U-16’s march on into Murrayfield Bowl final
National Bowl semi-final: Biggar 19 Peebles 5
The scene at Hartree Mill was ‘set’ for the local derby match between the U-16 sides of Biggar and Peebles.
In a pre-season encounter Biggar had just scraped through at The Gytes so it was clear that this would be a really tough match and so it proved. Such a pity then that the weather took a real grip on the proceedings.
The forecast had suggested snow and sleet through the afternoon and for once unfortunately it was bang on as conditions deteriorated quickly as kick off neared. Indeed the conditions were appalling – virtually identical to those which existed last season when the Colts hosted Ayr in the equivalent competition at U-18 level.
Playing into the elements Biggar were on the defensive as the big Peebles pack and runners took play to Biggar. Biggar’s defence was a match however although handling whether with or into the wind was a bit of a lottery.
It quickly became clear that the players were getting cold, every tackle seeing ball carrier and tackler slide over the increasingly wet and slippy pitch. This in itself saps the strength never mind the fact that today’s shirt material is hardly heat retentive.
Peebles quite rightly used the boot to take play into the Biggar 22 and while Biggar were able to get their way out of the danger zone via some (in the conditions) great lineout work and useful clearances, it seemed only a matter of time before Peebles would score.
Biggar held firm until the 24th minute when after a great break on the left wing an attacking position was created in the Biggar 22. A scrum, pick up and surge saw Peebles fling most of their 15 into the driving maul, the upshot being that Biggar were marched back over their line with hooker Gary Whitson gaining the all-important touchdown. In almost impossible conditions and from the ‘wrong’ side given the gale, the conversion was swept wide of the uprights, but Peebles had first blood.
Not to be outdone however the next plays after the restart saw Biggar on the offensive. A couple of penalties and use of the driving maul tactic Biggar took play to within metres of the Peebles line. A third penalty award saw Biggar tap and go but a crossing offence let Peebles off the hook and gave them an opportunity to relieve the pressure with a clearing kick downfield. This marked the end of the half with players and spectators alike making a beeline for the safety and warmth of the clubhouse.
A long half time ensued this due to Biggars suggestion to the referee that with one player having retired prior to half time with severe cold and at least one other unlikely to be able to return for the second half, it might be prudent to call a halt to proceedings. The difficulties surrounding this competition are well documented with both Biggar and Peebles having had problems in getting previous fixtures played due to poor weather. The upshot was of course that with all Cup and Bowl finals taking place next weekend that there was virtually no other opportunity available to replay the fixture. So it was game on!
The players then re-emerged, Peebles now facing the gale and sleet (check the Biggar RFC Gallery page – Nigel’s photos give a perfect indication of how miserable the day was!). Bitter experience tells that it feels much worse to resume playing into the wind than it is to resume with the wind on your back. Suffice to say also that far fewer spectators made it back pitchside! Many watched proceedings unfold from the comfort of the clubhouse (with a couple of youngsters dispatched outside to 'mop' the windows to make the view clearer) or by strategic car parking pitchside.
With the wind on their backs Biggar were quick to attack and they had a dream start as ball was used on the right via Peter Steele to create an opportunity for Andrew Jardine to crash over in the corner for a try converted spectacularly by Euan Bogle which put Biggar ahead by 7-5.
Biggar were quick to mount another attack and try though they did Peebles were unable to break out to gain much respite. A crash ball in the centre saw Jardine again burst through and over for a try under the posts which gave Bogle a relatively easy chance which he took to put Biggar 14-5 up.
Peebles could have easily caved in at this stage as they were confined to their 22 for much of this half, but they stuck manfully to their task, taking every chance they could to advance play upfield. This proved extremely difficult however as the glaur made sprinting and passing a task in itself while the gale force wind and strong gusts – sufficient to make standing tricky – made changes of direction into the wind well-nigh impossible. Biggar also had the bit firmly between the teeth and enjoyed the momentum the conditions provided. Up quick to pressurise the Peebles backs, a number of passes were spilled onto which Biggar pounced to mount another attack. The driving play of Biggar, epitomised by Guy Kelly and Jordan Gray, was as big a boost to tired and cold Biggar minds and legs as it was demoralising to tired and cold Peebles minds and legs.
The inevitable eventually came and it was that man Jardine again who plunged over from a neat play in the clubhouse corner to secure his hat-trick. Bogle couldn’t quite secure his hat-trick of kicks but the damage was done. Biggar were 19-5 up and a Peebles comeback with some 10 minutes remaining was now most unlikely.
the visitors were determined to do whatever they could however and they too benefited from loose play in the Biggar backs to launch a couple of spirited attacks. It was an uphill struggle with strength sapped from playing into the teeth of the gale.
