Biggar v Peebles
Biggar 13 Peebles 10
Having suffered several last minute defeats – most recently against Marr when the game was lost with the last kick of the game - Biggar know only too well how the Peebles camp felt when Andy King’s mercurial last minute drop goal flew straight and true through the uprights to give Biggar a 13-10 lead. That empathy was brief however as the results from elsewhere, with in particular Jed’s surprise win over Watsons, meaning that Biggar remain in 3rd bottom spot and in a dog-fight to avoid the drop.
That there was little between the sides is evidenced by the parity of scores prior to the drop goal – a converted try and a penalty each – but Biggar’s second half performance was probably just enough to shade the match, Peebles rarely able to escape from their half to put pressure on Biggar. Defences were largely on top throughout with mistakes when in possession making the game a tense affair.
Both sides were at pretty much full strength as the call-offs last week helped those with niggling injuries to recover. No excuses then from either camp about weaknesses – all systems go!
The scene was set early on as Biggar’s Hartree Mill clubhouse was packed pre-match with festive cheer and an expectant air given the popularity and rivalry that a local derby epitomises.
Biggar opened up the slope and while they retained possession for almost the first three minutes they could not get past the Peebles defence which held firm. In reply Peebles were able to open the scoring from a penalty by Scott McCormick after what was their first real period of possession. There were some solid hits coming in from both sides as ground was hard fought; Biggar opting to run out of defence whenever they could and like Peebles using short passes to the pack and picking and popping to good effect.
Biggar kept ball well and went through multiple phases with everyone making their mark. These were ‘hard yards’ however and on several occasions while possession was retained, ground was lost, Peebles celebrating whenever their defence repelled Biggar’s progress. Graham Hunter who had kicked 5 penalties in Biggar’s win at The Gytes back in September was wide with his first penalty attempt after 13 minutes and while Ewan Stewart was able to partially charge down the resultant drop out Peebles worked their way downfield from defence and an excellent break from McCormick took play into the Biggar 22. A couple of phases later and lock forward Kenny Clyde plunged over for a try.
McCormick’s conversion put Peebles 10-0.
Undaunted, Biggar plodded on, ball won in the tight where they seemed to have the better of the set- piece exchanges as the pack worked hard at scrum time to disrupt the Peebles eight and at lineouts where Jamie Orr pillaged Peebles ball at regular intervals. Crucially however, when possession was critical in attack, both sides lost ball on their own throw in.
Just after the first quarter had elapsed Biggar managed to open their account a Hunter penalty rom an offside making the score 10-3.
Almost immediately Peebles came back on the attack a half break and offload seeing the Smith brothers combine well to take play into the Biggar 22 once again, this ending as Andy King and Craig Simmons managed to hold the play up, possession going to Biggar at the scrum restart.
Thereafter Biggar had much the better of the play. Donald Voas, Craig Bachurzewski,, Michal Mirosa and Lewis McLachlan all hit up well from the pack while King and Giles Boland made some good yards with ball in hand. Scott Swankie also took ball into contact with wingers Johnny Smart and Mark Bertram always looking for ball.
Too often however, and this has largely been the tale of the season to date, Biggar were unable to finish moves with an error giving Peebles respite. The half ended with Biggar on top and Peebles managing to maintain their tight and solid defence.
The second half had hardly started when Peebles lost flanker Richard Harrison for a tip tackle following another prolonged period of Biggar phased play. Unfortunately Bertram who had previously kicked well misjudged the kick and play was returned to the halfway line.
Peebles were now down to 7 men in the scrum and so it was no surprise that Biggar were able to disrupt the Peebles put in or that they made good yards after an Orr lineout steel and subsequent burst and link to Boland who took play into the Peebles 22. Another series of good driving play ended with that all too familiar weak pass and knock on.
Territory was retained however as Peebles failed to break the stranglehold Biggar had, McLachlan charging down a clearance and then Orr pinching yet another lineout ball. The pack continued to carry ball well with Swankie making a great touchline dash to get within 5 metres of the line. That man Orr once again spoiled Peebles possession and after a darting run by Hunter and a crash ball from King Douglas Notman, who had just been introduced to the fray to replace McLachlan was on hand to force his way over for Biggar’s try, duly converted by Hunter to tie the scores.
Biggar were largely able to retain possession and territory and while Peebles tried to break things up with a variety of kicks these were for the most part pretty well dealt with by Biggar. The pack continued to pick and go although the yardage gained was far less than the effort which it took to make them.
A couple feisty incidents forced referee Graeme Wells to talk to both captains but this was a fairly clean fought match the one nasty cut sustained by Alan Warnock who had worked tirelessly throughout coming from a clash of heads with his stand off Hunter. Calum Taylor was the replacement he joining Andrew Muir who had earlier come n from Stewart who had put in his usual workmanlike and industrious performance.
Peebles engineered a penalty in front of the posts and within kicking range – this the only real chance for either team since Biggar’s try but McCormick’s kick just dipped under the bar much to the relief of the Biggar support.
A riposte from Biggar came in the shape of a typically combative intervention from Reive at scrum half and searching runs from Bachurzewski,, Boland and Bertram with Biggar somehow managing to make hard work of things as a knock-on with the line in sight let Peebles off yet again.
And so the game drew to its close, both sets of supporters in two minds as to whether they should settle for the draw or go hell for leather for the winner, ever mindful of course that this carried a degree of risk in what was an all-or-nothing contest.
As it was the drop goal came from a fairly innocuous source, Biggar via Johnny Smart counter-attacking after Peebles had kicked into the Biggar half. Smart’s run was halted as the ball was knocked out of his grasp by a Peebles tackle and a ruck formed. With play outside the Peebles 22 and Biggar a long way off the target area King screamed for the pass from Reive. When he took the ball he was virtually on the Peebles 10m line and no-one, save for King himself, dreamt of the drop goal attempt. Indeed when the ball was struck a clear hush descended over the pitch. In what seemed like an age the ball flew high and long and the differing reactions from the two sets of supporters and players at its outcome could not have been more marked, Biggar leaping with delight while the visitors drooped to the ground in disappointment.
Biggar recorded their 5th win and with, as previously described, Jed’s win over Watson’s, there are now just 8 points between the 6th placed team Aberdeen Grammar and the 11th place occupied by Jed. They, however, have a game in hand (against bottom placed Hill Jills), the expectation being that when they win that they will leapfrog Biggar.
All to play for then but Biggar are now on their festive break with their next match an all-important trip to Glasgow to play Hillhead Jordanhill on the 10th January.
Scot Swankie, Mark Bertram, Andy King, Giles Boland, John Smart, Graeme Hunter, David Reive, Donald Voas, Ewan Stewart, Craig Bachurzewski, Michal Morisz, Jamie Orr, Alan Warnock, Lewis McLachlan, Craig Simmons(Captain)
Reps: Andrew Muir, Craig McDonald, Calvin Henderson, Calum Taylor, Douglas Notman
Incredibly the 2nds were once again without opposition as Heriots cancelled on Friday evening, this the 7th week in a row for the 2nds without a game.
Story date: 24/12/2014
Biggar V Selkirk
Selkirk 23 Biggar 3
Biggar returned from Selkirk with the same result as had been the case when the club’s first met back in September, namely that Selkirk won and took a 4-try bonus point into the bargain. The difference between the two sides, Selkirk unbeaten in all 12 games played to date against Biggar who have won just 4 games was evident although once again the result perhaps flattered the Selkirk side slightly Biggar again contributing to their own downfall because of a series of costly errors.
With just a first half Graham Hunter penalty to show for their efforts in what was a good first half performance Biggar were outplayed after the break with the home side running in 4 tries and with Biggar never really threatening the Selkirk try line.
Biggar fielded a recognised starting XV with U-20 district representatives Mark Bertram and Donald Voas fit after their midweek games for Glasgow and the Borders. Craig McDonald started on the wing in place of Jonno Smart while Douglas Notman replaced the injured McKenzie Pearce at flank forward.
Frustratingly there will be injury concerns ahead of this weeks’ vital clash with Kelso at Hartree Mill as Craig Bachurzewski sustained a broken nose while newcomer Michal Morisz aggravated a back injury picked up last week. Craig McDonald who was taken to hospital having been knocked out after charging a clearance kick down is OK, the visit precautionary and seeing the youngster released that evening.
Selkirk’s first half try came from Scott Hendry, this in reply to Hunter’s penalty, these the only scores of the opening half. Hunter was off target with a second penalty just before half time.
After the break Selkirk scored a try from hooker James Bett, his opportunity coming after a Douglas Notman clearance was charged down, a third from Chaney Willemse on the hour mark and then their fourth from replacement Mitch Utteridge after 70 minutes. Josh Welsh kicked 3 conversions.
Scot Swankie, Mark Bertram, Andy King, Giles Boland, Craig McDonald, Graeme Hunter, David Reive, Donald Voas, Ewan Stewart, Craig Bachurzewski, Callum Taylor, Michal Morisz, Jamie Orr, Douglas Notman, Craig Simmons(Captain)
Reps: Charles Cochrane, Calvin Henderson, Andrew Peacock, Graham Jamieson, Lewis McLachlan
Story date: 12/12/2014
Incredibly the 2nd match was postponed for the third week in succession when Jed 2nds called off on Friday evening. A vast number of phone calls alter and the squad found opposition in Dunfermline their trip seeing the Biggar lads win by 34-14 and this despite having just 13 players available to make the unscheduled away trip.
Biggar hold out to record win
Jedforest 22 Biggar 24
Biggar took some stuttering and unsure steps to leapfrog their Border hosts on Saturday when they ground out a narrow two point win. There were cheers from all within the Biggar camp although the last 5 minutes of what was virtually a 48 minute half had everyone on the edge of their seats as Jed tore at Biggar with predictable Border grit. That Biggar held their line and managed to not concede a penalty was crucial. Jed only required three points and the damage done by a similar award in Biggar’s last outing when Marr grabbed a win with the last kick of the game was still too fresh in the mind.
The win means that Biggar escape the second relegation spot but with Jed hosting bottom of the table Hill Jills this Saturday while Biggar face a trip to unbeaten league leaders Selkirk positions may well be swapped again. Having said that, Biggar’s opener against Selkirk saw them give Selkirk a couple of really soft scores. A tough task and a real challenge but there is nothing to lose so it’s one which the Biggar lads should relish.
Biggar were pretty much at full strength for the Jed game, Donald Voas back at prop after rib damage sustained during the Marr game. Andrew Watt a notable absentee after twisting his knee in training but Graeme Hunter made a welcome comeback after a similar injury sustained against Stewart Melville some 6 weeks ago. Lewis McLachlan is back off-shore but with new recruit Michal Morisz making his debut at lock Jamie Orr dropped back to the back row.
In calm, mild conditions Biggar opened well and perhaps should have taken an early lead from a penalty after just 3 minutes Hunter just off target with this kick.
A Craig Simmons burst in the midfield followed with the big No8 tearing through the Jed defence but his off-load was knocked. Just seconds later a pass from Andrew King was adjudged to have gone forward and then Mark Bertram, playing somehow after badly twisting his ankle at Glasgow training on Monday, scooped up a loose ball to make excellent ground, Craig Bachurzewski held up just short. The same player then made a terrific burst up the stand side, Bertram in support. Against GHA Bachurzewski had opted to pass but this time he thumped ever closer, the eventual off-load knocked on with just metres to go. It was all Biggar therefore but with 10 minutes gone the side had nothing to show for their dominance.
With 16 minutes gone and with the hosts having made their first sortie into the Biggar 22 Biggar first of all cleared the danger before engineering a decent attacking position in the Jed half. Following a series of some really well controlled pick and goes the ball was picked up by Calum Taylor and without waiting for support the DO drove for the line to score a welcome try. Hunter added the conversion and Biggar took a well-deserved 7-0 lead.
