Match Report from: Gary “Taggart” Coupland
On Saturday 29th January, 2022 Annan 1st XV travelled to Lochshore, Beith to take on title contenders Garnock.
This was again a much changed Annan team with a number of enforced changes being made due to illness and work commitments.
The match was played in near gale force winds with Garnock electing to play with the wind in the first half. This they used to great effect to pin the Annan 15 in their own half for almost the whole period, utilising their well trained big forward pack to pound the Annan defence from close in, with the defenders unable to clear their lines through kicking due to the wind. As a result the home side were able to score at regular intervals going into the break with a 34-0 lead.
Half time: Garnock 1st XV 34 Annan 1st XV 0.
Going into the 2nd half with the wind Annan hoped to gain more territory from which to attack the home line, however these proved to be limited as a number of injuries enforced further positional changes on the Annan team, which their well drilled opponents were able to exploit and manipulate to score a further 22 points.
Annans only bright spot being an excellent try after some good team handling by substitute Alex Halliday, who cut through the home defence defence. The conversion being missed.
Final score: Garnock 1st XV 56 Annan 1st XV 5.
So a very hard day at the office both in terms of the quality of the opposition and the weather conditions, for this mainly young Annan team who will hopefully reflect and learn from their performance.
True there were a number of enforced positional changes prior to and during the match, which caused some of the Annan play to be disjointed and not as cohesive as it should have been, but on a number of occasions too many lapses in concentration, communication errors or at times commitment allowed Garnock the opportunities to exploit the situation ruthlessly.
With a couple of weeks off league commitments due to the 6 nations this gives the opportunity for the whole squad to work on the areas required at training before the next home match against Kilmarnock.
Best for Annan on the day were Harry Houldey in the forwards and Ryan Hetherington in the backs.
Special mention to Vice Captain Sean Haren who rolled back the years to cover at hooker.
Annan Team: R Glass, S Haren, A Craik, D Robson, F Hope, H Houldey, C Taylor, K Watret, A Carmichael, J Whiteside, J Kirby, A Jancey, R Hetherington, E Haley, J Bigham.
Subs (all used): C Smith, A Halliday, M Forbes, J Park.