GARY HEATLY @ Meggetland
BOROUGHMUIR put in a strong second half showing to get their first win of this year’s BT Premiership campaign in a very entertaining contest at Meggetland. County had led by two points at the interval, but the hosts were a different beast in the second period and deserved the victory.
Boroughmuir head coach Peter Wright said: “I am pleased with the way the guys didn’t let County bully them up front and when we got our hands on the ball we made the most of it.”
County head coach David Adamson knew his side had dropped off after the break and stated: “We needed to try and mix things up after the interval, but Boroughmuir got on the front foot and never let us settle.”
The visitors had been dealt a blow in the run-up to kick-off with the news that skipper Callum Hunter-Hill was to miss the match with a dead leg. Hamilton Burr replaced him in the second-row with stand-off Jonny Hope taking over the captaincy duties.
Boroughmuir spilled the first kick-off of the match and County were straight on the attack. They had possession for the majority of the opening five minutes with Hope having one half break into the ‘Muir 22 which caused some problems.
Centre Jake Cresswell also had a number of useful midfield bursts and it was no surprise when County took the lead in the seventh minute through a Hope penalty.
A minute later Boroughmuir earned a kickable penalty of their own though, skipper Chris Laidlaw doing the job to make it 3-3.
Tries for each team came in a three minute spell. In the 16th minute, after countless pick-and-goes and good control of the ball by County’s pack near the ‘Muir try line, back-row Ruaridh Leishman went over for the try. Hope converted.
Soon after Laidlaw, who was at the heart of everything for the hosts, ghosted through a gap to run in from 25 metres for a try. The same man converted and it was 10-10.
County probably should have scored their second try in the 25h minute. A slick attack ended up with Cresswell 10 metres short of the try line and with two men outside him.
Instead of drawing his defender and slipping the ball wider he fired out a hurried pass and the ball was lost forward.
With six minutes to go until the break they did get another try, pack pressure eventually telling when No.8 Alex Taylor powered over. Hope missed the conversion.
Things got tasty just before the interval and there were then a couple of scuffles .
A penalty just before the half-time whistle by Laidlaw left Boroughmuir 15-13 down with 40 minutes remaining.
County made two changes in the front-row at half-time, Mark Hunter and Matt Emmison on for Mike MacDonald and Reyner Kennedy.
However, before they had a chance to get involved Boroughmuir were in front, No.8 Matthew Tweddle going over for a try after some poor errors by the visitors.
Straight from the kick-off winger Matt Lamb had knocked on the ball and the Meggetland men took full advantage. Laidlaw converted and they were 20-15 up.
The only pro on show came on in the 48th minute when Edinburgh Rugby’s Mike Allen entered the fray for the hosts.
County were next on the scoreboard though through a Hope penalty and things were tight once again.
With 11 minutes of the half gone the reliable boot of Laidlaw – with his third penalty of the day – gave Boroughmuir a 23-18 advantage.
In the 58th minute the best passage of play of the day brought the hosts’ third try.
Some cracking handling by forwards and backs got the home side 15 metres away from the County line.
Then a lovely inside pass from centre Mark Hare saw back-row Dougie Hearn over for the try. The crowd loved it, rightly so, with Laidlaw converting to make it 30-18.
County were not done though and a try for their prop Adam Nicol converted by Hope left them five points behind with 17 minutes remaining.
Into the last 10 minutes – and with things really stretched now – Boroughmuir grabbed the bonus point fourth try.
Winger Jordan Edmunds burst across the pitch and fed the ball to fellow winger Grant McConnell. He then passed it back inside to Edmunds and the Club XV cap dived over in the right hand corner. Laidlaw missed the conversion and it was 35-25.
With minutes remaining County were still knocking on the door, but scrum-half Sam Johnson made a superb last gasp tackle and that summed up the desire his team had showed all afternoon.
In the last play of the match, County kicked a penalty from Hope to pick up a losing bonus point, but it was the Edinburgh outfit who were smiling.
Boroughmuir: Tries: Laidlaw, Tweedle, Hearn, Edmunds. Pens: Laidlaw 3. Cons: Laidlaw 3. Stirling County: Tries: Leishman, Taylor, Nicol. Pens: Hope 3. Cons: Hope 2.
: D Steele; G McConnell, G Cannie, M Hare, J Edmunds; C Laidlaw (C), S Johnson; D Robertson, T King, D Winning, J Ure, J Scott, C Keddie, M Tweddle, D Hearn. Subs used: J Bett, T Gracie, R Dunbar, M Allen. Unused: Ally McLaurin.
: B Sorbie; M Lamb, J Cresswell, R Elliston, C Pringle; J Hope (C), A Black; M MacDonald, R Kennedy, A Nicol, H Burr, A Sinclair, R Leishman, A Taylor, S MacDonald. Subs used: M Emmison, M Hunter, S Robertson, C Turnbull, R Jones.
Referee: Graeme Wells.
Man-of-the-match: Boroughmuir No.8 Matthew Tweddle was influential in defence and attack.
Talking point: The handling shown for two of Boroughmuir’s tries for Hearn and Edmunds – out of the top drawer.
Image courtesy of @rugbypeoplenet