1st XV - Report
EK lose RBS Shield tie to old foes, Annan
For the 2nd year in a row, EK’s interest in the RBS Shield died against a more capable Annan side. So the focus is back to league business for the rest of the season.
Having lost to the same side in the preliminary round last year, EK were expecting a difficult match. And so it proved.
Annan were the better side. It took them some 40 minutes to find their fluency, and rather longer for EK to display any real spirit but the end result was a deserved victory for the visitors.
It must be many years since EK started a match with two eighteen year olds in the front row. Scott Aiken and Calum Hastie had the tricky task of taking on a more experienced Annan duo. Both played very well, with Hastie (the fastest waiter in the Auldhouse Arms) emerging as EK’s Man of the Match. Not only did he do his front line grunting and shunting well, he put in some excellent tackles around the paddock.
Other changes included club captain Jones being drafted back in to the side at 2nd row, for the ailing Craig Ferguson Junior. Gareth toiled well until he came off injured.
The first half break came with EK leading 8-6. It was a pretty low tempo half (to quote book reading coaching guru Billy Little). Captain for the day, Grant Seymour made an early break but passed behind the supporting player. He possibly should have gone for it himself.
EK took the lead after 7 minutes, through a Greenfield penalty. Annan levelled 3 minutes later, and then Greenfield was astray with a long penalty attempt. Annan took the lead after 19 minutes with another penalty, which demonstrated their efficiency as they had barely been in the EK half.
EK were struggling to play with any fluency, but another midfield break by Seymour gave winger Alex Irvine the chance to charge over from 25 metres. No conversion but EK leading 8-6 after 23 minutes.
EK were lucky to hold this lead as Annan missed two very kickable penalties in quick order, as poor EK discipline presented opportunities. And moaning at the ref never helps win anything, does it Robbie Greenfield? Must be hereditary………
Whatever was in the Annan half time oranges worked a treat for the visitors, as their backs started to run with confidence, aided by EK standing off tackles and offering space. Annan took the lead after 45 minutes through a penalty, 8-9.
Five minutes later, Annan attacked up the right wing. Assisted by poor EK tackling, the ball was recycled out to the left for a well worked try, no conversion. Score: 8 -14. EK restart kick straight out – hmm.
Almost immediately, the Annan backs cut EK apart again, with Seymour rescuing his side with a last gasp tackle on the 22 metre line.
The visitors had the momentum and EK were struggling to get into the match. Annan scored another try after 59 minutes when one of the backs kicked the ball over the EK defence which had no one covering full back, and won the race for the touchdown.
The conversion made it 8-21 for the visitors and there looked to be no way back for the home team. Injuries were playing a part with coach Steel rotating his bench regularly to try to establish some cohesion, and patch up his side.
Faced with a 13 point deficit, a drop goal attempt was not likely to bring much success, and it did not. Winger Less Fat Fergie had a couple of charges but still rather distant from the scoring zone. EK were trying hard but struggling to find any precision or composure. Cohesion in the backs was absent, in part due to the difficulties of fielding the same unit each week.
EK had most of the possession in last quarter but could not create anything. A small glimmer of hope emerged when No 8 Calum Aiken charged over for a try from a five metre line out after 78 minutes. But Annan had no difficulty running the clock down, leaving them worthy 8-21 victors.
EK missed the penetration and defensive skills of centre Ian Brown, suffered from a steady stream of injuries and a general flatness and fluidity. Although they did assert themselves in the latter stages, the better team won.
Candidates for Man of the Match included Calum Aitken, try scorer, at No 8, Ross Stewart (another 18 year old) at scrum half who had his best display for the 1st XV coming on as an early replacement for Mark Ellison, but in the end it went to the umbrella twisting Calum Hastie.
Next week EK are away to Glasgow Accies, kick off 3pm. And with our Stag Dinner in the evening, let's hope for a bit of better cheer for the evening with a good result. Accies are presently 6th in the league, two places behind EK, having won 2 and lost 3 of their matches so far. It looks like being the usual tight game.
Team: 15. Fraser Little, 14. Alex Irvine, 13. Calum Simpson, 12. Grant Seymour, 11. Less Fat Fergie, 10. Robbie Greenfield, 9. Mark Ellison, 8. Calum Aitken, 7. Stewart Kampman, 6. Stephen Miller, 5. Steve Lannon, 4. Gareth Jones, 3. Scott Aiken, 2. Rian Anderson, 1. Calum Hastie. Bench (all used): Chris O’Neill, Ross Stewart, Chris Mclellan, Eddie Beaton.