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County find it tough going against Plymouth


British & Irish Cup : Pool 4 – Match Sponsored by United Auctions
Stirling County 12- Plymouth Albion 38
Kevin Robertson reports from Bridgehaugh
Stirling County welcomed Plymouth Albion for their first visit to Bridgehaugh in the British & Irish Cup, but the home side were out-muscled by a powerful visiting pack in the wet conditions, eventually going down by six tries to two.
County made two changes to the line-up that lost away to Munster the previous week, with Kris Burney and Matt Larson starting.
Plymouth, showing no ill-effects from their early morning journey north from Devon, were first to score when a loose free-kick by County went straight into their opponents’ hands on half-way, and the ball was quickly moved from right to left along the backs to the left-flank where inside-centre Toby Howley-Berridge broke through weak tackling to score the visitor’s opening try close to the posts; converted by Declan Cusack, to give Albion a 7 point lead after 5 minutes.
County responded immediately, and won turn-over ball just outside the visitors’ 22, before Stuart Edwards moved the ball through Ben Addison to left-winger Rory Hughes (right) who shrugged off the defensive cover and sprinted home to score a try in the corner; converted by Edwards, tie-ing the scores at 7-each after 8 minutes.
County continued to press, and following a superb catch in the air by Addison, the full-back off-loaded to winger Graham Lindsay who ran 40-metres before being stopped just short of the try line.
Another County mistake on their 22 led to Plymouth quickly exploiting turn-over ball for Max Crumpton to score a try in the left corner; the conversion was missed, but Albion regained the lead at 12-7 with 21 minutes played. County were penalised for dangerous play after the try was scored, and from the re-start penalty Plymouth kept the home side pinned back for the next ten minutes, during which the visitors squandered two scoring opportunity in quick succession, twice adjudged to having knocked-on in the process of grounding the ball over the try-line. However from the resultant 5-metre scrum, Albion pushed County back over their own line to score a try through Samuel Matavesi on 32 minutes; converted by Cussack, increasing the visitors lead to 19 – 7.
Just before half-time, a quick break by Larsen, from the base of an attacking scrum, into the visitors’ 22 just failed to find the hands of the supporting players.  Plymouth countered and found a gap in the County rearguard and Howley-Berridge broke clear only to be caught by Hughes with a try saving tackle. 
Half-time:  Stirling County 7- Plymouth Albion 19.
County brought on Glasgow Warriors’ scrum-half Henry Pyrgos for AJ McFarlane, Shaun McDonald replaced Will Bordill and Jonny Hope came on for Hughes, with Addison moving to the left-wing.
County conceded a penalty straight from Plymouth’s kick-off, and Cusack’s kick at goal fell just short of the posts, enabling the home side to clear.  Alex Moffat replaced Reyner Kennedy and Jamies Swanson came on for Struan Robertson. Plymouth kept the pressure on County, but the home side defended resolutely until the 52nd minute, when from a Plymouth penalty-line catch and drive, County were penalised for coming round on wrong side, and from the resultant penalty scrum, Albion pushed their way over the County line for flanker Eoghan Grace to score their fourth and bonus-point try; converted by Cussack to increase the visitors lead to 26 – 7.
Ruiraidh Leishman replaced Adam Ashe, and from another line-out catch and drive the Plymouth pack again drove County backwards for Ien Ashcroft-Leigh to touchdown, with the conversion missed, giving the visitors a 31 – 7 lead with 60 minutes on the clock.
County refused to throw in the towel, and from a penalty line-out catch and drive, the home side did what had been done to them earlier, and drove Plymouth back over their own line for Jamie Swanson to score a consolation try on 69 minutes; the conversion was missed.
Plymouth had the final say, when Chris Elder was fed the ball straight off the back of a line-out just inside the host’s half, and the replacement strode through a gaping hole in the tiring County defence to score under the posts; the try was converted by Dan Mugford.
Final Score:  Stirling County 12 - Plymouth Albion 38.
Thanks to British & Irish Cup match sponsor United Auctions.
Scorers:  Stirling County – Tries: Hughes, Swanson. Conv.:  Edwards.
Plymouth Albion – Tries: Howley-Berridge, Crumpton, Matavesi, Grace, Ascroft-Leigh, Elder.  Conv.: Cusack (3), Mugford.
Stirling County:  Addison, Lindsay, Russell, Hogg, Hughes, Edwards, McFarlane; Burney, Kennedy, Hutton, Larsen, Ryder, Robertson, Bordill, Ashe.  Replacements:  Moffat, Bhatti, MacDonald, Swanson, Leishman, Hope, Pyrgos.
Plymouth Albion:  Messer, Warner, Stevens, Howley-Berridge, Arnott, Cusack, Cushion (Capt.); Rogers, Crumpton, Morton, Ascroft–Leigh, Williams, Grace, Matavesi, Stupple.  Replacements:  McGregor, Harrison, Tovey, Carrick–Smith, Mugford, Rowley, Elder.
Referee: C Evans (WRU). 
Despite the scoreline, County Head-Coach Graeme Young was satisfied with his side’s display against a strong Plymouth side made up of full-time professionals, and he will be looking for his players to take this level of commitment and intensity into the next crucial series of RBS Premiership matches, starting next Saturday (26th October) with a visit to Ayr – kick-off at Millbrae is 3pm.  See Club website for full match preview.
Thanks to County’s main sponsor Ondeo Industrial Solutions and all others who continue to support the Club.
Rugby Round-up:
County’s 3rd XV won 14 - 8 away to Dundee University Medics in RBS Caledonia League Division 4 Midlands. Next Saturday (26th October) the Thirds are at home to Stobswell – kick-off at Bridgehaugh is 3pm; while the 2nd XV are away to Ayr in the RBS National Reserve League One.
County’s Women’s Team narrowly lost 15 - 22 at home to Melrose in the RBS Women’s Premier League.
In the National Youth Leagues, County’s Under-18s are away to Highland next Saturday (26th October) – kick-off in Inverness is 2pm; and on Sunday (27th October) the Under-16s travel to East Kilbride – kick-off at Strathaven Road is 2pm.
Members are reminded that pre-match lunches are available before all County’s 1st XV home RBS Premiership and British & Irish Cup matches, with the next lunch on Saturday 2 November before the County v Currie match. Cost is £15 for members / £25 for non-members (includes match admission, programme and seat in stand) – please contact Alastair Cunningham or the Club Office on 01786-478866 to reserve your place as soon as possible.

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