Match reports for the 2nd XV

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ANNAN 5 v WEST OF SCOTLAND 7
SATURDAY 2ND APRIL 2005

Annanís second string were left bitterly disappointed on Saturday at Violetbank when they lost their last league match in Division 4 (West) of the Scottish 2nd XV Leagues. After having been beaten at Burnbrae 39 Ė 0 in February they were most unlucky to loose this return match.

After an extremely close run first half where both sets of defenses were outstanding and the score level at 0-0. Annan looked to have done enough to win the match when they scored an unconverted try but were undone at the death when the visitorís stole the match with a controversial converted try. The result looks as if it has relegated the side to Division 5 (West) for next season but as the other outstanding results are unknown at the time of writing it is not certain. However they have been the architects of their own downfall when they had to call off two away matches due to players unwilling to travel and were docked two valuable points which would have been enough to keep them up.

Annan Squad: A Graham, G Brown, D Irving, G Hogg, M Pattinson, S Murray, S Roberts, I Thorburn, B Graham, B Hay, R Copland, A Muir, C Hay, A Copland, E Currie Replacements: K. Hogg, N Bell, J Gilmour, K Watret

ANNAN 0 v IRVINE 0
SATURDAY 26TH MARCH 2005

The scoreline probably says all there is to say about this re-arranged match in Division 4 (West) of the Scottish 2nd XV Leagues although it belies the effort and no little passion on display by both teams as they slogged out the 80 minutes at Violetbank on Saturday. This was a game that Annan desperately wanted to win both to purge the memory of the 40 Ė 5 drubbing at Marress in October and to ease themselves out of the relegation zone. The former they managed with a much more committed display on the day the latter unfortunately is still up for grabs.

The game was an end to end affair for the full 80 minutes with both sets of defenses canceling each other out with neither team having a gain line breaker in their ranks. The closest both teams came to breaking the deadlock was through three kickable penalty awards Ė two for Irvine and one for Annan Ė but all tree were missed!

There were some solid performances from the Annan squad with the half back pairing of veteran scrum half Barry Graham and standoff Bruce Hay particularly pleasing to watch with No 8 Sam Roberts outstanding in both attacking and defensive mode. Prop and utility forward Paul OíDonnell also looks well on the way to stepping up to the 1st XV after battling his way back from injury.

Whilst two valuable points were gained, as already mentioned this may not be enough to save Annan from the drop. Three teams from this league are scheduled for relegation as two Glasgow District teams are in the frame for relegation from Division 3. (Division 4 is a regional based league Ė Division 3 is national) with Annan in the third bottom place. Annan have it all to do again this Saturday when they play their last league game of the season at Violetbank against West of Scotland but even if they win other results elsewhere would have to fall in their favour for them to remain in Division 4 (West)

Annan Team: A Graham, G Brown, P OíDonnell, G Hogg, D McKay, S Murray, C Moffat, S Roberts, B Graham, B Hay, G Lynch, C Hay, A Muir, R Copland, E Currie Replacements: D Irving,

ANNAN 76 v ASPATRIA 0
SATURDAY 19TH MARCH 2005

The current parlous state of 2nd XV rugby in some notable clubs was clearly illustrated in this return friendly fixture at the Everholm. In the earlier away fixture Annan provided a couple of players for the home side, and again here Annan provided prop Andy Graham and centre Michael Griffin to make up the numbers to fourteen a side.

With some late un-availabilities to cover, Annan put out a strong team, with five players with current squad experience and a couple of others with plenty past 1st XV experience. No wonder then that Annan proved far too strong, and were able to coast through this game in almost training ground style. Only in the first few minutes did Annan have any serious defending to do, and thereafter tries came at regular intervals. With more plenty ball, and space and time available, Annan were able to play an open game in which backs and forwards combined well to tear the visiting defence apart. In the backs, Annan were strong at half back, which gave the threes plenty of opportunity to run the ball, which they did to good effect. The forwards were also impressive, no one fitter than Paul OíDonnell, who now looks ready to step back up.

