1sts sign off with win
1st XV and National League 2
Biggar 13 Ardrossan Accies 10
This was Ladies Day at Biggar, a first for the club on such a large scale. How appropriate it was then that this event came the day after the girls successes at Murrayfield. The packed clubhouse – there were over 100 ladies in attendance, and many thanks to them for their support - provided a magnificent standing ovation for the group of players who were able to attend the pre-match function.
Biggar countered the wet and windy conditions to sign off their 2015/16 home league campaign with a win over west coast visitors Ardrossan on Saturday.
In weather which was more akin to that of December or January this was not an open running affair, both teams struggling to gain any real control. Biggar certainly edged the contest in terms of territory however, as they maintained possession deep in the Ardrossan 22 in the first half and then almost camping in the visitors half after the break.
That the backs were frozen is not in doubt, the Ardrossan back line visibly wilting as they faced the breeze in the second period.
Biggar were keen to reverse their current losing streak which has seen them fall to two defeats in succession and this they managed to do although not perhaps as emphatically as they would have liked. Remember though, that in the game at Ardrossan Biggar scraped through via a last minute try from Andrew Peacock. A glance at the two Biggar sides would show that Saturday's XV contained just 6 of those who started the November match. Another four were in the squad but that equates to just half of the squad total. Many of Biggar's youngsters have therefore been asked to step up to the mark and this they have done well.
For Saturday Craig McDonald operated at centre for the injured Graham Jamieson while up front Donald Voas started in place of Andrew Howatson and Zander Lyon and Alan Warnock also returned to the fray.
Playing with the wind the visitors crossed for their only try after just 11 mins and from a driven lineout. This is an area which continues to cause concern for Biggar although it is very difficult to legally stop the drive. The conversion was successful albeit that the kicker ended up sliding onto his backside on contact!
Biggar then enjoyed a lengthy period of possession but, try though they did, they are unable to convert pressure into points as a combination of fairly solid Ardrossan defence and Biggar errors contrived to keep Biggar out. Many in the crowd felt that Biggar's failure to score from this possession might cost them dear but on the half hour mark, ironically when Ardrossan bravely sought to run out of defence when the kick might have gained ground much more quickly, Biggar benefited from a handling error. Alisdair Sinclair pounced on the loose ball and although he was forced to turn quickly his off-load found Robbie Lavery and the centre cantered over from 30 metres to open Biggar's account. Richard Peacock struck the conversion well but into the teeth of the gale the ball fell short. 7-5 to Ardrossan.
The last 10 minutes was punctuated at regular intervals by refereeMartin Maughan's whistle, the majority of these against Ardrossan. The half time penalty count was 9-3 with many locals questioning why no Ardrossan player had been yellow carded.
Stand-in Biggar coach Doug Fleming, who was in chanrge for the last time prior to lambing, rang the changes after the break with David Reive replacing David McArthur, Callum Braid for Donald Voas and later Lewis McLachlan for Kevin Robison.
A batch of penalties aginst Biggar at the start of this second period gave Ardrossan field position and they took full advantage to kick a penalty and stretch their lead to 10-5. It looked as though Biggar would suffer further as referee Maughan continued to find fault with Biggar's play but in taking the game back downfield Biggar were able to turn the tide somewhat and exert pressure on the visitors. This paved the way for Biggar's second score, Andrew Peacock rounding off a lineout drive, this score almost indentical to that which they had conceded in the first half. Another well struck conversion from brother Richard seemed to coincide with a break in the wind and the ball flew past the right upright. Biggar were now on level terms however with still 20 minutes left on the clock.
Another series of penalties against Ardrossan eventually, and inevitably, led to a yellow card. Biggar, who had enjoyed ascendency in the tight, might have expected to take the lead but again Ardrossan frustrated Biggar's efforts while errors on Biggar's behalf did not help. Perhaps the most exciting passage of play was a lung-bursting breenge by McLachlan, this his trademark and as always taking play into and then beyond the Ardrossan defence. The position for this had been engineered by stand off Aird Jardine who swooped on a loose ball to take play into the Ardrossan half.
This movement ended with a penalty to Biggar and Peacock kicked accurately to put his side ahead at 13-10.
With some 10 minutes remaining and the match still in some doubt there was a sense of deja vu – would Ardrossan pinch the game just as Biggar had in November? Happily, from a Biggar point of view at least, this was not to be the case and Biggar held on to record a deserved win.
