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

Biggar and Dumfries serve up a thriller

Biggar 26 Dumfries 29

It seems that Biggar’s matches this season are proving to be not only particularly exciting affairs but also full of incident – sufficient to ensure there is plenty of post match debate at least.

 

The first match of the season saw the side notch up a win against a confident Hamilton side; a fortnight ago against Peebles, Biggar managed to lose a game in the dying minutes which they had hitherto seemingly had in the bag; last week in Aberdeen the side racked up Biggar’s largest league total for many a year while on Saturday the side clawed their way back into a match most present felt at half time (when they were 24-5 down) they had lost. More was to follow as in the last minute the decision was taken opt for a scrum and a try to win, instead of what appeared to be a relatively simple penalty which would have given them a valuable draw and which would have perhaps, more importantly, ended Dumfries’ winning run.

 

Was it bravado, bravery, foolhardy…..each opinion had its backers in the post match chat, with a general failure in communication deemed the reason for opting for the scrum though there seems no doubt either that the second half finished abruptly, there having been a prolonged period of injury time after a clash of heads which might have seen Dumfries claw their way back from the kick off had Biggar kicked the penalty.

 

No matter, Biggar collected 2 points courtesy of their losing and 4-try bonus, Dumfries picking up a maximum 5 from their part in the 8-try feast.

 

Unbeaten before the match and unbeaten after the match, Dumfries were delighted to record their win and so they should be, their side easily the best prepared Biggar have encountered to date and clearly relishing their promotion from National 3 last season.

 

Biggar rang the changes again as injury/illness deprived them of Euan Sanderson and Andrew Nimmo, their deputies being Donald Voas and Douglas Notman, the No8/flanker returning after injury. Jamie Orr replaced Callum Dunlop at lock while in the backs a fit again Ryan Moffit returned to the centre, Gregor Stewart dropping to the bench where he was joined again by Andrew Peacock, Euan Bogle and Guy Kelly.

 

This was the ultimate in those matches which fall into the category of being a ‘game of two halves’, Biggar down and out at 24-0 and then 24-5 at the break and yet managing to win the second half by 21-5.

 

An early barrage of attacking play by the visitors saw Biggar on the ropes as Dumfries ran at great pace, posing all sorts of questions to the Biggar side. Within three minutes of the start a rumble by Dumfries prop Scott Goodwin saw the Biggar line breached and gave fullback Sam Hiddleston a relatively easy run in under the posts, John Carlisle easily adding the conversion for 7-0.

 

Robbie Lavery got back well to thwart a breenge by hooker Zeke Dyson and Carlisle missed a penalty while a break by Hiddleston on the right flank should have perhaps seen Dumfries score again, Biggar just managing to scramble back and defend their line.

 

In their 22 again skipper Alan Warnock who, as usual, provided a captains lead throughout, tidied a lose ball in the Biggar 22, but it was Dumfries who were calling the shots at this point, the National 2 newcomers running some great angles and at real pace.

 

Biggar’s defence has not been under just as much sustained pressure in any other game although they did have some forays up into the Dumfries half where they met some resolute defence and where they found it difficult to hold onto possession. At every opportunity Dumfries ran the ball or kicked it back to resume their threat. Another penalty from Carlisle proved tantalisingly close as it rebounded off the upright and which had Biggar scrambling as Warnock tidied again and Green kicked clear.

 

Ironically, however, the next try came not from a sortie by Dumfries but instead as a result of a real mix up between Biggar centres Moffit and Lavery and when Biggar were in possession, albeit in their half and when running out of defence. Stand off Carne Green shaped to go and pass left but his pass fell to the ground as the centres collided, the ball kicked on and then picked up gratefully by Carlisle who ran through for a score which he again converted for 14-0.

 

A Biggar attack 10 minutes later foundered as they were penalised, Carlisle kicking to 5 metres out where ball won by Michael Thomson was shipped right, Hiddleston in at a great angle to crash through the despairing Biggar defence for a third Dumfries try which when converted gave them a 21-0 lead.

 

Biggar then lost the services of hooker Ewan Stewart after a head knock. In reality he should have departed earlier but referee Adam Morrison who is a Kiwi not long arrived in the country and who had a good game otherwise, was content to allow Stewart to stay on and this despite the protestations of Davy Reive. Peacock came on for the unlucky Stewart who will now miss out the next fortnight or so.

 

Just minutes later and another Dumfries penalty was converted for 24-0.