For the record Annan scored eleven tries, claimed as follows: Keith Hogg (2), Dougie McKay (2), Bob Copland (2), Stuart Murray (2), Craig McCann, Sam Roberts, Grant Wylie and David Wyllie. McCann added eight conversions.

One point if interest was the appearance of former Annan Academy pupil Jim Johnstone as referee, now out of Moffat RFC.

Annan team: D. McKay, R. Copland, J. Crowther, D. Wyllie; C. McCann, K. Hogg; G. Wylie, A. Gunning, K. Nelson, G. Hogg, J. Vaughan, S. Roberts, S. Murray, P. OíDonnell. (A. Graham and M. Griffin played for Aspatria).

KILMARNOCK 6 v ANNAN 19
SATURDAY 12TH MARCH 2005

Annanís 2nd XV has not had too much success on the road in the league in recent years, so this was a very welcome and thoroughly deserved victory at Bellsland.

Annan got off to a flyer. Kilmarnock made a hash of the Annan kick off deep in their own 22, and when the ball was fed back lock Jason Vaughan was up to charge down the clearance kick and score what could be Annan's quickest try ever. Annan's next venture into Kilmarnock territory produced a penalty which hooker Stuart Wyllie converted with ease to give Annan an 8-0 lead.

Kilmarnock then fought their way back into the game, and though pressure on the Annan line was repulsed, they did earn a penalty in front of the posts. The game settled into a midfield battle for the most part, with no prisoners being taken. After adding another penalty for Annan Stuart Wyllie was forced off through injury, and he was joined by Ian Thorburn. Colin Warrick and Caird Hay substituted. A second penalty for Kilmarnock made it 11-6 to Annan at half time.

Annan dominated the second half. Astute line kicking from scrum half Keith Hogg and stand off Bruce Hay kept Kilmarnock on the back foot, and it was from a position deep in the Kilmarnock 22 that Annan scored their second try, again the charge down of an attempted clearance under pressure, this time by Neil Halliday. His reward for this moments later was a cracked rib, leading to Grant Wylie's appearance, which made up to four the number of Annan props on the field. Despite these changes Kilmarnock hardly got a look in in the second half, struggling in vain to escape their own half, and Annan were able to add a final Keith Hogg penalty to their tally.

This was a real team effort, but on this occasion the battle was won by the forwards. The backs, like their opponents, were unable to create the all important break, but their defence was solid, and the team could feel well satisfied at overturning the result at Annan earlier in the season, and gaining their second away league win of the season.

Annan team: E. Currie; R. Copland, J. Crowther, S. Roberts, D. McKay; B. Hay, K. Hogg; P. O'Donnell, S. Wyllie, A. Graham, G. Hogg, J. Vaughan, N. Halliday, S. Murray, I. Thorburn. Replacements - C. Warrick, C. Hay, G. Wylie, S. Goodwin

ANNAN 12 V DALZIEL 24
SATURDAY 5TH MARCH 2005

At Violetbank on Saturday both teams in this Division 4 (West) of the Scottish 2nd XV leagues tried their best to play entertaining rugby on a bitterly cold afternoon scoring 6 tries between them. Annan had a nightmare start with the visitors scoring a converted try with virtually their first touch of the ball. From this rocky start the home side gathered themselves together and slowly made inroads into the game. They were rewarded half way through the half when from a loose ball in the Dalziel 22 the ball was scooped up by centre Sam Roberts who darted through the visiting defence to score between the posts. Stuart Wylie converted to tie the scores at 7 all at half time.

Ten minutes into the second half Annan took the lead when from a maul following a scrum 5 metres from the Dalziel line flanker Neil Halliday barged his way over to score an unconverted try. This was to be Annanís last score of the game as the visitors upped their game and scored a further 3 tries to run out convincing winners 24-12.

The difference between the two teams was that Dalziel looked a team who trained and played together whereas Annan looked a team who meet on a Saturday to play a game of rugby.