The final whistle brought the match to its conclusion, although it marked just the start of a long recovery period as players from both sides succumbed to the cold. They had managed to hold it together until that final whistle but there was little resistance left once time had been called and several boys deteriorated quickly. Coaches and parents alike were all involved in the recovery with soup, tea and hot chocolate dispensed to the dressing rooms as symptoms of hypothermia were displayed. Eventually heat was restored to cold and numb bodies - thanks to the Ambulance personnel who assisted so professionally. This was a brave effort from all players of both sides, none of whom are exempt from praise as conditions were as about as bad as they could possibly be. Referee Adam Hart also deserves congratulations for his work - by his own admission he has never officiated in worse conditions. He managed the match well however despite ths cold.
Many thanks to everyone who attended to support the teams (the guard of honour provided by the senior players and Colts as the U-16's left the clubhouse to play was a massive boost to the whole Biggar squad) and to all who assisted post match. A special thanks to the Mums who worked hard in the kitchen to provide sustenance to all who required it! And there were many!
And so Biggar have made it to the Bowl final!! All U-16 and U-18 National Cup and Bowl matches are to be played at Murrayfield this coming Sunday which will add to the gala occasion. Biggar will meet Hamilton in their match – this is an all-South Lanarkshire final – which kicks off at 1pm.
It hardly needs mentioning, but a BIG support would be very much appreciated at Murrayfield for the boys who are desperate to match the achievements and triumph of the Girls U-15 squad who won their cup match in 2011.
All support welcome!
The following two messages were received by Biggar from Peebles.
From Peebles RFC President Gordon Brown
Very well done this afternoon, the weather was atrocious but your lads handled it much better than we did and thoroughly deserved their victory. Pass on my congratulations to your U/16’s management and players and I wish you all the best in the Final next Sunday, here’s hoping you pull it off.
My apologies for not staying after the game but I was soaked tae the breek-erse and was a tad uncomfortable.
All the Best,
From Peebles U-16 coach George Blair
Just wanted to thank the members of Biggar RFC for their help and hospitality after the match. The immediate offer of hot drinks at full time was much appreciated and no doubt went a long way to prevent more boys from suffering from an awful day. The boy who took a bit of a dip before we left was cleared to travel home by the ambulance personnel and I’m told is more or less back to normal. Also, I hope your worst affected boy is feeling better.
Thanks again for all your club did for us yesterday, and good luck to your boys for the final.
All the best
Story date: 25/02/2015
Girls U-18 squad win one and lose one!
Sadly the weather put paid to the U-15 Girls trip to Crieff.
The U-18 Girls had better fortune on their trip to Ellon which involved two games.
The first, against the host club, saw Biggar win by 35-5. This was a Brewin Dolphin Cup competition trip and the win matched them with Caithness in the quarter final of this competition. A combination of a tough Caithness side, the journey and injury meant that Biggar narrowly lost by 15-0.
Story date: 24/02/2015
Tries were scored by Corrie Brewster, Abbie Baillie, Kim Laird (2), Lauren Willis, Aillie Sinclair and Jennifer Hewitt.
Congratulations to all the girls involved.
S1 and S2’s host West
The S1 side – now a team – played well but just lost out to a strong West side while the s2’s redressed the balance with a good win.
With the Biggar S2 boys not having a game since December they were excited to take to the pitch against West. This was the second meeting of the 2 teams this season with West narrowly winning by 1 point the first time around.
Story date: 24/02/2015
Conditions were horrendous with the temperature only rising to one above freezing. Credit to the boys from both teams for taking to the field.
Game started very positively for Biggar, breaking through the West defence but within yards of the try line an interception resulted in possession being lost and an immediate counter attack from West that culminated in a converted try.
An eloquent team talk from Chris Kelly and on the restart the Biggar forwards immediately fought back with some excellent phases of rucking play before releasing the ball for a try.
This was the catalyst to the what developed into a true team performance with structured play, commitment, support and hard running by all. Final score 18-4 Biggar. By far the best performance of the season.
Tries from Charles, Declan and Drew and conversions delivered by Fraser, none of which were possible without the excellent support play.
Well done Boys!!
Development Newsletter January 2015
Welcome to the January 2015 Development Newsletter.
This newsletter is equipped with all the latest news and results for all ages at Biggar RFC.
Click here to download
Story date: 20/01/2015