A handful of minutes later and Biggar capitalised on a couple of penalties to take play back into the Jed 22 where Hunter converted well for 10-0. With their pack in the ascendancy it looked as though this might be Biggar’s day.
Under pressure for the first time after the restart Biggar were then pushed back after a penalty which kick to the corner. A simple line drive saw Jed make their presence felt and Grieve crashed over for a try which was unconverted.
Voas was then forced off with a recurrence of his rib problems, Calvin Henderson galloping on to take his place. A simple tap and go saw Simmons make good ground but as Jed were not back the requisite 10 metres Hunter took the chance to extend the Biggar lead once again. With half time some 10 minutes away another score would have been the ideal way to round the half off. Somehow however it was Jed and not Biggar who scored. Having initially gained a great attacking position midway in the Jed half via some really positive and patient driving play Biggar conceded a soft free kick. Jed tapped quickly and caught the Biggar defence at sixes and sevens, a simple and direct handling movement seeing play swept towards the Biggar line where a text book 2 on 1 saw Jed’s Harkness score under the posts. The conversion from Ritchie put the hosts right back into the mix and this after a decent Biggar effort which had restricted the Border side to probably only two chances – both of which they took with ease.
Worse was to follow however as Scott Swankie was deemed the culprit after an off-the-ball incident saw what was only a stramash with lots of pushing and shoving from a host of players. Now just 1 point ahead and down to 14 men the balance of the game could have swung decisively to Jed.
Undeterred Biggar ended the half in attack although a knock on saw another opportunity missed.
With the referee having elected to change his top to avoid any possible clash Jed should have really taken the lead a Taylor knock on ceding possession at the first lineout. A breenge through the first line of Biggar defence saw Jed away on a surge which should have ended with a try but somehow the pass was missed, the ever-present Orr scooping the ball up before kicking well to clear the danger.
This was a major let off for Biggar and perhaps the only chance Jed failed to take all afternoon. The significance of this miss cannot be underestimated and in what was to become a big 10 point swing Hunter took full advantage of the next penalty to kick for 16-12.
Biggar then last concentration and in a series of poor clearances which only helped maintain the Jed pressure Biggar were for the first time really under the cosh for any sustained period. A forward pass seemed to have relieved the pressure as the Biggar scrum was now controlling things but strangely a penalty advantage was ignored and Biggar opted to run and then kick clear. This was not a convincing effort however and there was no advantage whatsoever so the expectation was that play would be brought back. Not so and just as had been the case in the first half Jed took full advantage to run ball back at pace, Combe benefiting from a neat chip to the corner to win the race to the ball. Ritchie converted with a great kick from wide out to put the Border side ahead for the first time at 19-16.
There was still some 25 minutes remaining however so Biggar had time. Douglas Notman and Alan Warnock were introduced for Taylor and McKenzie Pearce the former back on almost immediately as Morisz was forced off with a shoulder injury. Another dominant scrum was then lost as the referee deemed Biggar to have lost control on the wheel. A touchline discussion took place regarding the quality of both sides kicking, ball cleared to touch twice on the full during this confab! On this occasion the upshot was that Biggar were able to exert a little more pressure on the Jed line. A kick and chase saw Jed forced into touch close to their 5 metre line before conceding a penalty. King took control and, having tapped, the big centre crashed over for what was a real opportunist score. Hunter missed the conversion and with just two points in the game at 21-19 a knock on at the restart gave Jed the possession they craved.
A crucial Ritchie penalty from the follow up meant that Jed had their noses back in front with some10 minutes remaining of normal time.
Things were now becoming evermore tense but Biggar remained focussed and although a try would have been the ideal method of regaining the lead – and a run by Bertram followed up by Henderson and Warnock threatened – a penalty was enough, Hunter keeping his calm to kick for a 24-22 lead.
This then brought the match to its climax but with the best part of 9 minutes being added on Biggar had to wait, and wait as Jed tried and tried.
An exciting, committed contest the importance of Biggar’s win not in doubt, especially when Aberdeen Grammar got the better of Watsons while Kelso gained a priceless losing bonus at Selkirk. The side must know regroup and make their best effort for this week when they take on Selkirk.
If they could convert their chances and maintain focus for the full 80 minutes there would be a rapid climb up the table – it is possible!
Scot Swankie, Mark Bertram, Andy King, Giles Boland, John Smart, Graeme Hunter, David Reive, Donald Voas, Ewan Stewart, Craig Bachurzewski, Callum Taylor, Michal Morisz, Jamie Orr, McKenzie Pearce, Craig Simmons(Captain)
Reps: Michael Dunlop, Craig McDonald, Calvin Henderson, Alan Warnock, Douglas Notman
Playing Convenor Ian Warnock was at Saturdays game and was surprised and slightly annoyed that one of the replacements, Alan Warnock, was apparently calling his mobile just after kick off at the start of the second half. What on earth was a player doing with his phone, never mind making a call when he could at any point be called into action?
The answer was as daft as it could possibly be, namely that both Alan and fellow replacement Douglas Notman were in fact locked in the Biggar dressing room deep under the Riverside Park stand! The phone call was their last resort after all manner of door banging and shouting had been to no avail! Fortunately they were quickly released and able to join the squad on the pitch.
Really frustratingly the 2nd XV match was postponed yet again after city opponents Edin Accies Blues called off on Friday evening – this the second such cancellation on the eve of their match.
Story date: 01/12/2014
Biggar lose match with last kick of the game
Biggar 16 Marr 17
To lose is always difficult, but to lose with the last kick of the game after holding the lead for 80
of the 84 minutes played is gutting. As a result Biggar were hurting on Saturday night after Marr snatched a win from under their noses, Marr fullback Rory McGhee doing the damage with a well-judged kick from wide out on the left.
That Biggar should have won the game is not in doubt. Two penalties and a try in the first half, followed by a second try at the start of the second half should have seen the side kick on but on each occasion when they seemed to have things under control they lost that control and ended up conceding a score to the visitors who, true to form, took every chance presented them.
The defeat also saw prop Donald Voas, who has put in some big shifts since arriving at the club, forced off with a rib injury which could prevent him from playing for some weeks. This however gave Calvin Henderson a chance to show his worth which the youngster did well, scrummaging and running strongly. Others to pick up injuries were centre Andrew King (muscle damage) and flanker Lewis McLachlan (shoulder stinger) but happily both were able to return to action after treatment. McLachlan put in another huge shift with some devastating defence, purposeful contributions in attack and some brilliant touches in the loose, all of which saw him deservedly pick up the Biggar man of the match award. Marr No8 Ben Johnson took the accolade for the visitors. Saturday also saw the return to the squad of Douglas Notman after suspension.
This match was a first for Marr as the only previous encounter at 1st XV level between the clubs was at Marr’s home ground back in 1988. Coincidentally the match sponsors for Saturday were husband and wife Tom and Alison Cockburn, Tom and several of his guests having been part of the Biggar XV on that day which saw Biggar triumph by 34-0.
This was an eagerly awaited contest with Marr just being ahead of Biggar in the National League table due to their having collected a greater number of bonus points. There is little to split the bottom half of the table and clubs are always keen to win their home games so this was an opportunity for Biggar – and Marr - to take a jump up the table.
In cool and damp conditions Biggar opened well with Andrew King striking a penalty after just 4 minutes to open the scoring. Marr gained a penalty on the restart and drove hard in attack with a prolonged stay in the Biggar 22 forcing the home side into some tough defensive chores. All deserve credit for their efforts with some big hits going in to disrupt the Marr play, a penalty the reward which Andrew Watt thumped upfield to relive the pressure. Minutes later the stand-off produced one of his characteristically wide, flat passes which was taken by McLachlan who hit the line at great pace to get right behind the Marr defence. Having created the break his clever inside pass just eluded the supporting Mark Bertram.
Though possession was lost a penalty offered King a second chance which he took to put Biggar 6-0 up. Better still was the riposte from the restart with Voas hitting up well in the middle of the park. A Biggar scrum saw ball shipped wide to King who made good ground before setting up ruck ball which was transferred quickly to Craig Bachurzewski who advanced play. Two passes later and winger Jonno Smart was over in the top corner – a cracking try! It proved just too wide for King however but at 11-0 this was a similar situation to that which had seen Biggar take the lead at GHA the previous week. Could this be sustained?
Sadly not as the same problem arose, that of dealing with the restart. A loose ball gave Marr the chance to set up an attack and with Johnson in determined mood, a rampaging burst took him straight through the initial defence before he moved left to outpace the despairing efforts of the Biggar back line to cross for a good opportunist try which, when converted by McGhee, brought Marr right back into the fray at 11-7.
With some 20 minutes gone this proved, somewhat surprisingly, to be the last score of the half. Both sides did their best to add to their tally but a combination of tight defence and errors meant that each side nullified the other. Biggar had some great touches, Jamie Orr continuing to disrupt a creaking Marr lineout, Ewan Stewart and Mackenzie Pearce putting in some big hits and carrying well while King and fellow centre Giles Boland made some good half breaks to force Marr into defence. Marr for their part continued to strive to get over the Biggar line with their pack driving well from mauls and almost gaining a second try. Another feature of their play was the kicking of McGhee who was able to gain huge distances from hand. Indeed this was to prove even more effective after the break when he kicked strongly out of defence and against the elements.
Half time then and the game finely balanced at 11-7 but with Biggar turning to play towards the clubhouse and with the wind on their backs.
The sides opened the second period with some aerial ping-pong as they strove to gain some control on the match. A Biggar penalty paved the way for the first score of the half. Having kicked to the Marr 22 Biggar won the resultant lineout through Orr and while the attempted drive was stymied Craig Simmons burst free to carry the ball to 10 metres out. Reive fed right to King on the crash ball, the big Kiwi thundering over for a great, yet simple, try. Crucially, as it turned out, King was wide with the conversion, his focus disrupted by a Marr player who advanced to charge down the conversion attempt. Whether referee Daniel Shaw should have prevented any further charge is a moot point but, whatever, the kick was pushed wide; Biggar still increasing their lead, but to 16-7 rather than 18-7.
Biggar’s support was then cheered further as a great passage of play from the restart saw them sweep Marr back some 40 meters in one flowing movement. Unfortunately, however, the position was lost as the side flung caution to the wind with a couple of forced passes seeing the ball knocked into touch. Composure required!
With play on half way, Marr then made a mess of Biggar’s scrum pick up. As Biggar struggled to regain control of the ball Marr gained possession and used their pack to good effect to work quick rucks on the right. Play was then switched left where winger Scott Bickerstaff crossed for a try which McGhee converted to put his side within two points of the lead at 16-14.
Biggar replied with some creative play, one grubber kick by Watt putting McGhee under real pressure as Boland and Swankie approached in the chase. Pearce continued to drive hard and earned a penalty which Watt kicked to the corner. A try seemed almost certain but unfortunately the pass from Watt to Swankie was adjudged forward.
The position was not lost altogether however as McLachlan made a great and very timely steal on the Marr throw to take Biggar back into the Marr 22. Biggar continued to press, their pack and backs combining well to take play into the Marr 5 metre area. As Biggar had in the first half so Marr succeeded at this point, their defensive efforts asking several questions of the Biggar pick and drive, although a tackle on Bertram which took him to the horizontal was unpunished.
The position was finally lost when Biggar conceded a penalty, McGhee kicking long to take play to the half way line.
With just 10 minutes of play remaining and as the clock ticked down, so it became clear that the next score would prove decisive. Another lineout steal from Orr gave Biggar better field position while the next Marr line was judged not straight, Biggar’s relief short-lived as the scrum put in was then penalised – also for not straight! A brilliant slide and pick up from McLachlan allowed Biggar to take play into the Marr half but two quick penalties saw Biggar pushed inexorably back upfield to their 22. With Marr going for the score Biggar lost two players to yellow cards, first of all Simmons for an offside and shortly afterwards McLachlan for a similar offence.