ANNAN 51 V MOFFAT 5
SATURDAY 26TH FEBRUARY 2005

Annan 2nds hosted local club Moffat in a friendly at Violetbank last Saturday prior to the Scotland v Italy international. The home team ran out convincing winners against a young Moffat side by 8 tries, a penalty and 4 conversions to a try. The home forwards provided their backs with enough ball to win several matches but some stubborn defence by the visiting defence thwarted several promising moves.

In the final analysis the more experienced home pack was the main difference between the teams with the Moffat youngsters battling right to the final whistle

WEST OF SCOTLAND 39 V ANNAN 0
SATURDAY 19TH FEBRUARY 2005

This game had been switched to Old Anniesland, with the Burnbrae 2nd pitch being unplayable, but it was still West who looked the more at home. West had a more youthful squad than Annan, were a better balanced side and looked as though they had spent some time together on the training pitch. The result was that Annan were put firmly in their place, and really only looked able to compete on equal terms when the game was kept tight.

Nevertheless it took a quarter of an hour for West to get their noses in front. Having the bulk of possession, they contrived to spoil moves, or to founder on some good defensive work by Annan, where Ian Thorburn and Neil Halliday were to the fore. The first try came from a scrum at the posts, making for an easy conversion. Annan continued to thwart their opponents, and it was not until the final minutes of the half that they ran in two tries up the right wing after overlaps had been created.

A further two tries in the first ten minutes of the second half sealed the match, another on the right wing and one from a maul in the Annan 22. Annan had a good fifteen minute spell around the third quarter, the forwards maintaining pressure on the West line. Neil Halliday believed he had got the ball down, only to be denied by the referee, and it was disappointing that this pressure was not rewarded. West rounded off the scoring with two late tries, the final one being converted.

Only in the scrums and mauls were Annan able to compete on level terms. The West backs, with a solid half back unit and threes capable of good handling and running, were just too strong for Annanís rearranged back division. Curiously, the best backs move of the game, from West, saw them scythe through the Annan ranks, but the ďscorerĒ did not realize the narrow nature of the dead ball area and overran.

One consolation for Annan came back at the Burnbrae clubhouse. A man of the match was picked from the four teams playing on the day, each having to down a pint. Ian Thorburn won for Annan, against lads young enough to be his children. When does the secret training take place, Tam ? Another point of interest came with Steve Janceyís taking the field, adding another ďfather and sonĒ combination to the record books.

Annan squad: A. Graham, S. Wyllie, K. Nelson, L. Vevers, N. Bell, N. Halliday, S. Murray, I. Thorburn, A. Jancey, E. Currie, M. Pattinson, C. Hay, S. Goddwin, D. McKay, M. Johnston, I. Blair, S. Jancey.

UPPER EDEN 5 V ANNAN 35
SATURDAY 12TH FEBRUARY 2005

This match kicked off on a very heavy damp pitch which as the game progressed got stickier making the game a strength sapping experience. Playing with the strong wind Annan soon had two charged down tries Ė one by centre Joe Crowther and the other by inspirational stand off Michael Griffen Ė neither of which was converted.

Annan had all of the pressure in the first half and the speed and hard tackling of left wing Scott Goodwin came to the fore. To round off the first half a good inter-passing move by the backs ended with right wing Caird Hay cutting inside off his wing to score close to the posts. Full back Gavin Lynch slotted the conversion to take the half time score to Upper Eden 0 Annan 17.

With a strong wind in their faces and a substantial lead the Annan forwards rumbled up the park again and again. A good break from Neil Halliday was backed up by Michael Griffen who scored his second try. Upper Eden scored a consolation try against the run of play but missed the conversion.

The last score of the game was scored, aptly by Annanís new found wing sensation Scott Goodwin after a sustained attack by the forwards. Final Score Upper Eden 5 Annan 35.

This was an excellent team performance with special mention to Keith Hogg, Michael Griffen, Scott Goodwin, the ever present Ian Thorburn and the young Andrew Jancey who performed well at centre.

EAST KILBRIDE 30 V ANNAN 0
SATURDAY 29TH JANUARY 2005

With top of the league East Kilbrideís 2nd XV pitch unplayable this fixture in Division 4 (West) of the Scottish 2nd XV Leagues was switched to Strathaven RFC ground at Whiteshawgate Park on Saturday morning. On arrival it looked as if it was possibly a mistake as a thick fog enveloped the pitches but fortunately by the start of the game the sun had broken through.

