2003/2004: Scottish Premiership One



B. Addison15A. Scott
S. McAllister14R. Watson
B. Archibald13N. Barrett
I. Jardine12E. Baillie
C. Harris11R. McClymont
I. Noble10J. Noonan
A. Robertson9S. O’Donnell
C. Reid1C. Hastie
A. Moffat2I. Nelson
M. Hunter3G. Blackburn
C. Deacons4I. Smith
D. McMillan5J. Eddie
R. Wyllie6E. Smith
C. Eadie7J. Fitzpatrick
S. Renwick8T. Carmichael
A. Neilson16C. Birchall
M. Browne17G. King
E. Briggs18L. Hazelton
M. McMillan19B. Edgar
Renwick (2), EadieTryBarrett, Nelson, Scott
Archibald (3)ConNoonan (3)
Archibald (5)PenNoonan
Mr G. Hannah (Kirkcaldy)


Advocates of summer rugby ought to have been in full cry at Bridgehaugh, but neither side took full advantage of the perfect playing conditions and the game hinged on a high error count.

Stirling’s young centre Brian Archibald was in superb kicking form, and his personal tally of 21 points, from five penalties and three conversions, was crucial.

County were jittery at the start and only three long-distance penalties by Archibald kept them in contention against a very lively GHA, who scored tries in the 22nd minute through last season’s Scotland under-18 hooker Ian Nelson and then after 29 minutes through their twinkle-toed full-back Andy Scott.

GHA were winning 14-9 on the half hour before the moment that their coach David Wilson felt turned the game on its head. From a line-out in their own 22, County stand-off James Noonan’s attempted punt to touch was charged down by the quicksilver Colin Eadie, who then won the chase for the loose ball.

That changed the mood of the game and after 36 minutes, deft sleight of hand by Jardine found Shawn Renwick thundering down the middle from 30 yards out and he swatted Andy Scott aside before touching down.

Renwick, later nominated as Stirling’s man of the match, then put County in easy street with a pick up and charge over the line from an attacking scrummage under the shadow of the GHA posts. Archibald kept up his perfect record with the conversion to give Stirling a 30-14 half-time lead.

The scoring blitz raised expectations among the home support for a bonus point win. But County under-performed in the second half, conceding a soft try to Nicky Barrett after 52 minutes.

A penalty by Noonan after 66 minutes brought the scoreline to 33-24 before Archibald popped over his eighth successful kick of the day. an Noble then flicked over a neat drop goal.

Stirling coach Ian McLean had wanted to attack GHA down the middle, using his international midfield duo of Zimbabwean Ian Noble and comeback Scotland veteran Ian Jardine alongside South African No.8 Shawn Renwick. “We didn’t follow our game plan and tried too many fancy moves that broke down. I’m happy that we’ve started with a win but the players are sitting in the dressing room feeling pretty disappointed with their performance.”

Visiting coach David Wilson was also disgruntled. “We’re not the finished article by a long way, it was three tries each but the match was lost because we gave away too many kickable penalties.

Source: The Scotsman, Monday 1st September 2003 & The Stirling Observer, Wednesday 3rd September 2003.

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