Match reports for the 2nd XV

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ANNAN 17 v WHITECRAIGS 29
21ST MARCH 2009

Annan went into this game as underdogs but performed with great spirit and tenacity and more than matched their high ranking opponents for three quarters of the game.

That they didnít win was down to the greater fitness and organisation of a Whitecraigs side that, like Annan, mixed experience with youth.

Annan started brightly and scored first with a try from Alex Halliday converted by Duncan Fisher. Kieron Watret nearly added another but was held up over the line. Whitecraigs then took control with excellent controlled interplay between backs and forwards that yielded two unconverted tries. There would have been more scores but for resolute defence by Annan which kept them in the game but left its mark in the final quarter. Fisher then slotted a penalty to even the score at half time.

After the break Annan upped their game and deservedly went ahead with a typical Neil Halliday try converted by Fisher. Annan were now on top but Whitecraigs defended well, soaked up the pressure and responded with a well worked try of their own. Annan were, by now, a very tired team and a further try right on fulltime made the game safe for Whitecraigs.

ANNAN 7 v LENZIE 15
21ST FEBRUARY 2009

This was a disappointing result for the 2nds, but not an unfair one on the balance of play. It did, however, give further proof of the effects of the fragmented season on Annan's senior sides.

Lenzie had the benefit of a strong wind in the first half , but that did not explain their first minute try. Annan kicked off, Lenzie gathered and from a ruck inside their own half on the right, the ball was kicked into Annan territory, and with the Annan defence still asleep the right wing was able to gather and touch down in the corner.

The game then settled into an even contest, both sides guilty of handling and other errors, so that neither was able to go through many phases! On 20 minutes Lenzie struck again. Annan failed to control the ball in their own half, another kick through resulted in a ruck on the Annan line, won by Lenzie, and a simple drive over. This time the kick was easy, and Annan faced a 12-0 deficit. A further penalty success by the visitors made it 0-15 at half time.

The thoughts on the touch line were that this deficit was not insurmountable if Annan could keep Lenzie pinned back and get an early morale boosting score. Annan did have territorial advantage in the second half, but on several occasions when mounting pressure in the Lenzie 22 the advantage was lost through a dropped ball, a misplaced pass or simple good defence. That Annan had to wait until the final minutes for their score was frustrating. The Annan score was a trade mark Keiron Watret try. Battering at the line, efforts by Neil Halliday and others were stopped short, but Watret was able to pick up and drive low over the line. An easy conversion by Conor Trant bringing the score to 7-15 showed what might have been possible with a bit more composure and more accurate line kicking.

For their ability to take their chances, and their stout defence under pressure Lenzie deserved their win. However there were some encouraging signs from Annan, not least in the appearance of some experienced players (some in the second half) in Rae Fulton, Jonathan Crombie and Stuart Livingstone. There were good efforts also from Tam Thorburn, Stuart Murray and Stewart Wyllie, though the latter will want to forget the first minute.

Annan team: C. Nicholson, S. Haran, G. Brown, I. Thorburn, C. Henderson, R. Fulton, N. Halliday, K. Watret, C. Trant, A. Carlyle, A. Halliday, G. Lynch, S. Murray, G. Williamson, S. Wyllie, C. Hay, J. Crombie, S. Livingstone.

ANNAN 0 v DUMFRIES 15
31ST JANUARY 2009

After Annan's win at Park Farm in October, Dumfries turned the tables at the Everholm and achieved a deserved win. Throughout they looked the more cohesive and inventive team, and Annan struggled to put together any concerted moves.

While the forward battle was closely contested, the Annan backs were under pressure throughout from aggressive defence by the visitors, while close attention by the Dumfries breakaways gave Annan stand off Carlyle little time to be creative. Annan's cause was not helped by an early injury to the experienced Gavin Lynch at centre.

There was only one score in the first half, when the Dumfries backs moved the ball quickly right, creating the overlap which gave the right wing space to get in at the corner, and a good conversion added the extras. Further similar chances by Dumfries were spurned by poor handling or taking the wrong option.