 

This seemed at last to galvanise the Biggar effort, the hosts finishing the half on the ascendancy, a series of pick and goes with Orr, Braid, Voas, Green et al in the van taking play deep into the Dumfries 22. Pressure was at last sustained and Dumfries were forced to defend. This they managed although Notman and Jardine both came within metres of the try line. Two penalties conceded by Dumfries both of which were eminently kick-able saw Biggar opt for a scrum and then a tap and go, this eventually spawning ball which Green used right. His wide pass was taken by Lavery who managed to off-load in the tackle to Alistair Sinclair who scampered over for a try which gave Biggar a 24-5 lifeline for the second half.

 

Biggar began the second period in fine style although crucially they were unable to add to their tally, ball lost when in promising positions and Dumfries managing to escape the immediate threat.

 

Having survived this initial period Dumfries then scored their 4th try, this coming after the Biggar defence was strung wide and far, Rory Steele crossing with a wee show and go. Carlisle was off target with his wide conversion but at 29-5 it didn’t look good for the home side.

 

The players had different ideas however and quickly had Dumfries back in their own half and on the defensive again. Voas who saw so much more of the ball this game then in any other so far this season made valuable inroads as did Notman, Braid and Orr with Jardine and Bradford helping by running ball back when Dumfries kicked clear. A hard won penalty gave Biggar an attacking opportunity and in similar fashion to the Dumfries score in the first half, ball won in the air by Jamie Orr was carried forward by Voas. Reive popped the ball out to Moffit, the big man almost unstoppable from close range and crashing over from some 10 metres out although he needed to stretch for the try. Green converted for 29-12.

 

Now, in what was a purple patch, Biggar probed once again, with all taking ball into contact with a new found confidence. Off-loads which had previously proved inconsistent seemed to stick to hand and Biggar made ground slowly but surely. Euan Bogle who had replaced Sinclair at half time made some good yards with quick feet but it was that man Moffit (having easily his best game so far) who grabbed the next try.

 

A penalty to the Dumfries 22 saw ball won again by Orr, Reive on hand to provide the link to Moffit who came again as first receiver. His drive seemed destined to come to a swift end such was the Dumfries cover but miraculously he managed to stay on his feet before being half tackled. Able to continue on he burst through the remaining cover to stretch once again for the line, referee Morrison on hand to award the try. Green’s conversion made it 29-19!

 

With a quarter of the match still remaining it was very much a case of game well and truly on!

 

In what was real harem, scarem period a clash of heads saw Biggar’s Braid and Dumfries’ McCall depart, this leading to uncontested scrums which with Biggar just edging their opponents in this area, nullified that slim advantage.

 

The pace of the game was beginning to tell although those who felt Biggar were down and out at half time and breathing too heavily would be delighted to note their continued efforts to take the points from this match. Dumfries were now confined to a defensive role as Biggar continued to press. The precise control which was required was just not quite there however with a couple of lineouts and passes not as accurate as would have been wished.

 

An injury to Jardine saw him replaced by Stewart who played on the wing with Bradford reverting to fullback. As Kelly had come on earlier for Braid, Biggar had now used all their bench.

 

Continuing to press Biggar were awarded a penalty which with several minutes remaining they opted to kick for the corner. While the initial foray was halted on the left, play was switched back to the right where Green’s long pass found Notman in acres of space and with a clear overlap. The flanker put his head down though and crashed over for a try which when converted by Green took Biggar within 3 points at 29-26.

 

And so to the final minute of drama. While Dumfries might have thought that the restart would give them good field position Biggar had different ideas and a break from Green took play deep into their opponents half. Some great interplay between Warnock, Peacock and Lavery maintained the momentum with the two Orr’s providing suitable battering rams to continue the onslaught.

 

A penalty award came Biggar’s way and in the middle of the park on the Dumfries 22 there was a great opportunity to tie the match.

 

The rest is now history, a break by Bradford and then by Bogle allowed Biggar to press but each sortie was met by stout defence. A ruck formed and for once Dumfries opted to go for the counter ruck, and as Biggar attempted to scramble the ball back referee Morrison blew for a penalty – cue manic celebrations from the Dumfries squad who knew that the kick to touch would end the match.

 

For the neutral a cracking match, and while there was understandable frustration and disappointment in the Biggar ranks, the squad can take great heart and solace for the way in which they came back into the match, scoring 4 tries in the process and matching their opponents in every area, save for the penalty count…….

 

Next up is a tough trip to GHK, the Glasgow side not playing just as well as they did last year but a difficult proposition in the city. Biggar will have to dig deep and rely on their reserve strength as there were a few sore bodies at the end of the game.

 

Biggar

D. Voas, E. Stewart, D. O’Connell, J. Orr, A. Warnock, C. Braid, A. Orr, D. Notman, D. Reive, C. Green, A. Sinclair, R. Moffit, R. Lavery, R. Bradford, A. Jardine Reps: D. Voas, G. Kelly, E. Bogle, G. Stewart.


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