Stirling County hosted Ayrshire Bulls on Friday night in the first round of the playoffs.
What a start it was by the hosts with centre Ryan Southern guiding through the Bulls defence unchallenged in the first three mins of the game converted successfully by Marcus Holden. [7-0]
However the Bulls quickly responded minutes after by a super score from their stand-off Tom Jordan who successfully converted his own try to bring the score back to [7-7].
Stirling were then down to 14 players as winger, Walter Fifita, was sent to the bin for a deliberate knock on whilst the Bulls were on the attack.
Ayrshire Bulls outside centre, Robert Beattie, crashed over after a great run beating a few defenders which then was converted by Tom Jordan. [7-14]
Five minutes later, Ayrshire Bulls were in again as winger Aaron Tait found room round the outside and slotted into the corner to pile more pressure onto the Stirling team. [7-19]
Ayrshire Bulls had to make a few changes before the break, however just three minutes before half time, Stirling almost scored a second try as Sean Kennedy kicked through from a loose pass from one of the Bulls backs and almost dotted down between the posts only for a couple of the Bulls backs to get back in time for a goal line drop out.
Stirling were awarded a penalty inside the Ayrshire half, with no time left on the clock the kick at goal was unsuccessful. Ayrshire Bulls led at Half Time. [7-19]
HT: Stirling County 7 – 19 Ayrshire Bulls
Three minutes into the second half, Stirling were awarded another penalty after the Bulls were penalised for holding on. Kick was successful by Marcus Holden bring the score to [10-19].
Bulls replacement, Cam Jones, dived over for another score after a few missed tackles by the County line and was converted by Tom Jordan. [10-26]
In the 52nd minute of the game, Stirling were awarded yet another penalty and kicked to the corner close to the Bulls try line. The catch was taken well at the line-out by James Pow and a driving maul got the Stirling forwards gaining momentum. After good yards Angus Fraser broke free from the pack and scored a brilliant try – conversion was successful by Marcus Holden. [17-26]
Stirling were in control going forward and keeping the ball alive well phase after phase. As Stirling got close to the Bulls try line, scrum-half Sean Kennedy managed to see some space in behind the defence and grubber kicked it through for winger Ratu Tagive to gather and score. Marcus Holden converted. [24-26]
The game was so tense and neither side gave up. Stirling were going forward well and the Bulls defence was superb but with no time left on the clock and Stirling running out of options, they were 10 metres from the line. So Marcus Holden dropped back into the pocket and slotted a fantastic drop goal to win it at the death.
FT: Stirling County 27-26 Ayrshire Bulls
Ben Cairns was asked about his thoughts on the game:
“I think there’s definitely that evolution there, at the start of last season we lost some games that we should have won, and then towards the end of the season we started to turn them around. We’ve been here before, I think we are understanding what it takes to win.”
“I think the boys continued to play and believe the way we were trying to play as opposed to start chasing it early. And then once we got to 9 we were one score away from a 3 point game. We were calm and composed, our forward pack started to get a bit of dominance which helped us massively and got us back into the game.”
Match Report by Ali Blair
Stirling County: 15. Logan Trotter 14. Ratu Tagive 13. Ben Salmon 12. Ryan Southern 11. Walter Fifita 10. Marcus Holden (c) 9.Sean Kennedy 1. Murphy Walker 2.Angus Fraser 3. Lewis Skinner 4. James Pow 5. Adam Sinclair 6. George Arnott 7. Connor Gordon (c) 8. Benedict Grant
Replacements: 16. Gregor Hiddleston 17. John McKenna 18. George Breese 19. Max Williamson 20. Callum Cruickshank 21. Harry Russell 22. Craig Robertson 23. Steven Hamilton
Ayrshire Bulls: 15. Liam McNamara 14. Elias Caven 13. Robert Beattie 12. Andrew Stirrat 11. Aaron Tait 10. Tom Jordan 9. Jordan Lenac 1. Tom Lambert 2. Grant Stewart 3. Michael Scott 4. Edward Bloodworth (vc) 5. Rory Jackson 6. Alex McGuire 7. Joe Knight 8. Blair McPherson (c)
Replacements: 16. Jamie Drummond 17. William Farquhar 18. Calvin Henderson 19. Jamie Sheddon 20. Ewan Bulger 21. Lewis McNamara 22. Christian Townsend 24. Cam Jones
Referee: Keith Allen
AR1: Ben Blain
AR2: David Sutherland
Stirling County: TRY: Southern, Fraser, Tagive PEN: Holden CON: Holden x3 DROP: Holden
Ayrshire Bulls: TRY: Jordan, Beattie, Tait, Jones CON: Jordan x3
FOSROC Player of The Match:
Benedict Grant (Stirling County)