Match Report from: Colin “Choc” Warrick
The Warriors took to the road heading to play in the shadow of the Kelpies to play Grangemouth Stags in the semi final of the National Plate competition.
The game kicked off in near perfect conditions with both teams keen to start well & get on top early in the game. Both teams started well feeling each other with strong carries from both sets of forwards.
The deadlock was broken after 10 minutes when from a couple of back-to-back penalties, the home team opened the scoring when following a driving maul the ball was shipped wide for the outside centre to burst over & score.
Fairly soon after the Warriors responded when from a scrum just outside their own 22 Captain Nicole Barlow broke from the scrum to dummy her was through the front line defence to race clear with only the full back to beat who was bamboozled by another dummy resulting in Nicole scoring close to the posts levelling the score with Hannah Paterson kicking the extras to take Annan into a 2 point lead.
Unfortunately, Annan’s discipline wasn’t to the referees liking which forced the Warriors to defend for long periods managing to hold them out until about the 30 minute mark when from a tap penalty Grangemouth forced their way over to score a converted try.
At this point the Warriors attack came more to the fore with big carries from Caroline Richardson, Ashley Clark & Sarah Wyllie making good yards, unfortunately they weren’t able to retain the ball for long enough periods to exert the pressure needed to get a score due to good defence & also the referee’s interpretation at the breakdown.
Just before half time following another driving maul the home side increased their lead with a 3rd try which they duly converted when their wing forward burst through two tackles to score.
The final play of the 1st half saw Annan’s scramble defence halt a Grangemouth attack, with number 8 Kayleigh Warrick, who was playing her 1st game of the season following a collar bone injury, make a cover tackle from which a melee ensued with once the dust settled referee deeming that Kayleigh’s tackle was illegal resulting in a yellow card.
Half time scores: Grangemouth 17 v Annan Warriors 7
Knowing that the victory was still in their grasp the Warriors started the 2nd half determined to improve and try to get on top.
After 10 minutes a Warriors scrum went awry with Grangemouth winning the ball against the head for their number 8 to make good yards tying a n umber of the Annan backs in before offloading to one of their backs to score a further converted try, which was followed fairly soon after by another try to take them 22 points in front.
With the result looking out of reach the Warriors seemed to play their best rugby for the remainder of the game strong carries, good ball retention & moving the ball wide when required to gain yards with scrum half Nicole Barlow diving over from close range to score her 2nd try of the day.
With time running out the Warriors threw all caution to the wind as is the Warriors way but unfortunately following a turnover on the 22 the hosts managed to ship the ball wide & score in the corner.
Final score: Grangemouth 34 v Annan Warriors 12
Unfortunately, so near but yet so far for the Warriors with Grangemouth now moving onto to play Oban in the final on the 6th of May at the DAM Health stadium at Murrayfield on Silver Saturday.
Fair to say the Warriors gave their all for the full 80 minutes but it wasn’t to be, being beaten by a well drilled experience team.
Best on the day in the pack were Megan Muir, Ashley Clark, Kayleigh Warrick with forward of the match going to Ashley Clark
In the backs Lexie Glendinning, Joanne Clark, Captain Nicole Barlow all played well with back of the match going to Sarah Wyllie.
Annan Strating XV: J Warrick, M Brogan, C Richardson, H Paterson, M Muir, R Parker – Clevett, A Clark, K Warrick, N Barlow ©, L Glendinning, K Morrison, S Wyllie, J Clark, K Barlow, S Hunter
Replacements: S Taylor, M Cother, H Clark, L Stevenson, J Graham, L McGregor (all used)
So, for the Warriors the season now draws to the close for most with a squad of players heading to play in Magaluf Beach rugby festival in 2 weeks time, considering if asked in June or July last year I would have said we would have struggled this season to end up one game from a Murrayfield final it’s certainly been a journey.
Having used 40 players throughout the season with 11 debutants aligned with 2 or 3 players returning to play after a few years the squad is growing. Looking forward into next season hopefully this will bring competition for shirts which will in return bring improvement across the whole squad to drive the Warriors forward.
Thanks to all the players for their efforts, Leadership group of Captain Nicole Barlow & Vice captains Ashley Clark & Lexie Glendinning, Team manager Tracy for looking after us all, Billy Jardine for filming the games, Marion for her work as club physio & all the supporters who supported us at Violetbank & who made the effort to travel to away games.
Photos thanks to Micky Morrison
The 2 Nicole Barlow Tries
FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
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