Hartree Mill Sports Grounds, Biggar ML12 6JJCharity Number: SC 047700

Colts regain winning ways

Youth rugby: Mitsubishi Shogun Conference

'Colts grab last-gasp try for dramatic win over Hamilton'

Hamilton U18 15  Biggar Colts 18

Thrilling gladiatorial finishes like this one are impossible to resist and Biggar's last-gasp heist in their South Lanarkshire hosts back yard will reverberate for some time.

 

In truth, Hamilton must be wondering how on earth they lost the game just as much as Biggar wondered how we won it!

 

Hamilton will be gutted because the game had seemed up, a well executed penalty kick appeared to have punished the visitors for several moments of defensive naivety with three minutes left. Instead it was merely a prelude to a compelling final act that saw Charles Connolly crash over the line in the last minute to sicken the home side. This followed a perfect kick off from Ali Steele, placing the ball with real precision to see it rolling in to touch several metres from the Hamilton line, this immediately put huge pressure on the Hamilton line out, pressure that ultimately they could not handle.

 

Given that Biggar Colts have been affected by injuries and were short of a few influential players, the league's fifth-placed side deserved their first win in five games for perseverance alone.

 

Biggar got off to a flying start and showed the structured move stuff that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy. Biggar expected the customary big start from the heavy Hamilton forwards, but credit to the front five of Low, Thomson, Baillie, Archibald, van Rensberg who turned the tables and dominated in the first half. Five minutes of doing the basics well led to Ali Steele going over the line using his power to take the last tackler over the line with him. The Full-back converted his own try and all was well at 7 nil.....sort of.

 

Ground conditions were wet and greasy with both sides struggling to keep the ball in hand, the proverbial bar of soap seeming to have a mind of its own. Simple hand-catch and pass skills eluded both sides for a bit although the long pass was over used when basic short slick passing would have yielded results for the Biggar three quarters with the overlap beckoning on several occasions after excellent carries by the forwards, Frame, McConkey, van Rensberg and Connolly making inroads in the close quarters contact.

 

Amongst the scrappy play it was Jack Blaikhill that nearly added to the tally when he switched on the afterburners up the left wing. The pacy back was bumped into touch 3 metres from the line after his 50 metre sprint.

 

A lot of the first-half was played in the Bulls half and Biggar competed better of late in the breakdown forcing a couple turnovers but poor decision making halted any significant progress.

 

Hamilton got their tails up though and were briefly impactful, albeit somewhat lateral, and that's what slowed the hosts down. Biggar forced the issue with a drift defence that brought about Hamilton errors, Wallis effectively shutting down the Hamilton danger man time and time again, once the defensive communication was functioning.

 

The Bulls continued with positive intent but it was mainly in the middle of the pitch. A missed long range penalty kick attempt in 23 minutes maintained Biggar's clean sheet.

 

Josh van Rensberg saw yellow for a late tackle with 6 minutes of the first half to go but the visitors held out to go into the break ahead.

 

Biggar's lead didn't last long and 2 minutes hadn't passed into the second-half when Hamilton pounced and wasted no time in reminding everyone that the hosts had strength and determination. A characteristic break by the No.10 opened up acres of space and yielded a predictable outcome. The Fly-half ran in unchallenged for a converted score, a reminder that defensive focus and intent cannot lapse at any time.

 

Biggar hit back with a pair of successful penalty kicks from Steele to bring the score to 7-13. Line speed and collective defensive effort forced errors that resulted in Hamilton conceding penalties, it is always great to see this type of offensive defence.

 

The customary massive work rate by Orr set an example to all, tackling time and time again, snubbing out threatening situations and stealing precious ball. The helter-skelter mood continued for a good while. It became a matter of waiting to see which team could retain their composure.

 

It happened to be Hamilton. They were on top and good for it. They forced a penalty and narrowly missed the kick. Biggar were going backwards.

 

Hamilton scored another try out wide and with only one point adrift at 12-13 they could smell victory.

 

Bulls kept coming at Biggar and were nearly in for the deadly score on the hour mark. A Hamilton try at that point would have destroyed the visitors. However, if there was ever a moment that in itself deserved to win a game it arrived in that 60th minute. At full tilt, Matthew Stewart sprinted across the width of the pitch following his initial tackle, tracking the slick Hamilton backs move that found the existing Biggar defence floundering. As the only player left, the inside centre broke the winger's heart, as he was probably planning his picture perfect dive in his head, by halting him merely a couple of feet from the line. Although the wing wasn't in touch, Craig Frame, who was tenacious all day, showed speed of thought and arrived early to rip the ball from the isolated back. Biggar cleared their lines and there was well deserved back slapping all round. 

 

But haud the bus.....

