Match Report from: Coach Andy Render
Despite a strong second half resurgence Annan U16s fell short against their well drilled visitors in this Galant Conference B encounter at a sunny Violetbank on Sunday.
Following some hard work by players and coaches alike over the last two weeks the game was played with fully competitive scrumming and lineouts which meant that full league points were on offer.
Newton Stewart started strongly with close range driving play from their forward pack and this appeared to rattle Annan and eventually a try was scored which was unconverted. The following exchanges followed a similar pattern with NS passing up one or two good scoring chances either through mishandling or strong defence including an excellent last ditch try-saving tackle from full back Roo Bell.
Unfortunately for NS one of their players suffered a nasty leg injury which required a pause in play. This allowed Annan’s coaches a chance to talk to their players and from the restart a long kick through was well chased and from the next breakdown Elliott Hepburn emerged with the ball to run in from 25 yards to score under the posts with the conversion from Fraser McMillan to put Annan ahead.
NS however kept to their gameplan and continued to drive in close but also took chances to spread the play when Annan’s defence got too tight. This lead to 2 further tries for them before half time, one of which was converted to make the half time score 7-17.
The halftime chat was about Annan stepping up their physicality and not allowing NS to dominate the close in play.
Shortly after the break Annan got back into the game when Josh Cairns ran in a fine unconverted try, however NS struck back with another unconverted score which appeared to put the game firmly in the visitor’s control.
However strong motivating words under the posts from captain Aitken Render appeared to galvanise Annan who proceeded to play their best rugby over the next 15 minutes taking the game to NS both up front and in the wider channels. This lead to an excellent individual score from Callum Kirk on the left wing which was superbly converted by McMillan and then a length of the field team score through several phases finished off by Render with a neat side step to level the scores at 24 apiece with around 10 mins to go.
Two late tries by NS through some strong direct running by their centres and some ineffective tackling by Annan allowed the west Dumfriesshire team to close out the game and take the points.
Full Time Score: Annan U16 XV 24 Newton Stewart U16 XV 36
Overall Annan can be reasonably proud of their game, especially the scrum which held up well in their first competitive game. Work remains to be done on the lineout and also in defensive coordination and overall work rate but as this squad is mostly U15 these things will naturally develop with more game time and experience as well as improved fitness.
Congratulations to NS and good luck for the rest of the season. Thanks also to parents and other helpers in support of the game especially with providing after match refreshment.
Next weekend sees the squad travel to their furthest away game at Oban and it is hoped that the good parts of this game can be taken forward and built upon.
U16 Tigers Team: Callum Kirk, John Mackay, Indy Swan, David Templeton, Elliott Hepburn, James Plumstead, Josh Cairns, Aitken Render (C), Lex Stevenson, Fraser McMillan, Jake Mitchell, Euan Watson, John Glendinning, Ben Latimer, Roo Bell
Replacements (all used): Curran Stainthorpe, Jamie Arthur, Max Coupland