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FULL MATCH REPORTS: QUICK ACCESS
WHITECRAIGS 10 v ANNAN 24
SATURDAY 7TH FEBRUARY 2004
On an afternoon which saw all four seasons on show at West Lodge, the home of Whitecraigs RFC, both teams tried hard to play open entertaining rugby on a pitch, which in areas was a quagmire. In the opening exchanges Annan slowly worked their way into the home 22 and for ten minutes laid siege to the Whitecraigís line only to be held out by a combination of tenacious defence by the home side and the vagaries of the weather where cold hands led to numerous handling errors. However Annanís persistence paid off when from a scrum 5 metres from the home line No 8 Neil Halliday drove towards the line and when he was held up he popped the ball up to full back Alastair Graham who drove over to score.
Annan continued to dominate for the remainder of the half and they were rewarded for their territorial and lineout dominance when from a lineout on the right No 8 Neil Halliday stole the ball and after an initial surge which drew in the home mid field defence he released his backs who with a numerical overlap sent winger Michael Pattison in at the corner for a majestic score. Centre Duncan Fisher added the extra two points to take the half time score to Whitecraigs 2nds 0 Annan 2nds 12.
In the second half, played for the most part in a driving blizzard, Whitecraigs upped their game and put the Annan defenses under severe pressure as they sought to make some inroads into the scoreline. Annan however were more than equal to the task and not only broke the siege but also to some extents the fighting spirit of the home side, when the visiting backs broke out of defence and with some fine interplay between the backs and back row winger Dougie McKay found himself in the clear and romped in to score. Duncan Fisher again added the extra points to take Annan into a healthy 19 point lead. The home side, however were not to be outdone and continued to battle away in the mud and were rewarded when their huge prop broke away from a ruck in the Annan 22 and trundled his way to the line. Annanís last lines of defence, obviously worried that if this man mountain fell on them that they may be lost forever in the West Lodge mud, parted like the Red Sea and he flopped over the line to score. The home forwards, buoyed up by this score, again drove for the Annan line from the restart and although held up for a time by some dogged defence they added to their points tally with a further try to reduce Annanís lead to 9 points.
Annan regrouped and finished off the Whitecraigs minor revival when from a speculative kick into the Annan 22 by the home stand off the ball was gathered by Annan replacement full back Bruce Hay who danced and pirouetted his way through the home forwards. He then linked up with centre Duncan Fisher who split the home cover defences and when tackled popped the ball to scrum half Liam Ogilvie who then outsprinted the clutches of the covering full back to score the best try of the day. Final score Whitecraigs 2nds 10 Annan 2nds 24.
All in all, especially given the atrocious conditions and four weeks of inactivity, this was a heartening display by Annanís second string, bolstered by the return of stand off Craig McCann and centre Michael Anderson from injury. Special mention must go to Annanís youngest member of the team prop Andrew Gunning who was making his senior team debut and showed his obvious potential at the tender age of 16. He was joined in the age stakes by centre Duncan Fisher, who by comparison is an old stager having already made an appearance for the 1st XV this season. One wonders if this team had trained together from the beginning of the season whether they would have been challenging for promotion instead of sitting mid table in Division 4 (West) of the Scottish 2nd XV leagues.
Annan 2nd XV Team: J Gilmour, A Carlyle, A Gunning, N Bell, L Vivers, S Murray, C Muir (C Hay), N Halliday, L Ogilvie, C McCann, M Pattison, M Anderson, D Fisher, D McKay, A Graham (B Hay)
ANNAN 19 V UPPER EDEN 5
SATURDAY 10th JANUARY 2004
Annanís second string entertained South Cumbrian side Upper Eden 2nds at Violetbank on Saturday in their last friendly before the resumption of the 2nd XV leagues and both teams provided an entertaining match before a small crowd of hardy supporters. In the early exchanges Annan looked as if they were going to be up against it as the visiting forwards had the better of the set piece play in both scrums and lineouts and for the first ten minutes of the game had the home side pinned in their own 22. Eventually the home side began to exert some pressure of their own as they eased their way into the opposition half with the help of some fine line kicking by stand off Euan Currie. From a piece of sustained pressure flanker Stuart Livingston broke away from the side of a ruck to score with centre Mike Rennie adding the conversion.
