BT Premiership: Late surge sees Stirling County maintain 100 percent record

Image courtesy: Bryan Robertson

Stirling County 56

Hawick 29

GARY HEATLY @ Bridgehaugh

STIRLING County bounced back in the second half to defeat Hawick and keep up their unbeaten start to the BT Premiership campaign.

Having won at Heriot’s in round one, the hosts were on a high heading into this one at Bridgehaugh, but injuries to some key players including Kerr Gossman, Craig Pringle and Bruce Sorbie had forced a number of changes to the backline, and they trailed 13-22 at the break.

However, two tries in the first six minutes of the second half gave County momentum and they never looked back, securing the bonus point victory.

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“I thought in the first half we were a bit sluggish at times, having gone 13-5 up we should have taken things on, but we let Hawick back into it,” said County player/coach Peter Jericevich.

“In the second half we scored two cracking tries early on and then played at the tempo we want to. Given the number of changes we had to make and the fact that someone like Owen Jarvie had to step up and start and do a great job having missed most pre-season I am pleased with the result.”

“I thought our bench had a real impact and that is what we want from them and of those subs Matthew Emmison with two tries was superb.”

For County, No.8 Ruairidh Leishman, fellow back-row Andrew Grant-Suttie, winger Logan Trotter and Emmison stood out.

Hawick got off to the perfect start when they scored a try after just two minutes. It came when stand-off Ali Weir found a gap in the County defence and went over on the left. The same man missed the conversion.

Six minutes later the visitors were down to 14 men, winger Lewis Ferguson with the infringement as County were in a good attacking area. From the resultant penalty County full-back Jonny Hope kicked three points and in the 13th minute the skipper added another as they went 6-5 ahead.

County were making the most of their man advantage and in the 15th minute their first try came. It was scored out on the left by winger Trotter, but it owed much to a great run by fellow winger Matt Lamb earlier in the play. Hope converted from the touchline and it was 13-5.

When back up to 15 men Hawick looked more settled and a penalty in the 19th minute cut the deficit to five points. The game then dipped after a frantic start and the next points came in the 32nd minute, and the points came through a try for Hawick with full-back Tom Brown, the Edinburgh Rugby pro, running a nice line to dive over for the score. Weir converted to make it 15-13 to the Greens.

Things got even better for Hawick when they bagged their third try – and it stemmed from a County attack. The hosts were on the front foot on the Hawick 22, but visiting centre Lee Armstrong read a pass from the base of a ruck and intercepted, running 60 metres up the right wing.

He was covered by Trotter, but a nice inside pass saw winger Ross Combe over for the try. Weir converted to make it 22-13 at the interval.

At the break Hawick made three changes in the pack, including the experienced second-row Craig Hamilton coming off, but rather than freshen them up it was County who came out of the blocks flying.

In the 44th minute they scored their second try through Edinburgh pro Callum Hunter-Hill, converted by Hope, and with their tails up they scored the try of the day two minutes later.

Grant-Suttie did some great work – and showed a neat turn of pace – to take the ball up the touchline into the Hawick half. He then fed Leishman, who in turn passed to Lamb, before the scoring pass to Emmison, who went in under the posts. Hope converted and it was 30-22.

Hawick earned the bonus point fourth try in the 56th minute. It came from replacement hooker Matt Carryer and Weir kicked a good conversion to make it a one point match at 30-29.

A big last 20 minutes was needed – and it was County who delivered. Emmison burst through the Greens defence for his second try which was unconverted and then with seven minutes to go Trotter got his second. Leishman and hooker Reyner Kennedy, back on for Emmison, put the icing on the cake with two tries, both converted by Hope to finish things at 56-29.

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Teams –

Stirling County: J Hope (C); L Trotter, O Jarvie, G Gilliland, M Lamb; L Bonar, P Jericevich; M Macdonald, R Kennedy, A Nicol, C Hunter-Hill, J Pow, A Grant-Suttie, S MacDonald, R Leishman. Subs used: M Emmison, R Chies, J Beech, D Montgomery, R Swan.

Hawick: T Brown; R Combe, L Armstrong, D Buckley, L Ferguson; A Weir, G Munro; N Little, F Renwick, K Bryce, C Hamilton, D Redpath, G Graham, K Davies, B McNeil (C). Subs used: M Carryer, S Muir, S Graham, G Cottrell, K Brunton.

Scorers – 

Stirling County: Tries: Trotter 2, Hunter-Hill, Emmison 2, Leishman, Kennedy. Pens: Hope 3. Cons: Hope 6.

Hawick: Tries: Weir, Brown, Combe, Carryer. Pen: Weir. Cons: Weir 3.

Scoring sequence (Stirling County first): 0-5, 3-5, 6-5, 11-5, 13-5, 13-8, 13-13, 13-15,  13-20, 13-22 (HT), 18-22, 20-22, 25-22, 27-22, 30-22, 30-27, 30-29, 35-29, 40-29, 42-29, 47-29, 49-29, 54-29, 56-29.

Yellow cards –

Hawick: Ferguson.

Referee: F Brown.

Man-of-the-Match:  Matthew Emmison could have grabbed the award after his two tries off the bench while Logan Trotter was impressive, but Ruairidh Leishman gets it for his workrate.

Talking point: If you haven’t been to a BT Premiership game this season, why not? End-to-end action and some cracking tries, season 2017/18 has started with a bang.


About Gary Heatly 462 Articles
Gary has loved rugby ever since he can remember and since 2004 he has covered the sport and others in a professional capacity for many publications and websites and runs his own company, GH Media.