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

Biggar 1sts start 2019 with a win

Falkirk 5 Biggar 45

Biggar made a dream start to 2019 with a comprehensive win over hosts Falkirk. The 7-1 try count was not really reflective of the control enjoyed by Biggar although the Falkirk XV deserve great credit for their efforts, particularly in the opening exchanges when they attacked well and retained possession much better than Biggar.

 

The festive excesses clearly had an impact on the match with both teams making errors a-plenty, passes lacking the accuracy of the games before Christmas break and reactions a tad slow. There were pleasing signs for both sides however, Falkirk in the way they looked to play the match – the loss of centre Connor Faulds with a hamstring pull a significant loss as he unlocked the Biggar defence on a couple of occasions – while Biggar managed to maintain a tight defensive unit as has been the case throughout this campaign with a couple of very promising Falkirk attacks nullified via the speed of the defensive line and the strength of their tackle.

 

Biggar selected a familiar XV save for the absence of Rowan Stewart and Robbie Orr who were both unavailable but such is the strength of the squad that they were hardly missed.

 

The opening exchanges as suggested saw Falkirk enjoy good possession and territory but their first real assault on the Biggar line ended as Jamie Orr made a timely interception to take play swiftly away from the danger area. Subsequent handling errors put the Falkirk side under further pressure although a good line drive which was Biggar’s first close encounter with the Falkirk line ended as the referee deemed the rolling maul to be a case of obstruction. This allowed Falkirk stand off Duncan Tompkins the opportunity to kick clear.

 

Another line drive with flanker Chris Mulligan in the van was eventually brought down but with possession retained Biggar stand off Conor Lavery drifted through the splintered Falkirk defence for a try under the posts and one which was converted by Matthew Stewart for a 7-0 lead.

 

With a quarter of the match gone it was hoped that this would be the score to help settle the Biggar effort however the game was still a tad scrappy at this stage with passes still missing their target and with neither side able to really get the control they desired.

 

On the half hour mark Biggar doubled their lead after winger Ross Bradford glided through the Falkirk defence to set up a fine attacking position. Matthew Stewart and Orr continued the good work which spawned ball for Lavery who freed Ross Jackson for Biggar’ second, again converted by Matthew Stewart.

 

Prop Donald Voas was the next to cross his powerful run from some 30 metres seeing the big man go round, through and over the stretched Falkirk defence for a well-deserved try in the corner. Just too wide for the conversion.

 

On the stroke of half time Falkirk struck for their try. A penalty which was advanced for chat set the hosts up for a lineout close to the Biggar try line. This saw ball driven by the pack before play was spread right where the Faulds brothers combined well with a neat off load from Conor seeing fullback Glen cross in the corner, just too wide for the conversion.

 

Half time with Biggar 19-5 ahead.

 

Given the lay off this was probably as good a score as Biggar could have expected although there was ample room for improvement. Scoring points is the aim of the game with any score either side of half time arguably the ‘best’ time to score. Having conceded a try just before the break, it was important from a Biggar point of view to keep Falkirk out on the resumption of play.

 

This they did with Conor Faulds’ retiral easing their cause. After the match he was happy to report that the injury was not too serious.

 

With less than 10 minutes of the half gone Biggar struck again to claim their 4th and bonus point winning try, this going to Lavery. As in the first half a penalty and line drive created the position which saw Biggar camp in the Falkirk 5m area. Several attempts to cross the line were thwarted but with the defence stretched Lavery was again able to glide through untouched to dot down for a try for 24-5.

 

Biggar began to ring the changes, Guy Kelly replaced by Franco Carossi and then Declan Dinnen by Andrew Peacock. Both had worked hard in the set piece, had carried well and both had worked hard in defensive as well. Lewis Stewart was next on, the youngster taking over from skipper Euan Sanderson anothet to have shone up well.

 

The restart to Lavery’s try saw Falkirk enjoy some territory and they put together an excellent offensive effort which had the Biggar defence under real pressure. This aspect of the Biggar game has been significant this season however and this was again the case with all showing great determination to keep Falkirk out. With ball spread left it was the outstretched hand of Bradford which put paid to the hosts attack and Biggar’s winger, having gone for the interecption and having juggled the ball before tucking it under his arm, set off on what was a sprint to the line some 90 metres distant. With the Falkirk backs all up in attack the Biggar man had a slight advantage but he did exceptionally well to outstrip the Falkirk cover although fullback Faulds made it a real chase and did everything bar catch him.

 

Matthew Stewarts’ conversion made it 31-5.

 

Five minutes later and it was Matthew Stewart who managed to beat the Falkirk defence and get onto the end of a very neat Lavery chip to get between the Falkirk cover for Biggar’s 6th score.

 

Biggar were now keen to increase their tally and this they should probably have done sooner save for the fact that they their accuracy let them down with the line in sight. Jamie Orr made a fantastic breenge for the line on one occasion but the Biggar support, normally so quick, was a shade late while a couple of knock-ons and penalties spoiled other attacks.

 

Gregor Stewart gave way to Ryan Moffat

 

The final score fell to Chris Mulligan who benefited from Reive’s hassling at the scrum base. The ball popped up nicely for Mulligan who, as is his wont, attacked the line at full pace to cross untouched for a try converted again by Matthew Stewart.

 

Gregor Stewart returned to the fray to take over on the wing, Iain Renwick moving to scrum half to cover for Davy Reive, who having played well all afternoon, retired with an ankle knock.

 

The final few minutes reverted to the somewhat scrappy game that had been bubbling around all afternoon. Biggar, keen to get to the magical 50 point mark were again thwarted by a determined Falkirk rearguard while the visitors made further unforced errors.

 

Biggar were delighted to take the bonus point win. There were many positives: Orr’s control at the lineout, the pack’s dominance in the scrum (even although the referee didn’t always agree) Peacock’s deft touches when on the charge, the resolute defence from all and the speed in both attack and defence. There will be some concern over an unusual uncertainity on the restart and the lack of accuracy when passing although these are most probably a result of the winter lay off rather than any lack of skill or understanding.

 

And so Biggar now prepare for the visit of Whitecraigs who did everything bar win the first encounter. They are one of only two sides to score two tries against Biggar this campaign and their scrum put Biggar’s eight under real pressure. Indeed a missed penalty was all that stood between the Glasgow side and a win.

 

Biggar stole a march on second place Highland with this win as the Inverness team were without a match on Saturday. Highland therefore have a game in hand but Biggar have the points and so there is a little added pressure on the northerners, the encounter on 19th January building up to be a mighty clash.

 

 

The 2nd XV lost out to an experienced and tough Kilmarnock Farmers XV. The match, organised by Davy Reive saw the visitors triumph by 43-22. There were some old-timers making a welcome return to action on both sides and they will doubtless be feeling the extent of their efforts today.


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