This was a game of two halves with Annan unfortunately losing both 15-0. Annan started as if they were still on the bus and were two scores down before they had woken up. As they warmed to their task Annan slowly began to make inroads into their hostís 22 but were never able to break down some stubborn East Kilbride defense. With several enforced changes to the playing personnel due to unavailability Annan had had to make some positional changes and bring in veteran Ally Murray at scrum half. Also Aussie Sam Roberts, in his first game for Annan, had to play at centre and at scrum half in the second half although normally a flanker.

Although solid in their set piece forward play Annan were slower to the breakdown in the loose than their hosts and were turned over on several occasions. The backs also lacked a cutting edge although centre Caird Hay did have some fine runs. In the forwards it was the old guard of wing forward Neil Halliday and No 8 Ian Thorburn who showed the way to their younger and less experienced charges with some dynamic drives and ball winning skills on the floor.

All in all however this was a disappointing display by Annanís second string and this defeat ended a fine six match winning run.

Annan Team: A Graham, A Gunning (G Brown), K Nelson, L Vevers, G Hogg, N Bell, N Halliday, I Thorburn, A Murray, B Hay, B Copeland, C Hay, S Roberts, S Goodwin, E Currie, Replacement (not used) N Chalmers.

ASPATRIA 14 V ANNAN 18
SATURDAY 18TH DECEMBER 2004

Annanís second string travelled to Aspatria on Saturday to take on their seconds in a friendly. Aspatria who have fallen somewhat on hard times were unable to raise a full fifteen and Annan were able to help them make up the numbers. In a closely fought contest Annan came away with the spoils with two tries from wing forward Stuart Murray and one from scrum half Alan Rae.

All in all this was a satisfactory outing for Annan 2nds who have now stretched their unbeaten run to five with wing forward Stuart Murray having a solid game and with scrum half Alan Rae showing that he is turning into a most useful scrum half

ANNAN 20 V GARNOCK 3
SATURDAY 11TH DECEMBER 2004

Annanís 2nd XV continued on their winning ways with another fine win at Violetbank on Saturday against Garnock in Division 4 (West) of the Scottish 2nd XV leagues. Annanís win was based on a the display by their forwards who were inspired by an impressive performance by No 8 Ian Thorburn who as usual led from the front and capped his fine display with a try. With Garnock rarely threatening Annan were able to control most aspects of the match and with the half back pairing of scrum half Alan Rae, who had an excellent match, and veteran Barry Graham in the unaccustomed role of stand off controlling the midfield the Annan backs had plentiful ball to attack the Garnock line. The score would have been much higher had it not been for some excellent Garnock defense. The try of the match came after some great interplay by forwards and backs ending with winger Bob Copland sprinting into score his second try of the match. Annanís other try were scored by full back Euan Currie.

Annan 2nd Team: Andy Graham, (James Gilmour) Gordon Brown, Grant Wylie, Graham Hogg, Lindsay Vevers, Stuart Murray, Michael Pattinson (Neil Halliday), Ian Thorburn, A Rae, Barry Graham , Dougie McKay, Callum Muir, Caird Hay, R Copland, E Currie Replacements not used: Keiron Watret

STRATHENDRICK 5 V ANNAN 25
SATURDAY 4TH DECEMBER 2004

Annanís second string made their longest journey of the season to Fintry in Stirlingshire for their latest Division 4 (West) fixture in the Scottish 2nd XV leagues. Buoyed up by their remarkable win over league leaders Glasgow Accies at Violetbank the previous Saturday hopes were high for a victory on the road.

The first half was somewhat like the weather grey and dreicht as both teams tried to gain the upper hand in the forward exchanges with the home side perhaps just shading the set piece play, especially the lineout which was somewhat of a lottery for the visitors. However Annan, despite an early onslaught by the home side which they weathered with some determined defence, took the lead with a penalty from their first foray into the home 22 which was slotted between the posts by full back Ross Johnstone. The full back doubled his points tally minutes later when on the next surge by the Annan forwards the home backrow were penalised for killing the ball in a ruck. The visitors maintained their 6 point lead for most of the first half before the home side in a fine backs move scored their only ponts of the game when their left winger went over in the corner. Half time score Strathendrick 5 Annan 6.

