Match Report from: Gary “Taggart” Coupland

On Saturday 28th January, 2023, Annan 1st XV welcomed local rivals Stewartry 1st XV to Violetbank, for their latest league encounter in Tennent’s Men’s West League Division 1.

The game also being the 2nd leg of the Chisholm Cup clash contested annually between both clubs, although with Annan being 47 points in deficit from their first encounter in October 2022 and the visitors being one of the form clubs and promotion favourites in the league, any chance of the home XV taking back the trophy was optimistic to say the least.

With Annan again having to make a number of changes in personnel to the team which took to the field the previous week, there was some apprehension within the home support that a repeat of the previous encounter in October may be on the cards and with Stewartry scoring a converted try in the initial stages, many were fearful that this might in fact materialise.

However the reverse happened and the home side took the game to Stewartry scoring 3 unanswered penalties from the boot of Josh Whiteside to go into the half time break in the lead.  But for a couple of egregious handling errors by the home side, one a few feet from the try line, the Annan lead should have and could have been more comfortable.

Half time: Annan 1st XV 9 – Stewartry 1st XV 7.

With the home support now in buoyant mood and hoping for more of the same in the 2nd half, it was unfortunately Stewartry who took  control of the game, utilising there big forwards to great effect to keep Annan in their own half for the majority of the 2nd half, Stewartry scoring three further tries, two of which were converted.  Annan stuck to their task though and made the visitors work hard for their bonus point victory.

Full Time: Annan 1st XV 9 – Stewartry 1st XV 26.

So Stewartry gained the vital league points for their promotion tilt and deservedly retained the Chisholm Cup for another season.   They now host Garnock 1st XV, which will probably be a title decider based on the current league form of both teams, at Greenlaw next weekend.

For the home side and coach Carmichael in particular another frustrating day, with Annan as they have done on so many occasions this season, more than showing that they can compete with the best teams in this league for long periods, if only they could maintain those levels of effort and concentration for the full 80 minutes.   That said this current Stewartry team are a cohesive well drilled outfit and in the 2nd half showed why they are one of the promotion favourites.

For Annan, if they can get a settled team from week to week and train collectively as a unit there is no reason they cannot end the season on a higher note.

For Annan Man of the match was awarded to Josh Whiteside, deservedly so, however there were some strong performances all round compared to previous outings.

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

Subs: K Watret, A Render, A Jones, C Taylor – All used



Photos of the match available on Facebook thanks to Katie Morrison Photography



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