Stirling County 22 Bedwas 32
Stirling County and Bedwas played out an entertaining nine-try British and Irish Cup encounter in East Lothian, after the freezing temperatures in the Forth Valley rendered Bridgehaugh unplayable.
On Saturday morning the match was switched to Dunbar and County travelled the 70 miles to Hallhill, the only pitch that was deemed 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.
County started well against the current Welsh Premiership League leaders and took the lead in 14 minutes when McGuigan took a pass from Stuart Edwards to score the opening try.
However, the lead didn’t last long as Bedwas responded well and grabbed a try of their own just three minutes later through Rory Budina to level the scores at 5-5.
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. But the visitors kicked a penalty through Ethan Davies to make it 10-8 at the break.
Ross Aitken charged down a clearance kick and 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.
But Bedwas came battling back again and hooker Elliot Dee went over, with Davies converting to reduce the leeway to two points.
County continued to put themselves under pressure by missing a clearance penalty kick to touch.
And the visitors went ahead when Sam Feehan scored in the corner on 62 minutes, giving Bedwas the lead for the first time in the match.
The Welsh side then scored a further two tries, the first from by Deri Mattravers on 72 minutes, which was converted by Davies, before Ross Wardle got on the scoresheet after 76 minutes, to secure a winning bonus point and take the score to 32-17.
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.
Despite the defeat, County will be encouraged by many aspects of their play.
But, not for the first time this season, a series of errors in the second half proved costly to the Stirling side.
County, who moved up to second spot in Pool 2, get an immediate opportunity to make amends when they visit South Wales on Saturday in the return match with Bedwas at the Bridge Field.
The game kicks off at 2.30pm.
Thanks to County’s British & Irish Cup match sponsors, United Auctions and Anderson Strathern, club sponsor Ondeo Industrial Solutions and all of the others who continue to support the club.
A huge thank you is also due to all of the County volunteers who worked tirelessly during the week preceding this match to try to get the Bridgehaugh pitch playable.
But despite their best endeavours the playing surface remained too hard in places.
Thanks also to Dunbar RFC for hosting the match at such short notice.