After a pretty turgid first 40 minutes the half time team talk by the Annan Captain and coach certainly seemed to have the desired effect with a much improved performance from the visitors in the second half. The Annan forwards began to secure more ball for their backs and slowly began to exert increased pressure on their hosts. From a ruck in the home 22 wing forward Craig Moffat, who had an outstanding game, broke free and scored a try between the posts. With Annanís only recognised kicker Ross Johnstone having to leave the field of play with a hamstring problem the kicking duties fell to prop Andy Graham who calmly slotted the conversion. Ross Johnstone was replaced by Euan Currie.

Annan continued to pressurise the home line and from a Strathendrick scrum the Annan scrum half Kenny Hogg harried his opposite number into a mistake. From the ensuing maul the ball was driven over the line with hooker Gordon Brown credited with the score. Andy Graham again coolly added the extra 2 points. Annanís final score also was created by scrum half Kenny Hogg who again, with his close attention of his opposite number at a scrum again pressurising him into making a mistake with this time wing forward Neil Halliday profiting and driving over from a metre from the line. The conversion was missed. Final Score Starthendrick 5 Annan 25.

Despite the first half performance this was another encouraging performance by Annanís 2nd XV racking up their third win in a row. Outstanding in the forwards were veteran back row players Neil Halliday and Ian Thorburn with their young acolyte Craig Moffat having an outstanding game at openside flanker. Prop Andy Graham also had a sound game in the set piece and in the loose. In the backs veteran scrum half Kenny Hogg had an outstanding game which belied his advancing years and inside centre Callum Muirís crunching tackles in defence catching the eye.

All in all an improving team performance which showed that the balance of experience and youth is beginning to pay dividends in their league campaign.

Annan Team: A Graham, G Brown, K Nelson, G Hogg, N Bell, C Hay (N Halliday), S Murray, I Thorburn, K Hogg, B Hay, D McKay, C Muir, A Muir, R Copland, (A Murray) R Johnstone (E Currie)

ANNAN 17 V GLASGOW ACCIES 15
SUNDAY 28TH NOVEMBER 2004

On a cold Sunday afternoon at Violetbank, Annanís second string entertained league leaders Glasgow Accies. The game started briskly with the Annan forwards in the ascendancy. With good driving play, they worked their way to just outside the oppositionís 22 where they were awarded a penalty, promptly dispatched by the trusty boot of Craig Johnstone. Ten minutes later, the scores were level when the Annan backs were deemed offside. With forwards and backs working well together, a fine drive following a line-out led to the ball being crisply handled across the backs to left winger Dougie McKay whose pace and hard running rewarded Annan with a fine try to the left of the posts, which was converted by Johnstone.

The half ended with an unfortunate interception try by the pacy Accies centre. Half-time score 10-10.

The second half was peppered with handling errors from both sides and Accies went ahead following an up-and-under which the Annan backs failed to clear properly. The No. 13 through some poor Annan tackling scored with aplomb. With the conversion missed, Annan started to put pressure on the league leaders and, in a nail-biting finish, scored from a well-worked pushover ruck from the home forwards, the score being awarded to the inspirational captain Ian Thorburn. The resultant conversion was the last kick of the match and Annan players and supporters were in ecstatic mood.

The entire team deserves a pat on the back for their resilience, with a special mention to Craig Moffat who retired early, being replaced by young Neil Halliday whose strength and power were always to the fore. Andy Graham, too, is starting to show the improvement needed to be a very good prop and the Alan Rae/Bruce Hay partnership is looking better every week. An excellent victory against the league leaders, showing real grit and team spirit to snatch victory right at the death.