 

Hamilton weren't finished. You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you didn't want that something horrible to happen...then it did? Well, it did!

 

Colts lost their discipline and conceded a penalty within kicking distance. Hamilton obliged and stroked it between the posts.

 

3 minutes to go, 15-13 to Bulls and to all intents and purposes the game was done. The home support went mad. And who could blame them.

 

But haud the bus......again!

 

Biggar weren't finished. Ali Steele's re-start was long and pin-point accurate. Hamilton would have to deal with a line-out on their own 5m line. The pressure showed. Line-out not straight, scrum 5 to Biggar. 1st Phase...Halted. 2nd phase.....Halted. Hamilton defended like demons. 3rd phase, a break down the blindside, a rampaging burst from Connolly, just enough to outfox the home cover....Try!

 

The away support went mad. And who could blame them.

 

A nervy last minute ensued with Hamilton piling on the pressure but Biggar held out. Final score, Hamilton 15 Biggar 18.

 

Biggar urgently needed something to brighten up their season and this game certainly did that. No-one said it was going to be easy and the boys need to realise that. Let’s not beat about the bush here, things need to improve, for their own sake,  if they want to make an impression in this league and it IS achievable. The coaches will never accept mediocrity. With that in mind players must focus on work-ons and be brutally honest about what they want to achieve. No, it's not the Pro 14 or a case of life and death. It's more than that!

 

It was a very important victory that will boost the team and is particularly pleasing to see the 15 on the pitch at the end that dragged the victory from the jaws of defeat. Well done everyone.


Kirkcaldy pack too strong for Biggar

Kirkcaldy 40 Biggar 13

With several regulars unavailable and with a number carrying knocks the League break for the Autumn internationals has come about a week too late for Biggar. It is also an indication of how small the senior squad is although very pleasingly, a side did represent the 2nds as they travelled to Musselburgh. While they too, returned defeated, there was plenty to suggest that a full, fit XV would have made it a real contest. As always all credit to those boys who managed to play and who worked so hard in the contest.

 

Biggar’s front row comprised two 18 year olds and a 22 year old while the absence of recognised ball carriers was always going to make this a really tough ask – especially against a side reknowned for having a big pack and playing almost throughout, to that strength. Biggar’s cause was not helped by inmjury during the warm up to Calum Braid, his failure to make the kick off compounded by the fact that Biggar’s bench was also deprived and therefore an even greater strain was placed on the squad of 18.

 

Having faced a well-drilled Lasswade pack last week, there was going to be no surprises at Kirkcaldys choice of tactic for this encounter, and so it proved, Biggar on the defensive for long periods of the match and, while all stuck to the task of tackle, tackle and tackle again, there was an inevitability that Biggar’s line would be breached.

 

An early penalty from Carne Green gave Biggar some hope but they were soon under the cosh as Kirkcaldy gave their visitors little respite, each and every penalty – and there were plenty awarded – seeing the Fife side kick for territory and then drive for the line. Biggar have been so much better with regard to on-field discipline this season but it all seemed to go wrong at Kirkcaldy, referee Iain Morrison finding fault on a very regular basis with penalties awarded for offside and no release. That he is the sole judge and arbiter is not in question, but there seemed far too many occasions when the 50-50 decision went to the home side. There were some questionable decisions against Kirkcaldy too however, with one penalty in particular, awarded against the home side for not retiring in time advanced at least 20 metres further up the park than it should have been!

 

After long periods of play when a side is struggling to get possession seem to be relieved by a good turnover, which is then penalised, it is hardly surprising that players get frustrated.

 

Hooker Greg Wallace was the first to cross, his angled run from some 5 metres almost impossible to halt while on a good day with the boot, fullback Finlay Smith added the conversion, this the first two points of what was to become a handsome 10 point total.

 

With just over a quarter of the match gone No8 Dayle Turner rounded off a scrummage drive to touchdown and then jastb after the half hour flanker Rhys Bonner took the Kirkcaldy try tally to 3. A half time score then of 19-3.

 

With a swirling wind which rarely gave either side a real advantage Biggar were now ‘uphill’. Guy Kelly who had engineered a couple fo great ‘steals’ at the breakdown then succumbed to another charge and was forced from the field. With the Kirkcaldy front row comprising of some real old heads – prop Mangalo weighing in at some 24 stone – it was hardly surprising that the Biggar youngesters would creak. Not that any of the side could be criticised for lack of effort, the tackle count indicative of that effort. Everyone played their part but credit to hooker Ewan Stewart who put in a huge shift, the aforemontioned Nimmo and Kelly who belied their youth, captain Alan warnock who stood strong despite a 3 week old nose break and to flanker Lewis McLachlan who made his first appearance this years and who typically ran himself into the ground with a prominent role in both attack abnd defence. The backs contributed consdierably although they were employed primarily in defence. When given the opportunity they ran some good lines and asked some questions of the Kirkcaldy defence which was pleasing to see and suggsted that with more and especially ‘go-forward’ ball, that they might have had more success.

