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County start League Campaign with a Win


County start League Campaign with a Win

BT Premiership

Stirling County 28 ? Hawick 19

Kevin Robertson reports from Bridgehaugh

Stirling County came from behind to convincingly beat Hawick, giving the Bridgehaugh team a solid start to their BT Premiership schedule.

County have considerably strengthened their senior squad over the close-season, with former County second-row forward Adam Sinclair returning to Bridgehaugh after three years playing in France and England. Also joining the new-look County side are three players of New Zealand origin ? No. 8 Alex Taylor (ex-Southlands) and centres Jake Cresswell and Ryan Elliston, along with former Osprey's stand-off Ross Jones from Wales. Scotland Under-19 caps Bruce Sorbie (full-back) and Matt Emmison (hooker) have come to Bridgehaugh from GHA and Aberdeenshire respectively; Scotland Under-20 second-row forward Hamilton Burr was recruited from Aberdeen Wanderers, and joined by ex-Lorreto School and Scotland age-grade winger Craig Pringle. Scotland Under-20 forward Callum Hunter-Hill is County?s club captain this season.

Hawick opened the scoring with less than 3 minutes on the clock, when the visitors secured possession from their penalty line-out in the County 22, before moving the ball from right to left, stretching the home defence, for Kirk Ford to touchdown to the left of the posts. The Greens? full-back converted his own try to give Hawick an early seven-point advantage.

County responded immediately and four minutes later, following two successive penalty line-out catch and drives deep in the Hawick 22, County quickly shifted the ball through the hands to the right wing, for Matt Lamb to exploit a gap in the visitors? backline and score an unconverted try in the right corner, reducing the leeway to 5 ? 7.

County came close after a threatening break by the home backs from half-way only for the final scoring pass to be grateful received by the scrambling Hawick defender. The home-side went in front on 13 minutes when County stand-off Jonny Hope kicked a 20 metre penalty, after Hawick infringed on the ground, preventing release of the ball.

County continued to attack with pace and were unfortunate when a loose pass close to the Hawick line was intercepted by the Greens? right-winger D?arcy Graham who sprinted the length of the pitch to score a try under the posts, converted by Ford, to put the visitors back in front 8 ? 14, after 15 minutes.

County?s heads seemed to go down, and Hawick should have extended their lead when they missed a clear try-scoring opportunity, knocking the ball forward within the home-side?s 22, with an un-guarded try-line beckoning. However, the visitors redeemed themselves moments later, when they carved open the County defence with a flowing passing move from inside their own half, finished off by outside-centre Gary Johnstone who scored an unconverted try in the right corner, giving Hawick an 8 ? 19 lead with 21 minutes played.

Hawick continued to attack, and County were fortunate that the visitors couldn?t hold on to the ball within the home dead-ball area following a kick and chase, otherwise another try could have been concede by the hosts.

County worked their way back into the match, and Hope chipped over a 25-metre penalty after Hawick failed to roll away from the tackle, to take the score to 11 ? 19 after 28 minutes.

Three minutes later, from a County penalty-line-out take just inside the Hawick half, the ball was moved from right to left and collected on the charge by full-back Bruce Sorbie who sprinted home from 35-metres, through the visitors? rearguard, to touchdown close to the uprights, with the try converted by Hope, to bring the score close at 18 ? 19 in the Greens? favour.

Another quick break by County?s Sorbie and offload to left-winger Craig Pringle was stopped by an excellent last-ditch tackle from the Hawick right-winger Graham.

County?s Matt Emmison came on for Reyner Kennedy at hooker and Hamilton Burr replaced Adam Sinclair before the break.

Half-time: Stirling County18 - Hawick 19.

Mark Hunter replaced Mike MacDonald at prop, as County attacked from the re-start, and Hope successfully kicked a penalty after Hawick were caught off-side, putting County back in front; 21 ? 19 after 44 minutes. The home-side continued to press forward through the mid-channel and down both flanks, but couldn?t find a way through the well-marshalled Hawick defence.

