHES 6
SATURDAY 15 DECEMBER 2001
With Annan’s main pitch at Violetbank deemed unplayable this important basement battle in Division 1 of the BT National Leagues was moved to the Annan Club’s second team pitch at Violetbank. This was a game that both teams needed to win. Annan currently lying in third bottom place in the league needed the points to give them some clear water between themselves and their visitors from Fife who were currently lying second bottom in the league and some 8 points adrift from Annan.
Annan had the opportunity to take an early lead when from the kick off Glenrothes were penalised but stand off Niall Smith’s kick drifted wide of the posts. He, however, redeemed himself minutes later when he was successful with a penalty award when the visitors were penalised for being offside at a ruck. With both teams playing their rugby through their forwards the first half of this game was a pretty turgid affair with a succession of basic handling errors and poor decision-making by both sides. Glenrothes however probably held the edge in the half as Annan provided them with adequate possession through numerous handling errors and with Annan players continuing to go to ground too early when no support was available the number of turnovers was woeful to behold for the home supporters. The visitors capitalised on their host’s mistakes and were successful with two penalty awards to go into the half time break deservedly 6 points to 3 in the lead.
The animated half time ‘talk’ by the Annan coaches on their squads first half display must have had the desired effect as Annan came out for the second half and played with much greater heart and skill than had been on display in the first 40 minutes. From a period of sustained pressure in the Glenrothes 22 Annan were awarded a penalty which Niall Smith slotted to level the scores and then from a scrum on the 5 metre line No 8 Graham Smith picked up at the base of the scrum and drove over for a fine try which Niall Smith converted to give the home side a 5 point lead.
Annan continued to maintain their territorial advantage and from a penalty award the ball was kicked into touch to give Annan a lineout 5 metres fro the Glenrothes line. The throw in was taken by lock Michael Newton who set up the base for a driving maul for the line with prop Darren Irving the ball carrier driving through the middle of the maul to score his first try for 1st XV. In the final quarter of the match Annan’s Captain on the day wing forward Andy Renwick drove over to score the final points of the match and the Annan team had won a vital victory in their quest to ensure that Division 1 rugby remains on offer at Violetbank next season. Final Score Annan 23 Glenrothes 6.
With Annan still struggling on the injury front Saturday saw the club ‘blood’ some more colt players with replacements centre Craig McCann and wing forward Stewart Livingston staked a claim to permanent places in the 1st team squad with sound performances and Colt winger Alan Rae was awarded his first team tie after making his sixth appearance for the team this season.
ANNAN 10 V TRINITY ACCIES 3
SATURDAY 1 DECEMBER 2001
Annan’s injury list lengthened on Saturday, and that was before the game started. With wing forward Bob Currie ruled out of contention last week for a minimum of six weeks with an ankle injury and No 8 Stuart Clanachan out for three with a cracked cheek bone as a result of a training ground injury through the week the Annan team had to make a last minute change to their line-up when stand off Niall Smith had to be replaced prior to the kick off when he fell ill to a stomach bug. The Annan back line therefore had to be reshuffled with full back Keith Hogg moving into the stand off slot with centre Kevin Jones moving to No 15 and coach Paul Minto coming onto the wing. With the Annan back row having a new and basically untested look about it the omens were not looking too good for this vital must win match against their visitors from Edinburgh.
In the first half the home supporters worries looked unfounded as the home side were rarely out of the Trinity 22. The Annan forwards were in rampant, if somewhat predictable, form as they battered away at their visitors line and whilst the rugby was not pretty it took some fine Trinity defence to keep the Annan onslaughts at bay. On several occasions, when it looked as if it would have been more productive to have spun the ball wide, Annan’s makeshift half back partnership, played safe and took the ball back to their forwards. However the pressure eventually told and from a lineout within the Trinity 22 the ball was driven by the home forwards towards the Trinity line and wing forward Andy Renwick spun off the side of the rolling maul to be driven over to score. With Annan without their regular kicker centre Euan Hay was landed with the unenviable task and was unlucky with his conversion attempt which hit the outside of the upright. Annans continued to have the better of the territorial advantage in the first half but were unable to convert the pressure into points. Half time score Annan 5 Trinity Accies 0.
In the second half with a strengthening wind at their backs Trinity upped their game and it was their turn to exert some pressure on the Annan line. It took some courageous defensive work by the home team to keep the visitors from crossing the line and it took a penalty award, when the Annan backs were caught off side at a ruck for Trinity to get some points on the scoreboard. The visitors had their chance to take the lead when they were awarded a further penalty in front of the posts, which their stand off missed. This miss may have been the crucial factor which set up the Annan win as from that point the game seemed to swing into Annan’s favour as the home team began, once again to gain the upper hand. With the game being played in freezing driving sleet and rain which was being driven into the home teams faces handling became a bit of a lottery but it was Annan who seemed to adapt to the conditions quicker than their counterparts from Edinburgh. Annan continued to play their rugby through their forwards in these dreadful conditions and their efforts were rewarded when in a desperate attempt to clear their line the Trinity stand off’s kick was charged down and scooped up by centre Andy Render who darted over to score. The attempted conversion was missed. Final Score Annan 10 Trinity Academicals 3.
Whilst not the prettiest of matches this was a vital victory for the Annan team and was won by the tight play by the forwards and the tenacious defensive play by the backs. Whilst the Annan forwards were under pressure in the scrums they had the edge in the loose and were superb in the lineouts where they nullified any advantage the visitors had by taking numerous takes against the throw. This was a gutsy performance, played with a lot of heart, from a much changed team with those players who were playing out of position looking more assured as the game wore on.
LIVINGSTON 25 v ANNAN 15
SATURDAY 17 NOVEMBER 2001
Given the closely-fought nature of previous encounters between Annan and Livingston and Annan's uncertain form this season, this BT Cellnet Shield match at Almond Park was always going to be keenly contested by both sides. Livingston were sharper out of the blocks and scored a very early converted try following some slack Annan defensive work. Annan's first half performance was extremely disappointing. They made too many handling errors, played the game at a slower pace which suited their opponents and generally failed to create scoring opportunities. The tactic of frequently using the up-and-under proved to be ineffective and Livingston reached half-time with a lead of 10-0, having added to their early score with a long-range pealty. All of this was very frustrating for the Annan observers, since Annan clearly held the ascendency in scrums and lineouts but failed to use these platforms to advantage in the first 40 minutes.
The second half saw a much-improved Annan performance, but they were always chasing the scoreline. When Livingston extended their lead to 17-0 with another converted try, Annan had a veritable mountain to climb. However, they started to play the game at pace, there was some excellent inter-change between backs and forwards and they pulled back with two excellent tries from Stuart Clanachan, both drives following line-outs from 5 metres. Both tries were unconverted.
