Andrew Kelly was frustrated by aspects of his Heriot’s team’s performance against Stirling County yesterday afternoon, but relieved to get a first win of this Super6 campaign in the bag, and hopeful that the result will provide his players with the sort of injection of self-belief required if they are to upset top of the table Watsonians at Goldenacre next weekend. 

“Winning against a good team, away from home and not playing our best, is a positive,” reasoned Kelly afterwards. “I’m obviously very pleased to get the win but still a bit disappointed by the performance. We are playing like a team that hasn’t got confidence yet, so hopefully that will give us a boost.” 

The hosts were also hunting their first win of the season and looked the more likely for most of the first half. Archie Russell – younger brother of Finn – led the charge, with a couple of dangerous breaks, before County eventually took the lead through an Andrew Goudie penalty. 

Heriot’s bounced back with a Ruaridh Leishman try, but that was quickly cancelled out when a loose pass allowed County scrum-half Kristian Kay to claim an opportunist score, with Goudie adding the conversion then a penalty to make it 13-5. 

However, a penalty-try for Heriot’s in injury time of the first half pulled it back to a single point game, and after a dominant first 10 minutes of the second period, Alex Ball ducked past two defenders and over the whitewash to set up a Bruce Houston conversion, which proved decisive on the final shakedown. 

County battled hard to find a way back into the game, and Russell went over to make it 18-19, but Goudie couldn’t add the extras and Heriot’s held on for the win. 

Beaten head coach Ben Cairns lamented his team’s lack of composure when in the strike zone. “We are playing enough rugby to win games, we just need that to translate into points,” he said. “That’s about how we manage the game a bit better in terms of building pressure. 

“There’s definitely a balance between playing that quality rugby that we did in the first 20 minutes and not forcing the final pass – just go another phase. We’re not getting that balance right.” 

County are at home again next weekend, when they host an Ayrshire Bulls side who will be keen to bounce back after suffering a narrow 22-20 loss against Southern Knights at the Greenyards on Saturday.