Biggar get bonus point win
Biggar 43 Greenock Wanderers 10
After the disappointment of last weekend when games were all postponed Biggar RFC returned to the pitches with a very full fixture list of Senior and Youth matches both near and far.
At home the 1st XV entertained Greenock Wanderers who prop up the table and are already relegated.
In October Greenock clung onto a disappointing Biggar performance to record their only losing bonus point and there was some determination that there would be a much cleaner and more controlled performance from Biggar this time around, especially in the wake of the Kirkcaldy match a fortnight ago.
Injury to Francois Nel meant a reshuffle in the backs with Aird Jardine, who is Biggar's 'go-to' when players are struggling (he has already featured at wing and scrum half), started at stand-off while Douglas Voas started at wing. Douglas Notman regained his place at flank forward after Euan Sanderson injured a wrist at training and Andrew Cairns returned at lock for the unavailable Zander Lyon.
In relatively pleasant, though chilly conditions, Biggar kicked off into the breeze and were soon two tries up after Karetai Williams finished off two nice handling movements featuring, among others, Jardine, Donald Voas, Notman and Andrew Peacock. Richard Peacock converted the first of these, the fullback taking over the kicking duites because of Nel's absence.
With much pressure Biggar should arguably have been much further ahead but with a surfeit of possession – an unusual experience in recent seasons – players often tried too much on their own, taking ball forward but ignoring the wide man. In this respect the unluckiest player was surely right winger Alisdair Sinclair who on at least three occasions was denied a chance and a try when players cut inside. One of these occasions ended in Williams second score but on others ball was lost in contact or at best slowed down by the Greenock defence.
In an open and entertaining contest Greenock showed their worth as well with livewire scrum half MacDougall and centres Mcgroarty and Harrison hitting up well. They scored a try after good pressure saw ball spread left where winger Cleary took advantage of a neat inside ball to cross the line. Diffenthal, having miscued his first penalty, was short with this attempt as well.
Jardine made a great interception in midfield but again the opportunity was lost as players had white line fever and tried to go the whole way themselves. Indeed at this stage Biggar's errors were doing as much damage as Greenock's opportunism.
Another great breakout from Biggar, who were in a defensive position, saw Warnock tidy a loose lineout ball and then the Voas brothers exchange passes on the left wing before skipper Davy Reive rounded off the move with a 30 metre dash to the line – two tries this calendar year, what is going on?
With a most acute angle and from way out on the touchline Peacock confounded the touchline critics with an excellent conversion. From the restart another great breenge from Williams and ably supported by Warnock saw Graeme Jamieson brought up short with a despairing tackle close to the Greenock line.
The position was retained however and while Sinclair missed out again when the outside pass was on, a couple of penalties allowed Biggar to make ground toward the Greenock line. The second of these was taken quickly by Notman who burst over and under the posts for Biggars' 4th and bonus point winning try.
Peacock converted for a half time score of 26-5.
Now playing with the wind Biggar had to ensure they matched their first half efforts and this they did pretty much though they could only manage three further scores and fell short of the magic half century which should have been a relatively easily attainable target.
An early tap penalty, this time taken by Reive gave Donald Voas the chance he required for a 5 metre plunge for the try. Peacock saw his conversion rebound off the upright. Jardine was unlucky not to score next after Ewan Stewart, who worked tirelessly all day and completed so much of the dirty work – sealing ball, choke tackles, support play – made good ground off a turnover. The pass from Reive was adjudged forward by referee Michael Todd, one of the youngest panel refs at just 18.
With play increasingly unstructured, Greenock's Mcgoarty plunged over from loose play following a good run from fullback Tyley. Diffenthal was again unable to find his mark and the Greenock tally moved to 10.
Louis Falefa and Dan O'Connell replaced Voas and Peacock in the pack, Biggar's authority soon reduced as Greenock's bench ran out, scrums then going uncontested which meant that Biggar could no longer pin Greenock back.
A lineout drive was rounded off by a try from O'Connell, this just reward for the efforts of the pack.
Play continued unabated and as both sides continued to throw the ball about. There were chances a-plenty but as support tired, opportunities were lost.
Jardine retired after a neat chip brought on cramp, his replacement at 10 being Craig McDonald who had earlier replaced the luckless Sinclair, who in turn returned to the fray. Minutes later the youngster was at last set free for the line, his inside pass just knocked down by the despairing cover. As Greenock gamely attempted to run out of defence the ball was spilled and with Jamieson alert to the occasion he tapped dived and then twisted for the score – certainly nothing his contribution didn't deserve.
The engines of those who are slightly longer in the tooth – namely Reive, Warnock, Cairns and Notman but also O'Connell – can only be admired, particularly given the sticky conditions underfoot. Warnock especially seemed to be everywhere, a final 5-minute, lung-bursting 60m sprint out of defence from a tap penalty with dummy passes included quite something to behold.
The man-of-the-match awards both went to props with Scott Black getting the nod for Greenock while Donald Voas took the Biggar plaudits. In contention were many in the black shirt, including Williams (who easily had his best game and made the most yards so far), Warnock and Stewart all of whom relished the day.
A 43-point total and a better all round performance there can be no doubt although Biggar again got sucked into their opponents style of play. Against Kirkcaldy Biggar got sucked into a war of attrition by the Fife sides pack when a clearer focus on the task in hand would surely have proved more effective. On Saturday Biggar followed the example set by Greenock who wanted to spread play wide quickly and run from all areas. Biggar can do this, indeed they did this on Saturday when ball was shipped around with some ease, but in tighter contests they must learn how to control proceedings and play the way in which they prepare.
R. Peacock, A. Sinclair, G. Jamieson, R. Lavery, Douglas Voas, A. Jardine, D. Reive, C. Bachurzewski, E. Stewart, Donald Voas, A. Cairns, A. Peacock, D. Notman, A. Warnock, K. Williams. Reps: D. O’Connell, L. Falefa, C. McDonald
This Saturday Biggar host GHA in BT Cup action. The Glasgow side have not had a particularly good season - especially given that they were in the promotion play-off position last season – and will come to Biggar on the back of a couple of defeats.
Story date: 31/01/2016
Biggar have nothing to lose and everything to gain so must go out and throw everything and anything they can at their visitors.
Of course some of the Glasgow XV may make a return to Hartree Mill as GHA 2nds were in action on Saturday against Biggar 2nds.
The Glasgow side got the better of Biggar in the end although there was not a lot in the match, Biggar certainly belying their bottom of the table billing. Jack warnock squeezed over at the corner for Biggar's only score.
Kirkcaldy take the honours
Biggar11 Kirkcaldy 22
This was not the start to 2016 for which Biggar had wished. The Festive lay-off seemed to have undone much of the good work completed prior to Christmas with Kirkcaldy seemingly much hungrier and much better prepared for the contest which, played in dreich and cold conditions, proved to be a tight affair with ball seldom going past either stand-off. Ironcially of course Biggar's only try, scored by winger Aird Jardine, was down to some swift running and good hands.
Biggar fielded a now recognised XV with Richard Peacock (hamstring) and Andrew Cairns (holiday) the most notable absentees. Deputees were, respectively Craig McDonald and Zander Lyon, the young lock making a welcome return to action after injury.
Having dominated the first match in October, Biggar may well have been guilty of complacency but with Kirkcaldy having traditionally been a particularly stuffy and stout XV and fielding ex-Biggar man Qunitan Sanft, there was absolutely no justification for that. There was no way the Fifers were ever going to be anything other than 'up' for the match. The cold conditions were difficult, but no more difficult for Biggar than for Kirkcaldy, so this latest performance, which was reminscent of the early season form must be put down to bitter experience. Lessons must be learned and those taken into the next match, this an away game to Whitecraigs.
As Saturday dawned there was initially some doubt over the match following Friday's snow and overnight frost but on closer inspection it was clear that the grass was perfectly playable the only possible difficulty being the lines which were snow covered and invisible. A few phone calls and the response by club members and committee soon has that problem solved and with the snow brushed off and sawdust laid the pitch was eminently playable and it was 'game on'. This in itself was a bonus to Match Sponsor Lance Armstrong who has been really unlucky over the past four season with just one match played from 4 sponsorhsips.
Playing 'up' the hill Biggar opened in defence as Kirkcaldy began strongly, Sanft quick to test the Biggar defence with some teasing up and unders, his own trademark as a stand off. These Biggar largely dealt with though luck prevailed on a couple of occasions as the ball was allowed to bounce. Biggar also used the kick with skipper Davy Reive kicking into the box for the chase. Alistair Sinclair was up onto these at good pace but lacked the support to do much damage. As it was, Francois Nel successfully kicked the second of two penalties to put Biggar ahead at 3-0.
With just 15 minutes gone Biggar scored the simplest of trys, ball initially fed open and hit up by Graham Jamieson being switched back blind to Nel whose pass found Robbie Lavery. The centre set Jardine up and the winger dinked the ball behind the Kirkcaldy defence and then won the race for the ball to pick up then touch down for a great try. That this took place on the driest part of the pitch was perhaps not insignificant and certainly this was virtually the only time either side played any expansive rugby. Nel was unable to add the conversion and so the score remained at 8-0.
Almost immediatley however Biggar transgressed from the restart and winger Finlay Smith kicked for 8-3 to open the Kirkcaldy account.
A passage of really scrappy play then ensued with neither side able to control proceedings. Biggar tried to keep ball moving but found possession difficult as Kirkcaldy used their big pack to bully Biggar. There was little opportunity to burst past opponents as the ground conditions were sticky and slippy and the direct route, favoured by Kirkcaldy, was more effective. As they came into the game more so they used their pack to good effect, Biggar defending well with most tackles making their mark. In this area Voas and Peacock were to the fore although there were many who contributed positively.
Nel kicked a second penalty to put his side ahead at 11-3, a reasonable lead but one which on balance they perhaps only barely deserved.
Lavery was then really unlucky not to get away with an interception on his own 22, referee Tom French judging that he had been offside and going back instead to an earlier infringement.
The penalty kick to touch by Sanft led to a Kirkcaldy lineout drive and with their pack going forward and seemingly in control their tighthead prop was guilty of stamping for which he was promptly sin-binned. Play then was upset by some niggle as players took exception to the goings-on, this prompting the referee to speak to both captains.
The resultant penalty allowed Biggar to escape upfield and they managed to do enough in the last minutes to prevent Kirkcaldy getting any more points.
Biggar started the second half in their red change strips as the pitch not surprisingly began to show signs of cutting up.
The opening salvos were inconclusive but where Biggar had expected the heavier Kirkcaldy pack to tire it was almost the opposite as they began to pick and drive with authority and as tackles which had been completed in the first half were now less secure allowing Kirkcaldy to gain momentum. A penalty to the Fifers gave them good territory and with another line drive in motion they squeezed in at the corner as Biggar's defence eventually gave way. Matthew Harvey the try-scorer. An excellent conversion from Smith made the score 11-10 and put Kirkcaldy right back into the match.
The 10 minutes in the bin for the Kirkcaldy prop had seemingly done little to calm him down however and while there was some needless petulance from Biggar later in the second half, the same player was again guilty of stamping but as this was unseen by the referee at least, he escaped the red he should have been shown. That this led to some more niggle is in no doubt and while this fired the visitors up there is equally no doubt that it regrettably disrupted Biggar's focus.
Biggar brought Dan O'Connell and Louis Felafa into the game as both Craig Bachurewski and Donald Voas came off. O'Connell worked well in the loose while Falefa's needless retaliation minutes later led to another Kirkcaldy penalty which again gave them field position.
