Boroughmuir 32

Stirling County 20

THOSE advocates of a winter break for rugby would almost certainly have the support of Boroughmuir who firmly believe they were forced to perform on an unplayable pitch at Hawick last month. Yet the problem would be which time to take off, for Meggetland on Saturday was giving a fair impression of the Arctic wastes.

A wicked wind snaked across the field and the longer the game went on the hands got colder and the passes wilder. Referee John Hogg told me: ''Players were asking me how long there was to go from early in the second half.'' And there was another problem too - as a contest, the game was over by the interval, Boroughmuir having scored four tries to earn themselves a bonus point, thus preserving their champion-ship aspirations.

The home coaches Iain Paxton and Sean Lineen were urging their men to keep going forward to get more vital points in the bag. ''That didn't have much effect at all,'' they conceded after the match, ''and the second half wasn't pretty.''

Boroughmuir's plans were also hit by an early injury to lock Mark Sorensen and the second- half sin-binning of their skipper, Ben Fisher, caught inflicting a couple of Martin Johnsons. The case for the defence was that he had taken a few slugs himself at various points.

But one also has to be fair to Stirling County. Down 32-8, they refused to throw in the towel, scored two good tries and came agonisingly close to a bonus point themselves.

They could be proud of their performance and I believe they are good enough to escape relegation. It would be a great loss to the whole game in Central region if County were removed from the premier division.

''Apart from a horrendous 20 minutes before half-time, when we gifted most of the tries, I thought we did not too badly,'' their coach, Eddie Pollock observed. Scrum-half Kyle O'Brien is a class act and there were notable contributions from Malcolm Norval and Colin Eadie.

Ball in hand there is not a more attractive side than Boroughmuir. Full-back James Reilly had a memorable first half. He kicked two penalties and converted three tries, including one which he scored himself, knifing through the defence in a swashbuckling run.

County had themselves pinched an early try, scored by O'Brien, but set up by a clever kick by fly-half Ian Noble, one of the few Zimbabweans in our game, who was impressive throughout.

Fisher scored after a typical back-flip by Mike Blair, a scrum-half with a big future. Blair it was who grabbed an outrageous touchdown when the ball emerged from a Stirling scrum as if it had been propelled by the one o'clock gun. He won the race for the try by a very comfortable margin.

The home side's other score came from speedy winger Charlie Keenan. I wish the inter-national side had backs with his hunger for tries. With flankers Chris Capaldi and Olo Brown in rampant form, a big home vic-tory seemed on the cards.

Stirling's pride, however, was not prepared to let that happen and they buckled down to their task. The industrious O'Brien popped over for his second try after a long spell of intensive pressure. Noble then added the conversion.

Then, with the end in sight, as well as the hot tea, almost the entire Stirling pack drove over and replacement Colin McPhail was the man taking the handshakes. Another O'Brien break threatened what would have been an important try but the move fizzled out.

So, Boroughmuir have only one game left, against Kirkcaldy, and they will be looking for many points. County, however, could do themselves and the Edinburgh club an enormous favour if they could beat Hawick at Bridgehaugh or even deny the Borderers any bonus.

Boroughmuir J Reilly; C Keenan, M Clapperton, L Graham (C Cusiter 70min), R Couper; A Warnock, M Blair; D Rutterford, D Cunningham, T McGhee ( R Couglin 60), M Sorensen (N Bruce 17), E Mathieson, C Capaldi, B Fisher, O Brown

Stirling County C Harris; D Frame, M McGrandles, S McAllister, R Lewis (S Parlane 55); I Noble, K O'Brien; C Reid, A Moffatt (S Cameron 70), G Blackburn (A Smith 78), M Norval, A Kellock, C Deacons (C McPhail 78) A Hogg, C Eadie

Scoring sequence 3-0, 3-5, 10-5,10-8, 13-8,20-8,25-8, 32-8 (half-time) 32-15, 32-20

Scorers. Boroughmuir. Tries Fisher (14), Blair (31), Keenan (36), Reilly (41) Cons Reilly (14, 31, 41) Pens Reilly (9, 23).

Stirling County. Tries O'Brien (11, 59) McPhail (76) Con Noble (59) Pen Noble (22)

Referee J Hogg (Hawick)