With Annan playing determined, pacy rugby it seemed only a matter of time for them to claw back the 10 point deficit. However, in one of the rare forays into the Annan half by Livingston in the second half, the ball was moved across the backs for an excellent score in the corner by their left winger. The excellent conversion of this try, followed by a successful long-range penalty took the score to 25-10 and the game had run away from Annan with 10 minutes remaining. Andy Renwick did score another try from a scrum move and Annan pressed on the Livingston line right to the end, but to no avail.
This was a very disappointing result for Annan. Clearly the better team, they failed to produce the goods on the day and seemed to suffer from a lack of confidence for large chunks of this game. For this observer, Michael Newton and Andy Renwick stood out in the forwards and Barry Graham and Keith Hogg worked tirelessly to get the backs moving in the second half. A special mention also to Gavin Lynch who had to play on the wing for 75 minutes following an early injury to B Hay and who acquitted himself well.
If Annan are to improve there league position, indeed if they are to survive in National League Division One, they will have to start playing to their potential and start playing at pace and wiyth confidence. They will also have to start kicking points more consistently!
CAMBUSLANG 27 v ANNAN 14
SUNDAY 11 NOVEMBER 2001
In their last match against Annan had just been crowned Division 2 Champions at the end of their last Championship year and in a fine display of end of season rugby beat a stuffy home side 46 – 18 on 28th March 1998 – what a difference 3 years make!
The home side, promoted from Division 2 last season, showed more urgency, endeavour and commitment in this Division 1 encounter in the BT National Leagues than their visitors. Annan in the first half looked uninterested in their play as the entire team proceeded to give a hapless performance of knock ons, dropped passes and missed tackles. It was only a matter of time before the home team scored as they probed the Annan defences for weaknesses and there were many! Their ever-alert backs on three separate occasions carved through the normally solid Annan defences and scored in the corners. Luckily for the visitors the home kicker was only successful with one of his conversion attempts. He was on target however with a penalty award to take his team into a 20 point lead before Annan opened their account with two well struck penalties by stand off Niall Smith who was extremely unlucky with his third attempt which struck the upright. Half time score Cambuslang 20 Annan 6.
Some harsh words were said by the Annan coaches at half time about their squads lacklustre performance in the first half and at the recommencement of hostilities it looked initially to have had the desired effect as Annan drove aggressively into the Cambuslang 22 but from a turnover 5 metres from the home line the ball, with the aid of a strengthening following wind, was sent sailing back down into the Annan half. Annan stuck to what they are good at and continued to drive play into the home half and eventually rewarded for some excellent continuity play by their forwards when wing forward Bob Currie, who was one of the few Annan players who, on the day, lived up to his potential, drove over to score. Niall Smith added the conversion from the touchline into the strong wind to bring the visitors back into contention with the score at 20-13.
Annan continued to drive play deep into the home half but were unable to create the breakthrough they so desperately wanted. From one of the drives the ball was spilled in a tackle and was scooped up by the home stand off who through his backs set up his left winger to score in the corner. The try was converted to open up Cambuslang’s lead to 14 points and while the visitors continued to drive play into the opposition half they simply ran out of time.
Despite their better second half performance this was, overall, a poor performance by Annan with no one coming out of the came with any great credit. This coming week the Annan coaches will have their work cut out in raising team morale for next Saturday’s BT Cellnet Shield game against Livingston at Almond Park.
ANNAN 24 v EAST KILBRIDE 41
SATURDAY 03 NOVEMBER 2001
Photos from the game.
With the visitors from East Kilbride without several regulars and propping
up Premier 2 Annan must have fancied their chances of causing an upset in
this Round 3 match in the BT Cellnet Cup at a sunny, windy Violetbank. But
within 10 minutes of the start Annan were 6 points behind when the home
backs were penalised twice when caught offside and the visiting full back
slotted both awards with ease. Annan did get into the game through some good
solid driving play by their forwards but were unable to break down the
well-organised East Kilbride defences. On one of the drives into the
visiting half the ball was hoisted into the East Kilbride 22 and marked by
their full back. The full back's quickly taken tap found the Annan defences
posted missing as he waltzed his way through some half hearted tackling and
when eventually halted he found his left winger on his shoulder who swept
his way to the line to score. Annan battled away in an attempt to redress
the balance but were unable to get the breakthrough they deserved for their
efforts. Just before half time the visitors drove a further nail into
Annan's coffin when with their forwards driving play into the Annan half
their nippy scrum half made a telling break through the home midfield
defences and set up his blindside wing forward to score. Again the East
Kilbride full back converted the try to bring the half time score to Annan 0
East Kilbride 20.
With the advantage of the wind and the low sun the Annan faithful looked to
their team to make some inroads into their visitors scoreline. And so it
transpired, eventually, but not before East Kilbride had added another try
to their first half haul. The home sides' first try came from a lineout near
the visitors' line, following a penalty award, and with a take and drive.
Lock Graham Smith, in the heart of the ensuing driving maul was driven over
to score. Stand off Niall Smith missed the conversion.
The Annan defences were again sorely tested as the visitors were stung into
action following Annan's try and once again they were found wanting as East
Kilbride scored a further two 'soft' tries, one of which was the result of
an outrageous forward pass. Again the faultless boot of the East Kilbride
full back converted both of the tries. With the game lost by this time Annan
began to play some extremely fine rugby with some cracking forward drives
and incisive running by the backs. Their efforts were rewarded with two
excellent tries. The first, by stand off Niall Smith, created by some great
rucking by the Annan forwards, who found himself with a gaping hole staring
at him from the East Kilbride defences and waltzed over to score untouched
by human hand. He converted his own try. Annan's last try and the final
score of the match, was again created by a series of drives by the home
forwards with the ball released to centre Stuart Williamson who set off on
an angled run through the East Kilbride midfield and drove over the line to
score. Again Niall Smith converted the try to take the final score to Annan
24 East Kilbride 41.
In fairness to Annan, the scoreline does not reflect the effort expended in
the contest by the home side and in the final analysis the try count was
only 5 to 4 in favour of the visitors. The main difference between the two
sides being the unerring accuracy of their full back's place kicking and
Annan's normally sound defences found lacking on several occasions. Also
Annan took some time to adjust to the faster pace of the game which is all
part and parcel of Premier 2 rugby with one telling difference the speed of
the East Kilbride back row in winning any loose ball on the ground.
Annan now moves to the BT Cellnet Shield competition and await the draw with
eager anticipation with so many Premier Clubs having been beaten by 'Cup
minnows' on Saturday.