The penalty kick attempted after the Simmons yellow appeared to most to have crept inside the posts but neither the touch judges nor referee agreed and Biggar seemed to have escaped. Just minutes later however, and in the face of some determined play, McLachlan was penalised and McGhee added the coup-de-grace to end the match.
There is a now a fortnight break in National league action with the next match an away game to Border side Jedforest. This is never an easy trip but one which would provide the side a particularly timely boost were it to be won.
This weekend sees Biggar 2nds involved in Edinburgh Cup action against Boroughmuir 2nds.
Story date: 11/11/2014
Scot Swankie, Mark Bertram, Andy King, Giles Boland, John Smart, Andrew Watt, David Reive, Donald Voas, Ewan Stewart, Craig Bachurzewski, Callum Taylor, Jamie Orr, Lewis McLachlan, McKenzie Pearce, Craig Simmons(Captain)
Reps: Andrew Muir, Craig McDonald, Calvin Henderson, Alan Warnock, Douglas Notman
Biggar lose out in Glasgow
GHA 29 Biggar 19
For all bar 15 minutes of this game Biggar had the edge on their Glasgow hosts but that fateful 15 minute spell just after half time was enough to undo much of the good work of the first half. Having started really well and in taking the game to GHA in both attack and then on some purposeful offensive/defence Biggar had opened up a well-deserved 12 point lead courtesy of tries from Scott Swankie and Mark Bertram before allowing GHA a glimmer of hope via forwards try from their pack. Another couple of chances had gone a-begging and had these been taken then GHA’s task would have been so much more difficult but a poor start to the second period when Biggar were run ragged and failed to clear their lines, meant that GHA got their tails up to come through strongly to win the match and take all 5 league points.
Biggar showed a couple of changes from last week’s XV with centre Giles Boland unavailable and replaced by Craig McDonald while the available Lewis McLachlan replaced Charles Cochrane. Michael McKeand who was forced off last week did not figure this week as John Smart retained his place albeit at centre rather than wing.
Kicking off with the breeze giving them the slightest of advantages Biggar gave note of their intent by some good ‘in your face’ play, Andrew King and Mark Bertram both quick off their mark to make their presence felt. Andrew watt put in a couple of decent touch finders to help relieve pressure and to pin GHA back but a couple of early penalties allowed GHA time to regroup.
Jamie Orr maintained the good form shown last week and was very effective in all areas but again on the touchline where he was able to disrupt the GHA throw.
Biggar broke the early deadlock after 12 minutes. Scott Swankie had made some good ground into the GHA 22 where he found lock Calum Taylor. Taylor took play to within 10 metres of the GHA line but his off-load went straight to the GHA cover and a clearance was made. This did not make touch however and was taken by fullback Swankie who embarked on one of his very typical mazy runs up to then through the GHA defence to the line for a great opportunist try. King was just off target with the conversion but for once Biggar headed the score.
Craig Simmons secured the restart and made ground before Watt again prodded the ball downfield where some committed play by Orr saw GHA under further pressure. With GHA looking to clear another missed touch gave Biggar a second tilt at the line. Bertram made the first run but checked inside to ensure possession was retained. Davy Reive kept the play going forward and after a couple of good runs at the line ball was popped left to Bertram who hit a great angle to cross to the left of the posts. King was able to convert this for 12-0.
Watt was to the fore on the restart as he turned the GHA defence again by judicious use of the boot. Ball from the lineout was shipped left to Craig Bachurzewski who set off on a bulldozing run to the line. With just the fullback to beat he passed to the supporting McDonald only to see one of the covering GHA defenders take the ball to clear. This was a massive let off for the Glasgow side who were looking less like a second top XV.
It’s about staying the course however and showing resilience in the face of adversity and this GHA did, refusing to press the panic button even though they were behind and still making some basic handling errors. Ewan Stewart, who suffered a ‘stinger’ to his left arm, was replaced by Andrew Muir.
Having secured a penalty GHA took play into the Biggar 22 courtesy of quick ruck ball. They then opted to spin the ball to the right and this, coupled with some good evasive running, gave centre Chris Binnie a sniff at an overlap. This he took to cross for a try.
Undaunted Biggar kept up the pressure with Biggar pushing GHA back once again, Bertram unlucky not to gather possession from an awkward Reive box kick. A series of forays by GHA came to nought as they again made handling errors to concede possession to Biggar who were able to attack once again. As the half came to an end Biggar remained on the attack and were awarded a penalty after Orr was taken out in the lineout. King opted to go for goal but saw his attempt come up short. Half time GHA 5 Biggar 12.
Focus is key to reducing errors and just when Biggar needed to start confidently the GHA restart was allowed to bounce, Calum Taylor quickest to react to tidy the ball on the ground. Somewhat unfortunately while he managed to do so referee Allen saw a knock-on somewhere and the scene was set for GHA’s 15 minute period of control. Although Biggar’s scrum prior to the break had been fairly solid it now began to creak and GHA took full advantage to exert some real pressure in Biggar’s 22.
A couple of penalties meant Biggar were pushed further back and then as GHA opted to scrum instead of tap and run or kick to the corner, the Biggar 8 were further stretched. It seemed that they would escape however after McLachlan managed to pilfer a loose heel to make a break. He managed to get the ball back but under pressure the Biggar backs chose to try and run out of defence. A hurried clearance after play was rushed ensured GHA remained in control a series of forward picks and drives taking play virtually to the line. Ball was eventually shipped left where the overlap was again exploited Grant McDonald crossing for his sides second try. Peter Jericevich tied the scores at 12-12. Able to quickly get back on the offensive another swift passing movement saw ball spread wide again, Biggar suffering as Bertram was shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock on. This put Biggar at a major disadvantage as they were already under the cosh. A kick to the corner and lineout drive ended with Eric Cavan crashing over for a try which was unconverted.
Some 7 minutes later and Biggar were back under their posts and awaiting the conversion to GHA’s fourth, this from Euan Greer who was able to take full advantage of a series of quick rucks form the GHA pack which tied in Biggar’s defence. Jericevich kicked for 24-12.
Biggar made several changes at this stage with Euan Stewart returning to replace Andrew Muir while Alan Warnock took over from Taylor. The latter was pressed back into action shortly afterwards however as Orr picked up a knee injury which it is hoped will not prove too serious. Bertram also returned as his sin-bin time expired. Andrew Fleming then made his well-deserved 1st XV league debut when he came on for Smart.
A great passage of running and handling then ended with GHA’s 5th try, this credited to Greer who was on the end of a sweeping move down the stand side, Jericevich’s conversion rebounding off the woodwork.
Biggar were not down and out however and they can back again in the last quarter, Fleming, McKenzie Pearce who always puts in a big shift and Bachurzewski all combining well to taje play into the GHA half. A forward pass ended this movement but able to maintain their position Simmonds took three players out in a barn-storming run into the GHA 22. While ball was moved left King could not quite get sufficient control of the ball to cross in the corner.
The resultant scrum saw Cochrane break quickly to disrupt the GHA clearance and to win a scrum. Pearce took full advantage of this to pick and drive over for a try which when converted by King – also off the upright - gave Biggar a glimmer of a losing bonus which in reality was the very least they deserved.
Sadly this was not to be and GHA ended up on the attack and unlucky not to add to their tally Jericevich knocking the ball forward over the line in what was to be the last play of the game.
There was understandably huge disappointment and frustration in the Biggar camp as they had been able to put GHA under real pressure. Indeed GHA coach Craig Sorbie, from Lanark and a player who began his career with Biggar, readily acknowledged that while this was, on paper, one of the ‘top’ teams hosting one of the ‘bottom’ teams, it was anything but, Biggar putting his charges under real pressure for long periods.
All said however, and with Marr thumping Kelso, Biggar drop down to second bottom and a relegation slot. This makes Saturday’s match against Marr all the more important. This promises to be a real cracker, with Marr in their first season at this level, putting together some really impressive displays. Another big turnout of Biggar supporters would make sure that the west coast side are given a warm welcome! The action starts at 2pm, please come on down if you can!
Man of the macth Scott Swankie (Biggar), Eric Cavan (GHA)
Story date: 03/11/2014
Scot Swankie, Mark Bertram, Andy King, john Smart, Craig McDonald, Andrew Watt, David Reive, Donald Voas, Ewan Stewart, Craig Bachurzewski, Callum Taylor, Jamie Orr, Lewis Mclachlan, McKenzie Pearce, Craig Simmons(Captain)
Reps: Andrew Muir, Charles Cochrane, Calvin Henderson, Andrew Fleming
Biggar back to their best against Aberdeen Grammar
Biggar 27 Aberdeen Grammar 19
It’s a repeat of last week’s opening – what a difference a week makes!
Having performed strongly against Watsons a fortnight ago Biggar largely failed to turn up at Stewarts Melville before roaring back to defeat Aberdeen Grammar on Saturday.
Is home advantage a crucial factor? Well undoubtedly ‘yes’. Watsons were tested by the narrow Hartree Mill pitch and on Saturday Biggar handled the blustery conditions much better than Aberdeen, using the wind to good effect in the first half to clear their lines and then only kicking sparingly when faced with the elements after the break. In contrast Aberdeen’s attempts to kick out of their 22 in the first half ended with the ball ballooning backwards while in the second period they tried to run and kicked downfield poorly.
But that would be too simplistic an explanation. Biggar always relish visits by city sides and against Stew-Mel they were without several key players and the return of these, coupled with the home advantage, and the fact that this latest match was a ‘must win’, spurred the squad to a much better performance.
Injury prevented David Paterson and Graeme Hunter from playing, Michael McKeand shifting out to play in a third different position in as many weeks with the stand-off berth going to the fit-again Andrew Watt. Craig Bachurzewski and Giles Boland returned at prop and centre while three quarter John Smart made a return to the squad on the bench.
The initial exchanges saw a very young Grammar XV take the game to Biggar and they had the better of this part of the game, their centres, and Fijian Peceli Nacamavuto in particular, giving plenty indication that they would be a handful unless quickly shut down. The wind played havoc with the early lineouts, the first three being stolen by the opposition jump but with neither side really able to make the final yards to the line.
For Biggar, Charles Cochrane made an early impact with some really industrious play to steel ball at the breakdown and to make things difficult for Aberdeen at the back of the lineout. Boland too made some good ground with some deft footwork but it was the visitors who scored first, a quickly taken tap penalty seeing play taken up the middle by Nacamavuto who got in behind the Biggar defence before off-loading to the supporting fullback Alex Ratcliffe who crossed the line. Alex Hagart added the conversion for 7-0 but worse for Biggar was the sight of McKeand limping from the pitch following a hamstring pull as he chased the try scorer to the line. Smart took his place.
Fortunately Biggar managed to hit back almost immediately with Andy King breaking before he prodded the ball through the Aberdeen line. While the race to the ball was lost the position wasn’t and following another surge by Biggar, referee Matt Duncan penalised the visitors, King slotting the penalty for 7-3.
The restart was well taken by Boland whose mazy run created the position for Davy Reive to kick the ball downfield to keep the pressure firmly on the Grammar side. A blindside move then saw Smart glide between two Grammar defenders to create a 2 on 1 which Boland was able to exploit for a try which King converted well for 10-7.
In another attack, again almost directly from the restart, King set Mark Bertram free for a run on the touchline, the big winger being really unfortunate as the ball he set back after being tackled was knocked forward to him meaning that he was then in an offside position - even though he was out of the game on the ground!
Some excellent offensive defensive play by the robust McKenzie Pearce kept Grammar in their own 22 and from this a good angle from Scott Swankie engineered a gap for Smart whose progress was halted by a dump tackle from winger Lemarre el Bouchehati which earned him 10 minutes in the sin bin. Another great passing movement saw King and Bertram combine well again but while this surge came to nought Craig Simmons took advantage of a penalty to take ball forward. Prop Donald Voas was on hand to continue the move, his drive ending in a deserved try. King converted for 17-7.
