Biggar 1sts last minute victory.
Ardrossan 13 Biggar 17
Recognise the scoreline?
For the second week in succession Biggar recorded a 17-13 victory albeit in very different circumstances after they clinched the win with what proved to be the last move of the game and in all honesty following their most dynamic passage of driving play all game.
Ardrossan were justifiably frustrated at the outcome, their angst mirroring that of Biggar a fortnight ago when they lost out to Hillhead Jordanhill in the dying minutes having been ahead for a similar time span and in clear sight of the finishing line.
The win puts Biggar into 6th place yet just 6 points from the second bottom spot, the league still a fairly tight affair with the surprise result of the day seeing Falkirk comprehensively defeat the hitherto unbeaten league leaders Hamilton.
Biggar were forced into just one change from the side that played last weekend, Jamie Orr starting at lock in place of the injured Zander Lyon.
With the Ardrossan pitch heavy and wet and with the cross-pitch slope a real feature Biggar were unable to impose themselves much for the first 10 minutes as the Ayrshire side opened strongly confining Biggar to defensive roles. This period saw Ardrossan centre Anderson kick the opening penalty. Biggar’s only scoring chance came with a Francois Nel penalty and while this drifted right Graham Jamieson was on hand to gather, his progress to the line and a try halted by some very good scrambled last ditch defence.
The game then settled down a little more as play moved from end to end, attacks ending as players made errors. The slope on the pitch made clearance kicks on the ‘top’ side very difficult for the visitors, ball which would normally have been dispatched to touch, dropping infield and giving the home side further attacking opportunities.
Nevertheless Biggar did have their moments one attack, a driven line off ball won by Orr ended as Davy Reive was penalised for using his feet in what was a maul rather than a ruck. With play only a handful of yards from the Ardrossan line this was their best attacking chance off their play.
Nel kicked an equalising penalty at the end of the first quarter to tie the scores and then again on the half hour mark after some promising and committed drives by Karetai Williams, Luis Falefa and Andrew Cairns. Biggar 6-3 up.
Ewan Stewart was to the fore again with some excellent tackling although his charge down, with his head, of Ardrossan Duncan’s clearance kick stunned the hooker and rattled his teeth!
A grubber kick by Nel out of defence and a swift chase from Alisdair Sinclair threatened a try but again Ardrossan engineered a very good ‘exit’ to clear the immediate danger.
With just 5 minutes to go to half time a similar kick from Nel, but one which on this occasion was picked up by home fullback Duncan was cleverly worked into the Biggar 22. For once Biggar’s tight defence eluded them and with tackles missed ball was advanced before a neat inside pass was taken by winger Rob Hunter who scooted over for the game’s opening try. Anderson converted for 10-6.
The restart saw Stewart up quickly to put real pressure on the Ardrossan catch, the result a penalty to Biggar which Nel converted to reduce the gap to 1 point at 10-9. Half time followed shortly afterwards.
Turning around to face the incline Biggar were immediately on the defensive as their hosts attacked. An excellent steel in the tackle from Orr came to nought as Dan O’Connell strayed in at the side of the resultant ruck, one of the few off-sides awarded all day, although the touchline support saw many more! Anderson kicked well and stretched his sides lead to 13-9.
Both sides had their opportunities in what was developing into a very evenly contested match, Biggar gaining a real edge in the tight scrum but yielding ball on the touchline as their lineout play lacked the control required. Ground gained from penalties, advanced by Nel into the Ardrossan half and into promising attacking opportunities was lost as possession was scrappy or lost. This was a frustration, as was Biggars reluctance to spread play wide, players opting to hit up through the middle which, while often retaining possession, failed to provide the line-breaks required to put real pressure on the Ardrossan defence.
Nel made a couple of promising breaks – the stand-off relishes the physical contact – but Biggar were unable to capitalise on these. Coach Gavin Blackburn made two changes as Andrew Peacock and Calvin Henderson replaced Andrew Cairns and Luis Falefa respectively.
Penalty awards punctuated the match at regular intervals and while some were dubious neither side fared any better than the other. Richard Peacock did all that was asked of him at fullback, his running out of defence relieving pressure as Ardrossan looked to make ground via the boot while a cleverly taken kick by Sinclair following his ‘mark’ was dispatched to touch by Nel. Coolness under pressure!
The next Ardrossan attack, initiated by livewire scrum half Dagledenis from a tap penalty, forced Biggar to regroup and with their defence stretched by some stirring pick up and drives, the No9 strolled over from close range for what would have been a match-winning score. The ease with which Dagledenis made the line was down to a crossing offence however and this was spotted by the referee. The subsequent penalty award to Biggar gave them a lifeline!
As Ardrossan made another concentrated attack in the Biggar 22, their pack again picking and driving off good front foot ball, a wide pass was intercepted by Biggar’s Richard Peacock in almost identical situation to last week. This time the fullback was under greater pressure from the catch however and while he delivered a quick pass outside the ball fell tantalisingly short of the outstretched hands of Aird Jardine to give the very slightest knock-on but which was correctly spotted by the lady ref.
The clock was ticking away and it was clear that if Biggar were going to get the win, they’d need to do something special. A long range penalty award with 5 minutes to go promised to reduce the Ardrossan lead but Nel, although kicking long enough was just off target. The long drop out was taken by Peacock and a series of phases with Williams, Sanderson et al to the fore ended with another penalty for illegal use of the hands.
