Al Stewart at Hartree Mill
BIGGAR had been desperate to start off 2017 with a more positive result than had been the case at the end of 2016 but yet again they came up short, gaining only a losing bonus point for their not inconsiderable, efforts.
This makes it a really disappointing run of six defeats but all the more frustratingly when no fewer than four of these have been lost by one score or less.
Opening towards the clubhouse on a particularly still afternoon Biggar found themselves 3-0 up after just a minute as whistler John Shaw penalised ‘Shire for offside, with stand off Aird Jardine kicking the points.
The visitors replied with Carne Green kicking a penalty of their own.
But just 10 minutes later Ewan Stewart made an excellent counter ruck to dislodge possession for Biggar. An interception by Andrew Dunlop saw the big man sprint in from some 25 metres for a try, converted by Jardine.
The lead increased further after territory having been won by a dynamic line drive Aird kicked and Andrew chased, the scorer just getting to the ball before Orr who was through quickly.
The conversion took Biggar ahead at 17-3.
Shire stand off Green was instrumental throughout the afternoon and he did much to orchestrate proceedings as he had done in the first meeting.
It was his cleverly judged kick after a series of probing runs which found space and then winger Peter Paxton. He made ground towards the Biggar 22 before passing inside to scrum half Stuart Simpson who dived in under the posts.
Green converted and the visitors were right back into things at 17-10.
The half ended in rousing fashion as play swung from end-to-end. Biggar showed promise, a neat exchange between Andrew Jardine, Steele and McDonald taking play deep into the ‘Shire half before a turnover saw the visitors regroup and then as Aird Jardine took an interception just inside the Biggar half. His pass inside was taken by brother Andrew and it looked as first as though the youngster would break clear and go the whole way to the line but Green did enough to slow his progress. In the tackle the pop pass to the supporting Orr was in turn intercepted by ‘Shire who were able to snuff the breakout and initiate an attack of their own.
Dunlop with a charge down and shortly afterwards a run by Lavery promised much but both chances faltered as possession was lost.
‘Shire were immediately on the attack at the restart putting pressure on Biggar’s defence which largely stood up to the test although the carries made by the ‘Shire pack were making good yards.
Captain Greig Ryan was again to the fore and it was from one of his forays to the Biggar line that initiated the next score. Held up, there was a pile up where ex-Biggar man Michael McKeand picked and rolled over for the try – a feat he performed back in September as well! Green’s conversion levelled the scores at 17 points apiece.
Two quick yellow cards saw Biggar down to 13 men.
They managed to hold out for a number of phases after the penalty but it was inevitable that regardless of their defensive efforts a score would eventually come. A surge by Ryan was repelled but Green took advantage of the stretched cover defence to sneak in close to the posts for a try which he converted for 24-17.
Lavery made his return but Biggar were still a man down.
In addition to the close to the line defence from the pack as a whole there were some excellent cover tackles made by David Paterson, Craig McDonald, Andrew Dunlop and Ross Jackson all of which halted what looked to be certain scores but following one foray the visitors moved ball swiftly left where there was space a-plenty for winger Paxton to cross.
There was no conversion to this score but at 29-17 ‘Shire were in the driving seat with just under 15 minutes to go.
David McArthur, who had replaced McDonald linked well with Steele and Andrew Jardine. Aird Jardine then took ball forward and through the first line of ‘Shire’s defence.
His neat off load found Orr who in turn fed Lavery, the centre beating the cover defence for a great and much deserved score. Jardine added the conversion to put Biggar within one score of a win.
This was another massive effort from the whole squad but crucial errors and the yellow cards proved to be the difference between the sides.
Biggar: Thomas Steele, Craig McDonald, Robbie Lavery, Andrew Jardine, David Paterson, Aird Jardine, David Reive, Donald Voas, Andrew Orr, Calvin Henderson, Andrew Dunlop, Zander Lyon, Ewan Sanderson, Ewan Stewart, Ross Jackson. Reps: Dan O’Connell, Stephen Campbell, David McArthur, Douglas Notman.