Stirling County 28
GARY HEATLY @ Bridgehaugh
STIRLING County returned to winning ways after losing their previous two matches, but they made life hard for themselves before eventually claiming the five points. At 21-5 up in the first half they should perhaps have settled the issue some time before the end, but Boroughmuir fought back creditably and took the lead at one point before a converted try with 12 minutes left from full-back Craig Robertson gave the home team the victory.
“I’m obviously pleased that we came out on top and got a bonus point, but given the way we started we should have kicked on,” County head coach Eddie Pollock said. “Boroughmuir are a good attacking side with some dangerous runners, so I knew they would come back in some shape or form, but to go 27-21 behind was a bit worrying. Credit to the boys, though, they kept their cool to get that winner, and this was an important victory for us after a tough couple of weeks.”
The visitors were forced into a change in the lead-up to the game, Aaron Purewal replacing Ronan Kerr on the wing. Rain had fallen all morning in the lead up to proceedings, but by kick-off it had abated somewhat though it was still very wet underfoot.
Both teams started off quite ponderously in the tricky conditions, and it was County who threatened the try line first in the seventh minute. The ball was shipped left in the ‘Muir 22 and full-back Robertson and winger Charlie Dineen both looked like having chances to go over, but the wet ball would just not stay in the hands and went into touch.
The home side did take the lead in the 10th minute when, after a number of phases, a well-judged pass by Glasgow Warriors’ Australian scrum-half Nick Frisby found stand-off Andrew Goudie in a big gap. The former GHA man ran in under the posts from five metres and converted to make it 7-0.
With the rain falling again now, two minutes later Goudie was at it again. This time a high kick into the ‘Muir ‘22’ was not dealt with by stand-off Robin Weersma and Goudie was on hand to profit from the error. He hacked ahead and then slid onto the moving ball, his momentum taking him over the try line. He converted again and it was 14-0.
Boroughmuir hit back in the 17th minute, nice hands from skipper Johnny Matthews and Weersma putting centre Will Wardlaw through a gap for an unconverted try.
With quarter of an hour to play in the first half, County extended their lead when the Warriors’ Ratu Tagive burst through the middle of a stretched visiting defence and fed Grant Hughes, his fellow-centre. Hughes cut inside and did the rest and with Goudie’s conversion it was 21-5.
Boroughmuir knew they needed to hit back before half-time, and they did so twice, with both tries coming from Matthews. First the hooker burrowed over from close range with Weersma converting, and then from a well-worked lineout drive he peeled off from the back of the pack and dived in at the corner for his ninth try of the campaign. Weersma missed that conversion attempt, but Boroughmuir were right back in the contest.
Matthews did not reappear for the second half, having taken a knock in the act of scoring his second try, but his team continued to have the upper hand, and after 50 minutes they went ahead for the first time in the match, a neat pass down the blindside from scrum-half Jack Hamilton putting winger Jordan Edmunds in for the score. Weersma nailed the conversion from wide out to put his team 24-21 up, then on the hour mark he stretched the visitors’ lead with a penalty. In between those two scores, Boroughmuir lost Edinburgh’s Fijian No.8 Senitiki Nayalo to injury.
County then retook the lead and got the try bonus when Robertson ran a nice line from full-back to take a pop pass and power over and Goudie added the two points.
Boroughmuir kept knocking on the door in search of the score that would put them back in front, but knock-ons and a lack of accuracy stopped them from breaching the home defence again.
“Disappointed would be an understatement, really,” was the verdict of their coach, Peter Wright. “When we were 21-5 down we had to find some energy and drive and we did that and really started to work hard.
“However, silly mistakes from us had let County get their early lead and then, once we were ahead, we didn’t refocus and close things out. Losing Johnny Matthews and Senitiki Nayalo during the game was a blow, but others need to step up as leaders at times to take this team forward.”
Stirling County: C Robertson; A McLean, R Tagive, G Hughes, C Dineen; A Goudie, N Frisby; B Dineen, R Kennedy, M Walker, J Pow, C Henderson, H Burr, S MacDonald, A Mackie. Subs: K Bryce, A Woods, R Bundy, H Henderson, B Sorbie.
Boroughmuir: R Arthur; A Purewal, W Wardlaw, G Cannie, J Edmunds; T Weersma, J Hamilton; R Dunbar, J Matthews, R Montgomery, C Atkinson, S Smith, A Mncube, T Drennan, S Nayola. Subs: J Steele, D Robertson, W Inglis, L Robinson, M Johnstone.
Referee: G Ormiston.
Stirling County: Tries: Goudie 2, Hughes, Robertson. Cons: Goudie 4.
Boroughmuir: Tries: Wardlaw, Matthews 2, Edmunds. Cons: Weersma 2. Pen: Weersma.
Scoring sequence (Stirling County first): 5-0, 7-0, 12-0, 14-0, 14-5, 19-5, 21-5, 21-10, 21-12, 21-17 half-time, 21-22, 21-24, 21-27 , 26-27, 28-27.
Man of the Match: Both packs put in a power of work on a day for the forwards, but Andrew Goudie has really impressed at stand-off for County this term and his 18 points earns him the award.
Talking Point: A game where both sides earned bonus points – ‘Muir two in defeat – but will either camp really be that happy? County should have killed the game off from 21-5 while Boroughmuir, as they often do, showed what they can do in flashes, but not for 80 minutes.