THE ugliest drop-goal you are ever likely to see from home co-captain Marcus Holden snatched a dramatic injury-time win for Stirling County over Ayrshire Bulls at the end of a riveting contest at Bridgehaugh last night.
The result keeps alive County’s ambitions of catching Watsonians to finish top of this Super6 Sprint Series. Those two teams meet at Myreside in their final matches of the campaign in two weekends’ time, although Watsonians could have the result wrapped up if they do the business against Bulls next weekend.
It was heartbreak for Bulls who won the try-count 4-3 and led for most of the match, especially as this is the third consecutive time in the last year they have lost in agonising fashion at this venue.
Stirling flew out the blocks to snatch a third minute lead when debutant Ryan Southern ghosted through the Bulls midfield and looked like he could hardly believe his luck as he cantered home unchallenged from 30-yards out.
Southern was at the heart of the action during a frantic opening, having just failed to gather Angus Frasers’s offload with the line at his mercy 45 second before that score. But his next involvement wasn’t quite so profitable for his team because he broke clear straight from the restart but then popped possession to Bulls stand-off Tom Jordan, who ran it in for the equalising score.
When County lost Glasgow Warriors winger Walter Fifita to the sin-bin on 15 minutes played, Bulls took full advantage by running in two tries through centre Bobby Beattie and winger Aaron Tait to take a 19-7 lead by the time their opponents had returned to full strength – and that’s how it stayed until the break.
Holden slotted a penalty for County early in the second half but Bulls bounced right back with Beattie and Joe Knight combining to send Cam Jones home for the bonus-point try.
However, County wouldn’t lie down and tries from Angus Fraser and Ratu Tagive made it a two-point game as the match entered its final 10 minutes. County piled on the pressure and eventually got their reward when Holden dropped into the pocket then hacked the ball over the Bulls bar.
In this weekend’s other Super6 sprint Series match, Boroughmuir Bears face Southern Knights at Meggetland this afternoon [kick-off 2pm] just eight days after the two sides met at the same venue pre-split.
Bears won that match so momentum is on their side against a Knights team who sit rock bottom of the table with just a solitary try bonus-point to show from five games played so far.
The host side will be looking to give inside-centre Robbie McCallum a happy send-off before he moves to London next week to start a new office job. The 21-year-old has spent the last three years in the Glasgow Warriors academy without managing any game-time, but he has been a stand-out performer for Bears in the last two Super6 campaigns.
Bears are giving two youngsters who played for the club’s under-18 team which won the National Youth Cup two months ago their first start at Super6 level, with flanker Liam McConnell and hooker Jerry Lafferty-Blyth being rewarded for recent strong performances off the bench.