Stirling County RFC 22 Bedwas RFC 32
Match report courtesy of Kevin Robertson, Stirling County RFC
Stirling County and Bedwas played out an entertaining 9-try British & Irish Cup encounter in East Lothian, after the freezing temperatures in the Forth Valley rendered Bridgehaugh unplayable. On Saturday morning the matched was switched to Dunbar, and County travelled the 70 miles to Hallhill, the only pitch playable on the east coast.
Reyner Kennedy and Colin Hutton deputised in the absence of experienced front row regulars Alex Moffat and Garry Mountford; and County drafted in allocated Glasgow Warriors professional players Byron McGuigan at outside centre with Mark Bennett on the bench. Bedwas are currently top of the Welsh Premiership and arrived with a strong squad looking to break their duck in the cross-border competition, in the first-ever match between the two clubs.
County started well, with a blustery westerly wind at their backs, and kept Bedwas pinned back in their own half, until a breakout by the visitors on 10 minutes led to a penalty, after County strayed offside, but the kick at goal drifted wide. County continued to press forward, and a line-out steal and drive by County within the Bedwas 22, was popped out to Stuart Edwards whose pass was taken at pace by McGuigan who sprinted through a gap in the visitors’ defence to score the opening try after 14 minutes.
Bedwas responded and three minutes later Rory Budina scored in the left corner following a move which flowed from left to right and back across the width of the pitch, eventually wrong-footing the County defence, to tie the scores at 5 – 5. Edwards then missed a long range penalty kick at goal after a dominant County pack pushed Bedwas off the scrum.
On 25 minutes, a penalty line-out catch and drive saw Mike McDonald dive over to score a try in the corner, restoring County’s lead to 10 – 5. Bedwas came more into the match approaching half-time and reduced the leeway to 10- 8 five minutes before the break through an Ethan Davies penalty, after County were penalised for holding on in front of the posts.
Half-time: Stirling County 10 – Bedwas 8.
Struan Robertson came on for Ruaridh Leishman at the break, as County attacking against the strengthening wind, forced Bedwas back into their 22. Following sustained pressure by County, Bedwas turned the ball over close to their line, but the clearance kick was charged down by Ross Aitken and the winger chased the loose ball over the try-line to touch down in the corner, converted by Edwards, giving County a deserved 17 – 8 lead after 45 minutes.
Again Bedwas came back at County and three minutes later, following a slack 22 drop out , Bedwas were gifted possession and a defence splitting move ended with hooker Elliot Dee scoring an un-opposed try to the left of the posts, converted by Davies, to bring the visitors to within two points.
Matt Lamb replaced Aitken on the left wing, and Bedwas missed a kickable penalty, before Brian Archibald came on for Edwards at stand-off. County continued to put themselves under pressure by missing a clearance penalty kick to touch, before the visitors pounded the County defence and released Sam Feehan to score a try in the corner on 62 minutes, giving Bedwas the lead for the first time in the match.
The Welsh side brought on their full complement of replacements and in the process upped the tempo, scoring two further two tries by Deri Mattravers on 72 minutes converted by Davies, and Ross Wardle after 76 minutes, to secure a winning bonus point and take the score to 32 – 17 in the visitors’ favour. County finished strongly, and a penalty line-out catch was taken by Craig Deacons who was driven over to complete the scoring in the left corner, and earn County a consolation losing bonus point.
Scorers: Stirling County – Tries: McGuigan, McDonald, Aitken, Deacons. Conv: Edwards. Bedwas – Tries: Budina, Dee, Feehan, Mattravers, Wardle. Conv: Davies (2). Pen: Davies.