Team Ė A Graham (G Brown), J Tinning, K Nelson; K Carter, L Vevers; C Hay, C Moffat (N Halliday), I Thorburn; A Rae, B Hay; R Copland, C Johnstone, R Johnstone, D McKay; B Graham (E Currie). Sub not used Ė I McArthur-Blair

DUMFRIES 7 V ANNAN 75
SATURDAY 20TH NOVEMBER 2004

With some confusion regarding the kick off time Annan had a front row crisis which saw them drafting in Clint Smith and Cammy Little of Moffat to provide a hooker and prop with Annanís Keith Nelson providing the third member of the front row union in this friendly at Dumfries. By the start of the match the visitors to Park Farm had a surplus of props as James Gilmour and Jack Tinning made the starting grid as replacements. Winger Dougie McKay started the 13 try demolition of the home side in the opening minutes with a finely taken score showing his pace on the outside. The Annan forwards who dominated in most facets of play, especially the lineout, provided their backs with a surplus of quality ball throughout the afternoon and the tries came at regular intervals throughout the game. Although the backs did not have it all their own way with six of the 13 tries being scored by the forwards.

Annan built up an unassailable lead in the first half through tries from winger Dougie McKay, wing forward Caird Hay (2), stand off Bruce Hay (2), wing forward Ian Thorburn and prop Keith Nelson with Bruce Hay adding 3 conversions and scrum half Alan Rae one to take the half time score to Dumfries 0 Annan 43

In the second half Annan continued to pile on the pressure scoring a further 6 tries with winger Dougie McKay getting his hat trick with tries at the beginning and end of the half and Bruce Hay also getting his hat trick. These scores were added to by No 8 Mike Newton scoring two and centre Euan Currie one with replacement Ross Johnstone adding a conversion to complete the scoring. The best try of the match was the last score by winger Dougie McKay which came from a ruck on the left of the field with the ball swung wide through all the backs hands and with full back Barry Graham coming into the line at pace he created the extra man to allow McKay to score in the corner.

All in all this was an improved performance from Annanís second string with hooker Clint Smith and No 8 Michael Newton the pick of the forwards and the half back partnership of scrum half Alan Rae and stand off Bruce Hay really beginning to look the part. Special thanks are due to Moffatís Clint Smith, Cammy Murray and Kenny Carter who pulled on Annanís colours for the day and to the referee Duncan Murray who showed a great feel for the game.

Annan Team: K Nelson, C Smith, C Little,( J Gilmour, J Tinning), G Hogg, (I Blair), L Vevers, I Thorburn, C Hay, (K Carter), M Newton, A Rae, B Hay (R Johnstone), D McKay, E Currie, R Copland, B Graham

STEWARTRY 10 V ANNAN 37
SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER 2004

With no league rugby for either second XV last Saturday both teams enjoyed a Ďfriendlyí match at the Greenlaw. Stewartry who have not had their troubles to seek in trying to turn out a 2nd XV this season have to be commended for their efforts on Saturday in getting a team out albeit it contained some gnarled veterans including Stewartry President John Low.

In the first half Annanís younger and fitter XV was able to spread the ball wide making life difficult for the home side and it was Annan winger Bob Copland who outpaced the home back line to open the scoring. The visitors continued to dominate during the first 40 minutes and added a further 4 tries through full back Andy Copland, flanker Doug Wylie, centre Joe Crowther and a second try for Bob Copland. Hooker Stuart Wylie added a conversion. The home side scored a try in the dying moments of the half to take the half time score to Stewartry 5 Annan 27.

The home side tightened up their game in the second half with their forwards tying up the ball and ultimately slowing the game and successfully disrupting Annanís flow. Annan managed to increase their try tally when replacement winger Caird Hay scampered over the line. Stewartry doubled their score when they intercepted the ball to score. Annan however had the last say when winger Dougie McKay sprinted into score to take the final score to Stewartry 10 Annan 37.

The back row of wing forwards Lindsay Vevers and Keith Nelson and No 8 Ian Thorburn were impressive along with hooker Stuart Wylie. In the backs scrum half Alan Rae and stand off Bruce Hay are looking the part in their unaccustomed roles. With Stewartry fielding several veterans to ensure that they still have a second XV highlights the fact that several Annan players in the recent past have perhaps retired a little early when the 2nd XV needs their experience. The return to the team of veteran Ian Thorburn on Saturday after injury proving a case in point.

