CALEDONIAN rivals Dundee and Stirling County saved the best for last in a truly astonishing game of end-to-end rugby, yielding 12 tries and a spectacular climax as the home side contrived to throw away a 40-31 lead in the dying minutes.
Even County head coach Graeme Young expressed his dismay for a Dundee side who had looked certain to grab a safety line and avoid a relegation play-off.
“No side deserves to lose that way,” said Young, who had watched replacement Mark Bennett and then winger Byron McGuigan plunder the Mayfield line in the final five minutes to ensure County will be playing in the British and Irish Cup next season, leaving their opponents to contemplate a play-off game with Hawick later in the month.
Four tries in the opening 15 minutes set the tone for the afternoon as first County No 8 Adam Ashe raced in for a converted try before his opposite number, the excellent Richie McIver, barged over. The visitors pushed ahead after a fine break from centre Danny Gilmour, only for lock Andy Redmayne to pop up for the homesters. Stand-off Stuart Edwards converted both touchdowns for County.
Dundee hit back to make it 17-14 when McIver notched his second try, but only the third effort was converted by Jamie Urquhart.
Right on half-time Edwards made it 19-17, but failed to make the conversion.
Dundee appeared to be in easy street early in the second half, scoring through lock Richie Hawkins, and with Urquhart kicking the conversion while adding three penalties in the space of ten minutes. Hooker Alex Moffat kept County in touch with a solo effort.
Dundee High stand-off Jack Steele looked to have sealed the win with a converted try, but Stirling were not done, thundering home with two tries from Bennett and the dramatic winner in injury time from McGuigan.