 

Scrums were then uncontested, much to Kirkcaldy’s chagrin and while this was unfortunate and certainly not what Biggar wished, the ‘cheat’ jibes from some of the home support were equally unfortunate.

 

Cousins Conor Lavery and Gregor Stewart were introduced to the action, they replacing Aird Jardine and Kelly respectively. Uncontested scrums are not particualrly helpful to either side as although possession inevitably goes with the put in the defending sides back row are always primed and ready to pounce. This was much the case, both sides running at pace and making some big hits. The fact that Kirkcaldy possessed the much heavier pack menat that they were usually able to make inroads through Biggar’s first line of defence or at worst force Biaggr to hastily regroup. This again took its toll with wallace notching try number two within 5 minutes of the restart.

 

This was of course the 4th and bonus point try and so in a sense it was ‘job done’ for the league leaders.

 

This did seem to coincide with a much better passage of play for Biggar as they managed to retain possession over a number of phases. On a good few occasions it was only some stout Kirkcaldy defence which prevented Biggar from scoring although when a side is desperate to score, chances must be taken and Biggar, on another day, might have scored from two opportinities but passes which should have been made weren’t, while others ended in errors. This only added to the frustration.

 

Biggar vaired their attack with a selection of chips and grubbers in their attempts to breach the Kirkcaldy line but in the absence of any real ball-carryiong forwards the Kirkcaldy defence was able to string itself across the pitch. This proved pretty efective and it denied bIggar a try when they so desperately deserved a score.

 

Forced back and conceding possession, Kirkcaldy engineered a breakout and after a series of probing runs and thrusts, scrum half Gavin McKenzie burst through Biggar’s stretched defence for another try to take the Fife total to 33.

 

There were several Kirkcaldy tackles which seemed high some of which were unpunished so it was harsh to the Biggar support at least when perhaps the first such high tackle by Biggar resulted in Andrew Peacock being shown a yellow and confined to a 10 minute watching brief.

 

Unsurprsingly, Kirkcaldy added to their tally from the penalty award.

 

Now leaving nothing in the locker, Biggar opened out throwing the ball about in an attempt to break through, their reward eventually coming as Ryan Moffat crashed over for a try. With limited time remaining, Green opted for the drop goal attempt, this going wide.

 

Back on the attack after the restart, Biggar nabbed s scond score, winger aloistauir Sinclair latching on to a Green grubber kick to cross in the corner. Greens’ conversion rebounded off the upright and shortly afterwards referee Morrsion brought the contest to an end, much to the jubilation of the home side.

 

This was Biggar’s first defeat away from home! This is an astounding statistic and a really odd one at that, especially as most club’s approach is to win the home games and sneak a few away wins! It’s the opposite for Biggar in this campaign as the home record of played 5 won 2 lost 3 does not make very good reading, and especially when compared to their away record of played 5 won 4 lost 1!

 

The league now breaks for the Autumn international series. That will hopefully allow all those who are carrying knocks to recover and re-energise before the visit of West of Scotland. The Glasgow side rocked the boat a bit on Saturday when they recorded a surprise win over Dumfries.

 

With Lasswade winning Biggar drop to 5th spot, 10 points behind Kirkcaldy but just 7 from Lasswade in 2nd place. There is still everyhting to play for then and lots of good rubgy to come from this side.

 

Biggar

A. Nimmo, E. Stewart, G. Kelly, A. Peacock, A. Warnock, A. Orr, L. McLachlan, D. Notman, D. Reive, C. Green, A. Sinclair, R. Moffat, R. Lavery, R. Bradford, A. Jardine Reps: C. Braid, K. Robison, G. Stewart, C. Lavery.

 

Post script

Among Biggar's usual travelling support were Peter and Sandy Green, parents of stand off Carne. On a holiday/business trip from New Zealand they were able to spend some time in Biggar with Carne as well as seeing some of Scotland. Steeped in rugby with the Petone club from Wellington, they were disappointed they did not see Biggar win but they enjoyed their stay in the town, leaving on Sunday for Edinburgh and then south to England to catch up with Sandy's family. Haste ye back!

 

As previously mentioned the 2nd XV succumbed to Musselburgh. In second bottom spot of National Reserve League 2, Biggar face an uphill struggle to retaining their place in this division but again there is still a lot of rugby to be played.


NEWS

Colts regain winning ways

A win for Biggar at Hamilton

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Kirkcaldy pack too strong for Biggar

Biggar succumbed to a pack-orientated Kirkcaldy

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