Upper Eden struck back minutes later when from a lineout take following a penalty award their forwards drove over to score an unconverted try. Annanís response was swift when from a ruck in the middle of the park stand off Euan Currie sparked off his backs and when full back Ally Muir came on a curving diagonal run to take the ball at pace he left the visiting cover defence flat footed to score a superb unconverted try to take the half time score to Annan 12 Upper Eden 5
In the second half the Annan forwards began to gain the upper hand in the set piece exchanges although their scrummaging did creak from time to time. With better quality ball available the home backs tried to find gaps in the Upper Eden defences, which stood firm against several Annan attacks. Centre Michael Rennie broke the impasse when he launched a superb up and under with full back Ally Muir showing his blistering pace to win the footrace to the line and score. Mike Rennie added the two points to take the final score to Annan 19 Upper Eden 5.
All in all this was a satisfying win for the home second string albeit a disjointed performance at time with a lack of cohesion and at times woeful handling skills especially from some of the more experienced members of the squad. Players who caught the eye were Euan Currie and Ally Muir in the backs and James Gilmour and Stuart Livingston the forwards. However were this squad to train as a team there is little doubt that they would be in danger of winning Division 4 (West) of the Scottish 2nd XV leagues which recommences this coming Saturday.
ANNAN 10 V GARNOCK 8
SATURDAY 6th DECEMBER 2003
The 2nd XV suffered a fairly comprehensive defeat away to Garnock earlier in the season, so they would had to raise their game to take anything from the home tie in Division 4 of the Scottish 2nd XV leagues. Annan started brightly, with the home forwards employing some good rucking to take the ball deep into their opponents half. Garnock weathered the initial period of Annan dominance, the first half proving to be a contest between both sets of forwards. The standout player being the Garnock no 8. The scoring in the 1st half was limited to a single penalty goal for Garnock to give them a 3 point lead at the interval.
The start of the 2nd half saw more of the same with both sets of forwards canceling each other out and the backs the same. The decisive period of the game came with 20 minutes to go. The Annan forwards improved their recycling of the ball. With clean ball the Annan backs stretched their legs and showed what they were capable of. Two tries in the space of 10 minutes the first from Callum Muir who took advantage of a mistake from the Garnock fallback to touch down and then a sweeping score from the Annan backs with wing Dougie McKay touching down wide on the left. Annan should really have nailed the game at this point but contrived to take their foot off the gas and allowed Garnock back into the game with a try from their forwards. Annan rallied and a frantic last 5 minutes ensued, with both sides fully committed to winning the tie. Annan held on to claim a deserved victory. Although this was very much a team effort, stand out players for Annan were Euan Currie, Callum Muir, Phil McColl and Neil Bell.
ANNAN 10 V PENRITH 34
SATURDAY 29th NOVEMBER 2003
There was plenty of effort here by both teams on a dreadful day for rugby, with Penrith deservedly running out winners by six tries and two conversions to two tries by Annan.
With the usual late call-ups to the 1st XV squad, and the usual late call-offs as well, yet another veteran, Jim Tweedie, was brought out of retirement for 2nd XV service. Despite this, Annan only mustered fourteen men, and gladly took one of Penrith's spares to make up the number.
Penrith, who always looked dangerous when moving the ball wide, scored two early tries, and Annan looked to be in for a torrid afternoon. However the Annan pack took a grip of the game, got a reward when prop Jack Tinning drove over for a try, and probably shaded the first half. Penrith did score another backs try before half time, but Annan would have the benefit of the wind in the second half.
The second half turned out to be very similar to the first, with Penrith this time having the greater possession against the wind, and they scored a further three tries. Annan had their chances, but only one was taken when young scrum half Liam Ogilvie got over after pressure on the Penrith line.
Yet again Annan were forced into putting out a somewhat makeshift side, with no recognised kicker, which denied them the chance to use the wind to advantage in the second period. Despite this, they battled well until ref Steve Jancey's whistle heralded a return to the warmth of the changing rooms.
Annan team: A. Muir; D. McKay, D. Wyllie, A. Graham, E. Currie; N. Latimer, L. Ogilvie; G. Brown, N Bell, J. Tinning, J. Tweedie, L. Vevers, K. Watret, A. Guest, N. Halliday
HAMILTON 51 V ANNAN 5
SATURDAY 15TH NOVEMBER 2003
League leaders Hamilton emerged easy winners at Laigh Bent, but at least Annan kept plugging away to the end, and were rewarded by scoring the first league try against their hosts this season.
With the Club selection problems at 1st XV level impacting on the 2nds, it was a somewhat makeshift Annan team which took the field, consisting of young players and veterans. After a bright start in which Annan retained possession in a series of drives, some of the older players began to suffer from their exertions, leaving it up to the younger lads to do the dirty work. One exception to this was Neil Halliday, as usual to be found in the thick of the mauls.