Annan Team: C. Warrick, A. Render. D. Irving, W. Henderson, G. Smith, A.
Renwick, R. Currie, S. Clannachan, B. Graham, Niall Smith, A. Rae, K. Jones,
S. Williamson, M. Anderson, K. Hogg. Replacements: A. Carlyle (not used), E. Hay (Used), C.
Johnstone (Not used).
ANNAN 16 v CORSTORPHINE 20
SATURDAY 27 OCTOBER 2001
Photos from the game.
With Corstorphine never having beaten Annan at Violetbank or the Everholm and Annan having beaten their visitors both home and away last season the smart money may have been on Annan to win this Division 1 encounter in the BT National Leagues but rugby is a strange old game.
Despite an early onslaught by the visitors from Edinburgh, who had the advantage of a fairly strong wind and the sun in the first half, it was the home side who drew first blood when from a forward drive into the Corstorphine half, with the visiting back row drawn into the ruck on the 5 metre line the ball was spun wide to the left and winger Alan Rae swept over the line to score his first try for the senior team. Stand off Niall Smith landed the conversion from wide out. Annan continued to keep play in the Corstorphine half for long periods but the warning signs were there for all to see as the visitors, who had a lively set of backs, attacked through their backs at every conceivable occasion. Their stand off’s long pass to his outside centre and wingers causing the normally unflappable Annan defences all sorts of problems. On one occasion, only a superb tackle by full back Keith Hogg bundled the visiting winger Zavaroni into touch when a try looked a certainty. Corstorphine’s efforts were rewarded, however, when they were awarded a penalty when the home backs were adjudged offside which their stand off slotted between the posts.
Corstorphine took the lead ten minutes from the break when their No 8 Aitchison made a telling break through the home midfield defences and fed winger Zavaroni who made no mistake this time and scored in the corner. The try was unconverted. Annan fought back and looked to have scored a try when centre Kevin Jones hacked a loose ball through the Corstorphine defence, scooped up the ball and grounded it between the posts. The referee, however, had blown up for an earlier offence and awarded Annan a penalty. Niall Smith saw his attempt slide past the wrong side of the upright and Annan went into the half time break behind by a single point. Half time score Annan 7 Corstorphine 8.
With the wind and low sun to their advantage in the second half the Annan support were looking to their team to take control of the game and so it looked in the early stages of the half. Annan retook the lead minutes into the half when they were awarded a penalty when the Corstorphine forwards were penalised for diving over at a ruck. Niall Smith slotted the award. The Annan lead was short lived, however, when once again the wide ball caught out the Annan defences and Corstorphine’s left-winger Hyslop romped over to score a converted try. Again Annan fought back and were awarded two penalties in quick succession, which Niall Smith slotted for the home side to retake the lead at 16-15. With only minutes to play the home side then hit the self destruct button when from a promising looking attack by the home side the ball was throw away and the loose ball was scooped up by a Corstorphine player who danced his way into the Annan 22 fed his winger Zavaroni who scored his second try of the match. In the dying seconds of the match Annan had their chance to retrieve the situation when they were awarded a penalty. Niall Smith found touch with an excellent kick setting up a lineout 5 metres from the visitor’s line. However the visitors stole the ball on the Annan throw and Annan’s last chance was gone. Final score Annan 16 Corstorphine 20.
Annan showed yet again that they are unable to vary their game plan when things are not going their way. Their normally sound defence was found wanting out wide and were unable to deal with the wide ball and the lineout, normally one of Annan greatest assets, was a shambles with Corstorphine packing the front of the line with lifted jumpers making throwing in difficult but Annan were unable to vary their lineout to compensate for their difficulties. All in all this was a disappointing performance from the Annan squad. One hopes that they will be able to tighten up on several aspects of their game before the visit on Saturday of Premier 2 side East Kilbride in Round 3 of the BT Cellnet Cup.
Annan Squad: Colin Warrick, Andy Render, Murray Forbes (replaced by Jack Tinning 25 mins), Michael Newton, Graham Smith (replaced by Billy Henderson 60 mins), Andy Renwick, Bob Currie, Stuart Clannachan, Barry Graham, Niall Smith, Alan Rae, Stuart Williamson, Kevin Jones, Michael Anderson, Keith Hogg. Replacements: Jack Tinning, Billy Henderson, Craig Johnstone.
GORDONIANS 3 v ANNAN 18
SATURDAY 20 OCTOBER 2001
Annan made the 450mile round trip to Aberdeen on Saturday, and it rained for every minute! Interestingly enough the game was almost called off a couple of hours before kick off because of fog, with Countesswells enveloped in a peasouper. Despite the constant downpour Gordonians pitch was in magnificent condition for this Division 1 encounter in the BT National Leagues. The weather did however play a major part in the quality of rugby on display with both teams guilty of a surfeit of knock ons and dropped balls. Both teams were without several 1st team regulars with Annan hit with some late call offs with lock Michael Newton failing a late fitness test (hamstring) and wing forward Andy Renwick and winger Euan Hay unable to get time off work to make the trip. The no 4 shirt was filled by Billy Henderson with Neil Moffat and Alan Rae filling the no 6 and no 11 berths respectively with forwards coach Paul Minto and veteran Ally Murray sitting on the replacements bench or in Ally’s case running touch!
Playing into the wind and driving rain in the first half it took Annan 25 minutes to break down the stubborn home defences when no 8 Stuart Clannachan thundered over for a try when he came into the visiting back line at pace. Stand off Niall Smith missed the conversion. Although Annan had the bulk of possession and territorial advantage for the remainder of the half, with the Annan forwards dominating the set piece play, they were unable to unlock the home defences. It was Gordonians, who in a rare excursion into the Annan 22 were awarded a penalty, which their stand off Peter Leslie slotted between the posts to take the half time score to Gordonians 3 Annan 5.
Playing with the now gusting wind in the second half Annan began the half as they had finished the first with the forwards driving play up the middle of the park and then kicking for touch to gain territorial advantage This tactic, while not the prettiest advert for the game, was the right one in the prevailing conditions and it kept play in their opponents half for most of the game as Annan were dominant in the lineout with lock Billy Henderson disrupting or winning the majority of the home throw ins. Annan increased their lead 10 minutes into the half when Niall Smith landed a penalty awarded when the home full back was adjudged off side. Annan’s second try came from a piece of driving play by the visiting eight with Billy Henderson driving off the side of a ruck forced his way over for an unconverted try. With the visiting side now in total control of the game and their aggressive defences snuffing out any home attacks at conception the ball was spilled by one of the home centres and the ball was hacked on by centre Kevin Jones who won the race to touch down the ball behind the try line and score another unconverted try.
