Match Report from: GARY “TAG” COUPLAND
On Saturday 16th April, 2022 Annan 1st XV travelled to Fintry to play Strathendrick 1st XV in their latest Tennents West Regional Division 1 match. Yet again due to unavailability the squad had 9 changes to the one selected for the previous outing to Lenzie.
However having had a comfortable victory over the hosts young squad earlier in the season, combined with the return of some experienced players it was hoped the Annan squad selected would have the necessary firepower and skillset to get the job done.
From the kick off both defences were on top for the majority of the scrappy first half and there was little between the teams apart from a well worked move by Annan which saw scrum half and captain Andrew Jancey make a 30 metre break along the left touchline outstripping the home defence to cross the try line. Alas he was adjudged by the home touch judge to have stepped momentarily out of play during his run and the score was chalked off.
Annan eventually broke the deadlock on the stroke of half time with an unconverted try when wing forward Ollie Ferdinand barged over following a series of rucks close in to the Strathendrick line.
Half Time: Strathendrick 1st XV 0 Annan 1st XV 5
After an error strewn first half it was hoped the Annan boys would get into gear and push on at the start of the 2nd half, however it was more of the same in terms of the error count with various opportunities or chances to attack blighted by either poor decision making or handling errors from the visitors. This emboldened the young home team who capitalised on this and raced into a 21-5 lead with 20 minutes remaining, with Annan looking well beaten.
However, the Annan lads eventually got their act together and showed excellent team spirit and cohesiveness to pull themselves back into the game with further tries from that man Ferdinand, Sean Haren and Neal Coupland.
Debutant Ben Latimer adding the 2 points to Coupland’s try to give the visitors a 21-22 lead as the game entered the last 5 minutes. Annan holding out for the win and Strathendrick failing to take the lead and probably the game with a long range penalty miss with 2 minutes remaining.
Full time: Strathendrick 1st XV 21 Annan 1st XV 22
With the Annan coaching team, substitutes and small band of travelling support humming the theme tune to the great escape at the final whistle, this was not by a long way a good performance from Annan.
To their credit when it looked like they were heading for another defeat, in the final 20 minutes the Annan boys dug deep as a unit and found the necessary drive and focus to claw their way back into the game and get a credible bonus point win.
However for the first 60 minutes they struggled to play as a unit, and some of the handling errors, many when scoring opportunities were available, were more akin to something you would see from jugglers at Billy smarts circus than on a rugby field.
Hopefully with a home game against Cambuslang on the horizon next week the club can put out a more settled squad for both that and the remaining league fixtures, rather than having to make wholesale changes for every game.
A good turnout at training this week from all those available for selection will assist the coaches in ironing out some of the disjointed aspects of play and team cohesiveness, highlighted in both this and other recent games.
Best for Annan on the day were Alex Halliday, Adam Torbett and James Kirby in the back division, Ollie Ferdinand, Harry Houldey and Neal Coupland in the forwards. The latter being awarded Annan MOM by the Strathendrick team.
Special mention to 17 year old Ben Latimer drafted into the 1st XV at 10 for his first game with the senior squad and scoring the match winning conversion. Well done Ben.
Annan Squad: R Glass, M Forbes, N Graham, D Robson, N Coupland, O Ferdinand, H Houldey, S Haren, A Jancey (Cpt), B Latimer, J Park, A Halliday, A Torbett, M Thorburn, J Kirby.
Subs: A Craik, E Haley (Used) C Irving, B Conroy ( Not Used).