Dumfries 22

Biggar 10

Al Stewart at The Park

BIGGAR’S title challenge faltered on Saturday when they were defeated at The Park by a stout Dumfries squad.

At Hartree Mill in the first clash Biggar eschewed the three points offered by a penalty to tie the match, preferring instead to go for the winning try.

It was anticipated then that this would be another tight contest with little or no margin for error.

This indeed proved to be the case with a couple of errors at crucial times costing Biggar the win.

The game opened at breakneck speed with both sides playing an expansive game and making errors which saw play swing from end to end.

Carne Green was just wide with the first scoring opportunity while Dumfries forced Biggar to concede a drop out minutes later.

Some quick offensive defence from Jamie Orr and some neat footballing skills from skipper Alan Warnock took play to the Dumfries line where the width of the post protectors was all that prevented a Biggar try.

Almost immediately Dumfries replied, with some great tracking by Conor Lavery and Iain Renwick combining to halt the attack.

A penalty was conceded however and this was converted by centre John Carlisle to take the home side into a 3-0 lead.

Dumfries were keen to run from almost anywhere and they made good ground off these plays Biggar’s defence looking slightly slower than would have been preferred and a blindside break gave stand off Jordan Kerr a chance which he took to cross for a good try which Carlisle converted for 10-0.

From the next scrum Biggar mounted an attack from their own 22 with Conor Lavery taking Green’s pass out wide.

His run created space and his pass to Ross Bradford saw the winger make good ground before freeing Robbie Lavery for a run to the line and try which Green converted for 10-7.

Biggar’s rhythm was disrupted by an ankle injury to Green which saw him replaced albeit only temporarily by Aird Jardine. Ryan Moffat took a long pot at goal from a penalty but this fell short.

Another chip and chase saw Renwick back again to save the day while a driven line by Biggar in the Dumfries 22 came to nought as the pack split and Dumfries forced the scrum.

A timely interception by Bradford put paid to Dumfries efforts and while there were still some nervous moments before half time, Biggar were in the game at 10-7.

A good positive start saw Biggar earn a penalty which Green kicked to equalise the scores and a second award might have given the visitors the lead but this was just pulled wide.

Dumfries continued to press although again Biggar’s defence held up well.

A continuing factor however was the several unforced errors – from both sides – which broke attacking plays up, balls dropped or passes mistimed which on other occasions might well have seen scores.

Biggar suffered somewhat from their flat alignment as referee Clark pinged them for a number of forward passes, this of course all down to angles.

Able to take a pick up from a steady scrum Dumfries exploited the blind side and in the melee which followed referee Clark awarded the home side a score which although not converted gave then the lead at 15-10.

Restarting well Biggar earned a penalty which was advanced as Dumfries made an ill-advised comment. The kick to touch saw Warnock take well and initiate a line drive but this was held up and ball was moved to the backs - Lavery's long pass to Renwick adjudged to have been forward.

Biggar remained on the attack and another neat break from green saw him pop ball to Stewart who in turn off-loaded to Orr who crossed for what would have been a cracking score, save that the penultimate pass was again deemed to have been forward.

Exerting further pressure from a series of pick and goes it was almost inevitable that despite their best efforts Biggar’s line would be breached and so it proved, the third Dumfries try when converted putting them clear at 22-10.

Biggar camped in the Dumfries 22 for much of the remaining five minutes as they chased the elusive losing bonus point, but the home defence stood firm.

Biggar: C. Braid, A. Orr, C. Henderson, J. Orr, A. Peacock, A. Warnock, E. Sanderson, R. Jackson, D. Reive, C. Green, I. Renwick, R. Moffat, R. Lavery, R. Bradford, C. Lavery Reps: C. Dunlop, G. Stewart, A. Jardine, A. Sinclair.