With a bonus point on offer for a fourth try Annan continued to pressurise the Gordonians’ defences and it looked as if the bonus point was in the bag when again the ball was spilled in the tackle by the home full back. The loose ball was scooped up by winger Michael Anderson who, with the line at his mercy, slipped on the wet surface, and crashed to ground and unable to get the ball away to centre Kevin Jones who was in close support, the opportunity was lost. Gordonians launched a late attack on the Annan line but again the superb Annan defence kept them out and it was in any case all too little too late for Gordonians and Annan travelled back down the A90 with the spoils.
Whilst this was not a pretty game both teams played hard committed rugby in appalling weather conditions. In the forwards prop Murray Forbes showed all his experience and not too little skill, with wing forward Bob Currie again outstanding in the loose and lock Billy Henderson a constant thorn in the side of home side especially in the lineouts. Special mention must be made of wing forward Neil Moffat, in his first full match for the 1st XV gave a solid performance. Whilst the weather conditions were not conducive to sparkling back play the defensive work put in by the entire back division was exemplary which is the reason Annan has the second best defensive record in the league next to league leaders Dunfermline.
HAWICK QUINS 26 v ANNAN 27
SATURDAY 13 OCTOBER 2001
Photos from the game.
On paper Hawick Harlequins from the Border District League should have proved little trouble for Annan from Division 1 of the BT National Leagues. However history tells us that Annan in their days in the Border District league never beat a Hawick team in Hawick and rarely even beat them at the Everholm in those days. There is no doubt that the Border District league is not the force it was in seasons gone by with Hawick YM and Trades now plying their trade in the National leagues but a trip to Wilton Lodge Park is still a tester for any team.
On a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon in the equally beautiful setting of Wilton Lodge Park Annan set about this BT Cellnet Cup tie with some vigour in the opening minutes of the game and within ten minutes they took the lead with a nicely crafted, if somewhat laboured try, which was created by some fine rucking and driving from the forwards and then the ball was floated through several pairs of hands for winger Michael Anderson to score in the right corner. Stan off Niall Smith converted the try from a difficult angle to give his side a 7 point lead. The ‘Quins hit back almost immediately and were awarded a penalty with in the Annan 22 when the visiting backs were adjudged off side at a ruck. Their stand off, whose kicking was to prove a thorn in Annan’s side throughout the game landed the award. He was on hand minutes later when a similar award ended in the same result and Annan’s lead was cut to a single point.
The rest of the half belonged, in the main, to the visitors who kept play within their opponents half for long periods with some good forward play and some fine line kicking by stand off Niall Smith. From a penalty award Niall Smith found touch 5 metres from the home line and from the ensuing lineout prop Colin Warrick drove over for what is becoming his customary trademark try. Again Niall Smith converted from a difficult angle to create an 8 point lead for the visitors. Niall Smith was on hand to increase the Annan lead when, from a ruck set up just outside the ‘Quins 22, he found a gap in the home defences to waltz over for a try in the corner. He, however, missed with his conversion attempt. On the stroke of half time ‘Quins reduced Annan’s lead by three points when they were awarded another penalty when the Annan forwards were found guilty of handling the ball in a ruck. Half Time score Hawick Harlequins 9 Annan 19
Annan were rocked in the opening minutes when a chip ahead by one of the Annan centres was charged down and the loose ball was gathered by one of the home back row forwards who scampered in for a try which when converted brought the home side within 3 points of the Annan total. This margin was reduced to nil several minutes later when from another penalty award for the ever-increasing ‘infringements’ by the Annan side the home stand off tied the score with his penalty award. In the last quarter of the game the home side realising that the could indeed win this cup encounter upped their game and took the lead with a fine backs try which exposed the Annan defence when their inside centre cleaved through a gap to score between the posts. With the conversion added ‘Quins took a 7 point lead. And, while the visiting supporters were wondering how their team would fare in the Bowl competition the Annan forwards took the game by the scruff of the neck and drove play deep into the home 22 and from a lineout 5 metres out it looked as if Colin Warrick had scored a copy of his first half try when driven over, the referee however was unsighted and ruled the score out. Not to be outdone however the forwards again drove for the line and this time wing forward Andy Renwick drove over to score to take the score to 26 –24 with the conversion missed. The winning points were scored by Niall Smith when Annan were awarded a penalty in front of the posts. The drama was not quite over for the large crowd when from the restart Annan were penalised and then marched back 10 yards for petulance when the ball was kicked away. The penalty award straight in front of the posts, although some 35 yards from the posts, looked to be well within the range of the ‘Quins stand off. He, however, lost his footing in the act of kicking and the ball went well wide of the posts. Annan were still not home and dry as in the final seconds of the game the home side were again awarded a kickable penalty but the home side were to be denied the win they felt they deserved as the ball again sailed past the upright. Final Score Hawick Harlequins 26 Annan 27.
This was, for the neutral supporter, an exciting and enthralling match with lots of drama on display. The game was somewhat spoiled as a spectacle, however, by overly fussy refereeing with the Annan players feeling aggrieved that they were being penalised for actions which were acceptable in their weekly games of National League rugby. There was no doubt that the penalty count against Annan was high but the question must be asked why the players, being penalised for the same offence over and over again, cannot change their game plan to compensate- perhaps something for the coaches to contemplate in the coming weeks.
Over the piece the normally athletic Annan forwards looked lethargic and cumbersome with the back row in particular looking somewhat leaden footed. In the backs the halfback pairing of Barry Graham and Niall Smith look to be working well with winger Michael Anderson seeming to be relishing his new position with some fine mazy runs. The Club is now waiting with bated breath to see who they will face in round 3 of the BT Cellnet Cup.
ANNAN 11 v ROSS HIGH 3
SATURDAY 06 OCTOBER 2001
With the rugby pundits indicating that unbeaten league leaders Ross High
just had to turn up to win on Saturday seemed to act as a wake up call to
Annan as they put in their best display so far this season in this Division
1 fixture in the BT National Leagues to take the points at Violetbank.
Right from the start Annan's eager aggressive defence never allowed the
visitors from Tranent to settle. Annan won this game in the first half where
the home forwards, in a great display of committed driving and rucking play
forced Ross High into numerous errors. These errors resulted in several
penalty awards to the home side, when the visiting forwards were forced to
concede penalties for killing the ball or going over the top at rucks. Stand
off Niall Smith in his first game back, after being sidelined for the
previous three weeks with concussion, slotted two of the penalty awards but
missed two other kickable ones. In between his two successful attempts Annan
scored their try which came after 20 minutes when after a surging run into
the visitor's half by lock Graham Smith, the ball was popped up to hooker
Andy Render, who in concert with the rest of his pack, drove the ball
through the Ross High defences to score. Niall Smith failed with his
conversion attempt. Annan continued to dominate the first half with the
Annan back row and mid field defence snuffing out any attacks by the
visitors. Annan were unlucky not to increase their lead on two occasions
once when it looked as if they had driven over to score only to be penalised
for an infringement and on the other occasion when centre Kevin Jones fly
hacked a loose ball through the Ross High defences only to be brought down
short of the line. The halftime score Annan 11 Ross High 0.