Only one score down it was hoped Annan would take advantage of the cross wind in the second half to mount an assault on the Dumfries line. However it was Dumfries who scored first Ė a well struck penalty into the wind to go 10-0 ahead. Annan then had their best spell of the game, and were able to keep Dumfries pinned in their own 22. However the pressure only brought a series of penalties, which were kicked to the corner and proved fruitless, when a pot at goal might have brought Annan some points. As the game entered its final quarter it was Dumfries who looked the stronger, and they duly got their reward when their left wing got over in a mirror image of the first try.

Annan battled hard in this game, and could at least feel that they had defended stoutly, but were unable to keep sustained possession. The scrums were even, and the lineouts always something of a lottery in which the side throwing in often lost out. If Annan could get a run of games, and some consistency in selection, they would quickly climb the table.

Annan team: J. Carlyle, L. Ogilvie, S. Nicholson, G. Williamson, I. Thorburn, C. Nicholson, A. Oldman, K. Watret, J. Harrison, A. Carlyle, R. Dunlop,G. Lynch, G. Forrest, A. Rae, G. Johnston, W. Harrison, B. Graham, S Haren

ARDROSSAN 19 ANNAN 24
24TH JANUARY 2009

NOTE TO PLAYERS: If prior appointment or physical injury requires a player to call off, then the correct procedure is to communicate your situation directly to the team captain or vice captain. A text message to a relative or acquaintance does not tick the box unless said relative is the captain or vice captain. Note to those players who called off - you missed a cracker of a game!

After a late departure occasioned by trying to find 15 players Annanís second string took to the field at Memorial Field with no warm up and only a modicum of organisation. A revised front row of Caird Hay, Callum Bell and Neil Bell took the full pressure of a very big and capable home front five.

Annan found it difficult in the first quarter of the game to get out of their own half but by dint of stubborn defence managed to keep the home side from crossing the whitewash. Having withstood the early pressure Annan had a couple of scoring chances the best from No 8 Kieron Watret who crossed the line but was judged to have made a double movement. From the restart the home side drove upfield and scored an unconverted try. Annan responded well, competing in all phases and winger Gareth Johnstone broke away to score a well worked unconverted try to tie the scores a 5 apiece. Towards the end of the half Ardrossan a loose kick from Annan allowed the home backs to exploit a 3 man overlap to run in a good looking try from their own half. With a successful conversion this took the half time score to Ardrossan Accies 12 Annan 5 and Annan looked to be on the ropes.

The 2nd half saw Annan realise what was needed to win. The backs shut down the space their opponents needed to play in and the forwards, bolstered by the bulk and experience of prop Mark Johnstone, forced a tighter forward struggle which was meat and drink for the Annan pack. To be fair Annanís ageing pack lacked pace, but with age comes experience, wisdom and a little treachery. Annan went on to dominate most of the 2nd half scoring 3 tries to 1. Ardrossan denied the oxygen of both room and ball were now running on a much slower burn.

Annan got back to 12 all with a try which came from a fine break from centre Gavin Lynch, cutting through the oppositionís mid field defences to score. Annanís next try, crafted by Gavin Lynch, who after another cutting break, put in a delicate grubber kick which left the remnants of the home defences flatfooted. Winger Gareth Johnston gave chase and beat the cover defence to score in the corner to give Annan the lead.

Annanís lead was short lived however as the home side scored a converted try to retake the lead at 19 Ė 12. At this point the question was ĖĎdid the Annan pack have enough left in the tankí Ė and the answer was an emphatic yes. Gareth Johnston scored his second try which was unconverted to take Annan within 2 points of their hosts. The winning try, always the best, came when the home side were pressing in the Annan 22. They had the ball ripped from them in a maul and a couple of pop passes later hooker Callum Bell latched on to the ball and sprinted the remaining 70 metres, evading several chasing opponents to score. Stand off Adam Carlyle added the extras to take the score to 19 Ė 24. The remaining 7 minutes of the game were frantic with Annan playing a territorial game kicking the ball deep into the opposition half. Full time came with a crest fallen home team trudging off the park in stark contrast to an elated Annan.