Robbie Lavery had an effective match, Richard Peacock made amends for his lapses against Cartha the previous week, Andrew Orr impressed with a confidence which belies his years, while Stevie Campbell again looked full of running - he will surely benefit from regular involvement. Lewis McLachlan certainly made an impact but it was Alan Warnock who again stole the show with regard to the Man-of-the-Match award for his general work rate about the park in both attack and defence and his willingness to carry ball. Ardrossan's award also went to an Alan, and another back row man to boot, Alan Wilson.
R. Peacock, A. Sinclair, C. McDonald, R. Lavery, S. Alder, A. Jardine, D. McArthur, D. Voas, A. Orr, D. O’Connell, A. Peacock, Z. Lyon, K. Robison, A. Warnock, S. Campbell. Reps: D. Reive, J. Warnock, C. Braid, L. McLachlan.
The 4 points gained mean that Biggar move into 7th spot with an outside chance of finishing in 6th, this dependent on the result of this week's match against Whitecraigs and that between Kirkcaldy and Cartha.
While Hamilton are worthy champions, the second promotion spot is far from decided. Falkirk are in pole position at present but Aberdeenshire and Cartha still have strong chances to overtake them as they have games in hand. This issue is unlikely to be resolved until well into April.
At the foot of the table, Lasswade and Greenock will drop down. Up from National 3 are two Glasgow sides GHK and West of Scotland, this latter side including several ex-Biggar players.
From National 1 it is two Border sides who will drop down, Peebles and Kelso now confirmed as being relegated, the former after some real battling performances in the past month.
Biggar have one remaining match, that against Whitecraigs this Saturday. The Glasgow siee have had a real topsy-turvy season recording some famous victories and then some puzzling defeats. Biggar will travel under the guidance of new coach Gary Mercer. He is unlikely to be able to change much in the space of one week but he will at least be able to assess those playing. He is due at Biggar on Thursday for a player meeting to which all senior players are encouraged to attend.
A continuing issue with prop availability prevented the 2nds from fulfilling their match with Hawick.
Story date: 28/03/2016
Biggar errors cost them dear
Cartha QP 48 Biggar 10
For the second week in a row Biggar suffered a hefty defeat while on the road. This was a disappointing performance with too many unforced errors gifting the Glasgow side scores. It was a performance reminiscent of that at Preston Lodge at the start of the season when the squad had yet to gel. That excuse could be offered up for this latest reversal as there were a number of changes to the side which has played in the bulk of the league games to date. Alan Warnock and Zander Lyons were both late call offs due to illness while Donald Voas was out after sustaining an ankle injury last week. It would be wrong to point the finger at those who made the step up however as each played their part when asked.
One of these was debutant Calum Braid who has been hoping to start for much of the season but who has suffered a number of setbacks which has prevented him from so doing. A young prop he did a great job in the tight and it is clear that he will prove to be an asset to the club next season. Others to shine were Kev Robison who offers so much at flank forward, the abrasive Stevie Campbell, livewire scrum half David McArthur and another youngtster Grant Hamilton who has at last been able to return from injury.
Kicking off in calm conditions Biggar were soon behind as Cartha scored off a lineout drive. Biggar might have equalised shortly after this but Richard Peacock was off target. Unfortunately the same player made an error as he prepared to chip ahead, the ball dropping into the hands of the advancing Cartha player to give him a stroll to the line for a try which, when converted, put the Glasgow side 12-0 up.
Worse was to follow as a Biggar 'try' was chalked off for a crossing offence (on another day it might have been missed), before a penalty to touch and one at goal were missed. Some really good hands led to Cartha's third score and 10 minutes later they gained their 4-try bonus from an error at a Biggar lineout, this another area which did not function well.
Despite all of the above Biggar were still playing some decent rugby albeit, as commented on by the referee assessor, it appeared that they were just one man short or one yard short every time they attacked, Cartha able to scramble the ball clear or to push Biggar into touch.
Eventually, and certainly deservedly, Biggar got the scoreboard working as Douglas Notman rounded off a number of phases with a try. Half time then with a score of 26-5.
It was never likely, given the score, that Biggar would go on to win the match and in fact Cartha continued to score at relatively regular intervals after the break. Biggar's cause was not helped by injury to Graham Jamieson who damaged knee ligaments or as a hand injury forced Notman off. Cartha continued to press, their speed into attack a feature of their play and one that had been remarkably absent when they had visited Hartree Mill back in October.