Grammar could not escape from their 22 with some kicks to touch gaining precious little ground while others drifted back to give Biggar another tilt at the line. With the break approaching Biggar ended the half in the best of ways with their third score. A Watt penalty gave Biggar field position and after an attempt at a driving line, Calum Taylor broke blind and through the initial defence. Another 2v1 was created with Watt only halted by some good cover defence. A scrum 5 was the result and after what can only be described as a bit of a melee at the scrum base, Simmons eventually picked up to drive over for the try which was again converted by King for a great 24-7 half time lead.
Few of the Biggar support were confident that this would be enough however although all believed that one more score would surely be enough to secure the match points and withstand a Grammar riposte. That Biggar could add only a penalty in the second period and failed to record the vital fourth and bonus point try was disappointing. Had they managed this they would now be in 8th rather than joint 10th spot. That said, of course, the main aim was to gain the match win and the fact that Grammar got nothing for their efforts was indeed a bonus of its own.
Grammar won the second period by 12-3 as the wind worked its ‘magic’ although Biggar created several chances but could not make the final pass stick. Interceptions were the order of the day. A good run by the deceptively quick Smart saw ball popped inside to be gratefully taken by the covering Grammar defence while this was exactly the same result after a terrific run by Bertram saw the big man take play some 40 metres upfield and right into the heart of the Grammar 22. His pass to Boland who had the line at his mercy was also taken by the Grammar defence with a decisive breakout halted by some equally decisive defence. This defence was typified throughout by the telling contributions of (among others) Taylor, Euan Stewart and Jamie Orr who consistently took their man.
A blindside move by Simmons advanced by Reive created a chance and Bachurzewski was another who looked almost certain to score but his hands for once failed him allowing Grammar another let off.
With three quarters of the match gone Biggar managed to add 3 points to their tally, this after a ‘free’ ball saw Bertram take a speculative pot at goal. King added the penalty for 27-7. The restart gave Grammar their best field position of the match and with Pearce somewhat harshly sin-binned (there had been no warning issued and the offence seemed a tad innocuous) Grammar had a numerical advantage.
This they exploited almost immediately as another tap penalty saw some determined running from the pack culminating in a try for flanker Chris Jollands. Hagart was off target with the conversion. Some great work from Reive, Bachurzewski and Voas saw Biggar advance again to the Grammar 22 but this ended with the slightest of knock ons which allowed Grammar to escape once again.
In a final assault on the line Biggar were again pressed into defence as Grammar made a series of concerted drives at the Biggar line. These were largely met by some sterling and stout defence but almost inevitably in such situations something had to give and it was Jollands who again broke the line to score Grammar’s third score. Hagart’s conversion brought the match to an end.
This was an encouraging performance for Biggar. Grammar are a young side and have not had a great start to their season but they are nonetheless a competent outfit and one which will only get better. It was important to get the match points and to deny the visitors a losing bonus so those objectives were both achieved.
For coach Gavin Blackburn, consistency, which is always so difficult to achieve, is his immediate aim. The side is getting better, of that there is no doubt, while their style of play with ball being run at pace will ensure support from the Biggar membership. This Saturdays match sees the squad travel to second top GHA, where nothing less than a massive effort will be required to take the honours. Almost as importantly however, Biggar must ensure they give another determined performance with no repeat of the Stew-Mel game.
A large travelling support would be very much appreciated but supporters are asked to please check the website for the confirmed kick off time. GHA have floodlights and may request a 3pm kick off although the scheduled kick off is 2pm.
Man of the match. Aberdeen; Chris Jollands. Biggar; Calum Taylor and Jamie Orr (Coach Blackburn could not split the pair of second rows so both deservedly shared the award)
Story date: 27/10/2014
Scot Swankie, Mark Bertram, Andy King, Giles Boland, Michael McKeand, Andrew Watt, David Reive, Donald Voas, Ewan Stewart, Craig Bachurzewski, Callum Taylor, Jamie Orr, Charles Cochrane, McKenzie Pearce, Craig Simmons(Captain)
Reps: Andrew Muir, Andrew Peacock, Calvin Henderson, John Smart
Biggar struggle against Stewarts Melville
Stewarts Melville 44 Biggar 5
What a difference a week makes! Against Watsonians Biggar had exuded commitment and passion and, cheered on by an enthusiastic crowd, they had largely managed to stifle opponents Watsonians. On Saturday however that same passion and pride was sadly lacking, Stewarts Melville, competent though they were, being given both space and time to do much as they pleased. The absence of Craig Bachurzewski, Giles Boland and Lewis McLachlan undoubtedly made a difference, while injuries to David Paterson (with just 10 minutes gone), to Graeme Hunter (after a quarter of the match) and in the second half to Jamie Orr meant that there were enforced changes but this does not really excuse the performance which was well below that which is required at this level.
Edinburgh sides are always fast onto the ball and usually possess good handling skills and so it was but on Saturday Stewarts Melville, in the face of some weak defence, were allowed to develop their game and grew quickly in confidence as a result.
The Stew-Mel 44 point tally came via four first half tries and another three after the break. The opening exchanges saw Biggar in defence as the hosts opened strongly to put Biggar under pressure. This the visitors coped with although they were unable to fully escape as kicks to touch fell short allowing Stew-Mel to immediately hit back. An early penalty by Stew-Mel 10 Nick McCashin caused panic amongst the Biggar defence after it rebounded off the upright. The Edinburgh side should probably have scored from this but Biggar’s scrambled defence held them out although Biggar flyhalf Graeme Hunter appeared to aggravate a leg knock in the process.
The try was merely stalled however, centre Neil Bowie exploited not one but two turnovers and this after Biggar had cleverly driven the Stew-Mel pack back from a lineout take. McCashin kicked the conversion to this and to his own try, scored just 5 minutes later after he galloped through a stretched Biggar defence.
It was clear Hunter could not continue and so he was replaced by flank forward Jim Simpson, Biggar’s other replacement back, Danny McAllister having come into the fray after Paterson picked up a leg injury. This led to a change in the three quarters with Scott Swankie moving to stand off and Mark Bertram coming in to centre. Neither player has appeared in these positions this season so this definitely had an impact on Biggar’s ability to defend, the third try coming just after the half hour mark seeing McCashin exploit another gap to slice through midfield. 19-0.
With the Stew-Mel pack now in the ascendancy and giving the visitors a difficult time a fourth try was scored by winger Matt Morrell (another who played for a time at Hartree Mill) after a Biggar failed to take clean lineout ball.
Simpson had a tilt at the line and took play to within metres of the hosts line and just as Biggar looked about to open their account – and what better time to do so than just before half time – an attack which saw Jamie Orr gather clean line out ball before McKenzie Pearce, Edlyn Serge and Andrew King advanced play forward, eventually floundered as Swankie had the ball stripped from him when in sight of the line.
At the break Callum Taylor replaced Serge and Michael Dunlop came on for Calvin Henderson.
Ste-Mel continued from where they had left off, a well-controlled and dynamic line drive seeing Biggar marched back before the maul collapsed over the line with prop Rhys Morgan claiming the touch down. McCashin failed with the conversion.
To add insult to injury the restart was kicked directly into touch – the scrum on half way just what Stew-Mel were looking for and the last thing Biggar needed. Ironically this heralded Biggar’s best passage of play as Davy Reive took a quick tap free kick to turn the Stew-Mel defence. His yards were added to by an injection of pace by Simpson from a penalty and with some much more positive work from the pack with Donald Voas in the frame. Ball was passed out but frustratingly and unusually King knocked on to allow Stew-Mel another reprieve.
Bertram made his presence felt as he took over the kicking duties, two exceptional efforts turning Biggar defence into attack as he found both distance and accuracy to take play into the Stew-Mel half. Andrew Muir took over from Ewan Stewart at hooker.
To give the Biggar support something to cheer about, King had a good chase down after Reive had managed to disrupt the Stew-Mel scrum, this eventually seeing Bertram produce another long kick to take play to the Stew-Mel 5 metre line. Ball was moved infield to Swankie who set up the ruck before play was then moved back to the blindside where prop Voas took over the youngster driving over from about 5 metres. An excellent debut try. Bertram was just wide with the conversion.
Unfortunately the restart saw Biggar panic and concede a soft penalty which McCashin kicked for 34-5.
This coincided with Orr’s back injury and his replacement by Serge. Another uncharacteristic error by King was followed by another great piece of defensive work by Simpson to halt another Stew-Mel foray. With 10 minutes remaining and the game won/lost depending on which team you supported, the game was pretty much over as a contest, Biggar trying their best in what had become a damage limitation exercise and Stew-Mel lacking the composure that they had enjoyed earlier on. Very unusually Biggar were now on the right side of some tight calls by referee Dunx McClement – the penalty count in this half virtually 2-1 in Biggar’s favour – unheard of!
They were unable to take any real advantage from these awards however and as Stew-Mel ran again and again onto the Biggar 22 it was almost inevitable that they would score again, lock Callum Hunter-Hill the try scorer as he rounded off a good piece of handling. Despite some great work by Simpson on the wing Biggar were unable to capitalise as a series of lineouts went awry, their only joy coming from another quickly tapped penalty by Reive although on this occasion the support play was not in place.
The hosts rounded the game off with their seventh score, this going to McCashin who benefited from his team mates good accurate passing.
A real disappointment then and a result which, with Marr picking up yet another valuable losing bonus point, means Biggar drop into second bottom spot, level on league points with the west coast side but behind on points differential. There are however 5 pints separating 5 sides so a couple of wins would make whole world of difference. Biggar need to rediscover their form and face a ‘must win’ match this Saturday when Aberdeen Grammar make the trip to Hartree Mill. They are not having a great start to their season and are currently on 14 points and two places ahead of Biggar. A big support – which was a huge factor against Watsons - would help lift the players, so please, if you can make it, get down to the club for the 3pm kick off!
Michael McKeand, Mark Bertram, Scot Swankie, Andy King, David Paterson, Graham Hunter, David Reive, Donald Voas, Ewan Stewart, Calvin Henderson, Edlyn Serge, Jamie Orr, Alan Warnock, McKenzie Pearce, Craig Simmons(Captain)
Reps: Michael Dunlop, Andrew Muir, Danny McAllister, James Simpson, Calum Taylor.
Very disappointingly Biggar 2nds were left without a game after Kelso were unable to field a full XV.
Story date: 21/10/2014
Biggar make life difficult for visitors Watsonians.
Biggar 6 Watsonians 11
League action saw Edinburgh side Watsonians travel to Hartree Mill for what was the second meeting between these two sides this season, the first having been a Cup game in August when Watsons ran out winners by 51-15.
The programme notes suggested that Biggar have improved considerably since that opening game and that estimation was bang on as, in a tense, thrilling and thoroughly entertaining contest the visitors scraped home by just 5 points with the outcome of the match in doubt right until the final whistle. Ironically, the only try of the match was set up by ex-Biggar Colt Reiss Cullen who was making his first trip to Hartree Mill as a Watsonian and whose run created the position for Andrew Chalmers to score – one wag in the crowd suggesting that it would only be fitting therefore for Biggar to be awarded half the points for the try!
A losing bonus was all that Biggar gained in league points but as valuable as this will undoubtedly be, the real bonus and value from the game was in the player’s performance. This was exemplified in a massive display in defence which was full of grit and determination and which saw the very large, predictably noisy, enthusiastic and passionate home support get right behind their team. While it’s always difficult to single players out the coaches in National League 1 are asked to supply the name of one of their team as Man-of-the-match and Biggar coach Gavin Blackburn selected hooker Euan Stewart for his defensive chores. Safe to say that this could have gone to several players with Jamie Orr and Lewis McLachlan others who punched well above their weight and who contributed so much to the game. Watsonian lock Simon Taylor (ex-Scotland and British Lion) was awarded the accolade for his side.
