Match Report from: Gary “Tag” Coupland
On Saturday 11th September, 2021, Annan 1st XV travelled to Cambuslang for their first league outing of the season following the Covid cancellation of the previous fixture against East Kilbride.
Due to a number of players being unavailable the team only travelled with two substitutes, instead of the allowed 4 and had a number of boys playing out of position.
That said the boys who travelled were very focused on the task in hand and from the Kick off took the game to their hosts putting them under pressure deep in their own half. The Annan pressure eventually telling with Cambuslang infringing and conceding a penalty just inside the 22. James Bigham stepped up and kicked the 3 points to put Annan deservedly ahead.
Following the kick off and a brief Cambuslang incursion into the Annan half, Annan again took the game to the home team with a period of sustained pressure again. Annan should good continuity and after a few probing attacks, put the ball through the hands, to number 15 Andrew Jancey who hit the line and exploited some hesitancy and space in the Cambuslang defensive line to score. James Bigham missing the kick into a strong headwind.
The home side then had a brief foray near-to the Annan line which resulted in a penalty infringement by the Annan defence. This allowed Cambuslang to convert the 3 points and reduce the visitors lead.
From the resultant kick off, Annan maintained the pressure and drove again in waves towards the home line, which was breached a few minutes later by James Kirby wide left, following receipt of an outrageous, one handed reverse pass behind his back by hooker Kieron Warrick, which would not have been out of place at a Harlem Globetrotters event. The try was unconverted.
Half Time: Cambuslang RFC 1st XV 3 v Annan 1st XV 13
Following the restart Cambuslang had a short period of possession which resulted in another 3 points due to indiscipline in the Annan defence.
From the resultant Kick Off Annan resumed their sustained attacks on the home line with a serious of strong drives which resulted in winger Josh Whiteside scoring an unconverted try wide right. One of the home team being yellow carded for a late tackle on the try scorer.
At this point the game went to uncontested scrums due to an injury to one of the Cambuslang prop forwards and them not having a suitable replacement to cover that position. The scrum had been one area where Annan had been in total control up to that time.
This seemed to effect the Annan players and after some poor communication and poor tackle attempts Cambuslang broke through the Annan defence to score wide right. Annan centre Alex Halliday also being yellow carded for a late tackle on the try scorer. This was unconverted.
This galvanised the visitors and they again laid siege to the Cambuslang line, resulting in another penalty which was duly converted by James Bingham to increase the lead to 10.
Annan continued in the same vein and after refusing another penalty chance at goal the boys elected to kick to touch close to the home line and from the resultant lineout Juan Phyfer scored a typical prop forwards try from a metre out, to give Annan the bonus point. This was unconverted.
Towards the end of the game Cambuslang score a final consolation try when their best player wrong footed the Annan central defence to break through and score under the posts, which was duly converted.
Final Score: Cambuslang RFC 1st XV 18 v Annan 1st XV 26
This was a great performance from an improvised Annan team, who totally dominated the first half and start of the 2nd until the decision to go to uncontested scrums impacted on the flow of the game. But for some poor decision making and white line fever at times, if the boys had maintained their shape and composure then almost certainly they would have added to their tally.
In terms of the two Cambuslang tries, again like the week before at Wigtownshire these appeared to be the result of tiring legs, concentration and poor communication.
Special mention to Eben Levin who was drafted up from the 2nd XV on the morning of the game and when he got on for his first XV debut, did not look out of place at this level and the boys who played out of position on the day, Ollie Ferdinand, Ryan Hetherington and Josh Whiteside. Special thanks to Johnny Callaghan who came out of retirement to help the boys out on the day. You’ve still got it Johnny.
Man of the match on the day, mainly for his defensive work, with the bonus of a try on top was Captain Andrew Jancey.
Team: Ryan Glass, Kieron Warrick, Juan Phyfer, Michael Thompson, Fraser Hope, Thomas Sloan, Oliie Ferdinand, Sean Haren, Aaron Carmichael, James Bingham, James Kirby, Alex Halliday, Ryan Hetherington, Josh Whiteside, Andrew Jancey.
Subs: Johnny Callaghan, Eben Levin (Both used).