Match reports for the 2nd XV

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STEWARTRY 5 v ANNAN 40
5TH MARCH 2011

When travelling to the Greenlaw itís always nice to travel hopefully and put in a good performance but to win by such a margin is always got to be worth a few lines in the paper.

Annan 2nds travelled to Castle Douglas on Saturday in Division West 2 of the Scottish Reserve Leagues with what was the strongest away team this season and started the game by taking the game immediately to their hosts and starved them of ball for the first 5 minutes of the game but true to their tradition Stewartry put in some stout defensive work and held the visitors at bay. Annanís lack of success during the opening period and for periods in the first half was due to their reliance on individual breaks with lack of close support. Stewartryís less flamboyant style of play got them back into the game after the opening exchanges.

Annanís early promise was eventually rewarded after the 10 minute mark with their first try when a 30 metre break by inside centre Alex Halliday which was converted by stand off James Bigham. Stewartry returned the compliment after 20 minutes when, after developing an overlap on their right wing their winger scored in the corner. With the conversion missed the score was 5-7. This success heartened the home side and they picked up their game and the game became much more competitive. Annanís second try came from a free flowing move started just inside the Annan half with wing forward getting the touchdown with once again James Bigham slotting the conversion to take the half time score to Stewartry 5 Annan 14.

Annan were beginning to find their hosts a bit of handful and during the half they lost lock Michael Thompson, one of their main line out jumpers who was replaced by the experience of Willie Harrison. At half time Dennis Ryan replaced Callum Nicholson at loose head and Sean Duffy replaced Caird Hay on the right wing. The game restarted with the home side playing with renewed effort albeit with the same tactics. Annan on the other hand met the opposition with a tighter game using more tactical kicking to drive play into the Stewartry half and then to play a passing game in the home half. Although the Annan scrum had been the better unit in the first half the addition of specialist loose head it became even a more potent force. Between the tactical and continued hard work Annan were able to notch up 4 more tries.

Annanís first was score 10 minutes into the half by scrum half George Forrest, after a another good break by centre Alex Halliday, who unselfishly passed to his supporting scrum half when he could have easily scored himself. The try was again converted by Bigham bringing the score to 5-21. 5 minutes later hooker Liam Ogilvie crashed over after some fine passing play once the foundations were laid by the forwards to gain an attacking position. Bigham again added the extras. At this point Alex Halliday had to leave the field which required some re-organisation within the back line with Alex Torbett going to inside centre and Caird Hay returning to the wing with Willie Gray moved to outside centre. Forward Callum Nicholson also came on to replace Michael Carpenter at No 8. Despite the re-arrangements to the team, and despite the determined concentrated efforts from their hosts, Annan continued build on their success and centre Adam Torbet added a further try converted by Bigham to take the score to 5-35. Although well behind at this stage Stewartry continued to provide stern opposition which not only said a lot about the home side but also Annanís defensive qualities.

It was not until the dying moments of the game that Annan were able to complete their scoring with what was arguably the best try of the game. After winning a turnover within their own 22 the ball was spun out to Callum Nicholson who drew the cover defence and released a well timed pass to Torbett, who with a lot to do from his own 22, rounded the home defences to score in an unconverted try the corner to take the final score to Stewartry 5 Annan 40.

Although Annan were worthy winners the score did not reflect the effort put into the game by Stewartry. Annanís victory was based on a solid performance by the forwards especially the experienced back row and an established centre pairing. To continue this success Annanís second string must endeavour to field the same quality of team with the same levels of commitment, fitness and skills. How do they do it? Discussion groups can be held at Violetbank on Tuesday and Thusrday nights after training.

Annan 2nd Squad: C Nicholson, L Ogilvie, J Crombie, M Thomson, B Blower, A Jackson, C Bell, M Carpenter, G Forrest, J Bigham, W Gray, A Halliday, A Torbett, C Hay, P Schooler, Replacements: D Ryan, W Harrison, S Duffy ( all used)

ANNAN 5 v MARR 22
12TH FEBRUARY 2011

With Marr sitting at the top of the league, and Annan, heavily beaten at Marr earlier in the season, playing their first game since early November, the omens did not look good. However the 2nd XV pitch was heavy and the ball wet, which might be expected to help the Annan cause, and this was the case.

Marr started at pace and put Annan under pressure, but some stubborn Annan defence held them out. On 10 minutes, however the visitors got the breakthrough. Attacking down the Annan left, a superb tackle by flanker Stuart Livingstone appeared to have saved the day for Annan, but Marr kept the ball alive to cross in the corner. The Annan pack was up for the challenge, giving as good as they got in all phases, while the sharper Marr backs were finding handling difficult. However the visitors extended their lead when they won the race to a kick ahead. This was converted to leave Annan trailing 12-0. Annan then had a good spell of pressure in the Marr 22. Hooker Liam Ogilvie almost got over, and a number of other thrusts had the defence scrambling, but there was to be no score.