Selection threw up a few headaches for Biggar with Calvin Henderson, Andrew Muir and Andrew King all picking up injuries last week against Dundee while Douglas Notman is suspended following his red card. To make it three ‘Andrews’ out of the side, further problems arose during the warm up when scrum half Andrew Watt pulled a hamstring. These injuries meant that new recruit, but local lad, Donald Voas came into the side at prop, Euan Stewart started at hooker, Michael McKeand came in at centre and after Watt’s hamstring pull, Davy Reive came off the bench to start.
The opening minutes of the match were punctuated by a series of penalties and this set the scene for much of the half as referee Gordon Corry found fault with Biggar’s understanding of various rules including offside, handling on the ground, not releasing ball or tackled player. While few of these were within kicking range one after 8 minutes saw Watsons fullback Chad Northcott step up to convert what looked to be a very simple chance. In one of those horrible moments for the person involved, but which proved hugely entertaining for the crowd he almost missed the ball it’s flight taking I barely half the required distance!
To add insult to injury Northcott’s next attempt after 15 minutes seemed to have flown through the posts but this was bizarrely ‘not given’ by either touch judge, referee Corry having to take their decision though clearly surprised himself. Biggar were therefore riding their luck a little as they had had very little ball to develop an attacking threat of their own.
Defensive duties were the order of the day with only loose ball providing any chance to run. Biggar were up to this however with McLachlan, Scott Swankie, Craig Bachurzewski, Reive, Giles Boland, Craig Simmons and Mark Bertram all featuring in breakouts. These had the crowd cheering but on each occasion the move faltered as the ball was lost on contact or as penalties were awarded. Frustratingly Biggar yielded possession when they did advance play upfield, with errors at crucial times their undoing. Biggar were not alone in this respect, Watsons too making several significant errors, their trademark, open, running rugby failing as ball was lost forward or from squint line outs. Penalties conceded by the visitors were few and far between however, the penalty count heavily in their favour with an almost incredible 11-2 first half tally!!
In the dying minutes of the half Watsonians set up camp in the Biggar 22 right in front of the clubhouse and the packed supporters who really added to the occasion – this must have been somewhat different for the Edinburgh side as the crowd bellowed their enthusiasm for the Biggar, this a quantum leap from the atmosphere usually prevalent at Myreside!
The main tactic at this stage saw Watsons throw lineout ball to Taylor who then set up the driving maul. Such was the Biggar effort however that this was held up on several occasions, although as a penalty was the typical result, the process was repeated. Almost inevitably, following a series of such penalty transgressions, referee Corry sin-binned a Biggar player, hooker Stewart shown yellow.
Having survived until then on meagre rations the Biggar defence held out to half time – surely one of the most exciting nil-nil games!
Any hopes that Watsons may have harboured about a tiring and weakened Biggar defence were quickly dispelled almost on the restart as a thundering tackle by McLachlan brought an early Watsons breakout to a very sudden stop. The same player made a telling and dynamic break of the scrum base to set up position in Watsons 22. Unfortunately this prime position which culminated in a rare Biggar penalty awarded was lost just as quickly as a stramash developed and referee Corry saw fit to reverse the penalty, this giving the visitors a chance to clear their lines. To add real insult to injury it was from ball set up midfield following the penalty lineout that Cullen made his break, albeit that this included a forward pass and came after possession had been won, lost and won again. Eluding the clutches of Biggar’s defence the scrum half ran from half way before eventually off-loading to the supporting Chalmers who crossed for the try. Northcott was still off target but at 5-0 the deadlock had been broken.
The score coincided with the return of Stewart from the sin-bin, Biggar making a change as Alan Warnock came on for McLachlan. Graeme Hunter continued to run well from stand off and to kick though perhaps not often enough as ground is often more easily made via the boot than by running out of deep defensive positions. Another to make an impression was young prop Voas who did all that was asked of him in the tight but who also ran well in the loose, one 15 metre effort seeing him drag tacklers along in his wake.
Hunter was then offered a rare opportunity to open his sides’ account which he did, gratefully, for 5-3. A crucial administrative error then gave Watsons a clear advantage. Simmons had been penalised for a late tackle midfield, this seeing him become the second Biggar player to be shown yellow. Watsons elected to make a change at this juncture, Cullen being replaced by Brian Walls. Walls is renowned as being a very accurate goal kicker and so it proved as he converted the penalty with what was his first touch of the ball. Making a replacement at this time (ie when play stops for a penalty) and, more specifically, to kick for goal, is however not permitted within the rules, the officials on the day missing this – a fact that they owned up to post-match. The fact that there was a 5-point margin between the sides made this immaterial in the end but had it been a two point margin things might have been a lot different!
As it was Watsons regained their 5 point lead at 8-3. Down again to 14 men Biggar hit back almost immediately as another penalty was converted by Hunter. The Watsons lead was back to two points at 8-6. Indeed Biggar then almost took the lead as Watsons were again penalised, this time for a high tackle on McLachlan (the penalty count for this half ended at 5-5) but on this occasion the distance proved to be too great as the ball, though well enough struck fell short.
A Watsons attack saw Walls attempt a drop goal but this was charged down by an alert Biggar defence with the visitors benefiting from a slice of luck as the ball rebounded back to a Watsons player rather than into the hands of a Biggar man.
Simmons and Hunter combined to take play to the Watsons 22 but a lineout penalty gave them the chance to clear and the game entered the last 5 minutes with things still finally balanced. At this stage either team could have won the game but with Biggar never really able to dominate in terms of territory or possession it looked as though a losing bonus (which most of Biggar would have happily settle for prior to kick off) looked fairly attractive.
A further few minutes of concentration and solid defence was required however and with Watsons employing the lineout catch and drive to now turn Biggar this was crucial as they began to gain huge yardage as the Biggar effort waned. Importantly however Biggar held on, their cause helped as Watsons were penalised for shielding illegally.
The final whistle brought proceedings to a close and with it not only an important losing bonus point for Biggar but also a whole lot of belief and confidence which should augur well for the weeks to come.
Coach Blackburn was left to rue what might have been had his side been at full strength for the full 80 minutes. In addition he felt that while the focus in defence had been critical and instrumental in denying Watsons any sort of room to operate, it had been lacking at other equally critical moments when in attack where possession was lost following several soft penalties.
An away trip to Stewarts Melville who are having a decent run now beckons. As the side spends more time together on the training pitch and in games it will continue to develop but to avoid a feisty relegation battle another couple of wins to give added confidence for the harder games to come are required. Selection for this week will again be key as among others King, possibly Edlyn Serge and Watt are considered doubtful while McLachlan is back off shore for the next three weeks. Craig Bachurzewski is also ruled out as he flew out on Monday to Poland where he is due to play for the Polish national side against Holland in a world Cup qualifier. The club wishes him all the best for this match as his nation aims for a place next years’ World cup.
All travelling support would be most welcome with a 3pm kick off at Inverleith.
Story date: 12/10/2014
Scot Swankie, Mark Bertram, Giles Boland, Michael McKeand, David Paterson, Graham Hunter, David Reive, Donald Voas, Ewan Stewart, Craig Bachurzewski, Edlyn Serge, Jamie Orr, Lewis McLachlan, McKenzie Pearce, Craig Simmons(Captain)
Reps: Calvin Henderson, Alan Warnock, Calum Taylor
1sts suffer defeat at Dundee
Dundee 51 Biggar 25
Biggar travelled to Dundee in relatively high spirits given their last two performances and two encouraging wins. To return on the end of a 6-3 try count was therefore very disappointing but all is not doom and gloom as another three tries were recorded, this a definite improvement on the position last season when in the same fixture Biggar lost out by 76-11.
That three tries were scored is a boost although that elusive 4th score which would have provided another bonus point was again posted missing. Defeats to sides below Biggar, in particular Jedforest, Marr and Hillhead Jordanhill mean that Biggar are now in 9th place in the league alongside Aberdeen Grammar who r4ecorded their second league win on Saturday. Biggar face Watsonians this weekend and given that the Edinburgh side recorded a handsome win in the Cup match played last month, Biggar will need to be at their best to challenge for points.
There were a couple of changes on Saturday all involving the pack. In the front row Andrew Muir got the nod over Ewan Stuart at hooker, Jamie Orr started alongside Edlyn Serge at lock while in the back row Craig Simmons resumed at No8 with Alan Warnock on the bench. Michael Dunlop and Lewis McLachlan returned to the bench.
In very much drier conditions than those which existed when the side left Biggar, the visitors lost an early try when the Dundee pack – perhaps not quite the same size as last year but a sizeable unit nonetheless – sucked in Biggar’s defence before spinning ball wide to create space for fullback Nick Alston to score. This was converted by stand-off Harry Millar and Dundee were 7-0 up with barely 3 minutes on the clock.
Fortunately Biggar was able to respond almost immediately as Dundee transgressed from the restart with Graeme Hunter converting the penalty awarded. As is their wont Biggar – and to a lesser extent Dundee – failed to deal efficiently with restarts and with Dundee able to exert pressure a couple of penalties allowed the home side to first of all gain territory and then to kick for goal, Millar converting for 10-3.
A passage of good attacking play from Biggar was ended as Dundee managed to clear their lines but the power of the Dundee pack then caused a scrum to collapse awkwardly with both Muir and prop Calvin Henderson coming off worst. Indeed Henderson was forced to retire with a shoulder injury while Muir lasted until half time before he too was replaced. Dunlop replaced Henderson at prop.
On the resumption of play Biggar earned a penalty close to the Dundee posts, Hunter again kicking cleanly for 10-6. This penalty saw Dundee’s captain Alan Brown shown a yellow card but the penalty converted was cancelled out almost immediately on the 30 minute mark as Biggar strayed off side, Millar adding another three points for 13-6. In what was fast becoming a see-saw affair Biggar replied from the strong running of winger Mark Bertram whose power took play deep into the Dundee 22. Ball presented was then advanced to and then over the line by prop Craig Bachurzewski who crashed over for a try converted by Hunter to deservedly tie the scores at 13-13.
Biggar would have been more than happy had this score lasted until half time but the home side clearly had other thoughts and in a crucial 5 minute spell they managed to run in two further scores. The first of these, a penalty, came after Biggar were turned over at a lineout following the restart while the second owed much to a defensive mix up as Dundee attacked in midfield, two Biggar players colliding as they sought to stop the Dundee threat. With Millar converting on both occasions Dundee took a 10 point lead into half time.
Ewan Stuart replaced Muir at the start of the second period, Biggar failing to take advantage of their first attacking passage of play as errors saw Dundee able to regain possession before clearing their lines.
Following a passage of open play a Dundee fumble saw a kerfuffle over loose ball on the ground with Biggar’s Douglas Notman contesting possession. A penalty against the Biggar man was the decision but with a yellow card branded, this was switched to red as Notman turned to walk away, the official citing disrespect for his change of colour. This had a major impact on proceedings as Biggar were down to 14 men with a half hour remaining. The immediate effect was that the penalty kicked to touch some 5 metres from the Biggar line saw the man advantage tell as the Dundee pack caught and then drove over the line for a try again converted by Millar.
Biggar ceded possession from the restart and a series of errors saw them pushed back in the face of the Dundee offensive defence. Now under pressure in the tight Biggar suffered as No 8 Donald Sangster took full advantage of stolen ball at a Biggar scrum to cross for the Fifers fourth and bonus point try.
Biggar made several changes at this juncture, the first of these as Dunlop picked up an injury which saw him replaced by Alan Warnock; with all Biggar’s front row now utilised this also resulted in uncontested scrums. Davy Reive came on at scrum half, Andrew Watt moving out to stand off as Hunter retired.
Not to be outdone by Dundee’s try scoring exploits, Biggar created an attacking opportunity of their own from a penalty which took play into the Dundee 22. An initial surge from centre Andrew King was held up short but ball was then given to Bachurzewski who was unstoppable from close range. Watt kicked the conversion for 37-20.
