On a bright but chilly afternoon the Warriors took on long term rivals & friends Howe Harlequins in their 3rd last home match in National One for this season.
Knowing that both teams were evenly matched confidence was high & knowledge that a good start would be required by the Warriors if the much-desired victory was to be gained.
The Warriors started well taking the attack to Howe with both forwards and backs carrying deep into the opposition half which eventually resulted in 2nd row Megan Muir being held up over the line, Annan couldn’t quite however turn pressure into points & were penalised at a scrum allowing Howe to kick clear.
Annan continued to pressurise running the ball back from deep create gaps through strong running & offloads in the tackle, and it was from one of these breaks that the Warriors opened the scoring, the ball being moved wide & from the ruck scrum half Nicole Barlow broke handing off her opposite number before drawing the fullback to feed flanker Allana McWilliam to who added the finishing touch to a well worked try.
From the kick off Annan No.8 Kayleigh Warrick returned the ball with interest carrying hard into the opposition ranks, following a couple of more phases the ball was turned over & Annan penalised twice in quick succession allowing Howe to kick to the corner & from the ensuing lineout mauled their way over the line for the equalizing score.
The game began to settle down with both teams fighting to gain the upper hand, the Warriors discipline working against them allowing Howe to pin them in the Annan half. However, from spilled a possession the ball was hacked clear by centre Chelsea Barnes breaking deep into the Howe half. A quick tap following a scrum infringement saw flanker Nadine Barnes break clear sidestepping & shimmying past would be defenders only to try and offload the ball when it seemed the line was at her mercy.
From the lineout following a clearing kick Howe, the Warriors went quickly stretching the opposition defence wide where winger Kirsty Barlow made yards on the outside the ball was recycled and shifted wide once more where winger Jane Stewart rounded the winger before offloading out of the tackle to centre Chelsea Barnes who stretched through the full backs tackle to reach over and score in the corner to retake the lead on the stroke of half time.
Half time score: Annan Warriors 10 v Howe Harlequins 5
The 2nd half kicked off with the breeze on the Annan backs, with the Warriors hoping to continue their determined play and extend their slender lead.
The 2nd half continued with the theme of the first with both teams cancelling much of the attack out with good defence and the game being played in the most part with the two 10 metre lines.
Going into the last 15 minutes Annan’s discipline dropped allowing Howe to piggy back their way upfield with three penalties gaining them territory and possession deep in the Annan 22, from the lineout they executed almost a mirror image of their opening try driving over from the maul to once again even the scores.
With Howe failing to collect the kick off Annan went onto the attack once more when from a snipe from the scrum half Barlow fed winger Jen McGregor who made good ground up the touchline before the forwards continued the momentum carrying the ball close before the defence were penalised and from this penalty the ball was moved to flanker Nadine Barnes who fell over the line to score Annan’s 3rd try.
Going into the final few minutes of the game the Howe players threw all they had left at the Annan defence and a few non completed tackles and the inevitable tiredness setting in they managed to squeeze over in the final play of the game to even the scores with the kick to come. Thankfully for the Annan team the Howe kicker failed to convert.
Final score:Annan Warriors 15 v Howe Harlequins 15
All in all, a fair result with Annan certainly not deserving to be on the losing side.
A better performance than previous week, but yet again not the complete performance that is in the locker yet to appear. With players being isolated and completion of tackles the main work ons for this week.
Best for Annan in the forwards were 2nd rows Megan Muir & Ruth Peacock, who made her 1st start for the Warriors with forward of the match going to hard working Nadine Barnes.
In the backs Captain Nicole Barlow lead from the front with little sister Kirsty, centre Ciara O’Connell & full back Kim Taylor not far behind but back of the match went to centre Chelsea Barnes.
Special mention must go to new Warriors wingers Bethany Lowery & Jen McGregor who are improving each week and are now pushing the current wingers for a start and as previously mentioned 2nd row Ruth Peacock who won’t have attended 10 training session yet and has earned a starting spot.