2006/2007: Scottish Premiership Two



D. Adamson15A. Rushforth
B. Addison14R. Watson
T. Ngu13I. Kennedy
S. Parlane12A. Bulloch
 S. McDonald11N. Cassie
B. Archibald10J. Noonan
G. Lyndsay9A. Boag
R. Balmer1J. Welsh
A. Moffat2D. Ziolo
M. Hunter3J. Evans
B. McFarlane4G. Williamson
P. Wilson5A. Williamson
C. Deacons6G. Harkness
T. Clarke7A. Rennick
 J. Mathieson8C. Forrester
G. Mountford16G. King
A. Boyd17D. McKay
A. Neilson18L. Hazelton
R. Aitken19M. Dunn
Adamson, Mathieson, PenaltyTryBulloch, Watson
ArchibaldConNoonan (2)
Mr L. Arola (Melrose)


Both were undefeated when GHA met Stirling County at Bridgehaugh in Premier 2 but a 20-17 win for GHA keeps them top of the table.

Whilst GHA are the most accomplished side faced by Stirling in the league so far, the Glasgow club had to survive a last-quarter pummelling to sneak away with a narrow victory. Even the referee and touch judges commented later that they thought Stirling were going to edge it. “Why did your No.8 pick up and charge so early”, asked one of them “If the ball had stayed in the scrum longer and GHA collapsed it, we were all set to award a penalty try.

It transpired afterwards that Justin Matheson decided to pick up and drive because the scrum was starting to skew round. In any event, the attack came to nothing with Stirling’s backs being penalised for “crossing” and the final whistle was blown. The match may have been won and lost in those fateful seconds but County should not have been in arrears at that stage.

Twice in the first half and once after the interval, County opted for a scrummage rather than kicking for goal. Although Brian Archibald had an uncharacteristic off day with the boot, missing four chances, he would surely have landed these opportunities.

Had the scoreboard been allowed to keep ticking over, Stirling would have been better placed to take advantage of their extra man when GHA’s Andy Rennick was rather harshly red carded for a second yellow card offence on the hour mark. The score at that point was 17-5 to GHA and Stirling’s total dominance of the scrum was exemplified when the Glasgow hooker was popped into the air. Unfortunately it’s illegal play, although, I don’t know what Stirling were meant to do to stop it happening apart from not shoving in the scrum in the first place.

In any event James Noonan punished County with a penalty to make it 20-6 with 15 minutes to go. From then until the end, County bombarded the GHA line. This forced GHA to concede a penalty try, converted by Archibald. Then David Adamson collected a ball on halfway and kicked it up the touchline and won the race for the touchdown. Archibald missed the long-distance conversion so it was 17-20 with four minutes to go. The rest is history.

Stirling’s defence has been magnificent in the opening two games but ex-international centre Alan Bulloch exploited a huge gap through the middle to score the game’s opening try on 17 minutes. The visiting back division looked slick and very dangerous while Stirling were again ponderous, apparently finding it impossible to create space for their dangerous wingers, Ben Addison and Steve McDonald.

Stirling’s main scoring threat was coming from the pack, more from perspiration that inspiration, and so it proved after 24 minutes when Justin Matheson reduced the arrears to 7-5 with a try after some good driving rugby.

The first half ended in some disarray for Stirling with Sam Parlane being yellow carded, GHA scoring a further try and then Ben Addison also being shown yellow just before the break. That meant Stirling restarted the second half with just 13 players and, to make matters worse, the County line-out started to go awry. It was scrappy stuff from then on and Stirling only began to put together periods of good possession after Rennick’s sending off.

The referee at the centre of these controversies was Luis Arola. Born in Canada, he was brought up in Argentina before returning to Canada. Four years ago he came to Scotland as an exchange referee. He is now living in Galashiels although he is registered as a referee through Melrose and the Borders Referee Society. He said he enjoyed Saturday’s match, adding that he thought he had a good relationship with the players during the game. Had he been more sympathetic with the players, a quiet word here and there may have stopped the need for flourishing all those yellow cards.

Source: The Scotsman, Sunday 10th September 2006 & The Stirling Observer, Wednesday 13th September 2006.

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