Stirling County 20, Watsonians 9

WATSONIANS exploded into the opening skirmishing at Bridgehaugh like

firecrackers, created a magical try for Andrew Garry, the former Lenzie

and Glasgow Academicals centre, and could have had a bigger half-time

lead than 9-6.

Their old failing of running out of usable ball, however, put them on

the back foot for most of the second half, which Stirling County won by

14-0 while entering into the spirit of a thoroughly entertaining


Colin Campbell won some first lineout touches for Watsonians, Stuart

Munro and Alan Murray were notable foragers, and David Lochore was

outstanding in cover tackle. But, as a trio, their loose forwards were

unable to impose any authority on the broken play, latterly being

concerned in the main with defending.

With more ball Watsonians would be a force, because their forwards

play with great determination. There were some delightful handling

passages, especially in the first half, during which their wingers,

Fergus Henderson and Roger Baird, went looking for work and the

18-year-old Derrick Lee emerged as an exciting prospect with an

impressive edge of pace.

Scott Hastings suffered an early eye injury and found Ian Jardine a

resolute chopper, but the younger Hastings still dealt out some

crunching tackles as Jardine, time and again, took on the Watsonians'

midfield. Nor could the visitors engineer enough opportunities for the

intrusion impetus of Gavin Hastings, whose exploits in defence included

some thunderous punting and solid torpedo work.

Stirling proved stronger and more streetwise up front, their scrummage

a dependable platform, their lineout swept by John Gibson and Jim

Brough, and their impressive mobility was epitomised by that productive

mole, Kevin McKenzie, and the explosive Brian Ireland.

There was, too, a boisterous performance from Stewart Hamilton who, at

35, still means a lot to the Stirling pack. Jimmy Stewart ran the show

with calm authority and a blend of punt and spread. His clever use of

double-miss moves enabled his wings to adopt an active role.

The Watsonians' try was a model. Murray peeled left off Lochore's tap

down and, from ruck clearance, Lee, whose scrummage drop goal had

equalised one by Stewart, weaved past three defenders and fed inside to

Garry, who crashed over in McKenzie's tackle.

Gavin Hastings lazily stroked over the touchline conversion, and

although a penalty goal by Calum MacDonald cut the leeway to just three

points, it could have been more but for tigerish Stirling fringe

policing that denied Stuart Johnston (twice), Lee, Garry, and Munro

inches short.

Two minutes after the break, however, Stirling gave notice of intent

with a try that must have delighted their coach, Alan Armstrong. Gibson

steamed upfield and from breakdown service Stewart, John Henderson,

Jardine and Angus Turner put MacDonald over in Gavin Hastings' tackle.

MacDonald's touchline conversion for 12-9 brought his points tally for

the season to 173.

Jardine's dent then ruck set up by Hamilton and McKenzie enabled John

Henderson to send Logan powering over for his twelfth try, and when

Ireland changed his angle of drive off Brough's scrummage probe for the

clinching score, the crowd's ovation was in recognition also of the high

quality of Stirling's team-work in the second half.

Stirling County -- C T MacDonald, A S M Turner, J Henderson, I C

Jardine, K M Logan; J P Stewart, K G M Harper; J T Gibson, K D McKenzie,

G B Robertson, M Norval, J S Hamilton, B Ireland, J Brough, C H Brown.

Watsonians -- A G Hastings, F M Henderson, S Hastings, A R Garry, G R

T Baird; D Lee, S G Johnston, S Munro, D S Henderson, R Macocia, C M

Campbell, S A Aitken, P E Coslett, A C Murray, D J Lochore.

Referee -- R S Clark (Stewart's Melville FP).