This in turn led to a series of forward drives, Kirkcaldy playing to their strengths and strangling Biggar at all points. Pick and drives followed one after another and even when Biggar conceded penalties it was the tap and go for Kirkcaldy as they sought to increase the pressure. In his desperation to gain some form of relief Davy Reive then incurred referee French's displeasure, the scrum half sent to the bin. This paid off for Kirkcaldy as there is only so much pressure a team can stand before a gap is found, espeically as Biggar were now a man down and Samoan centre Sasa Tofilau got over the line for the second Kirkcaldy try.
No matter how they tried Biggar were unable to escape and exit from their 22 and this was all the more frustrating as in the first half the tactic of driving up through Jamieson had been successful. As it was, attempts to run ball instead of kicking well to touch gave little respite, the visitors quick to rexert pressure and pin back Biggar back, Sanft again instrumental in this with a variety of well judged kicks.
Karetai Williams was the next to be shown a yellow, this another of those avoidable yet inevitable yellows as Biggar sought to defend as close to the gain line as they could. Worse followed as Nel succumbed to a head knock which is likely to put the South African out for a fortnight at least.
Ewan Stewart and Ewan Sanderson then both came off, this hardly surprising as they had both continued bravely after sustaining hefty knocks at the end of the first half. Calvin Henderson and Stuart Alder – the latter getting his first outing in league rugby – were introduced in their stead and they provided some much needed pace in attack as their spirit is never in question.
Kirkcaldy had the last word however as they scored a thrid try, this from hooker Jack Pow, this try converted very well by Smith for the 22 point tally.
Highlights for Biggar were few and far between aside that is from the try and the consistent and positive work from Andrew Peacock, two restart takes as wella s some solid defence all actching the eye and which earned him Biggar's man-of-the-match award. Kirkcaldys' hooker, Jack Pow, was the visitors recipient.
C. McDonald, A. Sinclair, G. Jamieson, R. Lavery, A. Jardine, F. Nel, D. Reive, C. Bachurzewski, E. Stewart, Donald Voas, Z. Lyon, A. Peacock, E. Sanderson, A. Warnock, K. Williams. Reps: D. O’Connell, L. Falefa, C. Henderson, S. Alder
A really disappointing performance from Biggar then and all the more so after some much inmproved play prior to Christmas. Injury will mean there have to be changes for this Saturday' smatch against Whitecraigs, a side which gave Biggar a real wake up back in October.
The weather put paid to all other weekend action with Aberden Grammar having called off on Thursday due to transport issues.
Story date: 31/01/2016
Biggar in control against PL
Biggar 26 Preston Lodge 10
Biggar returned to winning ways on Saturday when the defeated Preston Lodge, a side which had given Biggar a real thumping back in September.
Both sides showed several changes to those squads listed back then – Biggar had 8 changes to PL’s 11 – but Biggar, who in the first match had endured some real bad luck with the bounce of the ball rarely going their way, profited this time round as PL were slow to come out of their blocks and then made numerous errors in what was a poor first half display. They were of course given little time on the ball by a Biggar unit who were clearly out to redeem themselves and to maintain a winning home run.
The opening exchanges were all Biggar and with handling errors costing them possession and territory PL were rarely able to get their hands on the ball. Play was confined to the PL half and Biggar had numerous attacking opportunities. That they took the lead via penalties from Francois Nel (2 mins, 6 mins, 25 mins and 35 mins) meant that they were looking good for a 12-0 half time lead. The half was rounded off however by a somewhat rare occurrence, namely a try from skipper David Reive, the scrum half nipping over from close range and under the posts for a try converted by Nel. Biggar 19-0 up.
Until that point Biggar had enjoyed some great passages of play as, among others Aird Jardine, Richard Peacock, Graham Jamieson and Robbie Lavery all took the game to the visitors. One particular phase began after Alasdair Sinclair engineered a great turnover as PL attacked in Biggar’s 22. The winger pinched the ball, sprinted up the line and then fed inside to Nel. The move was continued by Ewan Sanderson and then Andrew Peacock both of whom again had excellent games (the former winning the man-of-the-match accolade). Possession was retained then moved to Craig Bachurzewski who embarked on a 40 metre burst upfield leaving defenders and supporting players in his wake. More of this please! Unfortunately, while the ball was freed to Richard Peacock, Sanderson and then Warnock PL managed a try-saving turnover. They were unable to properly clear their lines however and another attack, initiated after a wonderful diving catch from Andrew Peacock, might also have led to a try but Sinclair was bundled into touch on the wing as the scramble PL defence covered across.
It seemed only time until Biggar would score a try but in fact they had to wait until the last minute of the half for Reive’s effort.
PL’s main attacking threat, aside for a couple of promising looking attacking runs which too frequently ended with dropped passes or knock-ons, was via the pack which consistently drove well from lineouts and mauls. On one occasion play was advanced some 40 meters upfield as Biggar were unable to halt PL’s progress. Instrumental in these plays was ex-Biggar prop Colin Arthur who was at the heart of many of these mauls and whose pace onto the ball served his side well.
Biggar turned round then with a healthy lead and in control, their scrummage on top and their open play more productive.
The first 20 minutes of the second half was PL’s best spell however, they clearly responding to their coaches prompting and encouragement. They came out looking much hungrier and, in complete contrast to the first half, began to control play.
Awarded just a couple of penalties before the break PL were more successful in these opening exchanges as referee Michael Milner penalised Biggar on several occasions, forcing the home side onto the defensive.
A long range penalty miss from Nel was all Biggar had to show from this period but PL scored their first try after some 12 minutes. Two penalties gave them field position and both lineouts were driven forward to the Biggar line, the second of these rounded off by Arthur for an opening score.
Less than 10 minutes later and they had scored again, James Burns nipping over following another penalty awarded against Biggar. The wee scrum half elected to tap and go and finding the Biggar defence slow to react he crossed on the left hand side of the posts. Had kicker Brash been on target with these two conversions the score at 19-14 would have led to a tight last quarter of the match but his failure to score meant that PL still needed two scores for the win.
As it was, aside from another driven lineout which Biggar held up, their effort quietly petered out as Biggar finished more strongly, the offensive defence of Jardine, Cairns, Stewart, O’Connell, Falefa, Henderson and Peacock all ensuring that PL were confined to defensive roles.
An excellent Nel cross kick almost led to a second Biggar score, Richard Peacock just unable to take the catch. This would have been a show stopper but Biggar were at least able to maintain the pressure from the scrum.
Some minutes later and within sight of the final whistle a scrum which was tidied by Williams saw Reive feed Nel. His grubber kick behind the PL defence obligingly bounced up for Douglas Voas who had replaced Sinclair. Voas in turn fed Lavery and the wee centre sped over for the try which Nel then converted for 26-10.
Altogether a really good win and one from which the squad can and should take great satisfaction. The fact that Biggar spurned 3 scores will however irk coach Gavin Blackburn. Biggar could have done with 4-try bonus points in their games against Lasswade and PL and these would have been taken them that little bit closer to their ‘40 points by Christmas’ target. This is one target which they will not now reach and with a tough match coming up against Cartha who will be keen to maintain their promotion challenge Biggar will have to settle for 6th spot at the break, their current total insufficient to see them get ahead of PL regardless of the score this Saturday. Having said that this is a much healthier position than they might have expected given the poor start to the league campaign which saw Biggar in the relegation spots through September and part of October.
Well done to the whole squad all of whom played their part on Saturday in difficult conditions, the post-match pics reminding many of what conditions at Hartree Mill were like through the ‘early years’ when the pitch had a much muddier surface.
R. Peacock, A. Sinclair, G. Jamieson, R. Lavery, A. Jardine, F. Nel, D. Reive, C. Bachurzewski, E. Stewart, L. Falefa, A. Cairns, A. Peacock, E. Sanderson, A. Warnock, K. Williams. Reps: D. O’Connell, Douglas Voas, Donald Voas, C. Henderson,
Colin Devenney (who teamed up with Duncan Hodge of Hodge Plant as match sponsor) has been ever present at Hartree Mill throughout the summer as he has been busy undertaking the work for the pitch development. Perhaps less well known is the fact that he has been quite ill and following an appeal by partner Aileen a collection was taken to provide funds for the Christie Charitable Foundation which carries out research into the causes of and cures for cancer. Many thanks to all who contributed on the day with a magnificent £1,000 total realised. This is a massive total and will aid the work of the charity.
The 2nds journeyed to Currie where they took on the top side in their division. With several regulars unavailable Biggar were unable to field a complete front row and so were forced to concede the points although by playing the fixture they should receive league points nevertheless. Scott Chapman scored Biggar’s only points but it was a much better decision to fulfil the fixture after last weeks enforced postponement.
Story date: 21/12/2015
The Currie backs who would most probably have tested the 1st XV unit controlled proceedings although coach Doug Fleming was very positive about the effort shown by his charges.
Senior sides record wins
Biggar 2nds 12 Stewarts Melville 10
A ‘double’ on Saturday when the 2 senior XV’s recorded wins made for deserved celebrations at Hartree Mil. The 2nd XV result in particular was warmly received by all involved with the club. This season has seen Biggar 2nds struggle and there will be several challenging games ahead but this was one to savour and epitomised the grit and determination that Neil Wolfendene, John Bogle and now Dougie Fleming wish to see to the fore.
In very difficult conditions on a wet and muddy 2nd XV pitch the Biggar lads tackled their hearts out in the face of a well-drilled and pacy Stew-Mel outfit and soaked up a barrage of attacks in their 22. In the second half the youngsters came out fighting and with the wind behind them managed to engineer positions from which they scored twice through Stuart Alder and Andrew Orr (who after 3 weeks on the 1st XV bench deservedly won the man-of-the-match allocade). Gary Morrison kicked the all-important conversion.
In the last couple of minutes a penalty conceded by Biggar gave Stew-Mel a chance to steal the match. As the Biggar XV and each spectator crossed their fingers the kicker mistimed his effort which flew wide of the target. A couple of phases later and the match was ended with a Stew-Mel knock on, cue wild cheering for the Biggar support.
This was the sides’ second win of the season but given the relative league positions is easily the better of the two – Stew-Mel are in 4th spot while Biggar were in bottom spot prior to this match. They should now move up to 11th.
Biggar 19 Lasswade 9
After a hefty defeat in August when the recently promoted Lasswade ran rings around the recently relegated Biggar, there was much anticipation surrounding this match and whether Biggar could redress the balance with a home win or whether Lasswade could record a notable away win.
Biggar eventually triumphed although the game was in some doubt until Biggar scored their second try, this credited to Craig Bachurzewski who made a return to Biggar colours after a sojourn with Boroughmuir and as a contracted Edinburgh player.
Until that point Biggar ‘enjoyed’ a 5 point lead and were keenly aware that had the Lasswade kicker been on his game they would have been beaten. A reversal under similar circumstances to that of last week when Biggar stole the match in the dying seconds was on the cards but happily things again worked out in Biggar’s favour.
That Biggar are enjoying a winning run can be attributed to a whole host of factors. Among these are a developing and very welcome increase in team spirit, a growing self-confidence amongst individuals, a growing confidence as a squad and a largely settled squad. Some will also cite a lot of good luck but as Gary Player once claimed ‘The more I practice the luckier I get’ and this too is part of the answer. Players are working hard on the training pitch and hard at game time.
There will be defeats to come there is little doubt but with a total of 30 league points they are edging clearer of the relegation spots.
Jamie Orr and Dan O’Connell were unavailable for this match and so last week’s try-scoring hero Andrew Peacock was at lock and Calvin Henderson made his first start of the season. Replacements were just two in number, Douglas Voas and Bachurzewski. Had they filled the bench with four, the second XV would have been short-handed.