Marr increased their lead early in the second half, diving over after a ruck on the Annan line, but Annan were quick to reply. The forwards drove the ball into the Marr 22, and lock Willie Harrison found a gap in the defence to get in from 10 metres. The final score came from Marr after 60 minutes, when for once their backs got away and brushed off poor Annan tackling. This unconverted try produced the final score of 22-5 to the visitors.

Annan could be satisfied with their overall performance, especially the forwards. The backs had the benefit of a welcome appearance in Annan colours of Mike Rennie at scrum half, but the others were inexperienced. Willie Gray was the best of the youngsters, at centre, and the others will improve with time. With 2nds at home again this week, hopefully some sort of settled team can begin to emerge.

Annan team: J. Crombie, L. Ogilvie, A. Graham (D. Ryan), W. Harrison, C. Nicholson, S. Livingstone, A. Jackson, M. Carpenter, M. Rennie, A. Carlyle, S McKenzier, G. Smith, W. Gray, J Donnelly, T. Schoolar.

GREENOCK 42 v ANNAN 6
30TH OCTOBER 2010

Annan 2nds despite some fine individual performances were unable to overcome a comprehensive team performance by their hosts at Fort Matilda on Saturday in Division West 2 of the Scottish Reserve Leagues.

Whilst the score flattered the hosts they were the better team playing simple rugby. Annan were in contention at half time with the score set at 17-6 but simple defensive errors and some woeful tackling allowed Wanderers to stretch their lead to 42 Ė 6 by full time.

Annanís points came from the boot of standoff Adam Carlyle who had a fine match along with flanker Craig Moffat playing his first game for some time.

ANNAN 19 v STRATHENDRICK 12
9TH OCTOBER 2010

Annanís 2nd XV won their first match of their league campaign in Division West 2 of the Scottish Reserve Leagues on Saturday at Violetbank. Annan could have won this match several times over given the amount of possession and territory they had over the whole 80 minutes but wrong options and some poor decision making kept the visitors in the game up until the final whistle.

Playing against a lively wind in the first halt the home side kept play in their visitorís half for long periods by utilising the strength of their pack keeping the ball in hand and driving play deep into the Strathendrick half. The visitorís kept Annan at bay by using their stand offís boot and the wind to turn the home forwards on numerous occasions. Annanís breakthrough came eventually, when the home forwards drove play towards the visitorís line and No 8 Kieron Watret picked up from the back of a scrum and dived over the line to score an unconverted try. Despite continuing to dominate possession Annanís defensive line was breached when the visitorís scrum half darted over to tie the scores at 5 apiece at half time.

Annan went further behind early in the second half when their defensive frailties were cruelly exposed as the Stranthendrick inside centre danced his way through some woeful home tackling to score a converted try to take a 7 point lead. Annan tightened up their game and using the wind drove play into the visitorís 22 and the pressure eventually told on the visitors. From turn over ball at a lineout prop Andy Graham was on hand to drive the ball over the whitewash to score. Stand off Ally Carlyle added the extra 2 points to tie the scores at 12 apiece.

Annan had the last word however when winger Graeme ĎForrestí Smith crashed over after a fine handling move to score. Ally Carlyle added the conversion to take the final score to Annan 2nd XV 19 Strathendrick 2nd XV 12 and Annan had their first points in the league.

All in all this was a satisfying win for Annan but a frustrating one especially for the Annan coaches who, with the obvious talent on display, must be left wondering what they could make of this team if they bothered to turn up for training and coaching.

ANNAN 17 v ALLAN GLENS 21
4TH SEPTEMBER 2010

Annanís second string got off to a shaky but improving start to their first game in Division West 2 of the SRU Reserve Leagues on Saturday at Violetbank. In the first half a catalogue of mistakes and poor defensive work, mostly poor tackling, led to them conceding three converted tries before, following a well worked move, lock Jim Tweedie scored in the corner. Half time score Annan 5 Allan Glens 21.

The second half saw a more cohesive display by the home side. They started to control play and worked themselves into the opposition half. Their efforts were rewarded when, following a fine piece of interplay between forwards and backs scrum half George Forrest crossed the whitewash. Stand off Adam Carlyle added the conversion to reduce the deficit to 9 points at 12 Ė 21. Straight from the restart Annan again went on the attack and were camped within the Glenís 22 for some time and eventually the pressure paid off with centre Jamie Harrison scoring in the corner. The conversion by Carlyle narrowly missed to take the score to Annan 2nds 17 Allan Glens 21.

Despite Annanís best efforts in the remaining 10 minutes the visitors held on to their lead to win 17-21. Overall this was a game of the proverbial two halves, which following a nervy start the home side, after scoring their first points they became more confident in their abilities, putting some well worked moves together. Special mention to full back Willie Gray who put in a fine shift.

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