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

Biggar lose at home to Lasswade

Biggar 13 Lasswade 19

On the back of three, five point wins Biggar were in relatively confident mood going into this They were well aware however that the visitors, in the shape of Lasswade, had been going particularly well as well, their win over top of the table Kirkcaldy the previous week giving plenty indication of a side playing to their strengths, namely their pack.

 

Biggar welcomed back hooker Ewan Stewart for this match and were forced into a change in the back row, Euan Sanderson having been concussed last week at PL and replaced by Craig McDonald who had taken over from Sanderson. In the backs Ryan Moffat returned to replace Gregor Stewart who took his place on the bench where he was joined by Guy Kelly, Kev Robison and Conor Lavery, the last two having joined the fray from the 2nd XV match against Hawick Force which kicked off at 2pm.

 

In blustery conditions Lasswade were quickly on the attack, notching their first try within the first 5 minutes, This was scored by winger Matthew Smith who came onto a good line from some 5 metres out, wrong footing the Biggar defence. Converted by Andy Bell, Lasswade were 7-0 ahead.

 

Against the strong wind there were few opportunities and little point in kicking clear and so Biggar employed their pack and ball-carriers to take them upfield. This proved fairly successful and Biggar were able to work their way upfield with some good work from all. There were occasions however when Lasswade managed to either strip the ball carriers or contest the ball on the4 ground this slowing play up or ending in penalties which the visitors used to return play to the Biggar half.

 

On balance however Biggar did enjoy good territorial position, running ball back to Lasswade whenever they could.

 

With good ball provided by the pack, the backs all made good ground, Alistair Sinclair and Aird Jardine combining well after one Lasswade clearance to take play up the left wing. A couple of passes later and Jamie Orr burst clear to cross from some 40 metres out and by beating the cover defence on the way. Kicking into the wind was always going to be tricky in the conditions and so it proved as Carne Green was off target with his conversion attempt and then again some 10 minutes later when the ball rebounded out off the upright.

 

Able to maintain the pressure Biggar should probably have added to their tally especially when Lasswade had one of their number sin-binned for failing to retreat at a Biggar penalty which Green ran. It was not to be however as Lasswade were very competitive at the breakdown and in mauls, their persistence paying off well as they frustrated the Biggar attack.

 

Having had the better slice of possession Biggar were then forced onto the defensive as visiting scrum half Daniel Ritchie put in a nice wee grubber kick to the Biggar 22. The follow up was deemed illegal by referee Fergus Collins and Green kicked for the lineout. A rare error on the take spawned ball for Lasswade and a barnstorming run from lock Stephen Hunter took play to the Biggar line, winger Ross Bradford just getting the big man down inches from the line. Recycled ball was quick however and Ritchie was on hand to pop the ball to hooker Darren Tiffney who crashed over from a few feet for a try which, when converted by Bell, put Lasswade ahead at 14-5 with just minutes of the half remaining.

 

Having conceded a try just before the break Biggar needed a quick riposte that this they got within minutes of the restart. Now with the wind on their backs play was quickly taken into the Lasswade 22.

 

From a Biggar scrum Moffat, Peacock, Orr, McDonald and Nimmo all made good ground before play was switched back right Bradford making another burst. Revive fed Green who popped the ball inside to Stewart who crossed for the try. The try-scorer had earlier been on for Jamie Orr who sustained a shoulder injury and while the big man returned he was clearly not at full strength and Stewart, normally a centre joined McDonald, another whose preference is in the backs in the back row. Green’s conversion attempt was wide but at 14-10 Biggar were back in the mix. The try and Stewart's all-round combatative play throughout the match - particualrly in defence - was a major factor in his selection as Biggar's man of the match.

 

Almost directly from the restart Biggar had another opportunity, another inside pass to Green finding Stewart who broke the line to set off on a long run. Running into the Lasswade defence the off-load failed to go to hand and Lasswade fullback Niall Gray was able to secure possession on the ground from which Lasswade engaged their pack on what was to become standard fare for the half, the pack picking and going as they strove to get out of their half.