Kicking off in miserable conditions and with the wind on their backs Biggar were soon on the attack. Within 3 minutes they scored their first try, Kiwi prop Louis Falefa rounding off a textbook lineout drive to crash over. The take from Andrew Cairns was tidied by Peacock who set off for the line. Held up a metre short Falefa picked up and squeezed over at the corner. All so easy and controlled. If there was a frustration it is that the side were unable to capitalise on their driving play which made so many yards but which seemed to come to grief for a variety of careless plays.
The conditions were difficult and Lasswade had similar problems so the dropped passes were in many cases excusable but on another day Biggar would have been much more severely punished.
As it was biggar were prevented from any further scoring as they also fell into the trap of conceding penalties at an alarming rate. Referee Rob Dickson was quick to penalise where Biggar were slow to learn the mitigating factor being that given the conditions Lasswade were largely unable to kick far out of defence.
Visiting stand-off Matt Smith had a trying day with ball in hand but he did kick 2 penalties to give his side the lead at 6-5 with 20 minutes on the clock. Davy reive was making life difficult for Lasswade Jed Smith although the link between Reive and Karetai Williams was also exposed on occasion. Biggar’s best yardage was gained as Falefa who had easily his best game to date carried ball both well and often into contact. A promising attack featuring Falefa, Nel, Henderson and Peacock ended with a knock on which should have provided Lasswade with a means of relieving the pressure but an error at the scrum base led to a Biggar penalty which Nel kicked for 8-5. A couple of minutes later and the same player kicked another penalty for 11-6. Returning to the offensive after the restart another good passage of play the front row of Falefa, Henderson and Ewan Stewart take play forward where Lasswade conceded another penalty but this time Nel pushed the ball wide.
Would a 5 point lead be enough? Few believed so, particularly if Biggar were to be as profligate with their penalty count.
In fact and after a few home truths from skipper Reive, the hosts tightened up considerably and only gave Lasswade a couple of kickable chances in the second period, Smith on target with just one and this late on.
The half began with a series of Biggar attacks which culminated in a third Nel penalty to stretch Biggar’s lead to 14-6. An excellent breakout after the restart and featuring the tireless Alan Warnock, Falefa and Cairns promised much but a loose pass gave Lasswade the chance to counter, the day saved only by the textbook tidying of Lavery who, alongside centre partner Graham Jamieson, put in some excellent defensive work over the 80 minutes.
On the 50 minute mark coach Gavin Blackburn made a couple of changes, Henderson and Aird Jardine, who as winger, had had few opportunities to shine, making way for Bachurzewski and Voas.
Biggar had begun to get the better of their opponents in the tight scrum and Bachurzewski’s introduction only increased that advantage, Lasswade pushed back on several occasions and meaning that their back division was put under even more pressure.
Smith missed his first attempt at goal after some 26 minutes of the half played which, had it been successful, would certainly have made things far more difficult for Biggar. With 5 minutes to go he did manage to find the target to put his side a converted try away from victory but the restart which saw Biggar win a scrum led to the second try. Jamieson and hit up on inside pass before Warnock took play to the Lasswade 22. Nel took the ball on the blind side and made a great break through the Lasswade line before off-loading to Lavery with a 2 on 1. Lavery might have made the line but he popped the ball unselfishly inside to the supporting Bachurzewski who was able to get slightly closer to the posts, though not close enough for Nel to add the conversion, the ball bobbling about in the wind before Jamieson held it steady.
Another win and another 4 points. That is 3 on the trot and 5 from 6 so the side could be in no better shape for their visit to league leaders Hamilton who have had a couple of tricky weeks with a surprise and comprehensive defeat by Falkirk followed by a narrowish win over Ardrossan.
Story date: 30/11/2015
R. Peacock, A. Jardine, G. Jamieson, R. Lavery, A. Sinclair, F. Nel, D. Reive, C. Henderson, E. Stewart, L. Falefa, A. Cairns, A. Peacock, E. Sanderson, A. Warnock, K. Williams. Reps: C. Bachurzewski, D. Voas.
Biggar 1sts last minute victory.
Ardrossan 13 Biggar 17
Recognise the scoreline?
For the second week in succession Biggar recorded a 17-13 victory albeit in very different circumstances after they clinched the win with what proved to be the last move of the game and in all honesty following their most dynamic passage of driving play all game.
Ardrossan were justifiably frustrated at the outcome, their angst mirroring that of Biggar a fortnight ago when they lost out to Hillhead Jordanhill in the dying minutes having been ahead for a similar time span and in clear sight of the finishing line.
The win puts Biggar into 6th place yet just 6 points from the second bottom spot, the league still a fairly tight affair with the surprise result of the day seeing Falkirk comprehensively defeat the hitherto unbeaten league leaders Hamilton.
Biggar were forced into just one change from the side that played last weekend, Jamie Orr starting at lock in place of the injured Zander Lyon.
With the Ardrossan pitch heavy and wet and with the cross-pitch slope a real feature Biggar were unable to impose themselves much for the first 10 minutes as the Ayrshire side opened strongly confining Biggar to defensive roles. This period saw Ardrossan centre Anderson kick the opening penalty. Biggar’s only scoring chance came with a Francois Nel penalty and while this drifted right Graham Jamieson was on hand to gather, his progress to the line and a try halted by some very good scrambled last ditch defence.
The game then settled down a little more as play moved from end to end, attacks ending as players made errors. The slope on the pitch made clearance kicks on the ‘top’ side very difficult for the visitors, ball which would normally have been dispatched to touch, dropping infield and giving the home side further attacking opportunities.
Nevertheless Biggar did have their moments one attack, a driven line off ball won by Orr ended as Davy Reive was penalised for using his feet in what was a maul rather than a ruck. With play only a handful of yards from the Ardrossan line this was their best attacking chance off their play.
Nel kicked an equalising penalty at the end of the first quarter to tie the scores and then again on the half hour mark after some promising and committed drives by Karetai Williams, Luis Falefa and Andrew Cairns. Biggar 6-3 up.
Ewan Stewart was to the fore again with some excellent tackling although his charge down, with his head, of Ardrossan Duncan’s clearance kick stunned the hooker and rattled his teeth!
A grubber kick by Nel out of defence and a swift chase from Alisdair Sinclair threatened a try but again Ardrossan engineered a very good ‘exit’ to clear the immediate danger.
With just 5 minutes to go to half time a similar kick from Nel, but one which on this occasion was picked up by home fullback Duncan was cleverly worked into the Biggar 22. For once Biggar’s tight defence eluded them and with tackles missed ball was advanced before a neat inside pass was taken by winger Rob Hunter who scooted over for the game’s opening try. Anderson converted for 10-6.
The restart saw Stewart up quickly to put real pressure on the Ardrossan catch, the result a penalty to Biggar which Nel converted to reduce the gap to 1 point at 10-9. Half time followed shortly afterwards.
Turning around to face the incline Biggar were immediately on the defensive as their hosts attacked. An excellent steel in the tackle from Orr came to nought as Dan O’Connell strayed in at the side of the resultant ruck, one of the few off-sides awarded all day, although the touchline support saw many more! Anderson kicked well and stretched his sides lead to 13-9.
Both sides had their opportunities in what was developing into a very evenly contested match, Biggar gaining a real edge in the tight scrum but yielding ball on the touchline as their lineout play lacked the control required. Ground gained from penalties, advanced by Nel into the Ardrossan half and into promising attacking opportunities was lost as possession was scrappy or lost. This was a frustration, as was Biggars reluctance to spread play wide, players opting to hit up through the middle which, while often retaining possession, failed to provide the line-breaks required to put real pressure on the Ardrossan defence.
Nel made a couple of promising breaks – the stand-off relishes the physical contact – but Biggar were unable to capitalise on these. Coach Gavin Blackburn made two changes as Andrew Peacock and Calvin Henderson replaced Andrew Cairns and Luis Falefa respectively.
Penalty awards punctuated the match at regular intervals and while some were dubious neither side fared any better than the other. Richard Peacock did all that was asked of him at fullback, his running out of defence relieving pressure as Ardrossan looked to make ground via the boot while a cleverly taken kick by Sinclair following his ‘mark’ was dispatched to touch by Nel. Coolness under pressure!
The next Ardrossan attack, initiated by livewire scrum half Dagledenis from a tap penalty, forced Biggar to regroup and with their defence stretched by some stirring pick up and drives, the No9 strolled over from close range for what would have been a match-winning score. The ease with which Dagledenis made the line was down to a crossing offence however and this was spotted by the referee. The subsequent penalty award to Biggar gave them a lifeline!
As Ardrossan made another concentrated attack in the Biggar 22, their pack again picking and driving off good front foot ball, a wide pass was intercepted by Biggar’s Richard Peacock in almost identical situation to last week. This time the fullback was under greater pressure from the catch however and while he delivered a quick pass outside the ball fell tantalisingly short of the outstretched hands of Aird Jardine to give the very slightest knock-on but which was correctly spotted by the lady ref.
The clock was ticking away and it was clear that if Biggar were going to get the win, they’d need to do something special. A long range penalty award with 5 minutes to go promised to reduce the Ardrossan lead but Nel, although kicking long enough was just off target. The long drop out was taken by Peacock and a series of phases with Williams, Sanderson et al to the fore ended with another penalty for illegal use of the hands.
A quick confab ascertained that there was just enough time to kick to touch for a lineout. Nel duly obliged and after Warnock secured possession from the line the pack drove well together, Ewan Stewart, McConnell, Warnock assisted by Orr gave Reive clean ball for the backs. Jamieson standing at stand-off spun the ball wide to Lavery who in turn fed Jardine. The young winger made for the line then cut back inside his opposite number before being hauled down just feet from the try line. The ruck which followed was not as tidy as Biggar would have wished but as the ball bobbled loose and out towards the support, Andrew Peacock arrived at pace to scoop the ball up with one hand before bludgeoning his way to the line and the winning try! Drama indeed. The big man will scarcely have scored a better try and his timing on this occasion was also fantastic. The plaudits he received from his team mates are perfectly captured in Nigel Paceys photos (see the club website). Nel was off target but at 17-13 the game was over and Biggar had engineered a great escape. Having said that the feedback from the team suggests a brimming confidence throughout that they would get the all-important score.
That is the end of the first half of the season and Biggar now await the visit of Lasswade to commence the return matches. The trip to Hawthornden in September proved to be a real shocker as the East Lothian side triumphed by 36-6. That result hurt all involved and so there is a real incentive for Biggar. The touchline support at Ardrossan was magnificent an many thanks to all those who travelled to the Ayrshire tow. A trip to Hartree Mill on Saturday to cheer the boys on would be very much appreciated as well.
R. Peacock, A. Jardine, G. Jamieson, R. Lavery, A. Sinclair, F. Nel, D. Reive, D. O’Connell, E. Stewart, L. Falefa, A. Cairns, J. Orr, E. Sanderson, A. Warnock, K. Williams. Reps A. Orr, C. Henderson, A. Peacock, D. Voas.
The 2nd XV hosted Hawick. The Borderers who are able to field several age group internationalists are top of the Reserve League table and have run in some big scores. Biggar lost out by some 60+ points but new coach Doug Fleming is acutely aware that the Biggar side, which is full of young players, has great potential. First thing is to ensure he gets a decent turn out at training so he has already been in touch with the squad and he has received a favourable response. Doug does need assistance however and anyone with time to spare midweek or on Saturdays is asked to get in touch asap.
Story date: 23/11/2015
Biggar are more than a match for Falkirk
Biggar 17 Falkirk 13
For the third time this season a team which has occupied second top spot in the League returned home with their tail between their legs after tasting defeat at Biggar. Falkirk joined both Cartha and Aberdeenshire as teams who, on paper were favourites, but who were beaten by a Biggar side which again proved doggedly determined throughout. Club Sponsors Halls of Scotland were also Match Sponsors for this match and this latest result brings up a hat-trick of wins for the firm as their two previous Match sponsorships ended with Biggar wins. This fact provoked suggestions that the firm should sponsor many more matches in a season, including away matches(!) as away wins have been few and far between!