As expected Ross High started the second half full of purpose determined to
make amends for their first half performance and in truth they had the bulk
of territorial advantage in the second half but were unable to break down
the resolute home defences as Annan kept their line intact. The visitors
opted, on several occasions, to kick into the corners when awarded
penalties, where successful penalty kicks would have earned them a bonus
point. Their tactic bore little fruit as lock Michael Newton was in
imperious lineout form and stole numerous balls against the throw to negate
any advantage Ross High had from their line outs near the Annan line.
Annan prop James Gilmour, who had replaced the injured Murray Forbes, was
sent off for punching early in the half leading to uncontested scrums, which
in all probability favoured Annan, in that it negated the potent attacking
capabilities of the Ross High back row. That said however the visitors
appeared unable to adapt their game plan to take advantage of Annan having
been reduced to 14 men and the home team's defences stood firm and repulsed
numerous attacks by the visitors. Ross High did manage to land a penalty to
take the score to Annan 11 Ross High 3. The final quarter of the match was a
tense affair as the visitors threw every thing into the game in an attempt
to salvage something from the game but Annan's defences stood firm to ensure
a well merited win. Final Score Annan 11 Ross High 3.
Over the piece the performance of the Annan forwards was immense with lock
Michael Newton and No 8 Stuart Clanachan ruling the air in the lineouts and
securing the bulk of the ball. The pack's all round loose play was much
improved from their previous displays with open side wing forward Bob
Currie, back after injury, outstanding. In the backs, stand off Niall Smith
posed a lot of questions for the Ross High defences with some fine probing
runs and he also got his back line going well in attack. There was excellent
commitment in defence from the entire team with one notable try saving
tackle by full back Keith Hogg which forced the Ross High left winger into
touch at the corner flag when a score seemed a certainty.
Whilst this was a much improved performance by the Annan side after some
lack lustre ones already this season, and a welcome four points, the Annan
coaches will have to work hard to maintain this level of commitment in every
game for the rest of the season to ensure that Division 1 rugby remains on
the agenda at Violetbank next season.
ANNAN 15 v DUNFERMLINE 38
SATURDAY 29 SEPTEMBER 2001
After their defeat at Kilmarnock the previous Sunday Annan had hoped to use their home advantage to get their league campaign back on track in Division 1 of the BT National Leagues. However highflying Dunfermline had other ideas and although it was generally agreed that Annan had the better of the forward exchanges in the set piece play the superior visiting backs were the difference at the end of the day. Annan were hit early on with a soft try when, from a missed line kick out of defence, the ball was gathered by the Dunfermline full back who waltzed his way through some woeful home tackling to set up the first of the visitors three tries in the first half. The other two tries of the half were also the result of some inept defensive work by the home team who seemed to be having an off day. Annan’s only points in the first half was a fine penalty slotted by stand off Craig Johnstone to take the half time score to Annan 3 Dunfermline 19.
At the start of the second half Annan looked as if they might just make a game of it when from a fine series of rucks and driving play prop Colin Warrick drove over to score which kept the home side in the game. The supporters joy was short lived when the Annan try was followed by a quick riposte from the visitors and then by two further tries by the elegant visiting backs who, again, ripped through some woeful despairing home defences which settled the issue as a contest.
Annan, at this juncture, took the opportunity to introduce two colts to the action, Alan Rae to the right wing and Craig McCann to stand off. Both did have something to remember from the game with Alan Rae having a good late run up the touchline and Craig McCann slotting the conversion of prop Murray Forbes try. Annan’s consolation try game late on in the game and was a carbon copy of their first and came again from a series of rucks and drives by the home forwards to the visitor’s line with prop Murray Forbes this time driving over for the score.
This was a game where the superior Dunfermline backs exposed blatant weaknesses in the Annan defences with the home backs in general having an off day and posing no attacking threat to their visitors. Their attacks were too slow and static and never on any occasion troubled the well-organised Dunfermline defences.
Dunfermline certainly looked a very good side on this performance and are bound to be in contention for promotion at the end of the season. Annan can take some consolation in having played two of the stronger teams in the league in the last two weeks but cannot be relishing the prospect of playing league leaders Ross High at Violetbank this Saturday who had a convincing win over Kilmarnock at Tranent on Saturday.
Annan team: C. Warrick,( M. Forbes 70 mins) A. Render, J. Tinning, W. Henderson, M. Newton, A. Renwick, G. Smith, S. Clanachan, B. Graham, C. Johnstone (C. McCann 70 mins), E. Hay (A. Rae 65 mins), M. Anderson, K. Jones, S. Williamson, K. Hogg.
KILMARNOCK 28 v ANNAN 12
SUNDAY 23 SEPTEMBER 2001
Kilmarnock brought a high level of commitment into this game, and although Annan matched that commitment for 50 minutes, the home side eventually won just too much possession and proved just too sharp behind the scrum for Annan, who, after leading at half-time, failed to turn pressure into points which would have salvaged at least a bonus point.
Kilmarnock began as to steamroller their visitors, and a run up the left touch and kick ahead by the loose head prop allowed their left wing to win the scramble for the touch down after just five minutes. Fullback Stewart, a thorn in Annan’s flesh in the same game last year, converted well for an early 7-0 lead. Annan made light of this setback, and stand off Craig Johnstone began to find some excellent touches down the Annan right. From one of the ensuing lineouts lock Michael Newton stole the home throw-in and prop Colin Warrick was driven over to score. This quick riposte from Annan was followed by a second try. This time a tap penalty in the home 22, using a set move, saw flanker Graham Smith drive over to give Annan the lead, stretched to 12 – 7 by Craig Johnstone’s fine conversion. The remainder of the half was something of a battle for supremacy, often tousy, but both sides kept their lines intact. The half time whistle saw Annan still ahead, though turning to face the breeze and with hooker Paul Carruthers having been replaced by Neil Moffat (20 minutes) and tight head prop Darren Irving by Jack Tinning (40 minutes).
Kilmarnock upped the pace in the second period, and their forwards began to win the bulk of possession from scrum and lineout, while their backs, marshalled by another ‘thorn’ from last season, Jenkins, began to test Annan’s defence. After 50 minutes the pressure finally told, Kilmarnock’s No 8 scoring after picking up from a scrum and left the Annan defence behind to score. Stewart converted, before stand off Jenkins showed how elusive he could be, running on to give their left-winger a score at the posts. Again Steward converted, and Annan were adrift by 21-12.