Once put to the task this hurriedly assembled 2nd XV showed great resolve and no little skill to beat their hosts in their own backyard. From the pack No 8 Kieron Watret caused the home defences big problems. Annan veteran Titans Neil Halliday and Tam Thorburn were perpetual thorns in the Ardrossan side and old campaigner Billy Henderson ruled the lineout and joined the other veterans with his ball winning exploits.

A big thank you is due to the starting front row which was not the most experienced but gave their all. Veteran Prop Mark Johnston who came on as a sub steadied the scrum and played on through injury to finish the game. The junior forwards Callum Nicholson and Callum Bell showed great promise with Callum Bellís winning try the highlight of the day. In the backs scrum half Connor Trant had a fine game, stand off Adam Carlyle who landed two conversions continues to improve with every game. In the centres the contrast between Gavin Lynch and George Forrest worked well with Gavin Lynchís experience bring out the best in George Forrest in his first game of senior rugby. Gavin led the backs by example, making several telling breaks and generally marshalling his young wards well. Wingers Gary Williamson and Gareth Johnstone continue to improve with the later taking his two tries well and his effective harassment of his opposite number causing the opposition to make team changes.

To put a realistic view on the game Annan won by playing the less attractive side of the game better than their opposition. None the less Annanís tries were well constructed and well taken with exception of young Dinger Bellís which was just magic!

An away win against any team must be considered a good result but how much better could Annan 2nd XV be with better player involvement on Saturdays and on training nights.

Annan Team: C Hay, C Bell, N Bell (M Johnston), I Thorburn, C Nicholson, N Halliday, K Watret, W Henderson, C Trant, A Carlyle, G Lynch, G Forrest, G Williamson, G Johnston, E Currie.

ANNAN 5 v DALZIEL 32
29TH NOVEMBER 2008

Match Photos

Annan looked to be up against it from the start in this league game at Violetbank, the visitors having the edge is size and fitness, and although Dalziel were a young side, they appeared to have played more competitive rugby.

Annan found it difficult to escape their own half in the first period. Kicks for touch often failed to reach the line, and attempts to run the ball out of trouble ran into walls of tacklers. In these circumstances it was to Annanís credit that there was no score until almost the half hour. Heroic defence of the Annan line, aided by a tendency by Dalziel to take the ball back into contact rather than move it wide, frustrated the visitors. Just about the half hour Annan made a sortie into Dalziel territory, but the visiting defence immediately moved the ball wide on their right, and their nippy fullback ran in from his own half for the opening try. The conversion was followed by a Dalziel penalty when Annan handled in a ruck , to make it 10-0 to the visitors at half time.

If Annan were hoping to improve in the second half, it did not start that way, as Dalziel were first to a ball hacked to the Annan line for a second try. At that point Annan showed what could have been. Replacement centre Ewan Currie took the ball into the Dalziel half, and found fullback Alex Halliday on the right. He made ground before chipping to the line and winning the race to touch down. Another score from Annan at this stage could have made a contest of it, but Dalziel got the decisive score. A ruck on the edge of the Annan 22 found no Annan cover on the blind side, and an easy run in for Dalziel.

At this point Annan made several changes in their line up to give the replacements a run, and the more cohesive Dalziel were able to score two more tries, one converted, for a bigger win that had looked likely at half time.

For the record book, we not only had a father and son in this game, we had a father and two sons. Neil Halliday, the veteran Annan forward, was accompanied by sons Alex and Adam to establish a new record. For Annan, satisfaction can be taken from defensive work, especially in the first half. The forwards grafted away, and young scrum half Jamie Harrison looked the part until injured around half time. The backs had an unfamiliar look, missing a number of their more experienced players, Stewart Wyllie leading the way in effort.