A quick confab ascertained that there was just enough time to kick to touch for a lineout. Nel duly obliged and after Warnock secured possession from the line the pack drove well together, Ewan Stewart, McConnell, Warnock assisted by Orr gave Reive clean ball for the backs. Jamieson standing at stand-off spun the ball wide to Lavery who in turn fed Jardine. The young winger made for the line then cut back inside his opposite number before being hauled down just feet from the try line. The ruck which followed was not as tidy as Biggar would have wished but as the ball bobbled loose and out towards the support, Andrew Peacock arrived at pace to scoop the ball up with one hand before bludgeoning his way to the line and the winning try! Drama indeed. The big man will scarcely have scored a better try and his timing on this occasion was also fantastic. The plaudits he received from his team mates are perfectly captured in Nigel Paceys photos (see the club website). Nel was off target but at 17-13 the game was over and Biggar had engineered a great escape. Having said that the feedback from the team suggests a brimming confidence throughout that they would get the all-important score.
That is the end of the first half of the season and Biggar now await the visit of Lasswade to commence the return matches. The trip to Hawthornden in September proved to be a real shocker as the East Lothian side triumphed by 36-6. That result hurt all involved and so there is a real incentive for Biggar. The touchline support at Ardrossan was magnificent an many thanks to all those who travelled to the Ayrshire tow. A trip to Hartree Mill on Saturday to cheer the boys on would be very much appreciated as well.
R. Peacock, A. Jardine, G. Jamieson, R. Lavery, A. Sinclair, F. Nel, D. Reive, D. O’Connell, E. Stewart, L. Falefa, A. Cairns, J. Orr, E. Sanderson, A. Warnock, K. Williams. Reps A. Orr, C. Henderson, A. Peacock, D. Voas.
The 2nd XV hosted Hawick. The Borderers who are able to field several age group internationalists are top of the Reserve League table and have run in some big scores. Biggar lost out by some 60+ points but new coach Doug Fleming is acutely aware that the Biggar side, which is full of young players, has great potential. First thing is to ensure he gets a decent turn out at training so he has already been in touch with the squad and he has received a favourable response. Doug does need assistance however and anyone with time to spare midweek or on Saturdays is asked to get in touch asap.
Story date: 23/11/2015
Biggar are more than a match for Falkirk
Biggar 17 Falkirk 13
For the third time this season a team which has occupied second top spot in the League returned home with their tail between their legs after tasting defeat at Biggar. Falkirk joined both Cartha and Aberdeenshire as teams who, on paper were favourites, but who were beaten by a Biggar side which again proved doggedly determined throughout. Club Sponsors Halls of Scotland were also Match Sponsors for this match and this latest result brings up a hat-trick of wins for the firm as their two previous Match sponsorships ended with Biggar wins. This fact provoked suggestions that the firm should sponsor many more matches in a season, including away matches(!) as away wins have been few and far between!
Biggar will not trouble the ‘top point scorers’ table as they struggle to convert their pressure into points but the league points gained on each of these games is reward enough and certainly ensures a post-match buzz in the Hartree Mill clubhouse. This latest result takes the club into 7th spot on 22 points, still way below the tally they would have preferred at this stage but an improvement on last week’s 9th place nonetheless.
Biggar fielded an unchanged XV from that which opened against Hillhead Jordanhill, this surely a factor in their improved play. After another somewhat lack lustre performance the previous week Biggar came out all guns blazing to score a first minute try which give them the lead – a lead they would never surrender.
Robbie Lavery was the try scorer, the centre rounding off a fantastic move which began with a kick out of defence from winger Alisdair Sinclair. The winger regained possession after the Falkirk defence was slow to respond and with Andrew Cairns in support the ball was shipped left via Ewan Sanderson, Karetai Williams and Aird Jardine. The winger cut a nice angle towards the posts before he popped the ball to Lavery who ran in unopposed for a cracking try – one of the best Biggar has scored this season and that after an equally good try last week, coincidentally also by Lavery. Francois Nel converted and Biggar were 7-0 up.
Falkirk were never going to lie down as befits a side in contention for promotion but their handling on Saturday in difficult conditions proved to be their undoing as they spilled possession in all areas and frequently throughout the match. Of course they were put under pressure by Biggar who now had their tails up and who tackled consistently well for the majority of the 80 minutes.
The Biggar pack were expected to be up against things as Falkirk were reported to be a big, heavy outfit but there was little between the sides. Indeed Falkirk’s early tactic of driven lineouts came to little as Biggar defended well and then turned the tables on their visitors with some stirring plays and carries: Zander Lyon, Williams, Luis Falefa and Sanderson all in the van. Add to that the solid scrummaging and spoiling play of Dan O’Connell, the ferocious defence and work rate of Ewan Stewart and Alan Warnock and the lineout play of Cairns and this was a pack on the day which could have matched most.
Scotland international Finn Russell is a Falkirk man and the Russell name is carried by brother Harry who operates as scrum half. He is a nippy player with lots of neat off-loads and it was his tap penalty which helped push Biggar back into their 22 when another penalty award was converted by stand-off Brims.
Biggar suffered badly last week with a 2-1 penalty count against them and while it was not just as bad this time round, Biggar were penalised a lot by referee Neil Muir. If Biggar could cut out half of these penalties then things would be much improved. They need to trust their defence and let their opponents play the ball – the temptation can often be to hold on/reach in/creep up but ground and territory both of which are hard won is too easily lost.