Annan Team: A Graham, S Wylie, G Brown, G Hogg, L Vevers, K Nelson, D Wylie, I Thorburn, A Rae, B Hay, B Copland, J Crowther, C Muir, D McKay, A Copland Replacements: C Hay, K Hogg

ANNAN 3 v EAST KILBRIDE 20
SATURDAY 16TH OCTOBER 2004

Annan second string entertained second placed East Kilbride at Violetbank in Division 4 (West) of the Scottish 2nd XV Leagues with both teams providing an entertaining match for both sets of supporters. Annan however were slower in deed and action throughout the match against their better drilled and fitter opponents. East Kilbride opened the scoring with a penalty when the home forwards were caught off side at a ruck. Annan replied almost immediately with three points of their own for a similar offence. Hooker Stuart Wylie slotting the penalty. The heavier and better drilled visiting forwards began to exert pressure on the Annan pack and by half time the visitors had scored two tries, one converted, to take them into the lead by 15 points to 3.

Annan tightened up their game in the second half but were unable to cross the whitewash although they had their chances. However it was the visitors who added to their total with a further try to take the final score to Annan 3 East Kilbride 20.

No 8 Keith Nelson again had a fine game and is improving with every outing and Michael Pattinson revelling in his move from winger to wing forward. In the backs veteran Kenny Hogg at scrum half showed the way in commitment and fitness to his younger charges with Bruce Hay in an unaccustomed role at standoff showing remarkable flair for the position. Once again Annanís frailties at 2nd team level were exposed as lack of fitness and exposure to coaching Ė the answer is simple lads Ė get along to training.

IRVINE 40 v ANNAN 5
SATURDAY 9TH OCTOBER 2004

Annan seconds travelled to Marress on Saturday with a somewhat depleted squad for their Division 5 (West) league match in the Scottish 2nd XV Leagues, the evergreen Kenny Hogg having to step in and play at stand off. How the club wishes there were more like him.

Early into the match Irvine began to get the upper hand, managing to make less mistakes than the visitors and putting points on the board, the home side ending the first half 18-0 to the good.

Annan came out of the traps at the start of the second half, making some headway into Irvine territory but a loose ball saw the home side tear up to the other end of the field and score. Undaunted, the Annan forwards charged back at the home side from the kick off, gaining possession and attempting to crash over the whitewash. The home defence just managed to hold on but the ball was spun out to the Annan backs and young Michael Pattinson sped over for a try. Alas that was the last points Annan scored in this game.

Although beaten there was no lack of effort from this Annan side who battled right to the end.

GARNOCK 17 v ANNAN 0
SATURDAY 25TH SEPTEMBER 2004

The somewhat respectable scoreline belies the fact that this was a pretty dreich performance from a disjointed Annan side. That Garnock did not fully capitalise on Annan's weaknesses is something of a mystery. Almost all of the play took place in the Annan half in the first forty minutes. Garnock moved the ball around well in the backs and showed a lot more urgency than the visitors. They were obviously a well-drilled outfit and, it has to be said, a lot fitter than their Annan counterparts.

Both Garnock tries came from good handling abetted by some Annan tackling weaknesses. The two converted tries and a successful penalty took Garnock into a fairly commanding 17-0 half time lead. Annan did improve in the second period. They rucked and mauled well and produced some phases of good driving play but never really looked like breaching the Garnock line. The scrum was solid throughout but the line-outs were much less effective and the backs were rarely brought into play. The second half was a pretty poor affair and the stop-start nature of the play meant that neither side made much leeway. A pointless second half in more ways than one!

Annan did have some players who were committed to the cause and who posted fine performances. Grant Wyllie had a very good game, both in scrummaging and in the loose, Alan Rae was an example to others in terms of commitment and determination at scrum half and it was good to see Keith Nelson putting in the sort of performance that we all know he is capable of and he is now beginning to fulfil the promise he showed a couple of years ago as a Colt. Graham Hogg and Callum Muir also put in competent performances. It has to be said that this performance should provide a wake-up call to a significant number of players who must be aware that they are short on fitness and who also must realise that a commitment to attending training sessions is a must if they aspire to becoming a team which plays with a degree of cohesion.

