Match Report from: Alan Robertson
Annan welcomed their visitors from Fintry to a grey and cold Violetbank on Saturday for this latest fixture in West 1 of the Tennent’s Regional leagues. The kick-off was delayed until 2.15pm as the visitors had some transport problems to deal with.
Whilst this was not a relegation battle both teams needed the win to ensure that neither team was dragged into the relegation mire. Both teams started off playing fast, open rugby with both teams spreading the ball wide at every occasion. Annan held the balance of play in the first quarter and took the lead after 10 minutes with a fine try. From a penalty award, quickly taken by scrum half Andrew Jancey, the ball was taken through a couple of rucks before being shipped through the backs to winger James Park who scored in the corner. This was James’s first try for the 1st XV – hopefully the first of many! The conversion was missed.
Strathendrick reduced the points deficit by three points with a well struck penalty but Annan continued to have the balance of play in the half. Annan stretched their lead when, again from a quickly taken penalty, this time by lock Michael Thompson, the ball was quickly transferred along the back line to find lock Neal Coupland lurking at the inside centre position who powered his way over the line for a well taken try. This time the try was converted by standoff James Bigham to take Annan into a 9-point lead at 12-3.
The visitors reduced the point deficit by three, just before half time when they were awarded a penalty to take the half time score to Annan 12 Strathendrick 6.
The second half had barely started when, with Annan attacking out of a defensive position, the ball was dropped only to be scooped up by the visiting fullback who scampered over the line to score an unconverted try to reduce the hosts lead to a single point.
Despite this setback Annan continued to drive play deep into the visitor’s 22 and from a ruck in front of the posts the ball was spun wide to hooker Kieron Warrick who drove for the line and when stopped just short the ball was quickly recycled by stand off Bigham to prop Ryan Hetherington who made no mistake to score an unconverted try.
The visitors kept themselves in touch in the second half with two well taken penalties before Annan sealed the match when again from some excellent driving play by the home forwards the ball was quickly recycled from a ruck in front of the posts to lock Neal Coupland who once again powered over to score the bonus point try.
The hosts extended their lead by a further 3 points when awarded a penalty which was duly slotted by Josh Whiteside to take the final score to Annan 27 Strathendrick 17.
This was not one of Annan’s better performances with too many unforced errors and unnecessary penalties given away especially when marched back 10 metres on more than one occasion for unnecessary backchat, but it is better to win ugly than not win at all! This result keeps Annan in 7th place in the league with a little daylight between them and the bottom 3.
Annan 1st XV: R Glass, K Warrick, R Hetherington, N Coupland, M Thompson, B Thomson, C Bell, S Haren, A Jancey, J Bigham, J Kirby, H Houdley, D Wyllie, J Park, J Whiteside.
Replacements: D Nordon, R Armstrong, A Carmichael, D Lockerby (all used)
1st XV before the match