Biggar will not trouble the ‘top point scorers’ table as they struggle to convert their pressure into points but the league points gained on each of these games is reward enough and certainly ensures a post-match buzz in the Hartree Mill clubhouse. This latest result takes the club into 7th spot on 22 points, still way below the tally they would have preferred at this stage but an improvement on last week’s 9th place nonetheless.
Biggar fielded an unchanged XV from that which opened against Hillhead Jordanhill, this surely a factor in their improved play. After another somewhat lack lustre performance the previous week Biggar came out all guns blazing to score a first minute try which give them the lead – a lead they would never surrender.
Robbie Lavery was the try scorer, the centre rounding off a fantastic move which began with a kick out of defence from winger Alisdair Sinclair. The winger regained possession after the Falkirk defence was slow to respond and with Andrew Cairns in support the ball was shipped left via Ewan Sanderson, Karetai Williams and Aird Jardine. The winger cut a nice angle towards the posts before he popped the ball to Lavery who ran in unopposed for a cracking try – one of the best Biggar has scored this season and that after an equally good try last week, coincidentally also by Lavery. Francois Nel converted and Biggar were 7-0 up.
Falkirk were never going to lie down as befits a side in contention for promotion but their handling on Saturday in difficult conditions proved to be their undoing as they spilled possession in all areas and frequently throughout the match. Of course they were put under pressure by Biggar who now had their tails up and who tackled consistently well for the majority of the 80 minutes.
The Biggar pack were expected to be up against things as Falkirk were reported to be a big, heavy outfit but there was little between the sides. Indeed Falkirk’s early tactic of driven lineouts came to little as Biggar defended well and then turned the tables on their visitors with some stirring plays and carries: Zander Lyon, Williams, Luis Falefa and Sanderson all in the van. Add to that the solid scrummaging and spoiling play of Dan O’Connell, the ferocious defence and work rate of Ewan Stewart and Alan Warnock and the lineout play of Cairns and this was a pack on the day which could have matched most.
Scotland international Finn Russell is a Falkirk man and the Russell name is carried by brother Harry who operates as scrum half. He is a nippy player with lots of neat off-loads and it was his tap penalty which helped push Biggar back into their 22 when another penalty award was converted by stand-off Brims.
Biggar suffered badly last week with a 2-1 penalty count against them and while it was not just as bad this time round, Biggar were penalised a lot by referee Neil Muir. If Biggar could cut out half of these penalties then things would be much improved. They need to trust their defence and let their opponents play the ball – the temptation can often be to hold on/reach in/creep up but ground and territory both of which are hard won is too easily lost.
Despite these penalties Biggar should have added to their tally with only some desperate scrambled defence from Falkirk saving their day. On one occasion a neat pick and go from Nel put him clear into space and with Williams in support it looked as though Biggar would make the line but after ball was retained at the subsequent maul a hand knocked the ball from Falefa’s grasp as he drove forward. Minutes later and a great break by Lavery looked to have split the Falkirk defence again but on this occasion Falkirk made a half interception to halt play, an accidental off-side between Williams and Reive giving the Falkirk side an escape.
The second Biggar try came from a Falkirk attack which saw ball moved right into the Biggar 22. A series of good driving plays from Brims, Skinner and McCulloch sucked in Biggar’s defence and with what might have been an overlap a wide pass from Brims was well read by Richard Peacock who took off upfield. With some 90 metres to go it looked as though he might get home but Falkirk winger Dempsey tracked back well to tackle the Biggar man some 15 metres short. As he fell Peacock popped the ball up to supporting centre Graham Jamieson who was able to score despite the attentions of Hamilton and McGuire. Nel’s conversion put Biggar ahead by 14-3.
The Achilles heel at restart time almost gave Falkirk a quick riposte from a penalty but Brims kick fell short. Able to maintain their field position via another penalty Falkirk did eventually cross the line. Dempsey made good yards into the Biggar 22 before Russell fed Brims. The stand-off made a bee line for the gap between Biggar props O’Connell and Falefa and a change of pace took him through to breech the Biggar line for a try which he then converted.
The final scoring opportunity fell to Nel who took a pit at a long range penalty. The ball fell short and referee Muir brought the half to an end.
Biggar were now playing with the breeze but they were fortunate not to lose an early try when Brims’ pass to McGuire fell short. The winger fly-hacked ahead and although he won the race to the touchdown he was adjudged to have knocked the ball on in his attempt to score. Not happy at this decision he conceded a penalty for back chat to allow Biggar the chance to kick clear.
Once again a number of penalties gave Falkirk more than they were due and eventually Brims added another 3 points to reduce Biggar to a one point lead at 14-13. This was now anyone’s game and the match see-sawed from end to end although on balance Biggar retained greater control.
The pack drove with real commitment and might have been rewarded with a try as Williams capitalised on errors from Falkirk fullback Robertson who, although always looking dangerous with ball in hand, coughed up possession on several occasions.
Falefa made as many carries as he has in any game to date and he retained possession well at the contact point while Nel was another who, as a stand-off, relished the physical contact and always took play forward. Jamie Orr had replaced Cairns at half time but the veteran lock returned after Lyon was forced from the fray with what appeared to be a nasty shoulder injury.
Sinclair was unable to take Lavery’s inside pass as the ball was spread wide while minutes later the same player made the most of quick feet to sprint down the touchline. With the line in his sights the last ditch tackle by Dempsey knocked the ball from his grasp as he prepared to score.
Biggar maintained their stranglehold on proceedings as Jamieson, Sanderson and Henderson (who had replaced Falefa) continued to probe the Falkirk defence. This paid off and Biggar were rewarded with a penalty which Nel converted to put Biggar ahead at 17-13 – still however just one score between the teams.
In the dying minutes Biggar ceded control somewhat and for the first time in the half Falkirk began to dictate events. A good run by Robertson took play deep into the Biggar 22. This attack came to nought and then the same player then made a crucial knock-on after Biggar kicked clear.
Returning to Biggar’s 22 Falkirk flung everything into the last few minutes and it became ever more tense. Hamilton, McCulloch and Brims all made probing runs but finally and with play in Biggar’s 22, Lavery engineered a vital turnover and Reive, having ascertained that time was indeed up, thrashed the ball out of play to huge cheers from the Biggar support.
This was a truly wonderful result and one which few would have expected. Falkirk had described the win over Aberdeenshire as a ‘coupon buster’ but this was surely its’ equal as Biggar largely dominated proceedings. The Falkirk camp were at a loss to explain their charges performance as this was the same XV which had the previous week run in no fewer than 9 tries against Ardrossan Accies. Coincidentally, Biggar travel west to take on the Ayrshire town this Saturday on what promises to be a cracker. The Ardrossan side have also been unable to string a series of performances together and they are on equal points (22) with Biggar so a win for either side would take them a little further away from the relegations spots in what is – aside from Hamilton who are as yet unbeaten – a tight league.
R. Peacock, A. Jardine, G. Jamieson, R. Lavery, A. Sinclair, F. Nel, D. Reive, D. O’Connell, E. Stewart, L. Falefa, A. Cairns, Z. Lyon, E. Sanderson, A. Warnock, K. Williams. Reps A. Orr, C. Henderson, J. Orr, J. Warnock.
The weather in the lead up to this match was monsoon-like and on Friday night with standing water covering the top corner of the pitch between the 1st and 2nd XV pitches the chances of play were (in the view of the President) slim to say the least. Grounds Convenor Hugh Barr and Facilities Convenor Nigel Pacey were, on the other hand, very confident and after another few hours creating drainage run-offs and a ‘dryish’ night, the pitch was eminently playable come Saturday morning. With just the two pitches available at Hartree Mill because of the pitch development and in view of the overnight forecast it was however decided that the Youth matches on Sunday would be cancelled. This proved to be the correct decision as the rain created further deep pools on the 2nd XV pitch. This was regrettable but unavoidable given the conditions.
Saturdays match was preceded by a minutes silence in respect of the awful events in Paris. Poor weather, indifferent results and fund-raising challenges are put into sharp perspective and the thoughts of all at Biggar are with those who have lost loved ones.
Story date: 18/11/2015
The 2nd XV travelled to the Borders and ended up beaten by Selkirk by 24-0. The side have been under the watchful eye of Neil Wolfendene but the lock has decided that he is no longer able to commit the time required. Doug Fleming has offered to step into Neil’s shoes and will take over the reigns as 2nd XV coach. He does need assistance however and anyone who feels they are able to help – on Saturdays or midweek – is asked to get in touch with him asap. The side is young but has great potential.
1st XV slip up against Hillhead Jordanhill
Hillhead Jordanhill 14 Biggar 13
This was one which got away. 13-0 up at half time Biggar should have been in a good position to put the game beyond their hosts but, as was the case at Greenock a fortnight past, Biggar failed to add to their tally in the second half. On that occasion the whistle brought the match to an end with Biggar just on top but on Saturday Hill-Jills managed to scrape a win with a try 5 minutes from the end.
Biggar were the architects of their own downfall as they manged to concede penalties on a 2-1 ratio to those conceded by Hill-Jills this culminating in to two yellow cards which meant that for some 5 minutes of the second period they were playing with just 13 men. This provided an opportunity for the hosts and while Biggar were unable to score when the host side lost a man to a yellow just before half time Hill Jills stole a try after the Biggar scrum was wheeled close to their line.
How frustrating this was is difficult to put into words. Having had the best share of both possession and territory, having defended really well whenever they were asked and in the face of some stout attacks and having scored an absolute peach of a try in the first half, all the side had to show for their efforts was a losing bonus. This may prove vital but it is small consolation for their efforts.
Donald Voas and Craig McDonald were both casualties from the Aberdeenshire match and so Dan O’Connell and Aird Jardine started at prop and winger respectively, both putting in a great shift with Sinclair deservedly earning the Biggar Man-of-the-match award for some great attacking play and some solid defence.
After a morning of heavy rain conditions were not too bad as Biggar opened playing up the slope. They were soon in the ascendancy and taking play to their hosts whose set-piece, particularly at the touchline was shaky to say the least. This gave Biggar some added opportunities to play in the Hill-Jills half and this they were grateful to accept a combination of handling errors and good cover defence all that prevented them from scoring.
Francois Nel missed his first pot at goal on the 10 minute mark but opened the scoring with a penalty after 13 mins. There was then a sustained period of defence as the hosts benefited from a poor Biggar take on the restart. Hill-Jills scrum half A J McFarlane took a couple of quick penalties to keep Biggar on their toes but the Biggar defence was sound and ball was held up until a ball was dropped over the line giving Biggar a 22 drop out and some respite.
Jamieson was instrumental in gaining yards as he was used to take ball out of defence and brought into the attack, his gains giving Nel the time required to clear the danger and then to take play into the Hill Jills 22. A promising move came to nought as Biggar failed to deal with the wet ball after a couple of lineout steals.
The try of the match came shortly after that and began after some aerial ping-pong. Picking ball up in his own half Aird Jardine made his way infield to link with Nel. Looping around the stand-off Jardine took a return pass before finding Graham Jamieson coming at great pace in the centre. Jamieson’s burst split the Hill-Jills line and with the fullback to beat his well-timed pass, a classic two on one, saw the ball taken by Robbie Lavery who was able to cruise over under the posts. Nel converted for 10-0. All good.
Another period of Hill Jills pressure was relieved as they knocked on and biggar engineered a good exit. A promising attack involving Wwan Sanderson and Sinclair promised much but was halted with a forward pass but a rash challenge by Hill Jills Ritchie Graham was spotted by referee Jonathan McKinnon and a penalty and yellow card was the result, Nel kicking for a halftime score of 13-0.