Team: A Muir, B Copland, C Muir, D Wyllie, M Pattinson; A Rae, E Hay; G Wylie, N Bell (L Ogilvie), A Graham, L Vevers, K Watret, C Hay, G Hogg, K Nelson

ANNAN 22 v STRATHENDRICK 18
SATURDAY 18TH SEPTEMBER 2004

Annanís second string almost contrived to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on Saturday at Violetbank in their first home match in Division 4 (West) of the Scottish 2nd XV leagues as they followed a fine first half performance against the wind with an error strewn second half against a well drilled Strathendrick team.

Annan started brightly, absorbing an initial onslaught by their visitors, and were on the score board in the first ten minutes when from a ruck 5 metres from the visitorís line prop Grant Wylie drove over to score. Minutes later full back Ally Muir added a penalty when the Strathendrick backs were caught off side. The visitors clawed back 3 points with a penalty before No 8 Callum Muir broke from a ruck and outsprinted the despairing Strathendrick midfield defences to score between the posts. With Ally Muir adding the conversion Annan went into the half time break with a healthy 15 Ė 3 lead.

Having played well against the wind in the first half it was expected that Annan would add to their scores in the second but the home side were hit with two tries a ten minute spell as the visitors upped their game with their standoff running the game as the Annan back row tired. Annan managed to draw away from their slender 2 point lead when from a maul near the visitorís line hooker Andrew Gunning drove over to score a fine try which Ross Johnstone converted to increase the gap to 7 points. The last word however went to the visitors who scored a try in the dying moments of the game to take the final score to Annan 22 Strathendrick 18.

After the fine first half, which seemed to auger well for the rest of the game, Annanís display in the second will have been a disappointment to the coaches as the main contributory factor was lack of fitness. This is a fault which the second string themselves must address if they want to progress in this league.

CARLISLE 65 v ANNAN 0
SATURDAY 4TH SEPTEMBER 2004

A mixed bag of youth, seasoned players and players trying to retire took the pitch at Carlisle for the first full second fifteen fixture of the new season. With the increasing catalogue of injuries and players being required for first team duty it was not the full second fifteen that took the pitch with a couple of players taking up the challenge of playing out of position.

Annan started the game weakly with some poor tackling allowing Carlisle a couple of early tries but once the players settled down they were able to soak up a little more of the pressure exerted by the Carlisle team and spent the greater part of the first half of the game defending. One of Annanís finest moments of attack in the first half came from an excellent kick by Murray Forbes from inside the 22 into the opposition half, unfortunately the quick line out taken by Carlisle which resulted in a score spoiled the moment a little. Late in the first half Graham Hogg went down injured with an injury to his elbow, subsequent x-rays confirmed that the ligaments of the elbow had been damaged and there was no break to the bones. All wish him a speedy recovery

A half time scoreline of 36-0 to the home team was indicative of missed tackles made in defence but Annan were improving with the passage of the game. The second half started without centre Joe Crowther who decided not to risk further injury to his hand and Annan played out the game with 14 men. The improvement in play demonstrated in the first half was apparent in the second half, although Carlisle still managed to break through, Annan enjoyed a great deal of attacking pressure in the last 15 minutes of the game and were unlucky not to convert this pressure into a score when Carlisle were able to break free and complete the game with a try in the final moments.

Although it was a comprehensive defeat Annan were able to take some heart from the gradual improvement made on the pitch during the 80 minutes of the game which would suggest that the second team will grow in confidence with more matches under their belt and should cope well with the league when it starts next week if they pick up from where they left off.

Annan Team: A Graham, A Gunning, M Forbes, G Hogg, K Watret, S Murray, L Vivers, N Halliday, B Graham, B Hay, D MacKay, C Hay, J Crowther, D Marr, L Ogilvie Sub: S Wildey

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