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Weather Key as County lose to Welsh League Leaders

09/12/2012

 British & Irish Cup – Pool 2

 Stirling County 22 – Bedwas 32

 Stirling County and Bedwas played out an entertaining 9-try British & Irish Cup encounter in East Lothian, after the freezing temperatures in the Forth Valley rendered Bridgehaugh unplayable. On Saturday morning the matched was switched to Dunbar, and County travelled the 70 miles to Hallhill, the only pitch playable on the east coast.   

 Reyner Kennedy and Colin Hutton deputised in the absence of experienced front row regulars Alex Moffat and Garry Mountford; and County drafted in allocated Glasgow Warriors professional players Byron McGuigan at outside centre with Mark Bennett on the bench.  Bedwas are currently top of the Welsh Premiership and arrived with a strong squad looking to break their duck in the cross-border competition, in the first-ever match between the two clubs.

 County started well, with a blustery westerly wind at their backs, and kept Bedwas pinned back in their own half, until a breakout by the visitors on 10 minutes led to a penalty, after County strayed offside, but the kick at goal drifted wide.  County continued to press forward, and a line-out steal and drive by County within the Bedwas 22, was popped out to Stuart Edwards whose pass was taken at pace by McGuigan who sprinted through a gap in the visitors’ defence to score the opening try after 14 minutes.

 Bedwas responded and three minutes later Rory Budina scored in the left corner following a move which flowed from left to right and back across the width of the pitch, eventually wrong-footing the County defence, to tie the scores at 5 – 5.  Edwards then missed a long range penalty kick at goal after a dominant County pack pushed Bedwas off the scrum.

 On 25 minutes, a penalty line-out catch and drive saw Mike McDonald dive over to score a try in the corner, restoring County’s lead to 10 – 5.  Bedwas came more into the match approaching half-time and reduced the leeway to 10- 8 five minutes before the break through an Ethan Davies penalty, after County were penalised for holding on in front of the posts.  

 Half-time: Stirling County 10 – Bedwas 8.

 Struan Robertson came on for Ruaridh Leishman at the break, as County attacking against the strengthening wind, forced Bedwas back into their 22.  Following sustained pressure by County, Bedwas turned the ball over close to their line, but the clearance kick was charged down by Ross Aitken and the winger chased the loose ball over the try-line to touch down in the corner, converted by Edwards, giving County a deserved 17 – 8 lead after 45 minutes.

 Again Bedwas came back at County and three minutes later, following a slack 22 drop out , Bedwas were gifted possession and a defence splitting move ended with hooker Elliot Dee scoring an un-opposed try to the left of the posts, converted by Davies, to bring the visitors to within two points.

 Matt Lamb replaced Aitken on the left wing, and Bedwas missed a kickable penalty, before Brian Archibald came on for Edwards at stand-off.  County continued to put themselves under pressure by missing a clearance penalty kick to touch, before the visitors pounded the County defence and released Sam Feehan to score a try in the corner on 62 minutes, giving Bedwas the lead for the first time in the match.

 The Welsh side brought on their full complement of replacements and in the process upped the tempo, scoring two further two tries by Deri Mattravers on 72 minutes converted by Davies, and Ross Wardle after 76 minutes, to secure a winning bonus point and take the score to 32 – 17 in the visitors’ favour.  County finished strongly, and a penalty line-out catch was taken by Craig Deacons who was driven over to complete the scoring in the left corner, and earn County a consolation losing bonus point.

 Final Score:  Stirling County 22 – Bedwas 32.

 Scorers: Stirling County – Tries: McGuigan, McDonald, Aitken, Deacons.  Conv.: Edwards. Bedwas – Tries: Budina, Dee, Feehan, Mattravers, Wardle. Conv.: Davies (2). Pen.: Davies.            

 Stirling County:  Ben Addison; Graham Lindsay, Byron McGuigan, Danny Gilmour, Ross Aitken; Stuart Edwards, Sean Kennedy; Mike McDonald, Reyner Kennedy, Colin Hutton, Ruaridh Leishman, Craig Deacons, Adam Ashe, Tim Clarke, Steve Swindall. Replacements: Stevie Raby, Struan Robertson, Brian Archibald, Mark Bennett and Matt Lamb.

 Bedwas:  Lewis Hudd, Rory Budina, Ross Wardle, Matthew Pewtner, Matthew John, Ethan Davies, Tom Rowlands; Ian George, Elliot Dee, Matthew Pettit, Phil Rees, Kyle Maiden, Simon Grainger (Capt.), Aaron Harris, Deri Mattravers.  Replacements: Kristian Gay, Dan Preece, Ben Roberts, Sam Feehan, Liam Davies, James Thomas, Scott Williams.

Referee:  Andrew Jackson (RFU).

 County will be encouraged by many aspects of their play, but not for the first time this season a series of errors in the second half proved costly. County who moved up to second in Pool 2 get an immediate opportunity to make amends when they visit South Wales next Saturday (15 December) in the return match with Bedwas at the Bridge Field – kick-off 2:30pm.  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.

 A huge thanks are also due to all the County volunteers who worked tirelessly during the week preceding this match to try a get the Bridgehaugh pitch playable, but despite their best endeavours the playing surface remained too hard in places. 

 Thanks also to Dunbar RFC for hosting the match at short notice.

 Rugby Round-up:

 Due to frozen pitches there were no other matches played this weekend.  Next Saturday (15 December) Bridgehaugh / 3rd XV are at home to Hillfoots 2nd XV – kick-off 2pm, while County’s Under-18s will be looking to maintain their 100% winning record away to Dunfermline in Midland League One – kick-off at McKane Park is 1pm.

 Members are reminded that the popular Christmas Pre-Match Lunch is on Saturday 22 December in the Marquee before the RBS Premiership match against Ayr – there are still a few places left.  The Red White & Black Christmas Ball is being held on Saturday 29 December at 7:30pm. Please contact the Club Office on 01786-478866 to book your place at these festive events.

 Report by Kevin Robertson


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