Despite these penalties Biggar should have added to their tally with only some desperate scrambled defence from Falkirk saving their day. On one occasion a neat pick and go from Nel put him clear into space and with Williams in support it looked as though Biggar would make the line but after ball was retained at the subsequent maul a hand knocked the ball from Falefa’s grasp as he drove forward. Minutes later and a great break by Lavery looked to have split the Falkirk defence again but on this occasion Falkirk made a half interception to halt play, an accidental off-side between Williams and Reive giving the Falkirk side an escape.
The second Biggar try came from a Falkirk attack which saw ball moved right into the Biggar 22. A series of good driving plays from Brims, Skinner and McCulloch sucked in Biggar’s defence and with what might have been an overlap a wide pass from Brims was well read by Richard Peacock who took off upfield. With some 90 metres to go it looked as though he might get home but Falkirk winger Dempsey tracked back well to tackle the Biggar man some 15 metres short. As he fell Peacock popped the ball up to supporting centre Graham Jamieson who was able to score despite the attentions of Hamilton and McGuire. Nel’s conversion put Biggar ahead by 14-3.
The Achilles heel at restart time almost gave Falkirk a quick riposte from a penalty but Brims kick fell short. Able to maintain their field position via another penalty Falkirk did eventually cross the line. Dempsey made good yards into the Biggar 22 before Russell fed Brims. The stand-off made a bee line for the gap between Biggar props O’Connell and Falefa and a change of pace took him through to breech the Biggar line for a try which he then converted.
The final scoring opportunity fell to Nel who took a pit at a long range penalty. The ball fell short and referee Muir brought the half to an end.
Biggar were now playing with the breeze but they were fortunate not to lose an early try when Brims’ pass to McGuire fell short. The winger fly-hacked ahead and although he won the race to the touchdown he was adjudged to have knocked the ball on in his attempt to score. Not happy at this decision he conceded a penalty for back chat to allow Biggar the chance to kick clear.
Once again a number of penalties gave Falkirk more than they were due and eventually Brims added another 3 points to reduce Biggar to a one point lead at 14-13. This was now anyone’s game and the match see-sawed from end to end although on balance Biggar retained greater control.
The pack drove with real commitment and might have been rewarded with a try as Williams capitalised on errors from Falkirk fullback Robertson who, although always looking dangerous with ball in hand, coughed up possession on several occasions.
Falefa made as many carries as he has in any game to date and he retained possession well at the contact point while Nel was another who, as a stand-off, relished the physical contact and always took play forward. Jamie Orr had replaced Cairns at half time but the veteran lock returned after Lyon was forced from the fray with what appeared to be a nasty shoulder injury.
Sinclair was unable to take Lavery’s inside pass as the ball was spread wide while minutes later the same player made the most of quick feet to sprint down the touchline. With the line in his sights the last ditch tackle by Dempsey knocked the ball from his grasp as he prepared to score.
Biggar maintained their stranglehold on proceedings as Jamieson, Sanderson and Henderson (who had replaced Falefa) continued to probe the Falkirk defence. This paid off and Biggar were rewarded with a penalty which Nel converted to put Biggar ahead at 17-13 – still however just one score between the teams.
In the dying minutes Biggar ceded control somewhat and for the first time in the half Falkirk began to dictate events. A good run by Robertson took play deep into the Biggar 22. This attack came to nought and then the same player then made a crucial knock-on after Biggar kicked clear.
Returning to Biggar’s 22 Falkirk flung everything into the last few minutes and it became ever more tense. Hamilton, McCulloch and Brims all made probing runs but finally and with play in Biggar’s 22, Lavery engineered a vital turnover and Reive, having ascertained that time was indeed up, thrashed the ball out of play to huge cheers from the Biggar support.
This was a truly wonderful result and one which few would have expected. Falkirk had described the win over Aberdeenshire as a ‘coupon buster’ but this was surely its’ equal as Biggar largely dominated proceedings. The Falkirk camp were at a loss to explain their charges performance as this was the same XV which had the previous week run in no fewer than 9 tries against Ardrossan Accies. Coincidentally, Biggar travel west to take on the Ayrshire town this Saturday on what promises to be a cracker. The Ardrossan side have also been unable to string a series of performances together and they are on equal points (22) with Biggar so a win for either side would take them a little further away from the relegations spots in what is – aside from Hamilton who are as yet unbeaten – a tight league.
R. Peacock, A. Jardine, G. Jamieson, R. Lavery, A. Sinclair, F. Nel, D. Reive, D. O’Connell, E. Stewart, L. Falefa, A. Cairns, Z. Lyon, E. Sanderson, A. Warnock, K. Williams. Reps A. Orr, C. Henderson, J. Orr, J. Warnock.
The weather in the lead up to this match was monsoon-like and on Friday night with standing water covering the top corner of the pitch between the 1st and 2nd XV pitches the chances of play were (in the view of the President) slim to say the least. Grounds Convenor Hugh Barr and Facilities Convenor Nigel Pacey were, on the other hand, very confident and after another few hours creating drainage run-offs and a ‘dryish’ night, the pitch was eminently playable come Saturday morning. With just the two pitches available at Hartree Mill because of the pitch development and in view of the overnight forecast it was however decided that the Youth matches on Sunday would be cancelled. This proved to be the correct decision as the rain created further deep pools on the 2nd XV pitch. This was regrettable but unavoidable given the conditions.
Saturdays match was preceded by a minutes silence in respect of the awful events in Paris. Poor weather, indifferent results and fund-raising challenges are put into sharp perspective and the thoughts of all at Biggar are with those who have lost loved ones.
