With Annan’s scheduled home league fixture to East Kilbride and Wigtownshire’s home fixture against Dalziel, both falling foul of positive Covid cases in the respective visiting teams late on Friday afternoon. A quick friendly match was arranged with Annan traveling the breadth of Dumfries and Galloway to give both teams a much needed game as they enter the weekly challenges of League rugby, Covid permitting.
This also led to a number of late changes to the originally selected squad, to allow for work and other commitments.
From the kick off, Annan took the game to their hosts and quickly gained superiority in the scrum and lineout. As the Annan forwards upped the pressure big Dan Robson went on a bullocking run, which ruptured the home defence and when he was finally, brought down he delivered a pop pass to support runner Dinger Bell who scored in close to the posts. James Bingham adding the conversion.
Annan continued to push hard and a few minutes later a set play released centre Ollie Ferdinand at full throttle to cut through the home defence from 30 metres out to score under the posts. Bingham again adding the 2 points.
After further Annan pressure, just before half time the ball was passed out to winger Ryan Hetherington, who on the run put a delicate chip kick through the Shire defensive line which was collected by Captain for the day Sean ‘the King’ Haren who scored close into the posts. Bingham again adding the 2.
Half Time: Wigtownshire 1st XV 0 v Annan 1st XV 21
The 2nd half started much like the first with Annan continuing to pressure the home line, eventually breaching it when prop Juan Phyfer, delivered a perfect pop pass to put Scrum Half Aaron Carmichael in for Annan’s fourth try of the day. Bigham converting.
Annan continued to dominate, snuffing out any Wigtownshire attacks and not letting them get into any rhythm. This further pressure resulted in Ollie Ferdinand going over from close range out wide to the left of the posts. This was unconverted.
Annan’s final score of the game came from Alex Halliday who burst through the home defence after some good interplay to score close in. Bigham adding the conversion.
From the resulting restart, confusion amongst some of the Annan forwards, who through indecision and inaction, didn’t deal with the kick off to them, which allowed a Wigtownshire player to catch the ball at full speed and run in for an easy soft try, which was duly converted.
This gave the home side a boost and a few minutes later they added a second unconverted try after some poor tackle attempts by the Annan defence.
Final Score: Wigtownshire 1st XV 12 v Annan 1st XV 40
Apart from the at times chaotic final 10 minutes, this was on the whole a very good display from the Annan boys who dealt with most of what a physical and mobile home side could throw at them. It was good to see a lot of moves and skills worked on at training in recent weeks being used and the variety of kicking and attack options continuing to stress the home defence to good effect.
A solid dominant scrum and lineout assisting greatly in this. That said the boys will need to maintain their communication and concentration for the full 80 minutes, in a closer contest we can’t afford the luxury of gifting teams easy scoring opportunities late on.
Best for Annan on the day were Juan Phyfer whose experience, skillset and nous is a great addition to the squad, and Man of the Match Tom Sloan, playing his first game of the season.
Thanks to Wigtownshire for hosting the game at short notice and for their hospitality. Best of luck for the season ahead.
Hopefully Covid permitting, we can now get a decent uninterrupted run of games in over the coming weeks.
Annan 1st XV: Ryan Glass, Callum Bell, Juan Phyfer, Michael Thompson, Dan Robson, Neal Coupland, Tom Sloan, Sean Haren, Aaron Carmichael, James Bigham, James Kirby, Harry Houldey, Ollie Ferdinand, Ryan Hetherington, Aidan Craik, Alex Halliday, Coll Irving, Duncan Smith. (all used)