ANNAN 1ST XV v KILMARNOCK 1ST XV.
TENNENT’S WEST DIVISION 1
14TH JANUARY 2023
Match Report from: Gary “Taggart” Coupland
On Saturday 14th January, Annan 1st XV welcomed Kilmarnock 1st XV to Violetbank for their first home League encounter of 2023.
After significant rainfall overnight the pitch at Violetbank could be described as heavy going and to be an added challenge for both teams, albeit the rain had abated earlier in the morning.
Indeed Annan Coach Carmichael, taking into account the weather forecast and the opposition team, deciding to load his bench with forwards to give him a bit more options wise in the grunt and grind department.
With Kilmarnock attacking the clubhouse end in the first half they mastered the conditions underfoot quickest and began to use their weight and size advantage to gain some momentum in attacking the Annan line.
This paid dividends when following a poor clearance kick by Annan, the Kilmarnock backs put the ball through the hands to their big centre who evaded three Annan tacklers to run in from 30 metres and open the scoring. This was duly converted.
Kilmarnock went further ahead when at an attacking lineout, 10 metres from the Annan line, a well worked throw to the rear, saw them crash over for another converted try.
Kilmarnock’s third try again came from Annan being unable to effectively clear their lines again under pressure, which resulted in some good interplay between the Kilmarnock backs to easily breach the home defence for another converted try.
Half Time: Annan 1st XV 0 – Kilmarnock 1st XV 21.
With Annan now attacking the Clubhouse end and some tactical personnel changes at half time, the home side upped their workrate and intensity in and around the breakdown area and this soon proved fruitful when after some excellent phase play and retention, the ball was quickly passed to Ollie Ferdinand, lurking out wide on the left who romped in for Annan’s first try. This was unconverted.
Ferdinand got his 2nd from a similar position about 6 minutes from time, when after some good attacking play by both the Annan forwards and backs, which sucked in the Kilmarnock cover defence, the ball was passed to centre Alex Halliday, who kicked the ball into the space created for Ferdinand to collect the ball and score. Josh Whiteside adding the conversion.
Annan now had the visitors on the rack and several attacks in the dying minutes were thwarted by the Kilmarnock defence, so much so that two of their players were yellow carded in the process.
Annan continued to press however and after a ruck wide right the ball was fed to stand off, Whiteside, who threw a miss pass outstripping the remaining defenders to put Neal Coupland in for Annan’s final try which was duly converted by Whiteside on the stroke of full time.
Final Score: Annan 1st XV 19 – Kilmarnock 1st XV 21.
So no cigar for the lads, but they came very close, particularly with their excellent 2nd half performance against a good Kilmarnock team.
As in previous games too many individual errors around the tackle area and in decision making, particularly at the start of games, allowed the opposition a foothold which can leave the team with too much to do to redress the damage.
That said on this performance if they can keep a settled team, a consistency of availability in the whole squad and a have bit of belief in themselves both individually and collectively as a unit, they should be more than capable of getting a few wins under their belt and climb into the upper reaches of the league.
Best for Annan on the day were the backrow of Hope, Campbell and Haren in the forwards, with Halliday and young Fraser McMillan in the backs. The latter playing scrum half in this game and starting to find his feet at 1st XV level.
Annan Starting XV: R Glass, M Forbes, K Watret, D Robson, O Ferdinand, F Hope, J Campbell, S Haren, F McMillan, J Whiteside, J Kirby, A Halliday, A Carmichael, B Conroy, A Jancey,
Subs: K Warrick, C Smith, N Coupland, (used) W Gray (Not used).
As a footnote: Of the squad who played for the 1st XV yesterday 15 had previously been in the club youth system, and a further 3 started their rugby at the club in the seniors