 

A knock on ceded possession to Biggar and after a neat interchange between Ewan Stewart, Peacock and skipper Alan Warnock the big lock was set free into the Lasswade 22. A last ditch tackle from centre Mark Wilson saved the day although he was adjudged to have prevented fair release, Green kicking the penalty for 14-13 as Lasswade were again reduced to 14 men.

 

And that was almost that! Having enjoyed their fair share of possession and territory both now virtually ceased as Lasswade cleverly took a stranglehold on, in particular, possession. Using the short pass to pods of two or three scrum half Ritchie popped the ball left and then right and the left again. Without gaining many yards this proved to be very effective, Biggar unable to get their hands on the ball and reduced to defensive tackling. There seemed no way to get possession back, later criticism suggesting that the offensive defence was too passive but every time a Lasswade player was tackled their body position was low and gong to ground was easy, the ball then efficiently sealed off by the support. Pretty it was certainly not, but it was frustrating for the home side.

 

On the rare occasion Biggar did get the ball they were able to kick clear, one good tackle chase by Sinclair seeing Lasswade knock on at the ruck base but an altercation between Robbie Lavery and Ritchie saw the decision reversed allowing Lasswade to kick clear.

 

Guy Kelly became the 3rd Biggar replacement (for O’Connell) , Robison having earlier replaced McDonald. Lasswade then exerted huge pressure on the younger Biggar front row, this enabling them to spoil possession for Biggar.

 

As the half wore on it became clear that with just one point separating the sides the next score would most likely be the winning score. Unable to sustain possession in their opponents half things were not too positive for Biggar although there was always the hope that they would eventually break free, even just to win a penalty.

 

It was not to be however and having taken play back into Biggar’s 22 another series of probing runs shed ball for Ritchie who fed centre Wilson. There appeared to be cover but his pace took him clear and over for what turned out to be a decisive try.

 

There was at least 8 minutes on the clock but with their tails up there was much less chance of Lasswade conceding possession now. A Biggar penalty saw Green kick to some 5 metres out but having found the visitors adept at the maul and driving play Biggar’s line drive faltered giving Lasswade the scrum and a chance to clear.

 

Throughout there had been penalty awards to both sides which were difficult to understand and there were a couple in the last few minutes which went against Biggar but Lasswade rode their luck, the final award seeing them tap and kick to touch to end the game.

 

Massive disappointment then for Biggar, tempered only by the fact that they at least won a losing bonus point. Having last season had a difficulty in winning ‘on the road’ Biggar’s home record is the much poorer this season, their 3 defeats all being at Hartree. There would be huge satisfaction if their winning run away from home were to continue this Saturday when they journey to Fife and league leaders Kirkcaldy.

 

There seems every chance that Biggar will have to endure another match with a forward pack adept at the pick and go as the Kirkcaldy side are well known for this approach. It promises to be another difficult day!

 

Please note that while the kick offs are now scheduled for 2pm, Kirkcaldy have requested a 3pm start, and this will in fact be the case.

 

Biggar

D. O’Connell, E. Stewart, A. Nimmo, J. Orr, A. Peacock, A. Warnock, C. McDonald, A. Orr, D. Reive, C. Green, A. Sinclair, R. Moffat, R. Lavery, R. Bradford, A. Jardine Reps: G. Kelly, K. Robison, G. Stewart, C. Lavery.

 

Perhaps the best news of what turned out to be a challenging weekend with all League sides on Saturday losing out – and indeed all boys youth sides on the wrong end of the score line on Sunday – was the re-appearance of the 2nd XV. This has been a challenging few weeks as there have been a number of regulars unavailable due to injury and work commitments. Importantly however the ‘call to arms’ was answered on Saturday and a side was fielded. This included several who were making a return to the action with all to be congratulated on their considerable efforts.

 

Of these Callum Taylor deserves praise while Robison and Lavery who both played for almost the whole game then turned out for the 1sts on the bench.

 

That the 2nd XV faced runaway league leaders Hawick force did nothing to east the situation, the Border side running out winners by 38-6 win.


NEWS

Biggar lose at home to Lasswade

Biggar miss out on chance to lead the League

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