Following a good win in their previous West 1 fixture Garnock took to the road to face Annan. After a week of poor weather the overhead conditions were unseasonally pleasant however the pitch was very heavy.
The squad saw a number of changes from the last game. In the backs Chris Neil, Tony Woods and Jordan Taggart were all unavailable however Adam McGowan and Jayden Smith bolstered the squad. In the pack unfortunately Richard O’Neill was a late withdrawal resulting in Grant Ruxton joining the bench along with the returning Davy Ramsay-Miller and David Miller.
In recent seasons games away at Annan have been difficult encounters and it was anticipated that this match would be similar. Garnock kicked off playing up the slight slope and right from the start the impressive Garnock pack took control. Jonny Watson challenged the Annan receiver resulting in a knock on and the first scrum of the game. There followed a period of pressure in the home 22 however the defence held firm. Annan eventually cleared their lines however did not find touch. The ball was returned with a scintillating break from Adam McGowan and after 50 metres he drew the final tackler to release Keir Walker to score in the corner. The difficult conversion was good (0-7)
For the next 15 minutes the big Garnock pack took control however despite a number of set pieces in the Annan 22 the visitors were unable to add to the score. In truth the only time the home side were able to escape their own half was when they put boot to ball.
After 20 minutes Garnock were again pressing in the 22 . From a breakdown 10 metres out McGowan spotted space on the blindside releasing flanker Stuart Wilson to score in the corner. Conversion narrowly wide (0-12)
The Garnock dominance continued and the backs showed that as well as having a big pack this Garnock side has plenty to offer in all areas. Centres Rory Dominy and Ross McCann caused problems with their strong running and full back Ewan Perry threatened on a number of occasions.
With five minutes of the half remaining a scrum in the Annan 22 provided a platform for an attack. A neat backline move resulted in winger Jayden Smith slicing through the backline to score . Conversion missed (0-17). Referee Andy Summers blew for half-time
The second half was a carbon copy of the first with Garnock controlling the match and Annan defending well but rarely being in a position to attack. Jonny Watson was ruling the lineouts and Lewis McGeachy together with No8 Luke Wynn repeatedly made ground with their physical ball carrying. Hooker Aaron Armstrong was accurate with his darts and strong in the scrum while Fraser and Alan Miller were regular ball carriers. Skipper Matt Shiells led from the front as always in both the set piece and loose
The bonus point try was not long in coming and once again was scored by the backs. Some neat handling in the Annan 22 resulted in Jared Reekie being given the space to score in the corner. Conversion was good (0-24)
The heavy underfoot conditions meant that despite making a number of breaks it was difficult to score from distance. Therefore the accurate boot of stand-off Keir Walker was critical in putting the ball into the right areas of the pitch. It is testament to the strength of the squad that the introduction of Connor Wilson, Davy Ramsay-Miller and David Miller for tiring players re-energised the pack to push for further rewards
The next try was scored following a number of phases from a line out from which Luke Wynn powered over from close range. Conversion good (0-31)
With 7 minutes to go Garnock were again on the Annan 22 . A sublime line from Lewis McGeachy saw him reach the 5m line before he offloaded to the supporting Jonny Watson to score. Conversion missed (0-36)
The next five minutes saw Annan finally have some possession near the Garnock 22 however strong defence meant that the visitors line was never threatened
With time running out Garnock were once again in possession around the Annan 22 . The ball was released to the backs and fine handling by Keir Walker and Ewan Perry spread the ball to the ever dangerous Jared Reekie to beat the last defender in the corner. Difficult conversion was wide (0-41)
This was an impressive performance by the visitors in heavy underfoot conditions. Some credit must also go to Annan who defended with all they had for long periods of the game.
The Annan match sponsor awarded Player of the Match to Garnock’s livewire scrum-half, Adam McGowan.
Garnock squad M Shiells, A Armstrong, F Miller, A Miller, L McGeachy, S Wilson, J Watson, L Wynn, A McGowan, K Walker, J Reekie, R Dominy, R McCann, J Smith, E Perry. Finishers C Wilson, D Ramsay-Miller, D Miller and G Ruxton