It might be the fag end of the season but there was still plenty at stake in what County president John Wright anticipated as a “spicy encounter” in his match programme comments.
The home side were desperate not to be dragged into a relegation play-off while Heriot’s were equally keen for the points as they strive to ensure a top-four finish.
County kicked off in bright sunshine but it was Heriot’s who had the bulk of the early pressure and they showed their confidence in the ninth minute by eschewing an easy three points and opting to chip into the corner from a penalty though nothing came from the lineout move.
The inevitable was only delayed for two minutes, however, as Solomoni Junior Rasolea breached the home defence for a try that Tom Wilson, pictured, converted.
It took Stirling almost quarter of an hour to venture into Heriot’s territory but they made the most of the rare incursion to put points on the board courtesy of Jonny Hope’s boot, though Heriot’s restored their seven-point advantage when Wilson replied in similar fashion.
Surprisingly, it was County who, against the run of play, were next to score, when Logan Trotter sprinted in at the corner from the ten-metre line for an unconverted touchdown shortly before the interval.
But controversy raised its head seconds later when Heriot’s were awarded a penalty try after Stirling were adjudged to have interfered illegally with a five-metre scrum that was driving over the County line.
The home fans were upset but, in truth, it was a deserved 8-17 lead at the break for the visitors, who had dominated much of the opening period.
The men from Goldenacre resumed where they had left off and sustained pressure on the Stirling line allowed Wilson to scamper over for a score to which he added the extras.
Stirling showed their resilience by battling back when a drive by the forwards saw Mike MacDonald barrel over for a try, though Hope was awry with the conversion attempt.
The confrontations up front were attritional, especially for the Stirling eight, who saw replacement prop Craig Black sin-binned following a series of infringements in scrums on the home line, and then number eight Ruaridh Leishman was yellow carded minutes later.
The result of two forwards in the bin was even greater superiority for Heriot’s up front and they battered at County looking for the bonus-point try and it duly came at thedeath when Charlie Simpson ran in.
Results elsewhere make Stirling safe from the play-off prospect, though they would dearly like to defeat Melrose in their final fixture on March 11.