Unfortunately Dundee were not done and they crossed for two further scores, Sangster picking up his second before a lineout spawned more possession from which they scored their sixth try which, when converted, gave them their 51 point tally.
Scott Swankie latched onto an inside ball from Bachurzewski whose touchline dash had the Biggar crowd cheering. This was the final score but failed to register anything other than pride.
Again then, a deal of frustration within the Biggar camp as the side continued to yield possession cheaply at vital stages and often from restarts when, with the momentum which should have been Biggar’s was slowed or halted and which gave Dundee the initiative.
The visit of Edinburgh side Watsonians will provide another big challenge but one which all should be keen to meet. It is reported that two ex-Scotland loose forwards, Simon Taylor and Jason White, were both in action for Watsons at the weekend so their appearance on Saturday, alongside that of ex-Biggar Colt Reiss Cullen (buoyed by his selection in Scotland’s U-20 training squad) should guarantee much interest at Hartree Mill. Kick off 3pm.
Scot Swankie, Mark Bertram, Giles Boland, Andrew King, David Paterson, Graham Hunter, Andrew Watt, Craig Bachurzewski, Andrew Muir, Calvin Henderson, Edlyn Serge, Jamie Orr, Douglas Notman, McKenzie Pearce, Craig Simmons(Captain)
Reps: David Reive, Ewan Stewart, Alan Warnock, Lewis McLachlan, Michael Dunlop
Story date: 08/10/2014
Man-of-the-match award went to Craig Bachurzewski (Biggar)
Biggar beat Hillhead Jordanhill
Biggar 19 Hillhead Jordanhill 7
Biggar won their second game this season (and in doing so doubled the number of wins recorded last season) though the reaction of the coaching staff, players and supporters would have suggested otherwise such was the despondency at the overall performance.
The reason for this negative reaction was that Biggar had chances to win the game several times over, with poor decision-making and handling letting them down time after time, and while the side gained 4 valuable league points they definitely missed out on adding a 4-try winning Bonus point and also in adding positively to their Points differential column.
Biggar fielded an unchanged XV for this match, Ewan Stewart having recovered from the cut cheek sustained at Peebles. On the bench Calum Taylor took over from Lewis McLachlan who is still recovering from an injured ankle.
Hillhead Jordanhill claim to have lost almost 90% of last years’ playing squad and while they have recruited, and are continuing to do so, they have had a difficult start to the season, shedding points to Jedforest, Selkirk and Kelso. Indeed their fixtures follow those of Biggar so they host Peebles next week. Their results suggested that this would be a game Biggar should target as a possible 5-pointer and this was clearly the case, the Glasgow side struggling big time in the first quarter of the game as Biggar attacked with both pace and power.
A series of early penalties saw Biggar tap and go to put the Hill Jills defence under real pressure. David Paterson, Giles Boland, Craig Simmons and McKenzie Pearce all had try scoring runs halted but with 9 minutes gone a run and pass to Andy King gave the centre a chance to cross the line which he took well. Graeme Hunter was just wide with the conversion.
Biggar maintained their stranglehold on possession and territory with Pearce, Scott Swankie and Paterson combining well to take play deep into the Hill Jills half where only some luck and a penalty miss from Hunter prevented Biggar from adding to their total. Alan Warnock had a tilt at the line and an excellent touchline dash from Paterson set the crowd cheering, his inside pass eluding his support and allowing the visitors to escape.
It was only a matter of time before Biggar added to their total however with another series of drives seeing Pearce and Craig Bachurzewski held up but a pop pass from Hunter to King saw him burst clear and over under the posts for a try converted by Hunter for 12-0. Another touchline dash from Paterson promised much and ended with the wee winger crossing the line for a try but this was disappointingly chalked off as he had put a foot in touch.
With half time approaching, another penalty award to Biggar, which resulted in Hill Jills flanker Angus Lean being shown a yellow card, gave Biggar another opportunity to score, a tap and go seeing Simmons released for the line. The big man appeared to have acres of space to score in but caused the supporters hearts to miss a beat when instead of going for the outside gap he stepped inwards to force his way through two men and under the posts – Hunter adding the conversion for 19-0.
Had the Biggar support known that near things, near misses and frustration were going to be the order of the day they might not have stayed the course, but as the side was in sight of a 4 try bonus there was much optimism that things would get better after the break as Hill Jills would surely crumble.
The Glasgow side had played better in the second half against Kelso the previous week, and this was largely the case at Hartree Mill, their pack raising their game and thwarting Biggar’s best efforts although the home side did plenty of that of their own!
A sustained passage of play from the visitors saw Biggar under the cosh for the first time and pressed into defensive chores as Hill Jills attacked. Biggar did breakout however and an excellent run out of defence from Mark Bertram, continued by King and Pearce ended when the No 8 was bundled into touch in the visitors half.
A couple of penalties later – awarded incidentally by referee Graeme Ormiston who also took charge of the 2nd XV game against Peebles on Friday night - and Hill Jills were back in Biggar territory. The next such award ended with a sin-binning for No 8 Pearce as he illegally prevented release in the face of the Hill Jills pack.
A man to the good the visitors made the best of the opportunity presented to them to eventually score a try from flanker and Captain Douglas Grove after he latched onto stand-off Nic Jurisic’s pass. The stand-off added the conversion to put his side right back into the mix.
The last half hour of the game saw Biggar introduce their bench, Jamie Orr, Andrew Muir, Davy Reive and Calum Taylor all getting into the action as they replaced Warnock, Stewart, Paterson and Pearce (after his sin-binning). This period also coincided with Biggar’s handful of scorned chances as they broke out of defence, attacked hard into the Hill Jills territory and to the line – in fact in Boland’s case OVER the line – but failed to get the ball down to widen the gap.
Frustrating was the only word to describe this series of plays as, on each occasion, it seemed Biggar would score, with the very real possibility that if they were able to do so the visitors would ultimately collapse and result in a comfortable Biggar win. Hill Jills rode their luck however, and the spurned chances by Biggar, and even survived a series of 5 metre scrums with each side in turn slewing the scrum around on their opponents put in…..
As a result and instead of capitulating, and especially as the half wore on, Hill Jills looked increasingly more at ease as they gained in confidence. This was epitomised in one audacious step and breakout by Jurisic which saw him take play from virtually his own line deep into the Biggar half where his kick ahead had the covering Reive scrambling back to pick up and tidy.
Unfortunately for Reive however, his method of saving the day did not meet with Mr Ormiston’s approval and the winger found himself sin-binned for his efforts and Biggar were left to play out the game with 14 men (Reive did in fact return for the last couple of plays).
Undeterred Biggar continued to attack although once again they also continued to knock-on and drop passes all of which meant that they were unable to score again, and missed out on that - potentially vital - bonus point.
Despite the post-match despondency the win takes Biggar into 8th spot, their best position for over a season and there is, therefore, much to be positive about. Chances are being created, if not finished, and the defence has for the most part been sound. There is much to work on as coach Gavin Blackburn prepares his charges for this Saturday when they make the first of two trips north, this first to Dundee High. The Tayside club have not had the best of starts either having won two, lost one and drawn one and so Biggar will travel intent to grab another win.
Scot Swankie, Mark Bertram, Giles Boland, Andrew King, David Paterson, Graham Hunter, Andrew Watt, Craig Bachurzewski, Ewan Stewart, Calvin Henderson, Edlyn Serge, Craig Simmons(Captain), Douglas Notman, Alan Warnock, McKenzie Pearce.
Reps: David Reive, Andrew Muir, Jamie Orr, Calum Taylor, Paul Davidson.
Man-of-the-match awards went to Andy King (Biggar) and Tonci Buzov (Hill Jills).
Story date: 29/09/2014
Brilliant weekend for Biggar Teams
The summer like weather rarely experienced at this time of year saw some of the best rugby from Biggar teams for a long time.
Peebles 9 Biggar 15
In subjecting Peebles to their first league defeat of the season Biggar gained their first win of the season - a valuable win at that - and just reward for their efforts as they toughed out a tense, gritty affair decided by the boot of the stand-offs, Biggar’s Graham Hunter versus that of Peebles’ kicker Greg Raeburn.
That there were no tries was disappointing from a spectators point of view at least, Peebles closest when, in the dying minutes, they were convinced they had scored, referee Alistair Watt consulting both touch judges before denying the home XV what would most probably have been a match winner, albeit that the conversion would have had to have been kicked.
Local derbies tend to confound the pundits with Peebles clear favourites prior to kick off given that they had won two from two, including the scalp of Aberdeen last week, and that in Aberdeen. The emotions of the coaches on Saturday at the final whistle were in sharp contrast however, Biggar’s Gavin Blackburn delighted at getting ‘off-the-mark’ while the other Gavin (Peebles’ Kerr), was somewhat bemused following what was, after their first two games, a lacklustre performance from Peebles.
Biggar made several changes prior to this latest contest, Ewan Stewart returning after injury to resume at hooker, while Craig Simmons and Edlyn Serge were paired in the second row with McKenzie Pearce staring at No8. The duo of Jamie Orr and Lewis McLachlan were a little unlucky to not start though both made valuable contributions when they did get on.
In the backs, a new half back partnership saw Andrew Watt preferred to Davy Reive at 9 with Graham Hunter taking over at 10. Andrew King returned after the injury he picked up against Selkirk to partner Giles Boland in what turned out to be a strong and promising centre partnership.
Biggar rarely get the benefit of any penalty count and they have already this season conceded far more than they have been awarded, so it was a welcome change to see that for the first half at least they shaded the count by 2 to 1, the first such award seeing Hunter put his side ahead after just 2 minutes.
Peebles drew level just minutes later when a scrum offence led to Biggar being penalised. Biggar gave note of their intent and confidence when they chose to run ball out of defence, this catching the Peebles defence out although they did eventually halt the Biggar breakout on half way. Although Pearce dealt pretty well with ball at the scrum base there were a couple of messy pick-ups which saw Peebles take advantage to maintain their position in the Biggar half. Another penalty conceded at the scrum saw Raeburn kick his side level at 6-6 with just 15 minutes gone.
The tone of the game was now well and truly set with play confined - largely – to the ground between the 22’s as neither side was able to gain control of the ball for any length of time as knock-ons, turnovers and penalties punctuated play. Both sides were guilty in this respect with ball lost in all manner of ways as tackles were made and the ball poorly guarded. For Biggar the midfield defence of King and Boland was great to see, both working well on several occasions to employ the choke tackle to good effect.
Hooker Euan Stewart took a nasty knock to the face, the cut, while temporarily patched up continuing to bleed and forcing his retirement with Andy Muir taking over the role. Biggar’s attack faltered as ball was lost in contact or as flat passes were adjudged to be forward, these errors bringing to a swift end several promising moves and plays.
A third penalty to Biggar saw Hunter just wide to leave the scores tied.
Highlights of the half were the strong running out of defence by fullback Scott Swankie, the directness of No 8 Pearce, the growing confidence of Watt who harried Peebles scrum half Scott McCormick at the scrum base, and the astute covering of prop Craig Bachurzewski who dealt well with ball kicked deep into the Biggar 22.
Swankie ran out of defence at the start of the second half, his progress ended as he was brought down late having kicked ahead. Hunter added the points and just as had been the case at the start of the game, Biggar were 3 points up. Not to be outdone Raeburn kicked the sides level again after a penalty was conceded by Biggar after Boland had read the Peebles exit play from their own 22.With 10 minutes of the half gone Biggar went ahead again as Hunter converted his fourth penalty
The stand off added another 3 points after King engineered a great turnover in midfield. 15-9 to Biggar.
A thorn in the Biggar side has oft been their apparent difficulty in taking and dealing with re-starts and this was again the case against Peebles with a combination of poor positioning, fumbles and lack of support conspiring to make things easier for their opponents. This will definitely be a topic for the training ground this week as it is so frustrating to get ahead only to concede possession and territory.
