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County on Fire against Welsh All Blacks


 British & Irish Cup – Pool 2

 Stirling County 40 – Neath 25

 Stirling County made a superb start to their debut British & Irish Cup campaign with a 5-try win against Neath at Bridgehaugh. This was County’s first-ever cross-border competitive match, and it is one that will remain long in the memory. 

 County were closer to full-strength than in previous weeks, with Brian Archibald moved to stand-off to cover for the injured Stuart Edwards, Troy Nathan in at centre, and Stevie Swindall returned from injury to the No. 8 berth.

 Neath opened the scoring with a fourth minute penalty from Johnny Davies, after County were penalised for not releasing in the tackle.  County responded and a line-out take within their own 22 and an impressive 40-metre drive by the forwards led to a break from half-way by speedy scrum-half Sean Kennedy (pictured left)Sean breaks, who exchanged passes with supporting Matt Lamb for Kennedy to score the opening un-converted try on 10 minutes, giving County a 5 – 3 lead.

 From the Neath re-start kick County dallied in possession and two clearing kicks were charged down by the visitors who were awarded a penalty after County were caught off-side, which Davies kicked putting Neath back in front at 6 - 5.

 Two minutes later, from a line-out just within the Neath half, the County forwards mounted another catch and 20-metre drive before releasing Kennedy who again broke clear using Nathan in support before the centre returned the scoring pass for Kennedy to notch his second try under the posts, which Archibald converted, giving County a 12 – 6 advantage.

 County continued to press and Archibald added two penalties on 25 and 35 minutes to increase the lead to 18 – 6, with Colin Hutton coming for Garry Mountford in between.

 Just before half-time, County were awarded a penalty five metres from Neath line, and from resultant line-out take, the forwards drove through four phases before Stevie SwindallTry for Stevie Swindall dive through a pile of bodies to touch-down (right), and increase County’s lead to 17 points at the break.

 Half-time: Stirling County 23 – Neath 6.

 Mountford returned for Hutton and Bengy breaks from a scrumBengi Barsanti (left) came on for Swindall and from the re-start County pinned the visitors back in their own half, and a 30-yard break by Matt Lamb opened up space for Troy Nathan who was stopped just short of the try line.  On 45 minutes, County won a turnover on half-way and Kennedy raised clear before off-loading to Danny Gilmour who powered through three tackles to score County’s fourth bonus-point try close to the posts, converted by Archibald to give County a 30 – 6 lead.

 County appeared to take their foot of the gas at this point, and let Neath score a try on 53 minutes through scrum-half Chris Morgan in the left corner, converted by Johnny Davies, to reduce the leeway.  Neath kept up the pressure on County who cleared their lines from a penalty, and Nathan was unluckly not to score when he just put a foot in touch when sprinting down the right-flank, following another Kennedy break.

 Archibald notched a penalty on 63 minutes to take the score to 33-13 after the visitors were penalised for going off their feet. Hutton replaced Mike McDonald and proceedings heated-up after an altercation on half-way which saw County’s Hutton and Neath’s Nicky Downs sin-binned for exchanging blows.  This seemed to inspire Neath and replacement Kevin James broke clear to score a try in the corner converted by Elliot Jones, to reduce County’s lead to 13 points, with 8 minutes remaining.  

 Tim Clarke came on for Barsanti, and with four minutes remaining Kennedy again carved through the visitor’s defence before passing to Graham Lindsay who squeezed over the line to score a try converted by Archibald, restore County’s 20 point cushion.Adam Ashe passes to Sean Kennedy

 The visitors scored an unconverted try by Gareth King on full-time to cap a thoroughly entertaining match, and a great advert for cross-border club rugby.      

 Final Score:  Stirling County 40 – Neath 25.

 Scorers: Stirling County – Tries: S Kennedy (2), Swindall, Gilmour, Lindsay.  Conv.: Archibald (3). Pens.: Archibald (3). Neath – Tries:  Morgans, James, King.  Conv.: J Davies, E Jones. Pens.: J Davies (2).        .     

 Stirling County:  Addison, Lindsay, Gilmour, Nathan, Lamb, Archibald, S Kennedy; McDonald, Moffat (capt.), Mountford, Leishman, Deacons, Ashe, Boswell, Clarke.  Replacements:  Hutton, R Kennedy, Robertson, Barsanti, Gillies.

 Neath:  Langdon, E Jones, R Evans, K Davies, King, J Davies, Morgans (capt.), Downs, A Williams, Reeves, Griffiths, L Williams, Ward, R Jones, E Williams.  Replacements: Ford, Clancy, A Wyn Davies, E Evans, Rees, Jones, James.

 Referee:  Tom Foley (RFU).

 County sit joint top of Pool 2 with Bedford Blues who they visit on Saturday (20th October), and who second-top of the English Championship – kick-off at Goldington Road is 3pm.  See Club website for full match preview.

 Thanks to County’s British & Irish Cup match sponsors United Auctions and Anderson Strathern, club sponsor Ondeo Industrial Solutions and all others who continue to support the Club.

 Rugby Round-up:

 Stirling County’s 2nd XV beat Currie 55 - 20 in their RBS National Reserve League One match at Wallace High School.  Try scorers for County were Ross Aitken (3), Sean McDonald, Robbie Hogg and Archie Russell, with Jack Urquhart kicking 7 conversions and two penalties. Next Saturday the seconds are at home to Dundee – kick-off at Bridgehaugh is 3pm.

 Next Saturday Stirling County - Bridgehaugh are away to Perthshire 2nd XV - kick off at North Inch is 3pm.

 Stirling County’s Under 18s scored four tries in their 22 – 0 win against Hamilton in a cross-region friendly at Wallace High School.  

 The next popular monthly Members’ (and guests) Evening will be held this Friday 26 October at 7:30pm in the Crichton Lounge – all welcome.  Come along, enjoy a taste of Mexico, participate in a music quiz and see if you’ve won the 200 Club prize draw.   Food + a Drink is £6 pp. Let the Club know you and your friends are coming – phone 01786-478866.

 Report by Kevin Robertson

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