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We gifted the points to County, says disappointed Hawks coach

The Glasgow Hawks coach Jamie Dempsey believes his men took the seasonal "joy of giving" message too literally as they were defeated by Stirling County.

The 25-10 success at Old Anniesland eased the Premiership relegation worries and piled a fresh dose of pressure on to the hosts.

"The outcome was very much of our own making - we made far too many unforced errors, especially with the ball in hand. Another important element was County's recent exposure to the higher level of the British and Irish Cup. They really showed in their ruthlessness at the breakdown and full credit must go to them."

Graeme Young, the County coach, said his team had been well-motivated: "We had spoken about the next five games and how every one of them was effectively a cup final and the team responded well.

"In order to beat sides you have to dominate them; if you can't run round them you have to go through them and we did that with direct running. The B&I Cup has been massive for our development. The experienced has exposed us to a new level and that's where they learn."

The talking point came late in the contest when when home utility back Haddon McPherson and rival Matt Lamb were red-carded in the wake of an off-the-ball flare-up. Lamb had earlier been on the scoresheet with one of County's three tries, the others coming from Warriors and Scotland man Richie Vernon and Jamie Bhatti. Brian Archibald was also in pinpoint form with the boot, slotting two conversions and two penalties.

Dan Smart gathered the only home touchdown, goaled by Scott Wight, who also banged over a penalty.

Ayr halted their slump with a well-deserved 32-14 victory over Aberdeen GR at Millbrae. The champions' bonus-point scores were claimed by Peter McCallum, George Hunter (2), Robbie Fergusson and Peter Jericevich. Ross Curle kicked the remainder of their counters.

Tom Preece touched down for Aberdeen, who also earned a penalty try - both of which were improved by Sam Knudsen.

Melrose earned revenge over Edinburgh Accies to step up their title challenge. The bonus-point 28-5 success at the Greenyards will put pressure on pacesetters Gala, whose derby clash at Hawick was rained off.

Gary Holborn, Fraser Thomson, Damien Hoyland and Grant Runciman were the home tryscorers - Joe Helps slotting all the conversions. It was payback time for Accies, who had pulled off a surprise win on their own patch earlier in the season.

Heriot's also kept in touch at the top but had to settle for a scrambled 17-all draw with Currie at Goldenacre.

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