Over the piece the Annan forwards competed well against their heavier opponents, but Hamilton had the advantage behind the scrum, with a lively set of backs whose hard running was a handful for Annan, Hamilton scored four tries in each half, only one coming from a forward drive. Most came from open play which punctured the Annan defence, with missed tackles being punished.
Annanís only score came late in the second half, and resulted from the only time they moved the ball quickly along the line, right winger Dougie McKay getting in at the comer. Man of the Match for Annan was Stuart Wyllie, now off to Australia, and other hard working forwards were Stuart Murray, Stuart Livingstone and Ally Carlyle. Behind the scrum centre Alistair Graham did his best to keep the backs right, while young David Wyllie took the eye. As a point of interest, there was a thirty year age gap between Annanís oldest and youngest players. The 2nds fortunes should improve once the Clubís injury list contracts, but in the meantime they should endeavour to get to training as a squad.
Arman team: A Muir, D McKay, D Wyllie, A Graham, M. Pattinson, E Currie, N Latimer, A Carlyle, S Wyllie, G Brown, G Coupland, K Watret, S Livingstone, S Murray, N Halliday, Replacements all used L Vevers, A Murray, L Ogilvie.
STRATHENDRICK 0 V ANNAN 24
SATURDAY 11TH OCTOBER 2003
As usual it was a much-changed 2nds, which took the field in Fintry, and with both Neil Halliday and lan Thorburn injured, a very young and inexperienced side indeed. The "mature" look of the home side, with gnarled forwards and nippy backs, suggested that Annan would have a hard time. But for all their possession, perhaps 70%, and all their pressure in the Annan 22, Strathendrick were pointless. Never has the ability to kick your goals been better illustrated than here, where scrum half Scott McCann couldn't fail, while the home kicker gave up trying.
The first half was well advanced before the first scoring opportunity for either side, a relatively simple penalty to Strathendrick was missed. Annan responded with a successful McCann penalty to go 3-0 up, and just before half time Annan scored a lovely try. Moving the ball on the home 22, centre Alistair Graham made the break, fed fellow centre Michael Pattinson, who then exchanged passes with winger Philip Bertram for the former to get the score. The conversion was missed, but Annan had a handy 8-0 half time lead.
The second half was a repeat of the first. Strathendrick had the bulk of possession and pressure, but could never get past that last Annan defender, while on Annan's infrequent visits to the opposition half, Scott McCann punished every penalty award, his three out of three taking Annan to 17-0. By the end the home side were clearly becoming somewhat dispirited, and McCann rubbed it in with a solo try from a 5-metre scrum, which he also converted.
So full marks for effort to the young Annan side, bolstered by just two old heads in Colin Warrick and Alistair Graham, and it is worth noting that all Annan's points were scored by Colts. McCann had an excellent game, and his kicking is as good as any seen from an Annan jersey for some years. Up front, the plaudits went to battle scarred Kenny Carter, always prepared to put his body on the line, and to suffer the consequences cheerfully. This first league win will hopefully inject confidence into the 2nd XV squad for their next encounter. Commiserations to winger Philip Bertram who broke and dislocated an elbow almost at the final whistle and spent the night on the NHS rather than the playersí bus
Annan team: D. Copland; P. Bertram, M. Pattinson, A. Graham, A. Muir; E. Currie, S. McCann; A. Carlyle, S. Livingston, C. Warrick, K. Watret, N. Bell, S. Murry, L. Ogilvie, K. Cartner, D. Mckay, L. Vivers.
ANNAN 24 v CAMBUSLANG 31
SATURDAY 4 OCTOBER 2003
Annanís second string went down by the odd try in nine in a highly entertaining game in this Division 4 (West) game in the Scottish 2nd XV leagues at Violetbank. The home side started strongly and within minutes of the kick off after some great driving play by the home forwards No 8 Neil Halliday drove over to score. Annanís lead was short lived and the visitors balanced the score minutes later with a try of their own. Annan regained the lead and increased their scoreline with tries by scrum half Scott McCann and centre Stuart Livingstone. Cambuslang fought back and scored two fine tries of their own both of which were converted to give the visitors a two point lead at half time. Half time score Annan 17 Cambuslang 19.
Early in the second half Annan again retook the lead when Stuart Murray scored with Scott McCann adding the conversion. Cambuslang then retook the lead and extended it with two tries of their own, one of which was converted to take the final score to Annan 2nd XV 24 Cambuslang 2nd XV 31. The visitors just about deserved their victory although a draw would probably have been a fairer result. With an ever changing team Annanís second string will take some time to find their feet. It would help them immensely, however, in their cause if they trained together to bring some cohesion to their play!
