Match Report from: Gary “Taggart” Coupland

On Saturday 4th February, 2023, Annan entertained Cumnock 1st XV in their latest Tennent’s Men’s West League Division 1 encounter.

Following some good performances for long parts of the previous game against local rivals Stewartry the previous week, Coach Carmichael was hoping the boys could continue with the improvement.  For once unusually having only one change to the starting line up, gave Annan a settled team.  However they faced a stern test in a Cumnock side who sat 3rd in the table and were unbeaten since 12th November, 2022.

Before the kick off – both teams lined up for a minutes silence for David Taylor who recently passed. RIP DT

From the kick off Annan took the game into the Cumnock half and a good kick ahead by centre Aaron Carmichael, saw the Cumnock defence unable to deal with it, which allowed Carmichael who was pressuring his kick, to gather it and run through for a score behind the posts, which was duly converted by Josh Whiteside.

Annan went further ahead a few minutes later when after securing a line out they retained the ball for several phases probing the Cumnock defence, which was eventually unlocked by a delicate precise kick over the top by stand off Whiteside for winger Kirby to collect and score in the corner.  This was unconverted.

Annan then continued to pressure and after securing the ball at another line out, quick hands across the backline released centre Alex Halliday, who burst through the visitors defence to score between the posts.  Whiteside adding the conversion.

Annan secured the bonus point a few minutes later when Captain Jancey, went on a mazy run from just inside his own half leaving multiple Cumnock defenders in his wake before passing to winger Kirby about 20 feet from the try line.  The latter then being illegally taken out by a high tackle as he was about to score again the corner.  This prompted the referee to award a penalty try and yellow card the offending Cumnock player.

This prompted a response from Cumnock who on the stroke of half time after being awarded a scrum 10 metres from the Annan line, they utilised their weight advantage, to push the Annan 8 backwards towards their own line and score, which was duly converted.

Half Time: Annan 1st XV 26 v Cumnock 1st XV 7

At the start of the 2nd half Annan continued in similar vein to the first and after again winning possession at a line out the ball was put through the hands across the field and recycled at speed in the contact area allowing several players to offload the ball until Max Thorburn was able to burst through and score between the posts.  Whiteside again adding the conversion.

Cumnock then managed to sustain a bit of possession and territory in the Annan half and after probing at the Annan line, scored a converted try close in between the posts.

Shortly after Annan were awarded a penalty in front of the visitors posts, however decided to go for a lineout instead of taking the very accessible 3 points.  The home support feared this might have been a mistake when Cumnock stole the resultant line out however their clearance kick was gathered by Captain Jancey, who skipped past the first defender before chipping over the remaining Cumnock defence to score in the corner for a inspirational individual try, which was unconverted.

Annan were then reduced to 14 which allowed Cumnock to spend more time in the Annan 22 where they using their big forwards to grind out another 2 converted tries and secure a losing bonus point.

Final Score: Annan 1st XV 38 v Cumnock 1st XV 28

A well deserved bonus point victory for the lads over one of the stronger teams in the league, which shows when they have a settled team and are all ‘signing from the same hymn sheet’ what a good team they are if they work as a unit and play at this intensity both in defence and attack.   This win moving them deservedly up a place in the league.

Next for Annan is a tough away fixture against league leaders and now title favourites Garnock before rounding off the season with two home games against Cambuslang and East Kilbride respectively.  If they play like this and maintain a settled line up then they should have nothing to fear from any of those teams.

Best for Annan on the day were Fraser Hope, Willie Gray and Sean Haren in the forwards with Captain AJ, scrum half McMillan and Stand Off Whiteside being the pick of an excellent backline. The latter being awarded Man of the Match for the 2nd week in a row, which shows how well he is maturing into the 10 position.

Annan Starting XV: R Glass, C Bell, K Warrick, F Hope, K Watret, W Gray, C Smith,S Haren, F McMillan, J Whiteside, J Kirby, A Halliday, A Carmichael, M Thorburn, A Jancey (Capt)

Subs: C Taylor, R Martin, A Jones, E Campbell (all used)



Photos from Cumnocks Jim Richmond on Facebook



The 10 tries (6 Annan, 4 Cumnock) from the match


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