Match Report by: Gary “Taggart” Coupland
On Saturday 17th August, an Annan XV travelled to Strathaven Rugby Club to take part in a pre season training game against a home XV. The format was 2 -30 minute sessions, followed by a final session of 20 minutes. This was the first game of the season in the XV man format and was also played on the hosts 4G pitch in very blustery conditions.
The first third was a fairly evenly contested affair with Annan edging it 6-5 through two penalties converted by Josh Whiteside and Andrew Allison, the former having to retire after 15 minutes to receive treatment for a head injury. During this period Annan had the majority of the possession and put the Strathaven line under pressure on several occasions, but a poor final pass or poor decision making cost them the chance of scoring on several occasions when in a try scoring position. Strathaven scoring their unconverted try generally against the run of play.
The second third started in a similar vein to the first, however, the Annan formation was impacted by a number of injuries, including to the now patched up stand off, Josh Whiteside, who suffered a suspected concussion after a collision with one of his team mates. This forced a reorganisation in the Annan ranks with a number of players having to play outwith their normal positions and comfort zone. The well drilled Strathaven XV then exerted pressure and capitalised on any errors or confusion in the Annan defensive set up, to score a further try, which was converted.
In the final third Annan started brightly and took the game again to Strathaven, however the Strathaven outside centre managed to intercept an Annan pass, whilst they were attacking the Strathaven 22 line and run the length of the field to score a further try which was duly converted. With Annan beginning to fade Strathaven scored a further converted try late on to put any thoughts of an Annan revival to bed.
Final Score: Strathaven XV 26 v Annan XV 6
A hard day at the office for some of the Annan players who were taking part in their first competitive outing of the season. On the plus side some of the Annan play was well structured in terms of phase play, lineout and scrum, however the various injuries and enforced reorganisations soon took its toll in terms of cohesion at all facets.
The game also allowed the coaching team to have a look at a number of players on the fringes of first XV selection in a competitive environment and to try out a number of different combinations. Much to build upon for the visit of Wigton this week to Violetbank and the commencement of the league season at the end of the month..
Thanks to Strathaven for and excellent work out for the lads and for their hospitality. Good luck for the season ahead.
Thanks also to the Annan Supporters who travelled up to Strathaven on the day, it is very much appreciated by the lads and coaching team.