McArthur scored Biggar's only other try, this as he showed great determination to cross after a series of promising plays had taken Cartha back into their 22. In this, Andrew Peacock, Robbie Lavery, Campbell and Ewan Stewart all featured.
Biggar can do so much better and will have to in their last two remaining league games if they are to end the season on a positive note. The first of these is this Saturday, when in their last home league match they welcome Ardrossan Accies. The Ayrshire side are now one place above Biggar in the league table – Biggar having now dropped to 8th spot – but have played one more match. If results were to go their way Biggar could yet make 6th spot but not on present form.
R. Peacock, A. Sinclair, G. Jamieson, R. Lavery, S. Alder, A. Jardine, D. Reive, A. Howatson, E. Stewart, D. O’Connell, A. Peacock, K. Robison, D. Notman, S. Campbell. Reps: D. McArthur, K. J. Warnock, C. Braid, G. Hamilton.
The 2nd XV were once again forced to cancel their match (against Marr) due to a continued lack of front row players. The three available props were with the 1sts and this left the 2's without any front row players.
Story date: 21/03/2016
Biggar lose out to promotion hoepfuls Falkirk
Falkirk 44 Biggar 14
After the high spots of last week in scoring 7 tries and 44 points it was back down to earth with a bump for Biggar when they conceded as many points against promotion hopefuls Falkirk. The encounter back in November at Hartree Mill saw Biggar cause an 'upset' when they comfortably defeated Falkirk but the Central region side have since been unbeaten and with the prospects of promotion becoming ever more a reality they were not going to let that happen again.
Biggar contributed much to the match causing Fakirk all sorts of problems in the tight scrum where they were largely dominant and also in open play where some of their driving and support play was excellent. Unfortunately Biggar couldn't sustain that level of play and a number of errors led to scores for Falkirk whose pace, dynamism and good angles wreaked havoc in defence.
Falkirk scored their first try after 6 minutes after several hits reduced Biggar's defence. Minutes later and both sides lost men to the sin-bin as the referee took exception to a couple of scrums which collapsed. Dan O'Connell was Biggar's man in the bin and this saw Calvin Henderson move forward from flank forward to prop, his more accustomed position.
Good off-loads paved the way for Falkirk's next score while Stevie Campbell made some great thrusts into the heart of the Falkirk defence. Biggar ran hard at Falkirk but without the acceleration of the host side who were largely able to contain these thrusts.
Half time then with a 22-0 gap but with Biggar turning with the wind on their backs.
Falkirk switched their front row at the break and this did much to counter Biggar's forward effort. A scrum penalty and then a try directly from the next set piece did nothing to help Biggar's cause but they were soon rewarded with a try from Campbell who rounded off a good period of attacking play involving some good pick and drives. Richard Peacock added the conversion.
Both sides scored tries, Henderson crossing after some good work at the lineout from Andrew Peacock and Ewan Stewart, Richard Peacock converting again for Biggar's final 14 point tally.
The home side had the final word however with a last try to record their comfortable win.
Plus points came from the driving play of the forwards with Campbell, Stewart, Peacock and Voas to the fore. David McArthur and Kev Robison made their mark coming off the bench.
Biggar have now just 3 league games left against Cartha (awaqy, this Saturday), Ardrossan Accies (home, 26th March) and then Whitecraigs (away, 2nd April). There should be the opportunity to pick up some more points from these fixtures. They will be without prop Calvin Henderson however who intimated that he will miss the remainder of the season due to work commitments.
R. Peacock, A. Sinclair, G. Jamieson, R. Lavery, C. McDonald, A. Jardine, D. Reive, Donald Voas, E. Stewart, D. O’Connell, Z. Lyon, A. Peacock, C. Henderson, A. Warnock, S. Campbell. Reps: D. McArthur, K. Robison, S. Alder, A. Howatson
The 2nd XV had to cancel their match against Musselburgh due to a lack of front row players. With lambing season fast approaching the numbers at training and available to play are reducing and so it is vital that all those who are able to play make themselves known so that the 2nds can fulfil their league fixtures.
Story date: 18/03/2016
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
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.
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
Senior Player Facebook Group
Story date: 29/10/2013
Biggar RFC Second XV
This season 2014/15, Biggar 2nd XV will compete in the Edinburgh RESERVE LEAGUE 1. A good blend of experience and youth allows us to compete well with teams who have far greater resources.
The team is manged by John Bogle and Malcolm Bruce and if you would like to play or assist with the team please contact our Playing Convenor, Ian Notman 07899803916
Story date: 16/09/2011