Offside Line reports from a dreich Balgay
By Hugh Barrow
The final game of the Premiership
ELÉNA de MELLO HOGARTH @ Balgray
A SECOND HALF surge saw Stirling County home and not very dry against a gutsy Glasgow Hawks at a Storm Freya-battered Balgray in the final final round of the Tennant’s Premiership.
Despite the soggy conditions, both teams were determined to put on a show, and it was visitors who struck first with centre Andrew Goudie flying on to a pass and then converting his own score.
Hawks couldn’t breach that tough County defence, but a clever chip over by stand-off Liam Brims helped their cause. They had to wait for a scrum, off the back of which number eight Gary Adams strolled over for the try, which Brims converted.
Proud supporter of Glasgow Hawks
There was only ten minutes on the clock at this point and, whether it was the increasingly boggy surface or the two teams cancelling each other out, there wasn’t another try until the second half.
Much back and forth ensued, livened up by a scything run by Stirling centre Ewan Macgarvie and a bullocking break by number eight Alasdair Mackie. Stirling made it to the try-line only to be held up, but they had penalties on either side of that phase of play, one by Goudie and one by full-back Jonny Hope.
Hawks nearly struck back just before half-time, with scrum-half Kaleem Barreto zipping away from a tap-and-go, but a knock-on on the line put paid to any points.
The home team were reduced to 14 at the start of the second half after lock Fraser Hastie was sin-binned for a late hit. Stirling turned the screw with Mackie the enforcer-in-chief, and his back-row colleague George Arnott went over for the score, with Goudie adding the extras.
Barreto continued to keep his backs moving. He was there in support when Brims made a terrific break in midfield but the move was eventually smothered by the Stirling defence.
The home team kept on, however, and winger James Couper scored a superb try, chasing and controlling a kick from Brims up the touchline until he could gather, before spinning his way out of a tackle and darting over for the score. Brims’ conversion attempt drifted wide.
Hawks were fighting hard, but County’s composure won through in the end. Mackie barrelled over for a try, taking a few tacklers with him, before winger Logan Trotter added the bonus point score. Both conversion attempts were missed as the wind whipped up.
Stirling County player-coach Peter Jericevich was happy with the way his team wrapped up their last match of the season.
“We knew how difficult it was going to be today, and we have quite a few debutantes, which is great for the club,” he said. “I’m really pleased with the effort and real energy from the start of the game, and to finish with five points at the end of the season, especially away from home, which has been a real challenge for us, is really pleasing.”
It’s the end of a difficult season for Glasgow Hawks but head coach Fin Gillies is pleased with his players.
“They should be really proud of themselves, everyone at the club should be,” he said. “It was never a goal to finish third bottom but it’s probably realistically where we were going to fit in amongst things. I think that [today’s game] was a representation of our season. No lack of effort, no lack of desire, but accuracy was lacking and probably a bit of luck too.”
stirling county united auctions
United Auctions support Stirling County RFC
Glasgow Hawks: P Boyer; J Couper, M New, C Harrison, M Priestly; L Brims, K Barreto; G Strain, P Cairncross, L Skinner; A Kirkland, F Hastie, C Thompson, S Leckey, G Adams. Subs: F Gillies (not used), K McCann, S Dow, J McCready, S Peffers.
Stirling County: J Hope; L Trotter, E Macgarvie, A Goudie, B Sorbie; P Jericevich, C Turnbull; A Wood, B Robertson, G Holborn; J Pow, S Yarrow; A Rutherford, G Arnott, A Mackie. Subs: L Brymer, F Muir, JL Wade, S Derrick, J King.
Glasgow Hawks: Tries: Adams, Couper; Cons: Brims.
Stirling County: Tries: Goudie, Arnott, Mackie, Trotter; Cons: Goudie 2; Pens: Goudie, Hope.
Scoring sequence (Glasgow Hawks first): 0-5; 0-7; 5-7; 7-7; 7-10; 7-13 (h-t) 7-18; 7-20; 12-20; 12-25; 12-30.
Yellow cards –
Glasgow Hawks: Hastie.
Man-of-the-Match: County No 8 Alasdair Mackie shot his way through the Hawks defence as though he had been fired out of a cannon.
Talking point: If it’s tough at the top, then it’s even harder at the bottom. It’s the end of the last-ever Scottish Premiership and the clubs who fielded teams every week to be beaten by the top dogs more than played their part under exceptionally trying circumstances.