Story date: 18/11/2015
The 2nd XV travelled to the Borders and ended up beaten by Selkirk by 24-0. The side have been under the watchful eye of Neil Wolfendene but the lock has decided that he is no longer able to commit the time required. Doug Fleming has offered to step into Neil’s shoes and will take over the reigns as 2nd XV coach. He does need assistance however and anyone who feels they are able to help – on Saturdays or midweek – is asked to get in touch with him asap. The side is young but has great potential.
1st XV slip up against Hillhead Jordanhill
Hillhead Jordanhill 14 Biggar 13
This was one which got away. 13-0 up at half time Biggar should have been in a good position to put the game beyond their hosts but, as was the case at Greenock a fortnight past, Biggar failed to add to their tally in the second half. On that occasion the whistle brought the match to an end with Biggar just on top but on Saturday Hill-Jills managed to scrape a win with a try 5 minutes from the end.
Biggar were the architects of their own downfall as they manged to concede penalties on a 2-1 ratio to those conceded by Hill-Jills this culminating in to two yellow cards which meant that for some 5 minutes of the second period they were playing with just 13 men. This provided an opportunity for the hosts and while Biggar were unable to score when the host side lost a man to a yellow just before half time Hill Jills stole a try after the Biggar scrum was wheeled close to their line.
How frustrating this was is difficult to put into words. Having had the best share of both possession and territory, having defended really well whenever they were asked and in the face of some stout attacks and having scored an absolute peach of a try in the first half, all the side had to show for their efforts was a losing bonus. This may prove vital but it is small consolation for their efforts.
Donald Voas and Craig McDonald were both casualties from the Aberdeenshire match and so Dan O’Connell and Aird Jardine started at prop and winger respectively, both putting in a great shift with Sinclair deservedly earning the Biggar Man-of-the-match award for some great attacking play and some solid defence.
After a morning of heavy rain conditions were not too bad as Biggar opened playing up the slope. They were soon in the ascendancy and taking play to their hosts whose set-piece, particularly at the touchline was shaky to say the least. This gave Biggar some added opportunities to play in the Hill-Jills half and this they were grateful to accept a combination of handling errors and good cover defence all that prevented them from scoring.
Francois Nel missed his first pot at goal on the 10 minute mark but opened the scoring with a penalty after 13 mins. There was then a sustained period of defence as the hosts benefited from a poor Biggar take on the restart. Hill-Jills scrum half A J McFarlane took a couple of quick penalties to keep Biggar on their toes but the Biggar defence was sound and ball was held up until a ball was dropped over the line giving Biggar a 22 drop out and some respite.
Jamieson was instrumental in gaining yards as he was used to take ball out of defence and brought into the attack, his gains giving Nel the time required to clear the danger and then to take play into the Hill Jills 22. A promising move came to nought as Biggar failed to deal with the wet ball after a couple of lineout steals.
The try of the match came shortly after that and began after some aerial ping-pong. Picking ball up in his own half Aird Jardine made his way infield to link with Nel. Looping around the stand-off Jardine took a return pass before finding Graham Jamieson coming at great pace in the centre. Jamieson’s burst split the Hill-Jills line and with the fullback to beat his well-timed pass, a classic two on one, saw the ball taken by Robbie Lavery who was able to cruise over under the posts. Nel converted for 10-0. All good.
Another period of Hill Jills pressure was relieved as they knocked on and biggar engineered a good exit. A promising attack involving Wwan Sanderson and Sinclair promised much but was halted with a forward pass but a rash challenge by Hill Jills Ritchie Graham was spotted by referee Jonathan McKinnon and a penalty and yellow card was the result, Nel kicking for a halftime score of 13-0.
After the break Biggar were able to use the slope to their advantage and kicking downfield were soon in the Hills-Jills 22, Sinclair showing the way with a superb driving run. A Nel penalty just slid past the uprights and then it was the hosts who began to gain some ground a series of penalties giving them yardage upfield. Biggar seemed to lose the earlier control and after a number of sloppy plays allowed Hill Jills to camp in the Biggar 22. Having thwarted a number of attacks Biggar eventually succumbed to a good lineout take by No 8 Theo Nwosu-Hope and a forward drive which saw a try scored by flanker Douglas Grove. McFarlane added the conversion.
Awarded a penalty from the restart Biggar opted to go for the corner instead of another 3 points and in the end, and with the advantage of hindsight, this was perhaps crucial. 16-0 would have meant that the hosts would have had to score 3 times to win but instead their two converted tries gave them the 1-point winning margin.
As it was a lineout error deprived Biggar of the possession required and while they drove well to disrupt the Hill Jills heel they Glasgow side managed to steer the ball into touch and relieve the immediate danger.
An error in attack and then another rash of penalties ended with a yellow for Sinclair the winger in no position to move but penalised in any event. Worse was to come as Douglas Notman, just introduced to the fray as he and Jamie Orr replaced Sanderson and Zander Lyon, was also shown yellow for a swinging arm tackle.
With a 2 man advantage Hill Jills were now in the ascendancy and with less than 10 minutes remaining it was clear that a score for either side would very likely win the contest. Despite being short of numbers Biggar’s first scrum held well but the second saw ball stolen by Nwosu-Hope who picked and dived from close range for the crucial score. McFarlanes conversion gave the Glasgow side a vital 1-point advantage.
There was time for the restart however and therefore just enough time for a possible reversal. Alan Warnock got hands to the initial clearance from Hill Jills and then an accidental offside, which could so easily have been seen as a crossing offence and therefore a penalty, saw Biggar awarded a scrum. A series of plays then just as easily could have ended with a Biggar penalty but instead the decision went the other way and Hills gladly kicked to touch to take the League points.
