Super6 Sprint: Stirling County book place in top three with win over Heriot’s

Bridgehaugh men recover from rocky start to run in seven tries

Sean Kennedy scores his second try for Stirling County versus Heriot's. Image: Bryan Robertson
Sean Kennedy scores his second try for Stirling County versus Heriot's. Image: Bryan Robertson

Stirling County 45

Heriot’s 27

COLIN RENTON @ Bridgehaugh

STIRLING COUNTY bounced back from a sluggish start to blow away Heriot’s with a seven try exhibition that means the Bridgehaugh men finish the first phase of the competition in second spot. Heriot’s again produced a mixed performance, showing well in patches, but undoing the good stuff with some lacklustre defending when the home side applied pressure.

The hosts were well-served by the three pros in their ranks, and County coach Ben Cairns paid tribute to the commitment of the trio in helping the youngsters in the side.

“All three are invested in wanting to play well for us. They have really bought into the culture. It’s easier for Sean (Kennedy) because he coaches here and has come through the club. But Ratu (Tagive) and Walter (Fifita) have come into our environment and wanted to be here, and wanted to play well for us. And that has shown in their performances,” said Cairns, who was understandably satisfied with most aspects of his team’s performance.


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“We would have taken that at the start of the day, and we certainly would have taken it after 20 minutes. I though the way the boys turned the momentum round after a really slow start was excellent. Going in at half-time with the lead and with the wind in the second half was big for us. I thought we played some really good rugby for the first 15-20 minutes or so of that second half. I was a little bit disappointed at the way we ended the game.”

However, he is already looking forward to the business end of the competition, adding: “We have Bulls here next week. That’s pivotal for both teams if anyone is going to catch Watsonians.”

His Heriot’s counterpart, Andy Kelly, was left bemoaning another performance that was good in parts but fell apart when County applied pressure.

“We started the game quite well, we played in areas we wanted to play in and then we compounded error after error and the game got away from us. Fair play to Stirling, they put us under pressure and forced us to make those mistakes,” he said. “It’s frustrating when we lose concentration. We’ve got to look at it as a group and think about our decision-making. It’s a game management thing.”

The positive start to which Kelly referred asked questions of the hosts and it took a solid defensive effort to repel a series of attacks. However, the early spell in the ascendancy paid off with seven minutes on the clock when Murdo McAndrew fired out a long pass to Ross Jones whose slick feed left Jack Blain with a simple stroll to the line.

The momentum remained with the visitors and it was little surprise when try number two arrived in 17 minutes. Bruce Houston despatched a penalty into touch and from the line-out, Iain Wilson ran a smart angle to power over, with Houston adding the extras.

County responded with a rare foray into opposition territory, with Benedict Grant prominent. And the hosts bagged an opportunistic score when Sean Kennedy chipped through and James Pow applied the boot to send the ball between two defenders, with Tagive on hand to finish off and leave Marcus Holden a straightforward conversion.

By the time the clock had ticked past the half hour mark, parity was restored. This time Logan Trotter burst from deep while Kennedy’s slick service kept the County attack moving and set up Lewis Skinner to thunder over. Holden’s conversion attempt was held up in the wind, leaving the scores tied at 12-12.

Fifita posed a constant threat with ball in hand, and he was the creator of the third County try five minutes before the break. He scythed through the Heriot’s defence and drew the final defender before releasing Holden to complete the job.

 

County secured the bonus point within a minute of the restart when Holden and Trotter combined to send the ball wide to Ben Salmon, who freed Connor Gordon. Holden booted the conversion, and he was on target again when County bagged try number five. This time Hamish Ferguson was thwarted just short of the whitewash but the alert Kennedy was on hand to dot down.

Heriot’s looked down and out, but they bagged a try after 55 minutes when Euan McLaren caught the home defence napping with a quickly taken penalty and crashed over.

That score was quickly cancelled out by a solo effort from the impressive Trotter whose change of pace took him past two despairing Heriot’s defenders. Holden was again on target with the kick and also added the additional points after Kennedy was ideally positioned to snipe in for a second time.

Although it was little consolation, Heriot’s did leave with a four try bonus after skipper Ruaridh Leishman showed his pace for a fine solo score ten minutes from full time, and Wilson applied the final touch after a powerful close-range drive to add further respectability to the score line.

 

Teams –

Stirling County: L Trotter; R Tagive, B Salmon, M Holden©, W Fifita; E Cunningham, S Kennedy; J McKenna, A Fraser, L Skinner, J Pow, A Sinclair, H Ferguson, C Gordon©, B Grant. Subs: G Hiddleston, G Breese, C Norrie, M Williamson, C Cruickshank, F Burgess, C Robertson, S Hamilton.

Heriot’s: R Jones; J Blain, R Kay, N Godsmark, S Pecqueur; B Houston, M McAndrew; C Keen, M Liness, E McLaren, J Campbell, S Johnstone (C Anderson 47), R Seydak, I Wilson, R Leishman. Subs: C Fenton, R Hutchison, A Munro, K Melbourne, C Anderson, J Gelderbloom, L Armstrong, J Couper.

Referee: D Sutherland

 

Scorers –

Stirling County: Tries: Tagive, Skinner, Holden, Gordon, Kennedy 2, Trotter; Cons: Holden 5.

Heriot’s: Tries: Blain, Wilson 2, McLaren, Leishman; Con: Houston.

Scoring sequence (Stirling County first): 0-5; 0-10; 0-12; 5-12; 7-12; 12-12; 17-12 (h-t) 22-12; 24-12; 29-12; 31-12; 31-17; 36-17; 38-17; 43-17; 45-17; 45-22; 45-27.

 

Man-of-the-Match: Logan Trotter enjoyed his outing, making the most of every opportunity to run the ball, and Benedict Grant was a back-row powerhouse but the star man in an excellent County performance was Sean Kennedy, whose outstanding game management was topped off with two tries.

Talking point: With the points from the first stage of the competition carried over to the post-split fixtures, Watsonians appear to be on track for the title, but the other sides in the top three will have something to say about that.


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About Colin Renton 210 Articles
Colin has been a freelance writer on various subjects for more than 20 years. He covers rugby at all levels but is particularly passionate about the game at grass roots. As a fluent French speaker, he has a keen interest in rugby in France and for many years has reported on the careers of Scots who have moved across the Channel. He appreciates high quality, engaging writing that is thought provoking, and hopes that some of his work fits that bill!