The lesson for this game for Annan is that teams who have trained and played together frequently will tend to prevail. Annan team: C. Nicholson, C. Bell, G. Brown, I. Thorburn, M. Carpenter, N. Halliday, D. Barnes, K. Watret, J. Harrison, A. Carlyle, R. Dunlop, N. Bell, S. Wyllie, G. Williamson, A. Halliday. Replacements all used Ė J. Bigham, E. Currie, Adam Halliday, D. Gallimore, AN Other.

LENZIE 13 v ANNAN 12
8TH NOVEMBER 2008

Last Saturday saw Annanís second string travel to Viewfield in a re-arranged fixture to take on Lenzie in Division 4 (West) of the Scottish 2nd XV leagues.

Annan had a very flat start to the game, spending most of the first quarter playing in the wrong half of the pitch with very little ball. To compound the situation Annan were subject to four turnovers in the first 10 minutes rising to six in 20 minutes. This was a very significant proportion of Annanís possession during that period. The lineout was also malfunctioning at the same time to add further to Annanís problems.

The second quarter, however, saw Annan reborn. The lineout began to click. Possession was used to produce continued sequences of play which pressurised Lenzie for several consecutive phases of driving running rugby. This kind of rugby brings rewards and allowed the ĎOld Bullí Willy Harrison to dive over the line from all of 3 metres. This was after successive thrusts which Harrison senior finished after an aggressive drive by Keiron Watret. Adam Carlyle added the 2 points to take Annan into a 7-0 lead. During the remainder of the half Annan continued to maintain territorial and possession advantage but were unable to capitalise with only one missed penalty attempt for their efforts.

The 3rd quarter saw Annanís efforts wane which allowed Lenzie back into the game. Although remaining competitive Annan gave away a penalty and let in a converted try. Entering the final quarter Annan were now trailing 10-7. Annanís cause was not helped when a Lenzie penalty was enhanced by the referee with a 10 metre advance after dissent from an Annan player. Annan responded to this setback and drove play into the home half and although awarded a penalty were unable to convert it into points which relieved the pressure on the Lenzie line.

As time wore on it looked as if the the score would remain at 13 Ė 7 in favour of the home side. Annanís cause was not helped when they lost centre Neil Bell who had been the main thrust of the back division. The re-organised Annan back line now looked very young and small against their more mature opposition. None the less Annan continued to give at least as good as the got and in the closing moments after another good forward drive wing forward Billy Henderson drove over to score to take the score to 13 Ė 12 with the conversion to come. The conversion was a difficult one and was missed and the score remained at 13-12 until the final whistle.

This Annan 2nd XV probably did enough to win the game but no successful team can afford to give their opponents the first 20 minutes of any game. There was, in the end, enough rugby in this team, but maybe more rugby with a bigger helping of fitness would have ensured a win in what turned out to be a tight game. Rugby skills and fitness are available at Violetbank every Tuesday and Thursday nights with games most Saturdays (home and away). Be there, get a game and win on Saturdays!

ANNAN 40 v HELENSBURGH 0
1ST NOVEMBER 2008

Match Photos

Glory be ! A home game for the 2nds. Due to bad weather and a shortage of referees in the West district, this was 2nds first home game of the season Ė and it nearly didnít take place. Again we were informed that no referee was available, but Helensburgh were able to bring a qualified referee in the shape of Sam Lawrie (otherwise a 2nd team player) and the game went ahead.

Annan got off the mark quickly, and on their first venture into Helensburgh territory got the opening try. Big Keiron Watret broke into the 22 and Liam Ogilvie was on his shoulder to take the ball and score, but he had plenty to do to get over the line. Young stand off Adam Carlyle converted well. Despite this early score, the first half gave little hint of what was to come. Helensburgh had the bulk of possession, and spent long periods in the Annan 22, yet good defence from Annan and a lack of a cutting edge denied them any points. Late in the half Annan broke out and almost scored in the right corner, showing that their backs posed a real threat when moving the ball.