Huge disappointment then as Biggar could and should have won the match. There are always penalties in games which are open to interpretation and Saturday was no different but the 2-1 ratio of penalties awarded against Biggar suggests that there is a need for much greater control and patience. This has for long been seen as a Biggar weakness and it is something which must be addressed by both coaches and players alike.
This Saturday sees Falkirk journey to Biggar. The visitors are in 2nd place having lost just 2 games and so will provide a stern challenge for the Biggar squad. Having said that there is enough to suggest that they have the wherewithal to match most sides in this division. If the Biggar lads can maintain some consistency of approach and cut out the penalties then they will have chance. As always a big support would be very much appreciated.
R. Peacock, A. Jardine, G. Jamieson, R. Lavery, A. Sinclair, F. Nel, D. Reive, D. O’Connell, E. Stewart, L. Falefa, A. Cairns, Z. Lyon, E. Sanderson, A. Warnock, K. Williams-Paul. Reps A. Orr, C. Henderson, J. Orr, D. Notman
The 2nd XV faced a difficult task as they also journeyed to Glasgow to take on GHA. They were well beaten in the end but this young side will improve as time goes on.
Story date: 11/11/2015
1sts snatch win against Aberdeenshire
Biggar 20 Aberdeenshire 14
After a strangely muted performance the previous week when they stuttered to an unconvincing victory over bottom place Greenock, Biggar had to show they could compete against the better sides in this League with second top Aberdeenshire their next opponents.
That they did so is immensely encouraging and should give all concerned great heart and confidence for the coming weeks. To be almost ‘comfortably’ ahead, to then lose two tries to lose their advantage and then to regain the lead with what was one of the last plays is testimony to the grit which was evident throughout the Biggar squad and something which gave the Biggar support real reason to cheer.
This win takes Biggar into 7th spot. If the side can replicate this level of performance then they should be able to improve on that position, with a trip to Glasgow to play Hillhead Jordanhill a match they need to win to maintain momentum.
Coach Gavin Blackburn made a couple of changes to his starting XV. In the pack Ewan Stewart made a welcome return at hooker and replaced Kevin Anderson (who answered the ‘call’ last week and who was on the bench for this match) while Douglas Notman (knee) was replaced by Ewan Sanderson. In the backs Jack Warnock (calf) dropped out and was replaced by Aird Jardine who relinquished the scrum half berth as David Reive returned after suspension. That Jardine has shown he can play so well at 9 gives Blackburn options for the squad.
The conditions were fantastic for the time of year as the sun warmed the good support. The opening exchanges were error-strewn however and led to a stop-start match as neither side could seemingly hold onto the ball and as passes were dropped and/or knocked on. Lineouts too proved awkward with squint throws seeing possession lost. Indeed if there is a qualification needed for Biggars’ performance and success it is that they benefited on several occasions as Aberdeenshire coughed up chances which on another day they would surely have converted. This, among other things, clearly irked their coaching team, this one of the few occasions this season when thy have failed to score a 4-try bonus.
The first scoring chance fell to Biggar and stand-off Francois Nel, the South African striking the ball cleanly to notch a penalty after an offside from a weak clearance. Biggar were forced into an early change at this point as winger Craig McDonald succumbed to a recurrence of a hamstring injury. His replacement was Alistair Sinclair.
‘Shire had been running at pace from the outset and their bulky pack had caused biggar some problems with their direct running. Flanker Matthew Emmison (who would later collect his teams man-of-the-match award) was influential in this and he was the first to really break the Biggar line. Referee Burger Lategan spotted a forward pass however and pulled the ‘Shire attack up.
Minutes later and another lineout error resulted in the first try. An over throw was cleverly picked up by Nel who then somehow managed to run round and then through the ‘Shire cover defence for a great individual score which he then converted.
To be 10-0 up at this stage was great but there was no doubt that this would not be sufficient to win the match.
A neat blindside kick an chase by ‘Shire stand-off Adam Blake who linked with his hooker Calum Taylor came to shuddering end as Biggar hooker Stewart put in a cracking tackle. Minutes later and the same played brought another ‘Shire attack to a stop as he felled Emmison. At this point Sanderson left the field after sustaining a nasty cut to his brow – in the absence of medical cover this was incidentally very neatly repaired by local vet Kirsten Reive! Andrew Peacock came off the bench.
Half time then and Biggar turned to take advantage of what the breeze offered.
The visitors pressed hard again on the restart and their initial onslaught, if it could have been maintained would surely have made things really difficult for Biggar. As it was however, Biggar’s defence held firm although they were assisted again by some weak handling. ‘Shire were able to retain territorial advantage as a number of penalties were awarded. Obviously believing that they would indeed get the better of Biggar the most kickable of these penalties saw the visitors opt instead for the scrum. They did not count on the offensive defence of Reive however who again spoiled the pick-up. Some 15 minutes into the half and Nel made a much better job of a penalty award than he had of an opportune drop goal a few minutes previously. 13-0 Biggar – could they do this?
Biggar lost the services of Richard Peacock after a thumping tackle in midfield, his replacement being back row man Sanderson but fielded this time on the wing.
A miscued lineout throw paved the way for ‘Shires first points, Blake making the initial breenge and line break before finding the ever-present Emmison who ran under the posts for what was a well-deserved try, converted by Blake. At 13-7 it was very much game on.
A similar break again from Blake but this time off a turnover and one which again threatened the Biggar line was saved by a magnificent covering tackle by winger Sinclair, the youngster clambering all over the ‘Shire player and ensuring that the ball was dislodged – an added bonus!
