Biggar Rugby Club’s competitive season starts this Saturday with a home game against Hamilton in BT National League Division 2, writes Alistair Stewart.
Biggar warmed up for that league crunch with a comfortable 68-28 home win over Glasgow Hawks last Saturday, giving them three pre-season wins out of three.
The game was swiftly organised after scheduled cup opponents Perthshire pulled out of the fixture on Wednesday evening as they were without prop forwards.
Aside from the fact that Biggar pair Gary Mercer and David Wilson both previously coached at Hawks there is another link with ex-Biggar Colt Peter Steele returning to Hartreemill in Hawks colours, the youngster having switched clubs last season.
Many thanks to the Hawks for filling the void in at short notice and for travelling, Hartreemill never being a favourite of city sides!
On a perfect afternoon for rugby the game got off to a cracking pacewith Biggar opening the scoring after 15 minutes when an ofensive hit in the centre by Gregor Stewart dislodged the ball which was gobbled up by flying winger Alistair Sinclair who set off to the line some 60 metres away.
Outstripping the defence he scored just to the left of the posts, Euan Bogle converting for 7-0.
Just eight minutes later and that man sincliar ran in his second, this after he was picked out by stand off Carne Green, this a feature of the Kiwi’s play all afternoon. Bogle converted again for 14-0.
Feinting a wide pass, Green popped a short ball some 5 minutes later to rampaging flanker Andrew Orr.
He made ground before feeding supporting centre Gregor Stewart who then fed hooker Ewan Stewart who crossed for an excellent score though just too wide for the conversion.
Sinclair then nabbed his hat-trick (his second in three weeks), this another long run in after Ewan Stewart provided a neat inside ball on the halfway.
Bogle’s conversion took Biggar to 26 points with Hawks gaining a score of their own as their number 8 burrowed over from close range.
The conversion made the half-time score 26-7 to Biggar.
The try run continued after the break when Orr made a very typical breenge up the middle and over, Bogle again on target for 33-7.
Biggar made a hash of the restart kick after this score and Hawks pounced one more as their centre crashed over under the posts.
Biggar’s newest recruit Arnoldas Patrascio from Lithuania (via Denmark) made the ultimate dream start.
Playing at lock but standing at the tail opf the lineout he gathered a Hawks overthrow to turn and gambol over for a try with what was his very first touch of a ball in a Biggar jersey!
Much amusement for the healthy crowd. Needless to say Bogle converted.
In similar fashion to Hawks’ second score, Biggar’s defence was once again found wanting and with Patrascio clearly shielding a weak shoulder he departed to be replaced by livewire Callum Dunlop who had started and who showed great composure throughout the match.
Another neat pop pass from Green to Orr was the prelude to Biggar’s next try, this going to skipper for the day Euan Sanderson, the flanker clearly in good spirits after his holiday and making a great contribution all day.
With Bogle off for a rest Aird Jardine converted.
Biggar conceded a penalty in their own 22 as Hawks again came back at Biggar, the visitors stand off stepping neatly to beat the Biggar cover for their fourth score which, when converted, gave them their 28 point tally.
Biggar were not to be outdone however and relished the opportunity to have the last word(s)!
A neat dink from Green behind the Hawks midfield saw Jardine nip in and make the best job of splitting the remaining cover for a try (suspisciously offside perhaps?) which Green converted as everyone wanted to get in on the act.
The final score went to winger Ross Bradford who had been running lines all afternoon without ever touching the ball which never seemed to go his way.
A darting, mazy run by Jardine saw the wee man beat several of the Hawks defence - some seemingly twice – before off-loading, the ball eventually nabbed by Bradford for the final and 10th Biggar try. Green converted for the 68 point tally.
Biggar: A. Nimmo, E. Stewart, G. Kelly, C. Dunlop, A. Peacock, E. Sanderson, A. Orr, D. Notman, A. Jardine, C. Green, A. Sinclair, G. Stewart, R. Lavery, R. Bradford, E. Bogle Reps: C. Braid, D. Voas, D. O’Connell, R. Moffat, J. Barr, I. Renwick.
That of course counts for little as the very real and important test is this Saturday against their Lanarkshire rivals Hamilton, in a local derby which is always keenly awaited and equally keenly contested.
The Hamilton club were relegated last season after cleaning up National 2 the season before and they will have a point to prove.
Their pre-season concluded on Saturday with a resounding 100+ point cup win over their hosts Aberdeenshire who, aside from others have lost two of their number to Biggar – stand off Green and centre Michael McKeand who returns to his roots after several years up north.
It was also very encouraging to see Biggar’s bench again being used to the maximum against Hawks, with appearances for props Dan O’Connell and Donald Voas who have both struggled with injury and too for Iain Renwick who is another who is returning to his first club, this after several seasons with Ayr.