Stirling County 26 Gala 21
Stirling County won another crucial RBS Premiership match in a tense affair at Bridgehaugh, and in so doing ended Gala’s championship hopes.
County remain in eighth position, but are now only three points off third-place, and with three matches to play there is still much to play for with British and Irish Cup qualification and relegation places to be decided.
Stirling were looking to build on the previous week’s victory at Currie and welcomed back Byron McGuigan to the right wing while Colin Turnbull came in at scrum-half.
Early Gala pressure saw the visitors edge in front from a fourth-minute Lee Millar penalty but County replied shortly after through a Brian Archibald penalty.
The action flowed from end to end, and County went in front after a Jonny Hope field-kick was picked up by a Gala defender within his 22. His clearance kick was charged down by County left-winger Matt Lamb who chased the bouncing ball over the try line to touch down. Archibald missed the conversion.
County kept up the pressure and Ben Addison just failed to find the over-lapping Lamb who was in the clear, before Archibald landed a 40-metre penalty.
Lamb then scored a second try following a break from Craig Deacons in his own 22. He off-loaded to Turnbull who linked with Robbie Boswell, before sending Lamb clear. Archibald converted while Lamb was going off the field; the winger injuring himself in the process of scoring.
On 33 minutes, Deacons was yellow-carded for deliberately slowing the ball down, and Gala made full use of their man advantage, scoring two tries in quick succession before half-time, therough Andy McLean and Grant Sommerville. Miller added one conversion to make the half time score 18-15 to Stirling.
Miller then tied the scores with a penalty before Archibald was sin-binned for a high tackle.
Gala’s Bryce Turner was then yellow-carded but Archibald missed this and a further long-range penalty before goaling a 40-metre kick on 73 minutes, edging County back in front.
With three minutes remaining County secured victory with a Garry Mountford try.
Gala’s Millar scored a last-minute penalty but County held out for a deserved victory.
County’s Man of the Match, sponsored by John Graham Metals, was Robbie Boswell.
Stirling County: Hope, McGuigan, Addison, Archibald, Lamb, Edwards, Turnbull; McDonald, Moffat, Mountford, Leishman, Deacons, Clarke, Boswell, Swindall. Replacements: Hogg, Kennedy, Hutton, Robertson, Barsanti.
Gala: McLean, Somerville, Turner, Borthwick, Robertson, Millar, George Graham; Pettie, MacKintosh, Hogg, C. Weir, Palepoi, Keddie, Dods, Gary Graham. Replacements: Bertram, T. Weir, Murray, Owenson, Young.
Referee: J. Mathew.
County take a break from the RBS Premiership on Saturday when they travel to Millbrae to take on Ayr in the Scottish Cup quarter-final – kick-off 3pm.
Thanks to County’s main sponsor Ondeo Industrial Solutions and all others who continue to support the club.