Annan did have periods of pressure thereafter. A series of lineouts close to the Kilmarnock line, and scrums and tap penalties provided opportunities. Colin Warrick drove over only for the referee to spot that he had dropped the ball, while the backs scorned a clear overlap and a certain score. To rub salt into the wounds, Jenkins set off on a solo run to the posts and Stewart goaled again to bring the curtain on an entertaining but frustrating game for Annan.
Match winner for the home side was Jenkins, who exposed weak Annan cover defences in the second half, and set his back line going well. The home forwards, also, got a grip of the game, and Annan found it harder to get possession. On the plus side for Annan was a fine supply of kicking from stand off Craig Johnstone, and a typically pugnacious display from scrum half Barry Graham. Some of the lineout work of Billy Henderson and Mike Newton was good too, but there was simply too much commitment and pace from the home side.
Annan can certainly build on this display, which was batter than the equivalent game last season, and with some scrimmaging practice and eye on defence around the fringes and the opposition stand off, will make it difficult for Dunfermline this Saturday at Violetbank
Annan Team: C. Warrick, P. Carruthers (N. Moffat 20 mins), D. Irving (J. Tinning 40 mins), W. Henderson, M. Newton, G. Smith, A. Renwick, S. Clanachan, B. Graham, C. Johnstone, A. Render, M. Anderson, K. Jones, S. Williamson, K. Hogg. Replacements not used A. Rae
Scorers: C. Warrick, G. Smith (tries), C. Johnstone (conversion)
ANNAN 18 v PRESTON LODGE 9
SATURDAY 15 SEPTEMBER 2001
Even a cross wind at Violetbank seems to favour the team kicking towards the Brydekirk end, and Preston Lodge had this advantage in the first half of this ultimately entertaining Division 1 match in the BT National Leagues. Fresh from their home win over Kilmarnock, the visitors were in confident mood, and they did have the better of the first half. Annan took an early lead when replacement stand off Craig Johnstone banged over a simple penalty, but this was soon cancelled out by Preston Lodge. A series of offences on the ground or for offside gave the visitors the chance to go ahead 6 –3, but a further four kicks were missed. Another let-off for Annan was what appeared to be a try for the visitors when a garryowen to the Annan line led to some confusion in the home defences, and a visiting hand appeared to touch down. Fortunately for Annan the referee could not see exactly what happened, and the half time whistle went with the home side trailing only 3-6.
With Annan turning round to kick in their preferred direction, there was every hope that they could snatch victory. But first they found themselves further behind to a good penalty kick. After a period of rather uncertain play by Annan, however, they began to find their rhythm, and the pressure on PL increased. Craig Johnstone was successful with a penalty to bring Annan to 6-9, and then two tries in quick succession sealed the game for the home side. After an assault on the PL line had been repulsed, Annan moved the ball wide to the left from a scrum in the visitor’s 22, and an overlap was there for fullback Keith Hogg to score the first try of the game. Craig Johnstone failed with the conversion attempt, but from the ensuing kick off Annan again charged down field, and after further pressure in the PL corner, replacement flanker Graham Smith emerged round the blindside of a ruck to score unopposed. This time Craig Johnstone made a good job of the conversion, and Annan led 18-9.
As the game entered its final stages, PL ran the ball at every opportunity in an attempt to gain at least a bonus point from the game, but excellent defence and some careless handling by the visitors prevented any further scoring.
So, after a first half in which they had struggled to put their game together, and in which both stand off Niall Smith (concussion) and flanker Robert Currie (leg knock) had been forced off, Annan more than made amends with a fine second half performance. In that period, the Annan scrum got on top, and the forwards also dominated the lineout where they reigned supreme taking several takes against the throw. From these platforms the Annan kickers began to find their range, keeping the game in the visitor’s half, and the two tries scored were both the result of hard work on the training pitch.
Altogether a very good home win for Annan, who now face a tough fixture at Kilmarnock next Sunday. Niall Smith is certain to be out for three weeks, but the squad is playing with confidence these days and will travel to Bellsland with a win in mind.
Annan Team: K. Hogg, S. Williamson, K. Jones, M. Anderson, A. Render (C), N. Smith (C. Johnstone 10 mins), B. Graham, C. Warrick, P. Carruthers, D. Irving, W. Henderson, M. Newton, A. Renwick, R. Currie (G. Smith 25 mins), S. Clanachan. Replacement not used M. Forbes.
Scorers: C. Johnstone, penalty(2), conversion(1), K. Hogg, try. G. Smith, try
WEST DYCE 7 v ANNAN 107
SATURDAY 8 SEPTEMBER 2001
The first round of the BT Cellnet Cup, which for the first time involved all clubs below the Premier Leagues, threw up a number of mis-matches, and this was one.
Undeterred by the long journey, by the gale and rain blowing into their faces, and by the short but wide pitch, Annan were superior in every department, their fitness, speed of thought and action and commitment being just too much for the plucky home side. The heavy rain, which began just before kick-off, did not affect Annan’s handling or their desire to play an open game, and they had already stamped their authority on the match with some thirty seconds gone. Westdyce kicked off, the ball was taken forward by the Annan pack, and after two rucks was passed along the line to left wing Keith Hogg, who ran in behind the posts. Stand off Niall Smith goaled for an immediate 7-point lead.
Thereafter tries came with regularity from both forwards and backs. By the quarter hour it was over as a contest, and Annan could afford relax. Early injuries to stand off Niall Smith and flanker Robert Currie saw them replaced by Mike Anderson and Graham Smith, but Annan’s domination continued. Nine tries in the first half, with five conversions, gave Annan a 55-0 lead at the break, as they turned to take advantage of the elements.
The pattern of the game continued, with Annan gaining possession and keeping it for long periods, but the effects of the rain did begin to make handling more difficult and the error count did rise. After a couple of early scores, Annan seemed to lose concentration for a few minutes, and same over-ambitious handling in the backs gave Westdyce an interception try, taken with alacrity by their outside centre, and successfully converted. As the game drew to an end normal service was resumed and the score quickly mounted again. With eight tries in the second half, six converted, Annan had broken the 100 barrier for the first time since that annus mirabilis of 1995-6.
Leading the try count for Annan was No 8 Stuart Clanachan, relishing the greater space on the scrum pick up, while the final score went to replacement prop Murray Forbes, who went on with some ten minutes to go. Fullback Craig Johnstone, also a try scorer, staked a claim to the kicking duties with ten conversions. This result has little significance in relation to this week’s game against Preston Lodge, but scrutiny of the first round results may persuade the SRU to rethink its ‘all in’ policy at this stage of the Cup.