After the break Biggar were able to use the slope to their advantage and kicking downfield were soon in the Hills-Jills 22, Sinclair showing the way with a superb driving run. A Nel penalty just slid past the uprights and then it was the hosts who began to gain some ground a series of penalties giving them yardage upfield. Biggar seemed to lose the earlier control and after a number of sloppy plays allowed Hill Jills to camp in the Biggar 22. Having thwarted a number of attacks Biggar eventually succumbed to a good lineout take by No 8 Theo Nwosu-Hope and a forward drive which saw a try scored by flanker Douglas Grove. McFarlane added the conversion.
Awarded a penalty from the restart Biggar opted to go for the corner instead of another 3 points and in the end, and with the advantage of hindsight, this was perhaps crucial. 16-0 would have meant that the hosts would have had to score 3 times to win but instead their two converted tries gave them the 1-point winning margin.
As it was a lineout error deprived Biggar of the possession required and while they drove well to disrupt the Hill Jills heel they Glasgow side managed to steer the ball into touch and relieve the immediate danger.
An error in attack and then another rash of penalties ended with a yellow for Sinclair the winger in no position to move but penalised in any event. Worse was to come as Douglas Notman, just introduced to the fray as he and Jamie Orr replaced Sanderson and Zander Lyon, was also shown yellow for a swinging arm tackle.
With a 2 man advantage Hill Jills were now in the ascendancy and with less than 10 minutes remaining it was clear that a score for either side would very likely win the contest. Despite being short of numbers Biggar’s first scrum held well but the second saw ball stolen by Nwosu-Hope who picked and dived from close range for the crucial score. McFarlanes conversion gave the Glasgow side a vital 1-point advantage.
There was time for the restart however and therefore just enough time for a possible reversal. Alan Warnock got hands to the initial clearance from Hill Jills and then an accidental offside, which could so easily have been seen as a crossing offence and therefore a penalty, saw Biggar awarded a scrum. A series of plays then just as easily could have ended with a Biggar penalty but instead the decision went the other way and Hills gladly kicked to touch to take the League points.
Huge disappointment then as Biggar could and should have won the match. There are always penalties in games which are open to interpretation and Saturday was no different but the 2-1 ratio of penalties awarded against Biggar suggests that there is a need for much greater control and patience. This has for long been seen as a Biggar weakness and it is something which must be addressed by both coaches and players alike.
This Saturday sees Falkirk journey to Biggar. The visitors are in 2nd place having lost just 2 games and so will provide a stern challenge for the Biggar squad. Having said that there is enough to suggest that they have the wherewithal to match most sides in this division. If the Biggar lads can maintain some consistency of approach and cut out the penalties then they will have chance. As always a big support would be very much appreciated.
R. Peacock, A. Jardine, G. Jamieson, R. Lavery, A. Sinclair, F. Nel, D. Reive, D. O’Connell, E. Stewart, L. Falefa, A. Cairns, Z. Lyon, E. Sanderson, A. Warnock, K. Williams-Paul. Reps A. Orr, C. Henderson, J. Orr, D. Notman
The 2nd XV faced a difficult task as they also journeyed to Glasgow to take on GHA. They were well beaten in the end but this young side will improve as time goes on.
Story date: 11/11/2015
1sts snatch win against Aberdeenshire
Biggar 20 Aberdeenshire 14
After a strangely muted performance the previous week when they stuttered to an unconvincing victory over bottom place Greenock, Biggar had to show they could compete against the better sides in this League with second top Aberdeenshire their next opponents.
That they did so is immensely encouraging and should give all concerned great heart and confidence for the coming weeks. To be almost ‘comfortably’ ahead, to then lose two tries to lose their advantage and then to regain the lead with what was one of the last plays is testimony to the grit which was evident throughout the Biggar squad and something which gave the Biggar support real reason to cheer.
This win takes Biggar into 7th spot. If the side can replicate this level of performance then they should be able to improve on that position, with a trip to Glasgow to play Hillhead Jordanhill a match they need to win to maintain momentum.
Coach Gavin Blackburn made a couple of changes to his starting XV. In the pack Ewan Stewart made a welcome return at hooker and replaced Kevin Anderson (who answered the ‘call’ last week and who was on the bench for this match) while Douglas Notman (knee) was replaced by Ewan Sanderson. In the backs Jack Warnock (calf) dropped out and was replaced by Aird Jardine who relinquished the scrum half berth as David Reive returned after suspension. That Jardine has shown he can play so well at 9 gives Blackburn options for the squad.
The conditions were fantastic for the time of year as the sun warmed the good support. The opening exchanges were error-strewn however and led to a stop-start match as neither side could seemingly hold onto the ball and as passes were dropped and/or knocked on. Lineouts too proved awkward with squint throws seeing possession lost. Indeed if there is a qualification needed for Biggars’ performance and success it is that they benefited on several occasions as Aberdeenshire coughed up chances which on another day they would surely have converted. This, among other things, clearly irked their coaching team, this one of the few occasions this season when thy have failed to score a 4-try bonus.
The first scoring chance fell to Biggar and stand-off Francois Nel, the South African striking the ball cleanly to notch a penalty after an offside from a weak clearance. Biggar were forced into an early change at this point as winger Craig McDonald succumbed to a recurrence of a hamstring injury. His replacement was Alistair Sinclair.
‘Shire had been running at pace from the outset and their bulky pack had caused biggar some problems with their direct running. Flanker Matthew Emmison (who would later collect his teams man-of-the-match award) was influential in this and he was the first to really break the Biggar line. Referee Burger Lategan spotted a forward pass however and pulled the ‘Shire attack up.
Minutes later and another lineout error resulted in the first try. An over throw was cleverly picked up by Nel who then somehow managed to run round and then through the ‘Shire cover defence for a great individual score which he then converted.
To be 10-0 up at this stage was great but there was no doubt that this would not be sufficient to win the match.
A neat blindside kick an chase by ‘Shire stand-off Adam Blake who linked with his hooker Calum Taylor came to shuddering end as Biggar hooker Stewart put in a cracking tackle. Minutes later and the same played brought another ‘Shire attack to a stop as he felled Emmison. At this point Sanderson left the field after sustaining a nasty cut to his brow – in the absence of medical cover this was incidentally very neatly repaired by local vet Kirsten Reive! Andrew Peacock came off the bench.
Half time then and Biggar turned to take advantage of what the breeze offered.
The visitors pressed hard again on the restart and their initial onslaught, if it could have been maintained would surely have made things really difficult for Biggar. As it was however, Biggar’s defence held firm although they were assisted again by some weak handling. ‘Shire were able to retain territorial advantage as a number of penalties were awarded. Obviously believing that they would indeed get the better of Biggar the most kickable of these penalties saw the visitors opt instead for the scrum. They did not count on the offensive defence of Reive however who again spoiled the pick-up. Some 15 minutes into the half and Nel made a much better job of a penalty award than he had of an opportune drop goal a few minutes previously. 13-0 Biggar – could they do this?
Biggar lost the services of Richard Peacock after a thumping tackle in midfield, his replacement being back row man Sanderson but fielded this time on the wing.
A miscued lineout throw paved the way for ‘Shires first points, Blake making the initial breenge and line break before finding the ever-present Emmison who ran under the posts for what was a well-deserved try, converted by Blake. At 13-7 it was very much game on.
A similar break again from Blake but this time off a turnover and one which again threatened the Biggar line was saved by a magnificent covering tackle by winger Sinclair, the youngster clambering all over the ‘Shire player and ensuring that the ball was dislodged – an added bonus!
An ankle injury to Karetai Williams-Paul looked pretty serious but following treatment the big man, who carried ball well whenever given the opportunity, was able to carry on.
A penalty to Biggar gave some relief from the attacking position ‘Shire enjoyed in the shadow of the Biggar posts but this was short-lived and Emmison was again set free for the line only to be pulled down by Robbie Lavery who was quick to track back, injured foot notwithstanding.
As the move continued Biggar were put under further pressure and while the attack to Biggars right hand corner was at first repelled ‘Shire pinched a ball against the head at the resultant scrum. With the Biggar defence sitting back the ball was quickly moved to centre Jason Laurich who, although tackled, showed great awareness to touch down on his back, arms outstretched over his head. Blake added the simple conversion to take his side into a 14-13 lead with some 7 minutes remaining.
The game then entered its scrappiest phase yet as both teams strove to get and keep ball and get another score which would surely win the match. While both teams largely failed to do so this did ensure an enthralling finish. Biggar had a great series of pick and goes by the pack but this attack faltered as ball was knocked on while ‘Shire too failed to get play far enough upfield to make the game safe.
Eventually, and with just three minutes remaining Biggar earned a penalty on their 10m line which Nel expertly kicked to within 5 metres of the ‘Shire line. A textbook lineout take by Cairns saw Biggar mount a line drive. Biggar haven’t often managed to convert this type of play but on this occasion they did so very well, flanker Andrew Warnock at the back and the player who touched down for the vital try. To make things that little bit safer Nel converted from the touchline for 20-14.
There was still just time for a great run by Williams-Paul and indeed a couple of penalties for ‘Shire but these were too deep to provide a score and so Biggar earned a really valuable 4 points.
Hillhead Jordanhill are next up and while Biggar’s record against the Glasgow side is not particularly good this would be a great time to get a win.
R. Peacock, A. Jardine, G. Jamieson, R. Lavery, C. McDonald, F. Nel, D. Reive, D. Voas, E. Stewart, L. Falefa, A. Cairns, Z. Lyon, E. Sanderson, A. Warnock, K. Williams-Paul. Reps K. Anderson, D. O’Connell, A. Sinclair, A. Peacock
The 2nd XV faced a tough ask against ‘Shire 2’s. With a good sized squad however it was hoped they would be able to record a much-needed win but this was not to be the pack failing to produce the form shown against Dundee.
The matches ended just in time for the players and supporters to gather in the clubhouse and to watch the World Cup Final. There was a cracking atmosphere with all enjoying the game which really came alight in the second half. With a fantastically cosmopolitan audience featuring players from both Cup Final teams there was no shortage of banter and support. A great afternoon for all and thanks to ‘Shire for staying to watch.
Story date: 01/11/2015
For the record the following players warned the man-of-the-match awards.
2nds Biggar Douglas Voas, ‘Shire William Parker
1sts Biggar Francois Nel, ‘Shire Matthew Emmison
First trip to Greenock
Greenock Wanderers 13 Biggar 16
Never having played at 1st XV level at Greenock before and in the poorest conditions so far this season could be levelled as excuses for this performance which saw Biggar scrape a result against a team which is propping up the table but in all honesty this was a disappointing display from the Biggar lads.
Indeed had Greenock been a little more streetwise then they should surely have won the game, their attempts to run out of defence with a gale on their backs not the best option and one which caused them problems throughout.
At the end of the day however, the side did win and did collect 4 precious league points and so from that perspective it was ‘job done’.
Without Ewan Stewart and Jamie Orr Biggar’s selection included veterans Andrew Cairns and Kev Anderson, the hooker drafted in from his dual registered club Birkmyre to ensure the 2nd XV were not disrupted for their trip to Aberdeen Grammar. Both newcomers Tareki Williams-Paul and Louis Felefa started the match with Dan O’Connell on the bench alongside Peter Miller, Craig Stewart and Ewan Sanderson.
The opening exchanges saw Biggar start well with the wind on their backs. An early drop goal from Francois Nel came as a penalty advantage and so although wide of the target Nel was able to open the scoring from the penalty.
