Match Report from: Gary Coupland
On Saturday 11th March, Annan 1st XV welcomed Cambuslang 1st XV to Violetbank for their penultimate league game of the season in the Tennent’s Men’s West League Division 1. After suffering a heavy 50 – 17 defeat away to the visitors at the start of this season, the Annan lads were hoping to both redress that result and increase the gap between them with Cambuslang sitting immediately below Annan in the league. A win for both teams would also cement their position in this league for next season.
Surprisingly from the kick off, it looked like the home team were the ones who had just made the journey to take part in the game, rather than Cambuslang, who took the game to Annan and were more sprightly, aggressive and effective particularly in the breakdown area. This initial pressure by the visitors bore fruit after a few minutes when they burst through the Annan defence to score the opening try which was unconverted.
Annan then compounded their poor start when the Annan backline gifted Cambuslang an interception try which was scored between the posts to take them into a 0-12 lead.
Fortunately this seemed to jolt the home XV into life and around 15 minutes later after some pressure in the Cambuslang half, Frazer Hope burst through to score near the posts, with Josh Whiteside adding the conversion. This concluded the notable action in the first half, which by any standards wasn’t the most entertaining of spectacles for those watching.
Half Time: Annan 1st XV 7 – Cambuslang 1st XV 12.
After some words of wisdom during the half time break, from Coach Carmichael, the Annan boys happily started the second half with a bit more energy and purpose about their play, which was rewarded after a few minutes when replacement lock Dan Robson burst through the Cambuslang defensive line to score, with Josh Whiteside adding the conversion to put the home side into the lead for the first time in the match.
A few minutes later replacement wing, Elliot Haley made a forceful and penetrating break deep into the Cambuslang half, giving an excellent offload in the tackle to centre Aaron Carmichael to score wide left. This was unconverted.
Annan maintained the pressure and tempo and after some excellent interplay wide right between several players, Captain Andrew Jancey was released for a well deserved score, which was again unconverted, to secure a bonus point and put the home side into a 24 -12 lead.
Not to be outdone however, Cambuslang mounted a series of attacks in response, many aided by some ineffectual defence and decision making on the part of the home side, and managed to reduce the deficit to 5 points with a converted try.
In the dying minutes Annan narrowly missed a penalty kick, which the visitors kept alive to try and work their way back towards the Annan line but some good pressure from the home team forced a handling error, which secured the win.
Final Score: Annan 1st XV 24 – Cambuslang 1st XV 19.
So a good win for the home side in the end, but that said they struggled for large periods of the game to get any rhythm and cohesiveness going and were outmuscled on several occasions at the breakdown. Annan’s final game of the season will be at Violetbank on the 8th April against East Kilbride who currently sit just three points ahead in the League and hopefully the boys will can end the season on a high with a home win.
Best for Annan on the day were Captain Jancey and James Kirby in the backs and Calum Bell and Willie Gray in the forwards.
Annan Squad: R Glass, C Bell, K Warrick, N Coupland, K Watret, F Hope, W Gray, C Taylor, A Jancey, J Whiteside, A Jones, A Halliday, A Carmichael, M Thorburn, J Kirby.
Subs: D Robson, C Bell, B James, E Haley (all used).