Annan scorers: Tries - S. Clanachan (4), K. Hogg (3), N. Smith (2), K. Jones (2), S. Williamson, M. Anderson, B. Graham C. Johnstone, A. Renwick, M. Forbes.
Conversions - N. Smith, C. Johnstone (10)
Annan team: C. Johnstone; S. Wi1Iiamson, K. Jones, A. Render, K. Hogg; N. Smith (M. Anderson 15m), B. Graham; C. Warrick (M. Forbes 70m), P. Carruthers, D. Irving, W. Henderson, M. Newton, R. Currie (G. Smith 20m), A. Renwick, S. Clanachan.
GLENROTHES 13 v ANNAN 10
SATURDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 2001
With Glenrothes notorious slow starters in their league campaigns, (in fact they have failed to win their opening league fixture for several seasons) Annan travelled to Carleton Park hopeful of a winning start to their own league campaign. This was not to be, however, as the visitors started in their now customary fashion and gifted their hosts ten points in less minutes. Firstly in the opening seconds of the game they gave away a penalty, which was gratefully accepted by the Glenrothes kicker. They then compounded their opening error minutes later when some woeful defensive work let in the home inside centre to score a try. This score at least seemed to spark the Annan team out of their lethargy and they began to put some moves together and pressurise the home defences with some spells of continuity play.
However, as was to prove the pattern of play throughout the game, ball retention seemed to be a problem in the ruck situation. On occasions too numerous to mention, especially in promising attacking situations, Annan would find themselves robbed of the ball, as the ball carrier went to ground, by the ever alert Glenrothes backrow. Initially it looked as if the visiting support players were just too slow to the breakdown but as the game wore on it became apparent, at least to this observer, that the Annan players were too keen to go to ground instead of attempting to stay on their feet until support arrived and then create the ruck.
There was some fine play, in patches, and from a lineout in the home half, the ball was taken off the top and with quick hands the ball was transferred along the back line and with wing forward Bob Currie coming into the line to create an overlap and the home defences expecting the ball to be fed to the winger, No 8 Stuart Clannachan came thundering into the line and outpaced the despairing Glenrothes defences to score. The conversion was missed. Glenrothes mounted an assault on the Annan line in the dying moments of the half but some fine defensive work kept their line intact. Half time score Glenrothes 8 Annan 5.
With the wind and the slope in their favour both sets of supporters expected Annan to kick the ball into the corners at every opportunity but Annan never seem to do the expected and instead tried to drive through the middle at every opportunity. Unfortunately ball retention, or rather the lack of it, proved to be their undoing as from a pilfered ball at a ruck the home back row launched an attack and with the ball spun wide to the speedy King on the left wing the home side scored a superbly manufactured try which was not converted.
Annan kept plugging away and on several occasions it looked as if a try was on the cards but for some reason once overlaps appeared they appeared to be spurned in favour of the inside drive which, frustratingly, for both the Annan players and their supporters on numerous occasions ended in a turnover in favour of the opposition. Then, just as despondency was descending on the small knot of visiting supporters the afternoon was lit up by a superb try when from a scrum in the Glenrothes 22 the ball was fed through several pairs of hands, eventually, reaching winger Andy Render who powered over in the corner for a magnificent try. Again the conversion was missed. With the pressure now on the home side Annan began to up their game with some fine driving play and in the dying seconds of the game it looked as if fortune was about to shine on the visitors when the ball was shipped out to the centres and with a clear overlap and a score looking a certainty the ball was agonisingly knocked on just metres short of the line and the game finished with the visitors thinking what might have been and the home side hoping that their first win in the first league game might be an omen of things to come.
All in all this was a most disappointing result for Annan especially given the amount of possession they had throughout the game but the lack of ball retention must be the most worrying concern for the coaches. Annan’s set piece play was, over the piece, reasonably solid although the scrums creaked on several occasions against the heavier Glenrothes pack. On the plus side however it was encouraging to see the backs being involved in both tries and at least a bonus point was gained. Also whilst Annan’s place kicking was poor the kicking from hand by stand off Niall Smith and full back Craig Johnstone was impressive.
Annan Team: Colin Warrick, Paul Carruthers, Darren Irving, Billy Henderson, Graham Smith, Andy Renwick, Robert Currie, Stuart Clannachan, Keith Hogg, Niall Smith, Andy Render (C), Michael Anderson, Kevin Jones, Stuart Williamson, Replacements: Barry Graham, Murray Forbes.
SATURDAY 25 AUGUST 2001
While the rest of the country seemed to be basking in sunshine Violetbank seemed to be the focal point for rain on Saturday as a constant drizzle descended on the Annan ground for the duration of the tournament. The hosts were drawn against pre-tournament favourites Aspatria in the first game with Biggar drawn against Penrith in the second.
ANNAN 0 v ASPATRIA 26
Annan appear to have a major psychological stumbling block when playing higher rated opponents, in that they seem to stand back in awe of them rather than playing in their faces. Although the early exchanges looked promising for the home side the Aspatria backs always looked sharper in deed and action and it was only a matter of time before some slack defensive play allowed the visiting backs to break out of defence and score. Although there were glimpses of some promising play by Annan, particularly in the forwards, Aspatria’s powerful defences stood intact an Annan were unable to breach them and it was the visitors who scored another fine try before the break to take the score to 14 –0 in Aspatria’s favour. The second half was a repeat of the first with Aspatria running in a further two tries without reply and while Annan plugged away gamely they could not find a way through to the visitor’s line. Final Score Annan 0 Aspatria 26
BIGGAR 12 v PENRITH 0
Unlike Annan, Penrith did not seem to be overawed by their more illustrious opponents from Premier 3, and gave as good as they got in most facets of the game. Where Biggar had the edge was in their general activity off the ball with runners keeping their opposite numbers guessing. In the end the Cumbrians were beaten by two second half tries as they began to tire.
Prior to the playoff for third place the spectators were treated to a display of entertaining rugby from some of Annan’s future stars when a mixture of the Clubs’ Under 13 and Under 14s put in a sparkling performance of running rugby.
3RD/4TH PLACE PLAYOFF
ANNAN 12 v PENRITH 0
With only pride at stake this tie proved to be, for the home supporters anyway, the most exciting of the day. Both sides, who play a similar style of rugby, were evenly matched for most of the game with both sets of forwards setting up some good ball for their backs with some fine driving play. In fact Penrith probably had the better of the play in the first half and were perhaps a little unlucky to concede a try. Winger Stuart Williamson scored the try when from a scrum on the 5-metre line scrum half Keith Hogg slipped the ball to the winger who, on a diagonal run, scored beside the posts. The conversion was missed.