County?s Kennedy and Sinclair returned to the pack in place of Emmison and Burr, before second-row forward Ruaridh Leishman (pictured top)finished off a running move involving Pringle and the industrious Shaun McDonald, to score a try in the left corner, converted from out-wide by Hope (right), to increase the home-side?s advantage to 28 ? 19 with 57 minutes on the clock.

County emptied their bench in the final quarter, with Burr coming back on for No.8 Alex Taylor, Ross Jones for Sorbie at full-back, MacDonald for Hunter in the front row, Colin Turnbull for Alex Black at scrum-half and Emmison for McDonald, after the flanker picked up an eye injury.

County had the majority of possession and territory in the closing minutes, but could add to their tally, and ran out deserved winners of a thoroughly entertaining match in the Bridgehaugh sunshine.

Final score: Stirling County 28 ? Hawick 19.

Scorers: Stirling County ? Tries: Lamb, Sorbie, Leishman. Conv.: Hope (2). Pens.: Hope (3).
Hawick - Tries: Ford, Graham, Johnstone. Conv.: Ford (2).

County?s Man of the Match, sponsored by John Graham Metals, was open-side flanker Shaun McDonald.

Stirling County: Bruce Sorbie, Matt Lamb, Jake Cresswell, Ryan Elliston, Craig Pringle, Jonny Hope, Alex Black; Mike MacDonald, Reyner Kennedy, Adam Nicol, Callum Hunter-Hill (capt.), Adam Sinclair, Ruaridh Leishman, Shaun McDonald, Alex Taylor. Replacements: Matt Emmison, Mark Hunter, Hamilton Burr, Colin Turnbull, Ross Jones.

Hawick: Kirk Ford, D?arcy Graham, Gary Johnstone, Grant Huggan, Neil McColm, Ali Weir, Bruce Campbell; Shaun Muir, Fraser Renwick, Calum MacIntosh, Ryan Hogg, Michael Robertson, Ross Gibson, Stuart Graham, Bruce McNeil (capt.). Replacements: Mathew Landels, Dalton Redpath, Andrew Horne, Kyle Brunton, Wesley Simpson.

Referee: Tim Baker (Hong Kong).

County?s next BT Premiership match is away to Boroughmuir on Saturday (3rd September) - kick-off at Meggatland is 3pm. See Club website for full match preview. This match will also be screened live via the Scottish Rugby website.

Thanks to County?s main sponsor United Auctions, and all others who continue to support the Club.

Rugby Round-up: Convincing Wins for County?s Under-18s and Thirds

County?s Academy youth age-grade teams (Under-13s to Under-18s) played their counterparts from West of Scotland in the opening fixtures of Scottish Rugby?s President?s Conference ? County won this ?whole club? league competition last season. On Saturday, in the opening match County?s Under-18s had a resounding victory over West. See Stirling County website for all youth rugby results and details of forthcoming fixtures at: .

County?s 3rd XV convincingly beat Bo?ness 17 - 54 in their opening BT Caledonia Division 3 Midlands (South) league match at Gauze Road. Next Saturday (3rd September) the Thirds travel to Grangemouth ? kick-off at Glensburgh is 3pm.

Also next Saturday (3rd August) County?s 2nd XV kick-off their BT National Reserve League Division 2 schedule with an away match against Stewart?s Melville ? kick-off at Inverleith is 3pm.

Next Sunday (4th September), County?s Women start their BT Women?s Premier League programme when they entertain Murrayfield Wanderers ? kick-off at Bridgehaugh is 2pm.

Members are reminded that there are Pre-match Lunches before County?s 1st XV home BT Premiership matches at Bridgehaugh ? the next lunch is on Saturday 10th September at 1pm before County v Glasgow Hawks. Cost is 15 for members / 25 for non-members (includes 2-course lunch, match admission, programme and seat in stand) ? please contact either Alastair Cunningham at or Emma at the Club Office on 01786-478866 / e-mail: to reserve your place.

Membership subscriptions are due for season 2016/17 - full membership of Stirling County RFC provides free admission to all home BT Premiership matches at Bridgehaugh. Membership forms can be downloaded from the Club?s website at .

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