Play was scrappy however – a feature of the match – and while Biggar engineered several threatening passages of play they were unable to convert as ball was dropped or possession lost. Greenock were struggling to get out of their 22 however and so although they had opportunities to kick clear they did not gain much relief. Up front it appeared that Biggar had the advantage in both scrum and lineout and it seemed that Biggar would soon score.
It took to the 18th minute before this happened. A series of plays had the home side under pressure in their 22 and a neat cross kick from Nel who had seen space appear, saw Greenock struggle to turn. Richard Peacock was up quickest and the fullback was able to touch down (was there a suspicion of a knock-on?). Nel converted for 10-0.
A number of penalties and stoppages for injury allied to the time spent waiting for balls kicked out of the playing area meant that the game was a fractured affair with neither side able to take control.
Greenock began to gain in confidence however as they tried to rid themselves of the memory of their previous weeks performance which had seen them concede over 70 points to local rivals Ardrossan.
Just after the half hour mark Nel converted a second penalty for 13-0, the feeling being that Biggar would need a decent cushion after half time when they would turn into the wind. The restart gave Greenock a toehold in the Biggar half however and a failure to clear their lines led to a penalty which Greenock kicked to the corner. A well-taken lineout saw an equally well driven maul which took the home side over the lien for a try. The angle was too wide for the conversion but Greenock had made up some lost ground at 16-5.
Almost directly from the restart which saw Nel kick well into the home 33 Biggar, were rewarded with another penalty. It looked like another relatively straightforward 3 points to maintain some space between the teams but instead Biggar opted for a scrum whereupon referee Gordon Galashan took exception to Biggar’s put in and awarded Greenock a free kick which they sued to clear their lines. Half time - frustrations!
Now playing against the wind Biggar started really well Donald Voas, Falefa, Anderson, Graham Jamieson and Peacock all combining well in dynamic fashion to take play deep into the Greenock half. In another attack the Greenock hooker Alexander made a clumsy challenge with his foot which gave referee Galashan little option but to show him a yellow card. The penalty which again appeared to be in a kickable position was then tapped and ran. Biggar made a good few yards before Craig McDonald was bundled into touch short of the Greenock line. They then managed to win a penalty which allowed them to clear their lines.
Anderson made one of his trademark bulldozing runs which took play back to the Greenock half but again a knock on gave the initiative back to Greenock. A fine run from Jamieson who then linked well with McDonald gave the Biggar support much to cheer about and while play was advanced further by Willams-Paul, Greenock eventually regained the ball to kick clear. This movement coincided with the return of the Greenock No 2 and so despite being a man to the good Biggar had been unable to add to their tally. There was still half an hour to go however and it was anticipated that the Greenock effort would wane as the game progressed.
In actual fact it was almost the opposite which occurred as Greenock, sensing a first win of the season began to take more control of the match.
They took full opportunity after a well-judged kick ahead put both Peacock and McDonald under pressure before Nel scrambled ball clear to the Biggar 22. A blind side move took play to the Biggar line before a try was awarded although there was a suspicion that the ball had not been properly grounded. This may well have evened things up after Peacock’s first half score. The Biggar XV and support breathed a huge sigh of relief as the conversion attempt, though well struck, bounced off the upright. 16-10 to Biggar. There was nevertheless still just one score between the sides and so with some 20 minutes remaining it was very much game on.
Sanderson then replaced Alan Warnock, this the second replacement made by coach Gav Blackburn after O’Connell replaced Voas earlier in the half. The flanker made an immediate impact as he took ball on well and in determined fashion.
Greenock then kicked their only penalty of the day to put the match on a knife edge at 16-13.
A breakout by Nel and Robbie Lavery promised more but Greenock won a crucial turnover and cleared the danger. Penalties were again needlessly conceded by Biggar and these continued to give Greenock some respite. Their preference to run rather than kick meant that they made slow progress upfield where a kick would have immediately turned defence into attack.
Happily Biggar managed to keep Greenock out and ended up winners by 16-13. The losing bonus point gave Greenock their only league point of this season and so while they felt that this was a game they probably could have won, the point was cause for some celebration.
For Biggar this was, ultimately, a disappointing display. It is only a few weeks since they trounced Kirkcaldy in a performance that was full of quality and pace. There is bags of talent and potential and so they must regroup and focus again on what makes the game – win ball, retain possession and make the most of scoring opportunities when they present themselves.
R. Peacock, J. Warnock, G. Jamieson, R. Lavery, C. McDonald, F. Nel, A. Jardine, D. Voas, K. Anderson, L. Falefa, A. Cairns, Z. Lyon, D. Notman, A. Warnock, T. Williams-Paul. Reps P. Miller, D. O’Connell, C. Stewart, E. Sanderson
The 2nd XV faced a tough trip to Aberdeen where they were to play Grammar 2nds. Travelling by bus they were virtually on the Forth road Bridge when they received a telephone call from their hosts to call off after torrential rain rendered the Grammar pitch unplayable. With the bus booked the squad redirected the bus to Greenock so that they could take in the 1sts XV match. This was a perfect outcome for both senior sides who got to socialise together post-match. Greenock were also delighted as it ensured a packed clubhouse for the World Cup semi-final twixt the All Blacks and South Africa!
Story date: 28/10/2015
1sts lose out to rejuvenated Whitecraigs
Biggar 15 Whitecraigs 34
Having won three from their last three outings the Biggar support might have expected better fare from their side as they entertained Glasgow side Whitecraigs whom they defeated last month in the BT Cup.
That Biggar didn’t deliver is in no doubt although the Whitecraigs XV which turned up on Saturday was vastly changed and much, much stronger than the one which travelled on cup duty. In addition Biggar lost the services of both hooker Ewan Stewart and lock Jamie Orr in the first half and with recognised hooker understudy Andrew Orr also injured that left Biggar struggling badly at the lineout. That said Biggar, on recent evidence, are a much better side than they showed in this match and coach Gav Blackburn must ensure the side comes out all guns blazing against Greenock on Saturday, a side which are currently propping up the division.
Biggar fielded a recognised starting XV although a warm up injury to Aubrey Horton meant that Jack Warnock came into the side from the bench and Alistair Sinclair was promoted from the 2nds who were also at home (to Dundee Titans).
There was also space on the bench for Kiwi newcomers Tareki Williams-Paul and Louis Falefa both of whom arrived earlier in the week and who, on their showing on Saturday, will play an important part in the rest of the season.
Starting off at a cracking pace Whitecraigs posted early their state of intent by taking ball at pace and right up the middle, Biggar forced onto the defensive and to play without the ball for the first 5-10 minutes.
In this time the visiting scrum half, Stuart Gillies kicked one penalty, and narrowly missed a second. Ewan Stewart was replaced after 10 minutes, Falefa coming on to pack down with Dan O’Connell and Donald Voas at hooker. This did nothing to disrupt the Biggar scrummage which was in control throughout the match. The game at this stage was a fairly fractured affair as injuries and resultant stoppages prevented any fluid passages of play.
Biggar were able to mount attacks but any error saw Whitecraigs erupt from their own area to ensure Biggar were immediately back on the defensive. This defence was largely very good with Francois Nel, Robbie Lavery, Richard peacock, Craig McDonald, Douglas Notman and others all putting in some gutsy hits.
Inevitably however the dam was breached and Whitecraigs’ new player (also a Kiwi) Jason Oloapu managed to make the most of a neat tight pass to burst over from around 10 metres. Gillies added the conversion for 10-0.
The last 10 minutes of the half saw Biggar on the attack and dominate possession and territory. A series of penalties which Biggar opted to scrum from such was their control might have led to something more than one yellow card and that to fullback Rob Andrews for not rolling away rather than one of the front row who it seemed were consistently being penalised. In the end and after several tilts at the line Biggar opted to kick a penalty, Nel converting for 10-3. This was effectively the last play of the half.
Biggar needed a good start but instead it was the visitors who opened the strongest, Gillies at the head of a breakout from halfway and from a stolen Biggar lineout which took play deep into Biggar territory. Despite being tackled he managed to pop the ball to ever-present No8 Stuart Pollock who took the ball over the line for a try which Gillies converted for 17-3.
Just minutes later and after a good challenge off the restart by Graham Jamieson which saw ball ricochet to Whitecraigs, the Biggar cover defence was found to be at sixes and sevens. Oloapu made a good distance before stand-off Stevenson put a kick through there being enough space for winger Gordon Berry to beat the defence to the touchdown.
Frustratingly these two scores came when Biggar were up against just 14 men, the restart seeing the return of Whitecraigs fullback Andrews.
Now definitely chasing the game and without a source of good lineout ball Biggar began to rush things and in such circumstances began to make errors. A quick lineout coughed up possession but Biggar were able to maintain possession for a few phases before Whitecraigs engineered a breakout. Though this came to nought and Biggar got back into ‘Craigs territory their inability to win clean ball was a massive factor, the Glasgow side able to defend relatively easily. Eventually however, following a series of probing runs by Williams-Paul and Notman ball was shipped wide and Lavery combined well with Peacock to create space for McDonald who crossed at the corner.
It was not long before ‘Craigs were back on the attack and while an initial driven lineout ended with an accidental offside they retained territory and after another clean ball advanced by fullback Andrews it was the fullback who nipped in to crash over from close range to collect his sides’ fourth and bonus point–winning try. Gillies conversion took the Glasgow into an unassailable lead at 31-8 with some 15 minutes remaining.
A Gillies penalty stretched that lead to 34-8 before biggar strung possibly their best series of phases together, Williams-Paul at the heart of many plays and his off-load finding the supporting Craig Stewart who crossed for an excellent, though consolation score. Nel added the conversion with what was the last kick of the match.
A bitterly disappointing result and one which could well be attributed to an over-confidence within the Biggar camp following the easy Cup win over the same side just weeks previously. A hard lesson to take but one from which this young Biggar side must learn. Plaudits to backs McDonald, Jamieson and Peacock and to newcomers Williams-Paul and Falefa both of whom got far more game time then had been intended.
Biggar now prepare for the aforementioned trip to Greenock. This is a ‘must win’ in order to restore some confidence.
R. Peacock, J. Warnock, G. Jamieson, R. Lavery, C. McDonald, F. Nel, A. Jardine, D. Voas, E. Stewart, D. O’Connell, J. Orr, Z. Lyon, D. Notman, A. Warnock, A. Cairns. Reps: L. Falefa, T. Williams-Paul, A. Sinclair.
The 2nd XV was the only other side in action at the weekend. Dundee titans were the visitors and with a large squad in attendance there were hopes that Biggar might manage another win. This was almost the case as with some 10m minutes remaining Biggar were right in touch with just 5 points separating the teams at 12-7 to Dundee.
Story date: 19/10/2015
Fatigue played its part however and Dundee ran in a couple of tries to win 24-7. The visitors were very complementary about the Biggar effort however so again a step up for the 2nds!
Leamington v 2nds Oct 15
Thanks to Ronnie Fleming for the pics
The Haka prior to kick off
Andy Fleming prepares to step
A motley, but nonetheless happy crew post match
Story date: 14/10/2015
Biggar’s record win at Kirkcaldy
Kirkcaldy 19 Biggar 42
All sorts of ‘firsts’ were recorded this week as Biggar took maximum points from their Friday evening trip to Fife to play Kirkcaldy in National 2.
This was the first time Biggar have scored over 40 points against Kirkcaldy, the first time they have scored over 40 points in consecutive matches for many years and the first ‘three in a row’ for three seasons. In addition while it has been done before it some time since one player – in this case Richard Peacock – scored 4 tries in one match, a feat which was as thrilling to witness as a spectator as it must have been for the player himself.
A great result then and another which gives further proof to the theory that this side is continuing to gel as a team with the young players slowly gaining in the confidence which comes from playing good rugby, scoring tries and winning.
