Match Report from: Coach Andy Render
After the October holidays Annan U16s returned to action on Sunday by hosting their counterparts from Dalziel and found the going tough against a well drilled and physically larger opposition but stuck to their task throughout.
After recent poor weather it was pleasing to find the weather conditions clear and dry on Sunday morning although the pitch was soft and heavy in places. Annan had worked hard on developing their game plan and structure over the last few weeks and had been tasked to play around this in the game. The opening exchanges were fairly even, and Annan were working hard to recycle possession and gain territory. Unfortunately, a couple of mistakes led to Dalziel turning the ball over and through their large pack eventually drove over to score and take a 12-0 lead with one conversion.
Annan heads dropped slightly, and Dalziel started to dominate the tight play and scored another 4 tries, all converted, to open up a 40-0 lead with half an hour gone. Within the Galant B Conference rules there is an allowance for teams to conclude games early if a 50pt margin is obtained and at this point the Annan coaches were concerned that this might happen before half time however the Annan lads showed great heart and determination to take the game back to Dalziel and scored their first points through Josh Cairns’ drive between the posts which was converted by Fraser McMillan to take the last score of the first half. Half time 40-7.
The half time chat was around sticking to the system but trying to up the intensity of both the rucking and defensive line speed and to limit their opponents’ space and time on the ball. Annan’s good play continued after the break as they gained the first try through Indy Swan (unconverted). Dalziel struck back almost immediately with a converted try of their own, but Annan then produced their best period of play as the forward pack took hold of the game and drove with purpose and aggression lead by John Mackay who put in some bruising carries and rucking. McMillan also made use of the extra space on the field to make a couple of coruscating breaks up the midfield and the territory gained led to two tries through Callum Kirk and replacement 2nd row Elliott Hepburn, both of which were converted by McMillan. This took the score to 47-26 in Dalziel’s favour, not quite game-on but a huge encouragement to the lads and their friends and family watching on.
Unfortunately, from Annan’s point of view, this was as good as it got as Dalziel were stung back into action and proceeded to score 5 further tries (3 conversions) to pull away and reach the 50pt margin just on the final whistle. There was some tired defending by Annan in this final period but at the same time some players continued to show pride and effort and battled to the last.
So a tough day for the lads and their education at U16 level continues. Their opponents are believed to be almost exclusively U16 and this gives the U15 lads in this team something to aspire to in terms of physicality, game play and skills. Sometimes you must put your hand up and admit you were beaten by a better team but use the experience to drive you on in training and practice. As training hours are limited the more that the lads can practice their skills or improve their fitness the more time can be put into team play and structure.
Indy Swan and John Mackay had perhaps their best games of the season so far, impressing with their strong carries and determination with Callum Kirk showing up well in attack and Elliott Hepburn making a strong impact from the bench in the 2nd half. However best on the day for Annan was No8 and captain Aitken Render who led from the front making several big tackles and working hard around the field in attack and defence.
Annan travel to Kilmarnock next week in another challenging contest but if they continue to put in honest effort and commitment this team will reap the benefits soon.
Thanks as ever to all the helpers in the Grubber for post-match food, to the large support who came to watch and to Andrew Jancey for refereeing and his feedback to the players after the game.
- M Coupland
- J Mackay
- I Swan
- J Plumstead
- D Templeton
- C Kirk
- J Cairns
- A Render
- B Latimer
- F McMillan
- J Mitchell
- E Watson
- R Bell
- J Glendinning
- L Stevenson
- R Byers
- J Arthur
- E Hepburn
(All replacements used)