Now with the breeze at their backs, it was hoped that Annan would be able to make the game safe. That they did, and with something to spare. As the score mounted, so did Annanís confidence, and the Helensburgh heads went down. Things began to come off, the ball stuck in hands, tackles were broken and the result was five second half tries. First over was centre David Wyllie. A kick ahead was taken by a Helensburgh player in his 22, but Annan won the ensuing ruck and Wyllie was sent clear. Next was Calum Nicholson. A tap penalty near the line leading to him being driven over. Gavin Lynch got the try of the game, the backs moving the ball from half way, and then Ally Muir was on hand to back up Ewan Currieís break and score at the posts. His brother Callum Muir had the last say, getting over in the corner after a ruck near the line. Adam Carlyle converted all but the last try.

Annan looked best when moving the ball quickly, and at their weakest, in the first half, in the ruck where a number of balls were turned over. Line out was good, where D. Barnes took a number Helensburgh throws. The swarming Annan defence gave the visitors very little chance to get into their stride. It was encouraging to see younger players doing well, and the Nicholsons, C. Bell, J. Harrison, A. Carlyle, C. Coupland and R. Dunlop could all feel satisfied. Not that anything is ever perfect, and training this week will no doubt feature rucking, clearing out and ball protection. All in all, a satisfactory game for Annan.

Annan Team: S. Nicholson, S. Wyllie, L. Ogilvie, C. Nicholson, G. Hogg, C. Bell, D. Barnes, K. Watret, J. Harrison, A. Carlyle, R. Dunlop, D. Wyllie, G. Lynch, C. Coupland, A. Copland, A. Muir, C. Muir, C. Hay.

DUMFRIES 22 v ANNAN 23
18TH OCTOBER 2008

For both second strings this was also their first ever league encounter which took place in Division 4 (West) of the SRU 2nd XV leagues. This was a hard fought encounter between two evenly matched sides. Both side kept the game fairly tight in the opening exchanges with the home side being the first to break the deadlock when, after their forwards turned over possession inside the Annan half and quickly released the ball to their nippy backs with their inside centre racing over to score a converted try. This score seemed to galvanise the Annan team and with some tight forward play driving play towards the home line and lock Stuart Murray broke away from the side of a ruck and when tackled he released wing forward Kieron Watret who crashed over the line to score. Annan continued to press on the home line from the restart and from a scrum wing forward Neil Bell drove over on the blind side to score taking the half time score to Dumfries 2nd XV 7 Annan 2nd XV 10.

Within a minute of the restart Dumfries had scored a fine handling try through their backs with their winger getting the score, with again the try being unconverted. With Annan trailing 10-12 the visitors once again took the game to their hosts and once again it was Kieron Watret, with several home players on his back, barged over to score from a ruck near the Dumfries line. Annan now had their tails up and it was that man Watret again who had the score board ticking over again with another bulldozing run to score and Annan had an eleven point lead with 10 minutes left on the clock. Dumfries rallied in the last minutes of the game and knowing that they had the pacier backs spun the ball out through their back line at every opportunity. From a scrum their lively scrum half broke away and scored between the posts. With their kicker left with a relatively easy kick between the posts Annanís Alan Rae showed remarkable speed out off the blocks to charge down the kick.

From the ensuing kick off Dumfries kept to the same tactics and once again it was the home scrum half who broke away and again scored between the posts. This time the home kicker hit the upright and the game was finely poised at 22-23 in the visitorís favour. The remaining few minutes were a tense affair for both sides with Annan much relieved to hear the final whistle.

Whilst this was a better team performance a special mention is due to back rower Dwayne Barnes who tackled well throughout the game and was always a thorn in the side of the Dumfries back line, Euan Currie who marshalled his back line well and broke through at pace on numerous occasions and last but not least Kieron Watret with his hat trick of tries. Bearing in mind that this was only the second outing by the 2nd string this was a good team effort overall.

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