An ankle injury to Karetai Williams-Paul looked pretty serious but following treatment the big man, who carried ball well whenever given the opportunity, was able to carry on.
A penalty to Biggar gave some relief from the attacking position ‘Shire enjoyed in the shadow of the Biggar posts but this was short-lived and Emmison was again set free for the line only to be pulled down by Robbie Lavery who was quick to track back, injured foot notwithstanding.
As the move continued Biggar were put under further pressure and while the attack to Biggars right hand corner was at first repelled ‘Shire pinched a ball against the head at the resultant scrum. With the Biggar defence sitting back the ball was quickly moved to centre Jason Laurich who, although tackled, showed great awareness to touch down on his back, arms outstretched over his head. Blake added the simple conversion to take his side into a 14-13 lead with some 7 minutes remaining.
The game then entered its scrappiest phase yet as both teams strove to get and keep ball and get another score which would surely win the match. While both teams largely failed to do so this did ensure an enthralling finish. Biggar had a great series of pick and goes by the pack but this attack faltered as ball was knocked on while ‘Shire too failed to get play far enough upfield to make the game safe.
Eventually, and with just three minutes remaining Biggar earned a penalty on their 10m line which Nel expertly kicked to within 5 metres of the ‘Shire line. A textbook lineout take by Cairns saw Biggar mount a line drive. Biggar haven’t often managed to convert this type of play but on this occasion they did so very well, flanker Andrew Warnock at the back and the player who touched down for the vital try. To make things that little bit safer Nel converted from the touchline for 20-14.
There was still just time for a great run by Williams-Paul and indeed a couple of penalties for ‘Shire but these were too deep to provide a score and so Biggar earned a really valuable 4 points.
Hillhead Jordanhill are next up and while Biggar’s record against the Glasgow side is not particularly good this would be a great time to get a win.
R. Peacock, A. Jardine, G. Jamieson, R. Lavery, C. McDonald, F. Nel, D. Reive, D. Voas, E. Stewart, L. Falefa, A. Cairns, Z. Lyon, E. Sanderson, A. Warnock, K. Williams-Paul. Reps K. Anderson, D. O’Connell, A. Sinclair, A. Peacock
The 2nd XV faced a tough ask against ‘Shire 2’s. With a good sized squad however it was hoped they would be able to record a much-needed win but this was not to be the pack failing to produce the form shown against Dundee.
The matches ended just in time for the players and supporters to gather in the clubhouse and to watch the World Cup Final. There was a cracking atmosphere with all enjoying the game which really came alight in the second half. With a fantastically cosmopolitan audience featuring players from both Cup Final teams there was no shortage of banter and support. A great afternoon for all and thanks to ‘Shire for staying to watch.
Story date: 01/11/2015
For the record the following players warned the man-of-the-match awards.
2nds Biggar Douglas Voas, ‘Shire William Parker
1sts Biggar Francois Nel, ‘Shire Matthew Emmison
First trip to Greenock
Greenock Wanderers 13 Biggar 16
Never having played at 1st XV level at Greenock before and in the poorest conditions so far this season could be levelled as excuses for this performance which saw Biggar scrape a result against a team which is propping up the table but in all honesty this was a disappointing display from the Biggar lads.
Indeed had Greenock been a little more streetwise then they should surely have won the game, their attempts to run out of defence with a gale on their backs not the best option and one which caused them problems throughout.
At the end of the day however, the side did win and did collect 4 precious league points and so from that perspective it was ‘job done’.
Without Ewan Stewart and Jamie Orr Biggar’s selection included veterans Andrew Cairns and Kev Anderson, the hooker drafted in from his dual registered club Birkmyre to ensure the 2nd XV were not disrupted for their trip to Aberdeen Grammar. Both newcomers Tareki Williams-Paul and Louis Felefa started the match with Dan O’Connell on the bench alongside Peter Miller, Craig Stewart and Ewan Sanderson.
The opening exchanges saw Biggar start well with the wind on their backs. An early drop goal from Francois Nel came as a penalty advantage and so although wide of the target Nel was able to open the scoring from the penalty.
Play was scrappy however – a feature of the match – and while Biggar engineered several threatening passages of play they were unable to convert as ball was dropped or possession lost. Greenock were struggling to get out of their 22 however and so although they had opportunities to kick clear they did not gain much relief. Up front it appeared that Biggar had the advantage in both scrum and lineout and it seemed that Biggar would soon score.
It took to the 18th minute before this happened. A series of plays had the home side under pressure in their 22 and a neat cross kick from Nel who had seen space appear, saw Greenock struggle to turn. Richard Peacock was up quickest and the fullback was able to touch down (was there a suspicion of a knock-on?). Nel converted for 10-0.
A number of penalties and stoppages for injury allied to the time spent waiting for balls kicked out of the playing area meant that the game was a fractured affair with neither side able to take control.
Greenock began to gain in confidence however as they tried to rid themselves of the memory of their previous weeks performance which had seen them concede over 70 points to local rivals Ardrossan.
Just after the half hour mark Nel converted a second penalty for 13-0, the feeling being that Biggar would need a decent cushion after half time when they would turn into the wind. The restart gave Greenock a toehold in the Biggar half however and a failure to clear their lines led to a penalty which Greenock kicked to the corner. A well-taken lineout saw an equally well driven maul which took the home side over the lien for a try. The angle was too wide for the conversion but Greenock had made up some lost ground at 16-5.