In the second half Annan began to play some fine rugby with the forwards, in particular, looking in good form, as they drove play deep into the Penrith half on numerous occasions. The backs also began to find some gaps in the Penrith defences but were frustrated by some desperate but effective last gap defence from the Cumbrians. It took a finely weighted kick behind the visiting defences by stand off Niall Smith to breach the Penrith line with centre Mike Anderson making the touchdown. Niall Smith added the conversion to take the final score to Annan 12 Penrith 0.
ASPATRIA 0 v BIGGAR 10
Prior to the final most of the spectators, having seen both finalist play, would have put money on Aspatria to win but as in their game against Penrith the Biggar team worked harder off the ball. With both sets of defences cancelling each other in the first half and it took a penalty award for Biggar, kicked, by their full back to take the Premier 3 side into a slender halt time lead.
The second half looked to be heading for a stalemate as both teams battled away trying to win a chink in each others defences and it took a break away try by Biggar to seal the tie by their right winger who gathered the ball in his own half and sprinted in to score. With the try converted the final score was Aspatria 0 Biggar 10.
The Violetbank 15 a-side Challenge Trophy sponsored by Murray Little & Knox , Solicitors 27 Bank Street Annan was presented to the Biggar captain by Annan’s Club President Ronnie Anderson with the winners medals, sponsored by Annandale Architectural Services, 2 Station Road, The Park, Annan presented to the Biggar team by Fay Anderson.
All in all despite the weather this was a successful inaugural tournament for the Annan club who hope to build on the experience for the coming seasons.
C. Johnstone, E. Hay, S. Williamson, A. Render, M. Anderson, K. Jones, N. Smith, B. Graham, K. Hogg, S. Clannachan, R, Currie, A. Renwick, G. Smith, M. Newton, W. Henderson, N. Moffat, P. Carruthers, J. Gilmour, D. Irving, C. Warrick
ANNAN 27 - WORKINGTON 19
SATURDAY 18 AUGUST 2001
Annan welcomed back Workington 1st XV, after several years, in a trial game at Violetbank on Saturday and, whilst it was the visitors first outing of the new season and only the home sides second, both squads put on an entertaining display of running rugby. The trial was played in three thirty minute segments. In the first, the visitors looked as if they would run riot in the opening minutes with some sparkling rugby, with their three-quarters looking particularly exciting with the ball in hand. Annan initially stemmed the onslaught on their line but Workington, with their standoff, in particular, proving difficult to control, ended a fine backs move with their right winger scoring in the corner. The try was converted from the touchline to give the visitors’ a deserved lead in the first section.
As had happened at Selkirk the previous Tuesday night Annan eventually woke up to the fact that they were in a game of rugby and set about the task in hand with some vigour. The forwards began to gain the upper hand in the loose play with the back row at their scavenging best winning the majority of any loose ball on the ground. From a lineout within the visitors’ 22 the ball was driven over the line with prop Colin Warrick credited with the touchdown. The conversion was missed. The Annan forwards continued to drive play deep into the Workington half at every conceivable opportunity and on several occasions when the backs were fed the ball the home three quarters looked threatening but the Workington defence were more than adequate in snuffing out the threats. If was Annan who took the lead, however, when from a scrum in their opponents 22, No 8 Stuart Clannachan thundered over to score in the corner. The conversion was again missed. Minutes later, in a repeat of Annan’s first try the ball was again driven over the line for Colin Warrick to score his second try of the day. This time stand off Niall Smith landed the conversion to give the home side a healthy 17 – 7 lead.
In the third and final segment the home side again seemed to have the upper hand and it was only a matter of time before Stuart Clannachan drove over to score his second try of the match after a great driving display by the forwards up the touchline. The conversion was missed. Just when the supporters thought that Workington were dead and buried they scored a fine try when their back line, with the back row in concert, scored in the corner. Annan hit back almost immediately when the Annan backs showed that they were not going to be outshone by their visiting counterparts when they cut loose and full back Craig Johnstone glided over to score his first try for the 1sts. Niall Smith converted the try. Workington to their credit refused to lie down and immediately set about driving play deep into the Annan half. From a ruck in the middle of the field their stand off, who had been a constant threat all afternoon, sparked his back line into motion and they scored the best try of the afternoon to end the match. All concerned in the entertainment agreed that the exercise had been well worthwhile with players and spectators alike having an enjoyable afternoon.
The Annan players who caught the eye were wing forward Bob Currie, who just seems to get better with every game, and No 8 Stuart Clannachan at his stormin’ best the pick of the forwards. In the backs Kevin Jones, who has moved in to centre from the wing, always looked threatening in attack and solid in his defensive work and full back Craig Johnstone looked as if he was warming to the full back role.
Craig Johnstone, Euan Hay, Kevin Jones, Stuart Williamson, Michael Anderson, Niall Smith, Barry Graham, Stuart Clannachan, Bob Currie, Andy Renwick, Billy Henderson, Michael Newton, Colin Warrick, Paul Carruthers, Darren Irving. Replacements: Neil Moffat, Graham Smith and Calum Heughan
SELKIRK V ANNAN
TUESDAY 14 AUGUST
Annan travelled to Philiphaugh on Tuesday night for a trial match against Premier 2 side Selkirk. The match was played in three thirty minutes segments with both sides using all of their squad members over the 90 minutes.
For the first 30 minutes Annan looked and played as if they were still on the A7 and were run ragged by a fluent looking home back line who ran in 4 tries without reply in this initial period. In the second period the visitors at last found their feet and began to make a game of the encounter. The Annan forwards began to gain the upper hand in the set piece and were rarely out of the Selkirk half as the battered away at the home line but were unable to breach the well marshalled, competent and resolute home defences and were most unlucky to lose a try in this period to a breakout score by the home side.
The third and final period belonged to the visitors as they began to reap some rewards for their efforts with three tries. The first was created by stand off Niall Smith who after making a superb break found wing forward Bob Currie on his shoulder to receive the scoring pass. Annan’s other wing forward Andy Renwick scored the second which Niall Smith converted. Annan’s final score was just reward for the forwards when after a period of sustained pressure prop Colin Warrick burrowed over to score which Niall Smith again converted.
All in all the Annan coaches seemed well pleased with their players’ efforts especially in the fitness stakes where the visitors finished the stronger of the two teams on display. Especially encouraging for the club was the display of colt Andrew Eggleton and new colt’s recruit Alan Rae. The latter gained the biggest cheer of the night with a superb try saving tackle on Selkirk’s No 8.