Raeburn pulled his next penalty and with 15 minutes or so remaining this was to prove vital, the margin of 6 points requiring the home side to score a converted try or two penalties for the win.
McLachlan and Reive came on for Pearce and David Paterson respectively. Unfortunately the scrum was never quite stable enough for McLachlan to launch one of his trademark bursts from No 8 and while Reive was fielded out of position on the wing his defence was, as always, sound.
Peebles, for their part, continued to press, the post-match report from their game against Grammar suggesting that they would come out strongly in the second half due to their fitness levels. Their pack did run well but it is testament to Biggar’s defence that they were held out.
Orr then replaced Serge at lock with some 10 minutes remaining. Penalties continued to be conceded by Biggar, a series of awards leading to referee Watt issuing a ‘final’ warning to the side that another penalty would see a player shown yellow. Minutes later Alan Warnock (making a return this season to Biggar colours after a handful of seasons at Peebles) the man to be binned. Biggar were therefore a man down with time almost up and Peebles in possession. At 15-9 down, Peebles had their losing bonus and as 3 points would have not been enough to take the game and with time running out, they elected to kick for the corner. Biggar’s hopes now rested on their ability to defend their line and this they did bravely as Peebles flung themselves forward.
In the end they almost got the try they craved but Biggar’s defence held firm and the final whistle blew as Peebles lost possession some 10 metres from the line.
Biggar coach Blackburn was full of praise for his charges with their work ethic, physicality and desire to prevent a Peebles score all plus points. He will now prepare the side for the visit of Hillhead Jordanhill. The Glasgow outfit have lost all their games so far but the indications from their latest performance against Kelso is that they are steadily improving and gaining in confidence. As a result they will mount a serious challenge to the Biggar side who will require another strong performance to take the honours.
Biggar man-of-the-match went to Andrew Watt.
Scot Swankie, Mark Bertram, Giles Boland, Andrew King, David Paterson, Graham Hunter, Andrew Watt, Craig Bachurzewski, Ewan Stewart, Calvin Henderson, Edlyn Serge, Craig Simmons(Captain), Douglas Notman, Alan Warnock, McKenzie Pearce.
Reps: David Reive, Andrew Muir, Jamie Orr, Lewis McLachlan, Paul Davidson.
Biggar 2nds 83 Lasswade 7
The seconds preparation on Saturday was relaxed and lacklustre - unlike their performance.
One or two choice words in the changing room focussed the minds.
The game started at a furious pace and did not let up until the final whistle. Biggar scored early on and continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over all afternoon. Lasswade scored a cracking try after their big centre came on a hard line to score under the posts.
The half time score was 35-7.
Biggar scorers were Michael McKeand (looking good on his return) two tries and five conversions; Stevie Campbell rampaged to two tries before half time and one after to secure hias hat trick and Callum Taylor made up the first half scores.
Biggar were asked to maintain their focus and they did scoring 48 points after the break.
They lost Mark "Fuzzy" Fowler to broken ribs early in the half and this meant a re-jig in the scrum with Andrew (two trys and having another big game) Peacock going in at prop and the return of Neil "Wolfy" Wolfenden coming in to stiffen up the second row.
The scores continued with Andy Fleming getting two tries, Euan Sanderson two more and Kev Robison one. Michael 'Mouse' McKeand added a conversion and Jack Warnock, who came on for Callum Whyte got two conversions.
The final score 83-7.
The game was played in great spirit and was always competitive even though the scoreboard suggests otherwise- a credit to Lasswade. The visitors had a few call-offs DUE to a stag party!! The senior players who covered are a credit to their cub.
Biggar 2nds now travel to Peebles on Friday night, 7.30pm kick-off. Its the hot ticket! Local derby with the hosts coming off a big win, too.
See seperate reports for all other matches by clicking on the link on the right of this HOME page.
The colts won 38-17 against East Kilbride
The U16's scored too many tries against Penicuik to win by over 90 points
The U15's beat Livingston in a tough match 35-22
The U15 and U18 girls teams qualified for the Brewin Dolphin Cup winning 3 and 2 matches apiece
The Mini teams had emphatic wins at Grangemouth
but unfortunately the S1/2 teams were outplayed by East Kilbride but still put up a feisty performance.
Lets hope all of them can do the same again next weekend.
Story date: 21/09/2014
1sts v Kelso (BT National 2) and 2nds v Jedforest (BT Reserve League East)
Kelso 34 Biggar 27
The SRU website got it wrong first time round as they reported a 34-25 Kelso win but with Graham Hunter converting Biggar’s last try (his own!), Biggar did indeed claim a valuable losing bonus at 34-27, although once again Biggar were left thinking about what might have been as they gave their opponents a helping hand with their scores.
Kelso opened strongly with their big pack dominating the forward exchanges. It was Graham Hunter however who opened the scoring after Kelso were penalised after an early push. The lead was to last a matter of minutes as Kelso replied with a try after a good period of picks and drives from their pack, giant lock Callum Rowlandson crashing over and stand-off Andrew Skeen converting.
A penalty gave Skeen another opportunity which he took to put his side ahead at 10-3.
Hunter kicked Biggar back in to the game after another penalty awarded by referee Duncan McClement. The restart was almost taken by Biggar lock Edlyn Serge but he was unceremoniously taken out by Kelso support runners, the big man landing awkwardly but happily able to continue. The penalty was scant consolation as the law in such circumstances – that any player who takes an opponent out in the air should be sent to the sin bin – was clearly not applied.
Another big Kelso line drive saw prop Craig Bucharweski swing as he was held in the maul, referee McLement sending him to the bin for the statutory 10 mins. The resultant penalty and line drive saw Kelso forwards pick and go again and despite some stout defence weight and weight of numbers told and Rowlandson crashed over for his second score with Skeen converting for 17-6. At the next scrum Biggar brought Mikey Dunlop into the game at prop at the expense of Jamie Orr. The flanker was quickly called back into action however as Craig Simmonds was taken off to receive treatment for a cut to the head.
With just over half an hour gone the Border side increased their lead with a try from Ally Johnson after a good break by Skeen. The conversion was missed and despite a good closing passage of play which saw Biggar attack off a typically strong No8 pick up by Lewis McLachlan and some good yards gained by Giles Boland, Calvin Henderson and Scott Swankie there was no way through the Kelso defence and they went in at half time at 22-6 and with the welcome prospect of the wind on their backs for the second half.
As had been the case against Selkirk the previous week an invigorated start from the Biggar side saw them score an excellent try with just minutes on the clock. Their best passage of play and ball retention saw the pack pick and go and without gaining a huge number of yards ball was transferred right with stand-off Andrew Watt finding winger Mark Bertram on a great angle. The big man then offloaded well to the supporting Bucharweski who rounded the movement off and crashed over from some 22 metres. Hunter added the points and Biggar were back in the hunt at 22-13.
Kelso regained their grip on the game after they set up position in the Biggar 22. A nasty injury to one of the Kelso backs held the game up before a series of Kelso drives ended with Biggar hooker Andrew Muir being shown a yellow after he crept offside; Kelso’s weight advantage now considerably enhanced as they had the extra man. A number of scrums followed and despite some stout defence and a couple of contentious decisions Kelso managed a wheel and drive with No 8 Alastair Greive rounding things off with a try, Skeen’s conversion putting Kelso 29-13 ahead.
Undeterred Biggar continued to attack and despite Bucharweski taking a knock in the tight scrum they created another attacking position in the Kelso half. A couple of penalties ensured their stay was prolonged and after the pack had kept the ball well Watt found Boland in the centre, the Irishman making light of the Kelso cover to scorch through a gap for a good try.
Unfortunately the benevolence of the Biggar side was once more in evidence as at 29-20 they were in sight of a losing bonus if not a win. A kick and chase after the restart saw ball lost to the Kelso breakaway forward and one surge later ball went to Skeen who put in a well-judged kick to the corner, Johnson diving in just ahead of the covering Bertram.
At 34-20 Biggar were down against things again but a last score which was run in and then converted by Hunter – this the last movement of the game and coming after another sustained passage of play - gave Biggar the all-important bonus.
A game of two halves? Kelso won the first half 22-6, Biggar the second by 21-12. The deciding factors were Kelso’s dominance of the tight play, Biggar’s two yellow cards (the second of which caused further problems as the lineout struggled without a recognised thrower) and a couple of defensive lapses which gave Kelso sufficient space from which to operate and attack.
Clearly the Biggar outfit were again disappointed but the direct running of, among others, McLachlan, Patterson, Bertram, Hunter and McKenzie allied to the work rate of Bucharweski, Orr, Boland, Reive and Watt mean that this side will get better.
The side must now regroup prior to what will be their toughest test yet when they travel the short distance to The Gytes and the local derby match with Peebles this Saturday.
Another big support would help the boys on their way.
Scot Swankie, Mark Bertram, Giles Boland, Graham Hunter, David Paterson, Andrew Watt, David Reive, Craig Bucharweski, Andrew Muir, Calvin Henderson, Jamie Orr, Edlyn Serge, Douglas Notman, Lewis McLachlan, Craig Simmons(Captain)
Reps: Mike Dunlop, Charles Cochrane, Graham Jamieson, McKenzie Pearce,.
Man-of-the-match award went to Graham Hunter (Biggar).
Jedforest 2nds 16 Biggar 2nds 9
Biggar travelled to Jed for what was their first game of the season and their first Edinburgh Reserve league match hoping that a performance from this talented side would kick start the league campaign on a positive note.
Biggar started them the game on the back foot, Jed taking the game to the visitors, however the one thing Biggar can rely on is DEFENCE and Biggar defended for most of the first half keeping Jed to 0~0.
It was a dramatic end to the half with the ref up-ending himself and feeling unable to continue. He did however take the field for the second half - much to his credit. The message was that he would re-assess his ability to carry on at the 60 minute mark therefore allowing the score at that time to stand.
The game then became a bit edgy both sides trying to get a lead in case of an early finish. Step up Jack Warnock, who, in what was his first senior game and after just a handful of training sessions due to work commitments, was asked to kick to equalise three times and on every occasion slotted the kick.
The game was by now careering to an end and it was just one a lapse in concentration which allowed the hosts to drive over for the decisive score: a converted try to decide the game.
Story date: 15/09/2014
Biggar 2nd XV look to be an exciting prospect for the league season and with John Bogle being joined by Bob Aitken, Alistair Browning and Michael McKeand on the coaching side there is every reason to be up-beat.
Biggar lose out to Selkirk in League opener
Biggar 22 Selkirk 43
Biggar played their first home game of this season when they opened their 2014/15 National League account on Saturday against Border side Selkirk on what was a bright afternoon and in front of a very welcome large crowd.
A great turnout of club volunteers, coaches and helpers had been invited for a pre-Match luncheon and they listened to club coach Gavin Blackburn outline his stall for the season, the over-riding aim being to ensure the club was competitive at both 1st and 2nd XV level. His satisfaction at the effort levels and commitment at pre-season training was evident but his understanding that what has gone on before meant little and that the performance on Saturday was the start of the real business of the season was also clear. He hoped above all else for a performance against Selkirk and realised that this would be a stepping-stone for the rest of the season.
To end the game with a 43-22 scoreline was therefore massively disappointing, especially as the try count was just 4-3 in Selkirk’s favour and that the visitor’s scores had emanated largely from Biggar errors with an interception, a dropped pass and a charged down kick all ceding points to the Border XV.
True, Biggar had benefited from similar generosity in the first half when Giles Boland had taken an interception as Selkirk attacked but Biggar’s other two scores had been a result of some great play with forwards and backs combining well to put Selkirk under real pressure.