Almost directly from the restart which saw Nel kick well into the home 33 Biggar, were rewarded with another penalty. It looked like another relatively straightforward 3 points to maintain some space between the teams but instead Biggar opted for a scrum whereupon referee Gordon Galashan took exception to Biggar’s put in and awarded Greenock a free kick which they sued to clear their lines. Half time - frustrations!
Now playing against the wind Biggar started really well Donald Voas, Falefa, Anderson, Graham Jamieson and Peacock all combining well in dynamic fashion to take play deep into the Greenock half. In another attack the Greenock hooker Alexander made a clumsy challenge with his foot which gave referee Galashan little option but to show him a yellow card. The penalty which again appeared to be in a kickable position was then tapped and ran. Biggar made a good few yards before Craig McDonald was bundled into touch short of the Greenock line. They then managed to win a penalty which allowed them to clear their lines.
Anderson made one of his trademark bulldozing runs which took play back to the Greenock half but again a knock on gave the initiative back to Greenock. A fine run from Jamieson who then linked well with McDonald gave the Biggar support much to cheer about and while play was advanced further by Willams-Paul, Greenock eventually regained the ball to kick clear. This movement coincided with the return of the Greenock No 2 and so despite being a man to the good Biggar had been unable to add to their tally. There was still half an hour to go however and it was anticipated that the Greenock effort would wane as the game progressed.
In actual fact it was almost the opposite which occurred as Greenock, sensing a first win of the season began to take more control of the match.
They took full opportunity after a well-judged kick ahead put both Peacock and McDonald under pressure before Nel scrambled ball clear to the Biggar 22. A blind side move took play to the Biggar line before a try was awarded although there was a suspicion that the ball had not been properly grounded. This may well have evened things up after Peacock’s first half score. The Biggar XV and support breathed a huge sigh of relief as the conversion attempt, though well struck, bounced off the upright. 16-10 to Biggar. There was nevertheless still just one score between the sides and so with some 20 minutes remaining it was very much game on.
Sanderson then replaced Alan Warnock, this the second replacement made by coach Gav Blackburn after O’Connell replaced Voas earlier in the half. The flanker made an immediate impact as he took ball on well and in determined fashion.
Greenock then kicked their only penalty of the day to put the match on a knife edge at 16-13.
A breakout by Nel and Robbie Lavery promised more but Greenock won a crucial turnover and cleared the danger. Penalties were again needlessly conceded by Biggar and these continued to give Greenock some respite. Their preference to run rather than kick meant that they made slow progress upfield where a kick would have immediately turned defence into attack.
Happily Biggar managed to keep Greenock out and ended up winners by 16-13. The losing bonus point gave Greenock their only league point of this season and so while they felt that this was a game they probably could have won, the point was cause for some celebration.
For Biggar this was, ultimately, a disappointing display. It is only a few weeks since they trounced Kirkcaldy in a performance that was full of quality and pace. There is bags of talent and potential and so they must regroup and focus again on what makes the game – win ball, retain possession and make the most of scoring opportunities when they present themselves.
R. Peacock, J. Warnock, G. Jamieson, R. Lavery, C. McDonald, F. Nel, A. Jardine, D. Voas, K. Anderson, L. Falefa, A. Cairns, Z. Lyon, D. Notman, A. Warnock, T. Williams-Paul. Reps P. Miller, D. O’Connell, C. Stewart, E. Sanderson
The 2nd XV faced a tough trip to Aberdeen where they were to play Grammar 2nds. Travelling by bus they were virtually on the Forth road Bridge when they received a telephone call from their hosts to call off after torrential rain rendered the Grammar pitch unplayable. With the bus booked the squad redirected the bus to Greenock so that they could take in the 1sts XV match. This was a perfect outcome for both senior sides who got to socialise together post-match. Greenock were also delighted as it ensured a packed clubhouse for the World Cup semi-final twixt the All Blacks and South Africa!
Story date: 28/10/2015
1sts lose out to rejuvenated Whitecraigs
Biggar 15 Whitecraigs 34
Having won three from their last three outings the Biggar support might have expected better fare from their side as they entertained Glasgow side Whitecraigs whom they defeated last month in the BT Cup.
That Biggar didn’t deliver is in no doubt although the Whitecraigs XV which turned up on Saturday was vastly changed and much, much stronger than the one which travelled on cup duty. In addition Biggar lost the services of both hooker Ewan Stewart and lock Jamie Orr in the first half and with recognised hooker understudy Andrew Orr also injured that left Biggar struggling badly at the lineout. That said Biggar, on recent evidence, are a much better side than they showed in this match and coach Gav Blackburn must ensure the side comes out all guns blazing against Greenock on Saturday, a side which are currently propping up the division.
Biggar fielded a recognised starting XV although a warm up injury to Aubrey Horton meant that Jack Warnock came into the side from the bench and Alistair Sinclair was promoted from the 2nds who were also at home (to Dundee Titans).
There was also space on the bench for Kiwi newcomers Tareki Williams-Paul and Louis Falefa both of whom arrived earlier in the week and who, on their showing on Saturday, will play an important part in the rest of the season.
Starting off at a cracking pace Whitecraigs posted early their state of intent by taking ball at pace and right up the middle, Biggar forced onto the defensive and to play without the ball for the first 5-10 minutes.
In this time the visiting scrum half, Stuart Gillies kicked one penalty, and narrowly missed a second. Ewan Stewart was replaced after 10 minutes, Falefa coming on to pack down with Dan O’Connell and Donald Voas at hooker. This did nothing to disrupt the Biggar scrummage which was in control throughout the match. The game at this stage was a fairly fractured affair as injuries and resultant stoppages prevented any fluid passages of play.