GARNOCK 28 v ANNAN 0
SATURDAY 27 SEPTEMBER 2003
The Annan team which took the field paid little resemblance to that selected on the Tuesday, such were the problems of unavailability, but in the end a squad of 17, including the 1st XV touch judge whisked off their bus, arrived at Lochshore.
The game was a competitive affair, with the score flattering the home side, and also reflecting the fact that Annan Man of the Match Neil Halliday had his two tries disallowed by the referee.
Annan were 6-0 down at half time, and the damage was done when they lost two early second half tries when Captain lan Thorburn was sin-binned, and a later score when Annan were again down to fourteen men due to injury to fullback Andy Copland.
ANNAN 8 V DAZIEL 25
SATURDAY 20 SEPTEMBER 2003
EARLSTON 5 V ANNAN 12
SATURDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 2003
Annan took a squad of 20, containing a considerable number of young players, and including 4 Under 18's, to a hastily arranged fixture at Earlston following the call-off of Selkirk on Friday evening. The blustery conditions at the Haugh made flowing rugby difficult and Annan were on the back foot in the early exchanges. It has to be said that they were up against a very experienced Earlston side. Despite a number of Annan's opposition being a bit long in the tooth, the Earlston team managed to offset their lack of fitness with some very street-wise, though often illegal, tactics. They did their best to slow the game down and Annan found it difficult to get going, and equally difficult to gain a lot of possession, often being hemmed back by some very astute touch kicking by the Earlston full back.
The early Earlston pressure brought one try and half-time arrived with Annan 0-5 down. Following some tactical and personnel changes at the interval, Annan played a much more open game and began to run the tiring Earlston pack around. There was an excellent individual try by Chris Banks who, with a combination of searing pace and mesmeric footwork, outstripped the Earlston defence from well inside his own half. This was converted by Scott McCann. Shortly after, some slick handling across the Annan back line put Dougie McKay in for a second Annan score. After this, Annan were always in control and it was disappointing to see Earlston beginning to indulge in unnecessary tactics in the latter part of the game. Very good performances came from Scott McCann and Stuart Wylie in particular. Craig Moffat and Ian Thorburn also put in a power of work and Kevin Goss was effective in the second half in an otherwise scrappy lineout. Andy Copland gave a fine first half performance before having to retire and it was good to see a couple of runs from Steven Earl, who still has a fair bit of pace despite the surplus inches on the waistline. Overall, a heartening performance from the young Annan side and this will give them some confidence going into their first league match this Saturday against Dalziel at Violetbank.
ANNAN 31 V CREIGHTON 41
SATURDAY 30 AUGUST 2003
Pre-match comments in the Annan 2nds changing rooms spoke of enthusiasm,
enjoyment, commitment and sticking to basics. These comments seemed to
provide the focus that the squad required. Only when they lost their focus
did the visitors from Carlisle manage to get to grips with them.
With a try count of 5 to 7 in Creightonís favour and 3 conversions apiece ,
Annan showed glimpses of future promise from a squad of players with limited
time together pre-season. Although Annan controlled the game in the first
and fourth quarters with some direct running, good support play and sensible
kicking, they allowed the visiting heavier forwards to slow the pace of the
game with numerous mauls and rucks before finally releasing their backs who
found space out wide.
The Creighton inside centres ability to effortlessly cover 20 metres in a
second and intercept passes in Annanís back line allowed his team to build
on their lead over Annan. However Annan retained their composure and
returned to the game plan which had been so effective in the first half.
They scored three fine tries in the second half each reflecting the effort
and commitment of the first half.
Unfortunately time ran out and Annan were left reflecting on a game which
they know they could have won. Overall Annan should feel pleased with their
efforts but must use this experience to focus on putting in quality training
in the following weeks if they are to progress as a successful team.
Annanís points were scored by D. Wyllie (T), J. Lake (T), B. Graham (2T), C.
Moffat (T) and S. McCann (3 Con)
Annan Team: 1. J. Lake 2. S. Wylie 3. A. Carlyle 4. C. Moffat 5. N. Bell 6.
D. Wylie 7. K. Goss 8. S. Livingston 9. B. Graham 10. S. McCann 11. A. Muir
12. S. Earl 13. C. Bell 14. P. Bertram 15. A. Copland
Replacements: L. Ogilvie, D. Copeland, C. Muir