There is no doubt that this is early days yet and that the 9th place Biggar occupy is still perilously close to the two relegation spots, but there is undoubted promise borne from these recent displays and which augurs well for the coming weeks.
Coach Gavin Blackburn made two enforced changes for this match from the side that defeated Whitecraigs the previous week. Both of these were in the backs where Graham Jamieson started at centre for the injured Douglas Voas and Aird Jardine took over at scrum half for the suspended Davy Reive. Their contribution to the win was hugely significant; Jamieson’s try from his own half a signal of what he is clearly capable of as he knocked down, stepped and ran past numerous defenders on his way to the line while the collective, sharp intake of breath issuing from the Biggar support when Jardine was hauled down and apparently injured just short of the line after a fantastic burst was clearly indicative of how valuable this teenager has become to the side.
Happily Jardine was able to continue, the damage adjudged to be muscle tear while Jamison’s try was this was just one side to his game as he continues to develop with the assistance of both Robbie Lavery and Francois Nel.
Biggar had the best of starts as Peacock ran in his first try within the first minute, this a great piece of awareness and opportunism. Following a good piece of recovery work from Douglas Notman and as play was advanced by Craig McDonald, Peacock was set free for the line with only the home fullback to beat. Opting to kick and chase the Biggar man dived from long range, landing under the retreating Kirkcaldy defender to claim the touchdown. Nel added the conversion for 7-0.
Biggar maintained their territorial advantage with some excellent line breaks from Nel and Lavery with Notman and Jamieson also in the van, this keeping Kirkcaldy employed in defensive duties. The Biggar pack also kept the pressure up, their scrummage play making things really difficult for the host side as they shoved them off the ball and forced them onto the back foot.
A Biggar penalty from Nel after 18 minutes saw Biggar again get the rub of the green which has so often eluded them in recent seasons. The ball, though well struck, rebounded off the upright and as the hosts sought to clear, Biggar managed the charge down catching a Kirkcaldy man offside in the process. Referee John Shaw an –ex-pro player who handled the match really well throughout - won no friends in the Kirkcaldy camp with this decision which gave Biggar another penalty. A quick tap and thrust from Jardine, followed by a massive looping pass from Nel, found winger McDonald who crashed over at the corner for try number 2. Nel obliged from far out to make it 14-7.
Not surprisingly Kirkcaldy came back into the match with their pack taking full control from a penalty kick which took play to close to the Biggar line. With the lineout won it was a relatively and ominously simple forward drive which led to a try for back row Ronnie Brown. Stand off Finlay smith added the conversion.
Peacock grabbed his second try shortly after this, the fullback benefitting from the combination provided by Nel and McDonald before the latter created the space required with a well-timed pass for the try. Nel converted but was off target with a penalty, as was Kirkcaldy’s Smith following a Biggar offside.
Biggar squandered a couple of chances in this half as passes went stray and a kicking option was preferred to an outside pass while on another occasion a wonderfully balanced, sniping run from Jardine took the scrum half to within a couple of metres of the line before he was brought down short by the cover defence in the tackle previously described. Half time then and things finely balance at 21-7.
There was no wind and little advantage available to either side but Biggar took the match by the throat after an early wobble which gave Kirkcaldy space and numbers to run in for a try which took them to 21-12.
Just 11 minutes into the half and Jamieson scored a great solo try from half way, this Biggar’s 4th try and therefore bonus point score. Nel converted for 28-12. Biggar maintained their territorial advantage as they began to take greater control of the match. There were positive runs from Nel and Jamieson and the Fife side began to tire as their pack were kept under pressure. There was some consternation within the Biggar camp when host scrum half Callum Parsons cleverly tapped the ball out of Jardine’s hands and into the scrum on the Biggar put in (unseen by referee Shaw) and this created the space for Kirkcaldy to mount a rare attack. Their winger Owen Bonner ran well for the try, which, when converted by Smith, gave them a glimmer of hope at 35-19.
Both Andrew Peacock and Ewan Stewart led the riposte and Biggar came back via a very good kick and chase form McDonald before Lavery made an excellent turnover. This play saw McDonald combine well again, this time with Peacock, the fullback cantering home for his 4th score. Nel dutifully added the conversion.
There had been some apprehension about this match as Beveridge Park has never been an easy place to pick up points, the programme notes confirming that Biggar had only won twice from their ten previous visits. This then, was a great and very welcome result and one which lifts Biggar into 9th spot (on 9 points) and just clear of Kirkcaldy and Ardrossan (on 8) and Greenock in bottom spot (with 0 points).
J. Warnock, A. Jardine, R. Lavery, D. Voas, A. Horton, F. Nel, D. Reive (Capt), D. Voas, E. Stewart, D. O’Connell, J. Orr, Z. Lyon, D. Notman, A. Warnock, A. Cairns. Reps: A. Orr, P. Davidson, R. Peacock, A. Peacock.
It was good to catch up with ex-Biggar star Quintan Sanft who is still player/coach at Kirkcaldy. He was a great servant to Biggar when his performances helped us gain promotion to Premier 1 and he has been instrumental in ensuring the Fife club have maintained their current position within Scottish rugby.
There are no league or cup games this coming weekend and so the players will be able to regroup in preparation for the visit of Whitecraigs on 17th October, this the Glasgow sides second visit, the first having been on Cup business. There can be no complacency in assuming that Whitecraigs will not put up a fight to regain the balance after their weak showing in the Cup. Depending on results elsewhere Biggar have a chance to climb another couple of places and this they must do if they are to continue to develop.
The 2nd XV travelled to take on Marr in National Reserve 2. The Marr 1st XV with McKenzie Pearce in their ranks are riding high in National 1 and it was expected that this would be a very tricky match. With no game last weekend Biggar feared ring rustiness but in a high scoring match Biggar edged things by the closest of margins 35-34 although the SRU website suggests 27-26!
Story date: 07/10/2015
Biggar lose out to Preston Lodge
Preston Lodge 52 Biggar 14
Another hefty defeat for Biggar and another scoreline which would seem to suggest a capitulation by the young Biggar XV. Nothing could be further from the truth however and while PL undoubtedly deserved their win and the score is emphatic, Biggar played again with fantastic spirit, falling foul of several handling errors and bad luck which saw PL capitalise on every error and enjoy the absolute rub of the green.
For the trip to Prestonpans, the first by a Biggar 1st XV for many years, Biggar were unable to call on the injured Douglas Notman (hand), Ian Baillie (knee) or Steven Campbell (ankle) but welcomed back prop Dan O’Connell, scrum half David Reive and stand-off Francois Nel while Zander Lyon and James Simpson made their first top team starts with Richard Peacock appearing on the bench after his return to these shores following a sojourn to Oz. The home side fielded ex-Biggar prop Colin Arthur, the big man throwing his lot in with PL after several years at Melrose.
Playing into a stiff breeze, which crucially dropped at half time, Biggar played some really good rugby from the outset, the pack picking and driving and retaining possession well. The first score then came somewhat against the run of play and after what was to become a run of bad luck. A loose ball was hacked downfield by PL and while it appeared fullback Jack Warnock had slid and dived text-book style to recover the ball before passing to reive to clear, referee Tony Jenkins awarded PL as scrum for what he deemed to be a knock-on. The PL scrum took control and with a big drive gave No8 Jason Riley a simple task for the first try. Stand-off Thomas McMann added the conversion with an excellent kick from the wide touch line angle.
Just 5 minutes later and Biggar suffered again as a knock on by Nel deprived them of what would have been a wonderful try. Alan Warnock took ball on from a lineout and his pass was taken by centre Robbie Lavery. A mercurial break from the wee man saw him nip through the smallest of gaps and into the clear but Nel was just unable to take the off-load with the line in his sights.
On the 20 minute mark and with Biggar maintaining momentum in the PL half a ball stripped out of full-back Warnock’s hands saw PL hack downfield again, the wind taking the ball deep into the Biggar 22. This time a dive to secure possession by Craig McDonald saw the ball squirm from under his body and right into the path of Riley who scored – McMann notching another conversion from almost exactly the same spot as the first.
Nel took full advantage from every penalty awarded to Biggar to take play downfield but Biggar could just not get through the PL defence to turn them, speculative kicks ahead being taken and returned by the PL back three. On the half hour mark Biggar lost the services of hooker Andrew Orr, the youngster being shown a yellow for talking back and shoving an opponent. Down to 14 men Biggar were on the defensive and forced to make some stout tackles to keep PL out as the home pack crept ever closer to the Biggar line. Inevitably a break came this allowing lock Matt Sanderson to cross for a try which McMann again converted for 21-0.
Forced back into their 22 from a kick ahead which led to a drop out, Biggar were then again caught as ball which was always going to be too difficult to kick clear was run out of defence. A pop pass from Nel to Lavery which would have put the centre into acres of space failed to go to hand and instead was gleefully taken by PL centre Blair Robertson who coasted through untouched from 10 metres out. McMann added the conversion for 28-0.
Orr returned to the fray and Biggar once more rose to the challenge with some spirited play taking them into the PL half. Donald Voas, Ewan Sanderson, Alan Warnock, Nel and Lavery all took ball forward and with another phase beckoning Reive lost control at the breakdown, possession going directly to Robertson who burst through the unprotected middle to gallop in for PL’s 5th try, McMann converting for 35-0 and half time.
Richard peacock replaced Peter Miller (who had played very tidily) at half time. Biggar’s task in the second half had to be to keep PL out and to get a score of their own. As previously described however the wind dropped, this denying them the advantage enjoyed by their hosts in the first half. Biggar’s first foray into the PL half ended as position was lost first from a lineout which was adjudged squint and then as they were penalised from the resultant scrum.
If previous tries came from Biggar errors this next score was all PL. Initially it appeared the lineout call was miscued leaving Arthur the job of tidying ball up at the tail but his drive spawned possession for McMann who broke the line. The stand-offs pass was taken by Robertson who sent Paddy Cooney away from half way for a sprint to the line. A great score from a PL point of view but another hard knock for Biggar.
Andrew Peacock then joined his brother on the pitch as he replaced Zander Lyon who had carried ball well in what was his first start at this level and a real test for the youngster who has been out injured for the best part of two seasons. O’Connell was then shown yellow as he was deemed to have kicked a player. Arthur’s take and drive off a tap penalty was held up but the cavalry arrived in the shape of PL’s 17, the replacement crashing over for a good try.
The 10 minutes which followed saw Biggar again play some excellent rugby but PL fully exploit a couple of lapses as Biggar’s effort waned ever so slightly. With the tails up PL, with a one man advantage, were now in the ascendancy and their confidence was growing. Another very good passage of play saw fullback Jonathan Brash freed for a run to the line, McMann converting for 52-0.
With some 10 minutes remaining Biggar could well have capitulated given the way the game was going but this XV has a dogged spirit and they play for each other and for the full 80 minutes, something which the large Biggar support added and responded to with constant encouragement. O’Connell’s return coincided with a scrum. Having been under the cosh for much of the match Biggar managed to take ball against the put in and Alan Warnock and Sanderson advanced play on the blind before Reive switched play back right. O’Connell took the pass and burst through the defence for a very good try. Nel converted.
Orr and Douglas Voas then suffered as they picked up knocks, Orr forced off but Voas able to hobble on. Lavery, Sanderson and Peacock all made good ground to take play into the PL 22.
The whole pack was involved in Biggar’s second score as they upped their game to drive to the line. Although the initial hits to the line were held up – one offside and tap to Reive could so easily have seen PL been shown a yellow card – Nel managed to pick and scuttle over from a couple of yards. Despite continuing problems with his ribs which he injured at Lasswade the stand-off added the conversion.
