1st XV vs Biggar: Match Report
80 minutes had come and gone, and we were leading courtesy of the Hanning/Hannay combination that had almost brought us victory the previous week. Mike converted the try via the post to give us a 21-17 lead.
Even Willie, the most biased Biggaronian – and he has plenty of competition for that role – would have had to concede we deserved the victory.
There were chances for us in the second half, including a chase where Richard and Neil Bowie claimed the try but both the referee and his assistant were unsighted. In addition, there was the odd three to two that we did not execute.
All that notwithstanding, we seemed to be running the clock down successfully in the Biggar half, and Biggar, reduced to 14 men, had not really threatened our try line in the second period. We had made mistakes during the game and not ‘set the heather on fire’ – but we had done enough to win.
Then … scrum to Biggar, reduced to seven forwards; we caught their Number 8 in possession two metres from his line. but we were penalised for diving in, an offence that the referee had particularly highlighted all afternoon.
Biggar, now in injury time, ran the penalty and found Sutherland their (ex Hawick) prop, who breenged forward and was eventually pulled down by (I think) Gregor round about the half way. Their backs took the move on and hacked towards our line. The momentum was with Biggar and our clearance was run back, allowing Craig Russell to score his second try of the afternoon diagonally opposite the clubhouse where he had scored his first.
No excuses; we were beaten. We can’t even blame the weather or the pitch (and full marks to Biggar, who have spent money and time on their pitch and clubhouse).
The game had started promisingly, and, after Craig Parker had missed an early chance, Seb opened our account. With 15 minutes gone the lead increased to 8 points as Neil Bowie accepted a scoring pass after some neat back play.
Biggar pulled back a penalty, but, as we were playing against the slope and the wind, we had settled quite well.
Parker reduced the deficit by converting a penalty before Seb stretched our lead with another penalty. Russell made it 11 points all after a scrappy line out had given Biggar possession in our twenty two, then a further penalty gave our hosts a half time lead of 14-11.
Half time, a three point deficit and the wind and slope at our backs. The large Stew Mel support was quietly confident. The simple boot down the park did not, however, really work for us after the break, as Parker continually used his dancing feet to good effect to evade would be tacklers and run the ball back at us.
Yellow cards had been issued on either side and this pattern was to continue in the second half, with Cringle and Shannon both cautioned on separate occasions for deliberate knock-ons. Biggar lost a wing forward for punching as we looked to control the game. Seb and Parker exchanged penalties before we eventually took the lead that our control warranted through Matt.
Stewart Shaw played particularly well, Mike Hanning excelled in broken play once he was introduced to the fray and Phil Hendry was, once again, immense, securing turn overs and tidying. The line out actually came good and the scrum was secure.
We woke up on Sunday morning to the news that Nevin Spence had died. It put the disappointment at Biggar into perspective; alright, we lost a game of rugby we should have won, but we get a chance to make amends this Saturday. Something that is not possible for Nevin.
On a similar note, on Sunday our former coach Stewart Bennet had organised a match for Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland in memory of our ex-player Steve Cully. I am pleased to report a very successful day that was well supported by our club members.