Strathaven 1st XV v ANNAN 1ST XV

20TH APRIL 2024

Match Report from: Gus Robertson

3 matches ago Annan were rooted at the bottom of the West 1 table, 9 points from safety and most people probably thought Annan were going to be playing West 2* rugby next season.

The Annan coaches and players had other ideas though. A maximum 10 points from the past 2 matches meant that Annan were actually  1 point ahead of Saturday’s opponents Strathaven and they knew that a win with certain bonus point scenarios meant that they could be safe from relegation with 1 match to go!

As it turned out, Annan got the win but not with the try bonus point that was needed and also not the requirement of stopping Strathaven getting a losing bonus point. A win is a win though and it keeps the fate of the team in their own hands.

What this means is that if Strathaven win their last match away to Oban in 2 weeks time, Annan need at least 2 points from their last match away to Ardrossan to stay up. For both matches the home side will be big favourites but both away teams know their season depends on them getting a result. Going to be a nervy day of rugby!

Anyway back to the match.

The game was played on Strathavens artificial pitch. Artificial pitches had been the bane of the 1st XV lives in recent years with the last 8 or so on them resulting in a loss for the team. So to get a win on this pitch was also a bonus as broke the hoodoo!

The match was won really by the defense on Saturday that caused numerous errors/rushed plays by the home side from which Annan scored 2 great interception tries. One by man of the match Josh Whiteside in the 1st half and the other by speedster Aitken Render early in the 2nd.

The try scoring was complete (or in this case started) by Josh Whitesides first try as quick thinking from a penalty and Josh ran 50 meters for a great solo try early in the match.

The first half ended 12-10 with Josh scoring all the points while the home side hit back with a penalty and converted try.

Into the second half, and Annan extended their lead thanks to the Aitken Render try, converted again by Josh but Strathaven got themselves a 2nd try which took the match to 19-15 to Annan with about 20 minutes to go.

The last 20 minutes and Annan were camped in their own 22 for a large part of it, repelling wave after wave of Strathaven attack. When Annan did get the ball they tried to run it out to get that all important 4th try and also deny Strathaven their losing bonus point but unlike in their previous 2 matches they could never quite put the phases together.

But in the end, the Annan defence held firm and the 3rd win on the bounce was complete. 14 points from a max 15!

Coach Juan on the match

“Saturday was a huge game and another win, so really positive about that. Defense won us the game. The defense forced the errors that led to 2 of our tries….they were big units but we defended so well.

Delighted and proud of the effort the boys have put in. Especially over the last month has been phenomenal. Saturday especially, 1-19 the performance defensively was sound, absolutely brilliant. Josh Whiteside was man of the match, but special mention to Sean Haren. But all the team played brilliantly.

But not taking anything for granted yet”

Annan Starting XV: 1 Ryan Glass 2 Murray Forbes 3 Kieran Warrick (C) 4 James Morrison 5 Callum Smith 6 Ryan Armstrong 7 Stewart Livingston 8 Sean Haren 9 Josh Whiteside 10 Fraser McMillan 11 James Kirby 12 Alex Halliday 13 Aaron Carmichael 14 Aitken Render 15 Andrew Jancey

Annan Subs: 16 Eben Le Vin 17 Callum Taylor 18 Ollie Ferdinand 19 Adam Torbett

*Just for the record. Annan have been in West 2 twice in the last 12 years. They currently have a played 40, won 39, drawn 1 record!


Photos thanks to Katie Morrison can be found on Facebook


Individual highlights


Annan Rugby Club Badge