Biggar were able to mount attacks but any error saw Whitecraigs erupt from their own area to ensure Biggar were immediately back on the defensive. This defence was largely very good with Francois Nel, Robbie Lavery, Richard peacock, Craig McDonald, Douglas Notman and others all putting in some gutsy hits.
Inevitably however the dam was breached and Whitecraigs’ new player (also a Kiwi) Jason Oloapu managed to make the most of a neat tight pass to burst over from around 10 metres. Gillies added the conversion for 10-0.
The last 10 minutes of the half saw Biggar on the attack and dominate possession and territory. A series of penalties which Biggar opted to scrum from such was their control might have led to something more than one yellow card and that to fullback Rob Andrews for not rolling away rather than one of the front row who it seemed were consistently being penalised. In the end and after several tilts at the line Biggar opted to kick a penalty, Nel converting for 10-3. This was effectively the last play of the half.
Biggar needed a good start but instead it was the visitors who opened the strongest, Gillies at the head of a breakout from halfway and from a stolen Biggar lineout which took play deep into Biggar territory. Despite being tackled he managed to pop the ball to ever-present No8 Stuart Pollock who took the ball over the line for a try which Gillies converted for 17-3.
Just minutes later and after a good challenge off the restart by Graham Jamieson which saw ball ricochet to Whitecraigs, the Biggar cover defence was found to be at sixes and sevens. Oloapu made a good distance before stand-off Stevenson put a kick through there being enough space for winger Gordon Berry to beat the defence to the touchdown.
Frustratingly these two scores came when Biggar were up against just 14 men, the restart seeing the return of Whitecraigs fullback Andrews.
Now definitely chasing the game and without a source of good lineout ball Biggar began to rush things and in such circumstances began to make errors. A quick lineout coughed up possession but Biggar were able to maintain possession for a few phases before Whitecraigs engineered a breakout. Though this came to nought and Biggar got back into ‘Craigs territory their inability to win clean ball was a massive factor, the Glasgow side able to defend relatively easily. Eventually however, following a series of probing runs by Williams-Paul and Notman ball was shipped wide and Lavery combined well with Peacock to create space for McDonald who crossed at the corner.
It was not long before ‘Craigs were back on the attack and while an initial driven lineout ended with an accidental offside they retained territory and after another clean ball advanced by fullback Andrews it was the fullback who nipped in to crash over from close range to collect his sides’ fourth and bonus point–winning try. Gillies conversion took the Glasgow into an unassailable lead at 31-8 with some 15 minutes remaining.
A Gillies penalty stretched that lead to 34-8 before biggar strung possibly their best series of phases together, Williams-Paul at the heart of many plays and his off-load finding the supporting Craig Stewart who crossed for an excellent, though consolation score. Nel added the conversion with what was the last kick of the match.
A bitterly disappointing result and one which could well be attributed to an over-confidence within the Biggar camp following the easy Cup win over the same side just weeks previously. A hard lesson to take but one from which this young Biggar side must learn. Plaudits to backs McDonald, Jamieson and Peacock and to newcomers Williams-Paul and Falefa both of whom got far more game time then had been intended.
Biggar now prepare for the aforementioned trip to Greenock. This is a ‘must win’ in order to restore some confidence.
R. Peacock, J. Warnock, G. Jamieson, R. Lavery, C. McDonald, F. Nel, A. Jardine, D. Voas, E. Stewart, D. O’Connell, J. Orr, Z. Lyon, D. Notman, A. Warnock, A. Cairns. Reps: L. Falefa, T. Williams-Paul, A. Sinclair.
The 2nd XV was the only other side in action at the weekend. Dundee titans were the visitors and with a large squad in attendance there were hopes that Biggar might manage another win. This was almost the case as with some 10m minutes remaining Biggar were right in touch with just 5 points separating the teams at 12-7 to Dundee.
Story date: 19/10/2015
Fatigue played its part however and Dundee ran in a couple of tries to win 24-7. The visitors were very complementary about the Biggar effort however so again a step up for the 2nds!
Membership Forms and Rates
Membership renewals are now due and the current rates and form are on the membership page. Your club depends on the membership Fees to develop what we have at Hartree Mill and what we are able to offer our playesra nd spectators. Clubhouse maintenance, training equipment, heating, lighting......ALL are paid for by your fees. BE PART OF THE CLUB!
Please think about and take advantage of the discount offered. If you pay this month (August) you get a significant saving on your membership for the 2015/16 season. If you wait until Spetember however, you will pay more!
Check the details below - it's worth paying!
Please also note that as always Club cash flow in the summer is never great and prompt payment will help the club
Story date: 12/07/2013
Biggar RFC operates and Open to All policy and welcomes new members from all sectors of the community
We accept members from 5 years upwards who can join our Mini section to those that have retired and want to assist and retain their links with our active club.
Our membership year runs from May to April and if you would like to find out more about the playing arrangements at the club or become a member please contact either Gordon Young on 07774678617 or via email at email@example.com or Nigel Pacey on 07714 713504.
If you would like to know a little more about our rugby programmes for Primary or Secondary school children please refer to our Mini and Midi pages under the "Teams" section or contact either Laura Watson for information about Primary School age children and Paula Yardley on 07830022447 or Aird Jardine on 07917731494 for Secondary School aged children
Membership rates and packages are as follows:
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Story date: 25/08/2011