Selkirk certainly deserved their win but Biggar could and should have made things far more difficult for them, another contributing factor being the penalty count (13-7 in Selkirk’s favour) which allowed Selkirk to keep the score board ticking over nicely as they amassed 12 first half points from 4 penalties, fullback Josh Welsh having a good day with the boot and ending up with a game tally of 23 points.
Biggar fielded a side with a number of new faces for the Biggar membership with those targeted pre-season to bulk up the side being joined by others who have willingly thrown in their lot at Hartree Mill. As such there is always going to be a settling-in period as players adapt to each other and to what coach Blackburn is looking for and while, as previously suggested, there is considerable disappointment about the final result, there is certainly room for optimism as they learn and as the season progresses.
An early penalty from Welsh gave Selkirk the lead but this was countered after Graham Hunter equalised for Biggar. Selkirk scorned a try-scoring opportunity after a rushed Biggar clearance gave the visitors an overlap at the club house corner but a crucial hesitation to use the extra man and a great covering tackle by Davy Reive saw Selkirk taken into touch.
Selkirk regained their lead on 10 minutes as Welsh struck again before the game settled down somewhat as both teams attacked and countered. Biggar suffered a major blow when Australian centre Andrew King was injured in a tackle. The big man was clearly in a lot of pain and the injury necessitated a hospital visit but happily it is muscle damage rather than anything more serious although this is still to lead to a number of weeks absence. Hunter moved to centre as livewire winger David Paterson took to the field.
Play was punctuated at regular intervals by Durham exchange referee Will Halford who blew for a variety of offences, none of which were within kicking range of either side. The next score came when Boland latched onto a loose pass in the Selkirk midfield, the Biggar man sprinting clear and cleverly avoiding the chasing support before he was able to off-load to supporting winger Mark Bertram. In turn Bertram kept his head to elude two tackles before dotting down for a cracking try. Hunter converted to put Biggar ahead at 10-6.
Conceding a score shortly after scoring has oft been an Achilles heel for Biggar and the same issue reared its ugly head again when, directly from the kick off, Biggar conceded a penalty as Craig Simmonds obstructed Selkirk after Jamie Orr’s well taken catch. The 4 point lead was swiftly reduced to just one as Welsh calmly struck his third penalty.
A half time lead would have been well-deserved but Welsh was on the money again after referee Halford penalised the Biggar scrum. Deep into added time a last movement saw an encouraging passage of play from Biggar with Edlyn Serge, Douglas Notman and Paterson all working well to take play to within metres of the Selkirk line before being bundled into touch. Selkirk therefore went in at the break 12-10 up.
Biggar opened the second half in splendid fashion, a sweeping move from the kick off putting the visitors under real pressure in their 22. Ball was whipped back left and a gap appeared through which stand-off Andrew Watt burst for a try under the posts which Hunter converted to put Biggar ahead once again. Would this be the turning point for Biggar?
Though initially things looked good as Biggar were quickly back on the attack with the chance to take play deep into the Selkirk half the fates conspired to thwart the dream, Biggar losing out as Selkirk centre Craig MacDougall pounced on a pass by Biggar full back Scott Swankie. The centre had a bit of work to do but he held off the cover to score a try and with Welsh adding the points Selkirk regained the lead at 19-12.
Another period of pressure saw Biggar re-establish themselves in the Selkirk 22 and run Selkirk close. A lineout error, though initially saved by Notman saw Selkirk awarded a scrum, Selkirk No 8 Calum Marshall picking and making a terrific break out of defence before being hauled down by Alan Warnock on the Biggar Selkirk 10 metre line.
Play was transferred to the Biggar half and while able to clear their lines Biggar lost out again as Swankie lost possession in mid-field, the ball escaping the clutches of the Biggar men before being picked up and moved to Selkirk No 10 Callum McColm who ran in for his sides third score, Welsh again adding the 2 points for a 26-17 lead.
Both sides had now made use of their bench with Andrew Muir and Lewis McLachlan introduced to replace Ewan Stewart and Andrew Warnock while Mackenzie Pearce also entered the fray as Simmonds and Serge were both given breaks.
With some 15 minutes remaining the game was put beyond any doubt when Biggar were under pressure deep in their 22. While ball was won well the Selkirk offensive/defence was up at great speed to charge down Watt’s clearance, the ball obligingly popping up into the hands of scrum half Mikey Davies who scored
McLachlan at No 8 created an excellent platform for Biggar as he picked up to break right and carve a huge hole in the Selkirk defence. Play continued before the same player made a second intrusion and with Andrew Muir and Notman moving forward the ball ended up in Bertram’s hands the big winger crashing over for his second score. 22-33 Selkirk.
As Biggar strove to gain another score which would have given them at worst a losing bonus Welsh took advantage of a couple of penalties to first of all advance play downfield and then secondly to kick for 36-22.
The final nail in Biggar’s chances and a fourth try to give Selkirk the full 5 league points saw yet another penalty kicked to the corner from where a well-worked lineout drive led to a try for prop Kieron Cooney. Needless to say the conversion was well struck by Welsh for his sides’ 43 point tally.
Biggar might have made a better fist of things when, in the dying seconds, they were awarded a penalty deep in the Selkirk 22 but a lack of control at the crucial moment saw possession lost and referee Halford blow for full time.
A sizeable defeat but one which nevertheless slightly flattered the visitors, Biggar’s profligacy gifting them their win.
All attention will now switch to preparing for Saturday’s clash with Kelso, another of the Border sides in this Division. Having lost out to Peebles in their first match Kelso will be keen to kick start their league campaign and so this will be another tight match. A reduction in the error count and a tighter grasp on possession will be key to the game plan.
Scot Swankie, Mark Bertram, Giles Boland, Andy King, Graham Hunter, Andrew Watt, David Reive, Craig Bucharweski, Ewan Stewart, Danny Jennings, Jamie Orr, Edlyn Serge, Douglas Notman, Alan Warnock, Craig Simmons(Captain)
Reps: Mike Dunlop, Andrew Muir, Lewis McLachlan, McKenzie Pearce, David Paterson.
Man-of-the-match awards went to Giles Boland (Biggar) and Angus Duckett (Selkirk).
The 2nd XV, who had another blank weekend, should see their season kick start with an away match against Jedforest. This will also be a really tough contest as the 2nds will be a youthful outfit with several of the Colts from the past 2/3 years all involved.
Story date: 09/09/2014
Tough test at Myreside as Biggar part company with the BT Cup campaign.
Match report : 1st Sept 2014
Watsonians 51 Biggar 15
In one of only two games to pit two National League clubs against each other (the other between Kelso and Hillhead Jordanhill was cancelled after the Glasgow side could not field a recognised front row!), Biggar succumbed to the might of Edinburgh side - and League favourites - Watsonians on Saturday.
That this was a hefty defeat was disappointing although the Watsons tally did not match that of last season while Biggar managed an additional try in response.
Into the Biggar XV came new arrival Edlyn Serge and there is no doubt that the big man – who is to assist with strength and conditioning of the junior players – will be a boost for the Biggar squad.
In grand conditions and on the wide Myreside pitch Biggar found themselves up against things from the start, Watson's taking advantage of a first penalty award against Biggar to tap and go which resulted in a try for the right winger. 7-0 Watson's.
Biggar’s restart – as had Watsons kick-off – failed to go 10, Watson's moving the ball from the scrum and a try looked on save that the referee gave a forward pass.
Biggar had really struggled to get out of their own half until a good clearance kick made on 15 mins. Relieved the pressure, albeit momentarily. Biggar’s chase was poor and allowed the Watsons full back to make a good break before releasing the winger who crossed for his 2nd try in the same corner. 12-0.
In a fast paced game Watson's gained control of the ball again at the restart and while the full back made a break Biggar’s 9 (Reive) made a half tackle to slow him up before Biggar 15 (Scott Swankie) caught him and held him up over the line. The score was only delayed before Watson's put the ball wide with the fullback looping the winger to score in the right hand corner. 17-0 after 21 min and the signs were ominous!
Following a penalty award from the kick off Biggar kicked deep into the 22. Here a well worked lineout saw Craig Bachurzweski (prop) score down the blind. Graeme Hunter converted. Biggar had their best passage of play of the half, putting 4-5 phases together before winning a penalty. A kick to the corner saw them win a lineout 15m out. From this a penalty was awarded in front of the posts. Graeme Hunter kicked to reduce the deficit to 17-10 with 34 min. on the clock.
It didn’t take the Edinburgh outfit long before they added to their total. Having regained the ball they continued to put the ball wide, moving it right then left before scoring in the left hand corner.
Half time 24-10.
Biggar started the second half by kicking deep into Watson's half. Although Watson's cleared the immediate danger, ball was taken on by Biggar number 8 Craig Simmons who frustratingly then managed to lose the ball trying to offload. Watson's won a penalty, and kicked to the right hand touchline and on the 22m line. Utilising their lineout to full effect Watson's caught and drove the lineout to score, 31-10.
Biggar’s luck was in when, from the restart, Watson's knocked on. Biggar had a couple of passes before Graeme Jamieson made the most of his opportunity to score in the left hand corner. 31-15.
A passage of much more scrappy play then ensued and as it did so Biggar lost their shape. Watson's eventually re-gathered possession before making a drop goal attempt from 30 yards out. 34-15. (53 min.)
Biggar had already contributed to their own downfall by ceding possession and they did so again directly from the restart which went straight out. Watson's put a couple of passes together before going into touch themselves. Biggar stole the lineout through Alan Warnock (who along with Jamie Orr was the pick of the Biggar pack), but then quickly lost the ball again as Watson's broke down the left hand side to score. 39-15.
Biggar then enjoyed their best part of the game with some good play taking them deep into the Watson's 22m. Watson's were reduced to 14 men when their centre (No 13) was yellow carded for deliberately slowing up ball. Biggar were awarded a scrum, but instead of steadying the ship with some possession play contrived to lose possession and then concede a penalty for pulling down! Watson's took full advantage to clear their line. A good move featuring fullback Swankie looked promising but Watsons spoiled the party as they managed to dispossess the wee man and with no cover at full they kicked long with no cover to tidy possession. Despite this Biggar managed to secure the ball but then found themselves turned over and seconds later Watsons scored out wide (again). 46-15.
Despite fielding some big men the Biggar scrum toiled in the game as their opponents proved a little more adept in the tight. Under considerable pressure and as the Biggar scrum was going backwards, No 8 Craig Simmonds deserves credit as he picked up before managing to provide some good ‘go forward’. Disappointingly the referee adjudged the final pass to be forward.
Watson's won the scrum and their Number 12 made a break from a missed tackle. Biggar scrambled back to slow play down before Davy Reive was yellow carded for pulling the Watsons 9 back in. The No 9 in question was non-other than ex-Biggar Colt Reiss Cullen who moved to the Edinburgh club over the summer.
Watson's opted to kick the penalty for a lineout, which they won and while Biggar again managed to clear the immediate danger, the ball was cleared down the open side before their centre squeezed in down the right hand side to round off the scoring at 51-15.
Scot Swankie, Mark Bertram, Andy King, Graham Hunter, Craig McDonald, Andrew Watt, David Reive, Craig Bachurewski, Ewan Stewart, Danny Jennings, Jamie Orr, Edlyn Serge, Douglas Notman, Alan Warnock, Craig Simmons (Captain). Reps Mike Dunlop, Andrew Muir, Andy Peacock, McKenzie Pearce, Graham Jamieson
This was a harsh lesson for the Biggar side but one from which they will doubtless learn. This Saturday sees the side play their first game at home this season and what a cracker it promises to be with Border side Selkirk the opposition. Needless to say a big, vocal home crowd would be a boost for the Biggar side in their quest for a strong opening performance and league game.
Sadly the 2nd XV did not have a match this weekend and indeed their next outing is a league game at Jedforest on the 13th.
Story date: 02/09/2014
Senior Player Facebook Group
Story date: 29/10/2013
Biggar RFC First XV
Here is a page for the1st XV to use.
Story date: 16/09/2011