These two scores were the very least Biggar deserved and they could well have added to that tally has things been a little kinder. Another wonderful midfield break by Sanderson saw the flanker find Jamie Orr on his inside. With great technique the lock burst to the line and despite being knocked to the ground picked himself up prior to diving for the line – a perfect score? Nope – referee Jenkins adjudged a double movement and PL escaped with a penalty. Rough justice. The final minutes saw Biggar redouble their efforts and again they might have been rewarded with a try as PL sought to slow play down, Whittingham perhaps fortunate not to have bene shown yellow as he lay offside.
And so the game came to its conclusion.
It’s a cliché there is no doubt but there were many positives despite the defeat. A tremendous spirit exists and if the boys can learn and mature together then they will get that currently elusive win. That in turn will provide the confidence which the side craves. There were some really spirited performances and some very tired bodies and emotional minds at the end of the game and there is an undoubted will to improve and to win.
Jack Warnock, Craig McDonald, Robbie Lavery, Douglas Voas, Peter Miller, Francois Nel, David Reive (Capt), Donald Voas, Andrew Orr, Dan O'Connell, Zander Lyon, Jamie Orr, Euan Sanderson, James Simpson, Alan Warnock. Replacements: Ewan Stewart, Andrew Peacock, Richard Peacock
This Saturday sees unbeaten Glasgow side Cartha Queens Park visit Hartree Mill. Having beaten Hill Jills, Falkirk and Ardrossan they will come full of confidence but Biggar must use the positives from Saturday to their advantage. They will surely never have so much bad luck in one game again, and just a little rub of the green would do so much to help.
A big home support would be a bonus, so come on Biggar get behind your rugby club!
Due to a large number of injuries Biggar were unable to field a 2nd XV on Saturday. This was a big disappointment and the cancellation one which the club is keen not to repeat. Another call to arms for all former players – please make yourself available for the club.
Story date: 15/09/2015
1sts blown away by Hamilton
Biggar 21 Hamilton 67
Hamilton wrested the Lanarkshire Champions tag from Biggar with an emphatic win on Saturday.
Fielding another much-changed XV after Calum Taylor, Francois Nel, Craig Simmonds and Ewan Stewart were ruled out through injury and minus Dan O’Connell and David Reive due to unavailability Biggar were put to the sword by a stronger, faster and more streetwise Hamilton side who on this evidence must surely look good for promotion.
Biggar’s front row opened with all 3 players under 20 and while they all played well and there is undoubted promise as these boys develop they were up against things throughout. Indeed the Biggar XV included no fewer than 10 players aged 21 or below with 6 of those teenagers. The avaerage age was just a tad over 21!!
Biggar were playing catch up virtually from the kick off when Hamilton found a midfield gap and motored downfield to encamp in the Biggar 22 with only some great defence keeping them out. The pressure eventually told however and Hamilton notched their first score after taking a quick tap penalty to put winger Whitelaw over in the corner. Stand-off McLeish added the conversion but was just off target with his next attempt which came virtually from the restart, Whitelaw again the scorer.
Biggar hit back with an excellent try from Ian Baillie who profited from a good lineout take by Douglas Notman which was advanced by Alan Warnock. Jack Warnock added the conversion.
Biggar lost Steven Campbell at this point with an ankle injury, Andrew Peacock his replacement and one who put in an excellent shift thereafter.
A driven lineout and a somewhat fortunate pop ball gave Hamilton their 3rd try and some less than effective midfield defence allowed them their fourth. McLeish converted both but couldn’t add the conversion to Whitelaws third score.
Biggar came right back and took the full 7 points after a dangerous tackle on Jack Warnock as he tried to cross ion the corner led referee Pounder to award a penalty try. A yellow card followed as Warnock kicked the conversion. 31-14 at half time would have been a decent score and Biggar almost got their third try as winger Aird Jardine took an interception in his own 22. Home alone the youngster was pulled back as the referee was alerted to the tiniest of knock-ons. Instead Hamilton regrouped and scored another try of their own. A possible 31-21 was translated to 38-14.
Set piece ball was won on the retreat and lineouts, though effective, yielded possession never quite as tidy as the backs and scrum half Baillie, in particular, would have preferred.
Biggars task in the second period had to be to stem the tide and get some points of their own on the board. This first aim they failed to achieve as lock Alexander powered his way over after three minutes. A fumbled restart gave Hamilton possession which they used to take play into the Biggar 22. Some excellent and very committed defence kept them out – one hit by Robbie Lavery a real bone shaker – but ironically Hamilton’s next score came after Biggar had fought their way into attack. A miss pass by Notman was gratefully taken by Whitelaw who won the race to the touchdown just outpacing the covering Warnock who nevertheless put in a great covering tackle. Biggar’s task was not helped in any way by injury to Baillie, Jardine his replacement, while Craig McDonald was also forced off with an ankle injury although he was able to return to the fray.
That Biggar didn’t concede more points was due to Hamilton over-complicating things and failing to use the extra man but also due to some committed scramble defence which saw several Hamilton attacks come to nought as Biggar players flung themselves into the fray. Pressure eventually told however and they added to tries before Biggar responded.
This came from Jamie Orr (Warnock converting) and put a 4-try bonus within reach. Biggar applied themselves well in the last quarter and benefited from the replacement of Hamilton’s Maxton - the veteran a source of excellent lineout ball - but they could not add to their tally. Hamilton had the last word, they escaping upfield again as Biggar’s attack faltered.
That the Biggar XV never wilted and managed to retain a strong spirit despite their meagre attacking opportunities does them great credit. It is never easy to be on the end of a thumping and the squad was pretty down after the match. This is a very young side however and if they can learn together they will become stronger together.
Man of the match for Biggar was try-scorer Jamie Orr who stood up well to the Hamilton threat while the Hamilton winner was lock Jerry McKee.
The 2nd XV were also under the cosh as they entertained Currie 2nds a side bristling with Scotland age-group players. The score reached three figures and Biggar lost the services of their bench fairy early on as injury took its toll. Their spirit too never faltered however and all credit to Neil Wolfendene and his troops who faced an uphill struggle in this division.
Man of the match went to Zander Lyon with Matt McPhillips winning the nod for Currie.
A bleak day at Hartree Mill then as both senior sides lost out and lost ground in their respective leagues. It is a long season however and players must be encouraged to keep working to develop their game. This weekend both sides are away from home, both heading for East Lothian, the 1sts at Preston Lodge and the 2nds at Musselburgh.
Another plea for all past players to look out their boots – your club needs you!
Story date: 08/09/2015
Lasswade record rare victory over Biggar
Lasswade 31 Biggar 6
Biggar’s first foray into National 2 ended in disappointment as they were swept away by Lasswade – a first victory for the East Lothian side for many years.
That a whole division separated the two sides last year was certainly not evident, Biggar second best in almost every area; set-piece, first up tackling, ball presentation and retention and aggression.
To excuse this is not easy save for the fact that while all have featured in the pre-season action several in crucial positions were playing together for the first time. For example there was a new combination at front row, at half back and in the centre, all areas where understanding is key. With regard to front row there is also a carry-over into lineouts where lifting calls and positioning depends on practice.
That excuse only holds water up to a point however as all involved are all good enough players to be able to adjust to each other’s styles.
In a penalty-strewn match which indicated rustiness on the part of the referee as well as the players, Biggar edged into an early lead via the boot of Francois Nel who kicked his first points for his new club.
Lasswade replied with a well-taken try although incomplete tackles in the centre made it a little easier than it should have been. Nel kept Biggar in the hunt with a second penalty but was off-target with a third long range attempt after a quarter of the hour, this awarded after Lasswade centre Smith was shown yellow after a late tackle on Biggar scrum half Davy Reive. That Biggar kicked for goal rather than for the corner where they might have exploited their extra man is a moot point but in the event Nels’ kick dropped just under the crossbar and Lasswade escaped further punishment.
Lasswade made light of playing into the stiff breeze, quick penalties, their handling and direct running taking them out of defence with some ease. Try as they might and they did engineer some promising attacking positions neither side could add to their tally. Biggar failed when they had ball stripped off them, in the tackle or when passes went astray, Lasswade when they lost ground from penalties. That said there was no more scoring until the last movement of the half.
Ironically Biggar’s midfield had held up an initial Lasswade thrust this ending with a Biggar scrum. As Lasswade drove and disrupted the Biggar heel, Reive found stand-off Nel but the Lasswade stand-off Elliot was up quick to charge the ball down ad to take full advantage to touch down for a fine opportunist try. There was no conversion but biggar turned round 12-6 down instead of 7-6 down.
Now facing the breeze, Biggar opened well but lost ground and almost a try when a floated pass went astray, the Lasswade kick and chase foiled by Graham Jamieson who chased back well. Calum Taylor was forced off with the recurrence of a shoulder injury – Ian Baillie his replacement – and this coincided with a Lasswade penalty which they kicked to the corner. A textbook take and drive saw No8 Hearn round off the move for a try converted by kicking prop Billingham.
Ewan Stewart was almost on the scoresheet faster a neatly take at the lineout saw him take ball at the front and drive for the line, some stout defence all that stopped him from touching down. Robbie Lavery then almost scored as he took a crash ball in the centre, possession spilled in contact and with the line almost at his mercy.
At this point Craig Stewart replaced new recruit Dan O’Connell at prop and shortly afterwards Jamieson came off to be replaced by Aird Jardine. the youngster playing his first top team league match.
Another line drive gave Lasswade their deserved 4-try bonus at 24-6. Gav Blackburn replaced Donald Voas also at prop although the coaches stay was not long, he conceding a scrum penalty before damaging a calf muscle which ended with his replacement by O’Connell.
A nasty jarring tackle saw hooker Ewan Stewart immobilised by the medical staff of both teams and he was stretchered off with a neck brace. Happily he was quickly assessed and given the all-clear by ambulance staff although he was obviously not allowed back on. This gave Biggar an additional problem as the lineout play suffered as stand-in thrower Voas struggled to find his mark. To make matters worse Lavery was then shown yellow for what the referee deemed a high tackle, this putting Biggar under further pressure.
Lasswade capitalised with a try for Smith, Billingham’s conversion taking the score to 31-6.
The last 6-7 minutes were marginally better for Biggar as they did their best to open out but it was too little too late.
A real disappointment and one which was compounded by injury to at least three of the squad. With Simmonds likely to be out for a few weeks these injuries will test the straight in depth of the Biggar club, this already an area of concern as the 2nds XV struggled to get a XV on Saturday. A big call to arms from past players who are still young enough to make a difference! Training is on Tuesdays and Thursdays – please make yourself available, your club needs you!
This weekend sees Biggar welcome Hamilton to Hartree Mill after an absence of some 4 seasons. The title of South Lanarkshire Champs is once again up for grabs therefore and the Hamilton XV will come buoyed up by their big 55-29 win over Ardrossan Accies. This will be a huge test for Biggar’s youthful squad and a big support would be much appreciated by the boys and by the club. KO 3pm
Story date: 01/09/2015
Youthful Biggar 1st XV draw with Dumfries in first friendly of season
A few photos from Saturdays friendly
Story date: 08/08/2015
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
Biggar RFC operates and Open to All policy and welcomes new members from all sectors of the community
We accept members from 5 years upwards who can join our Mini section to those that have retired and want to assist and retain their links with our active club.
Our membership year runs from May to April and if you would like to find out more about the playing arrangements at the club or become a member please contact either Gordon Young on 07774678617 or via email at email@example.com or Nigel Pacey on 07714 713504.
If you would like to know a little more about our rugby programmes for Primary or Secondary school children please refer to our Mini and Midi pages under the "Teams" section or contact either Laura Watson for information about Primary School age children and Paula Yardley on 07830022447 or Aird Jardine on 07917731494 for Secondary School aged children
Membership rates and packages are as follows:
Download the form by clicking here (pdf format)
Story date: 25/08/2011