HOW did Hawks manage to lose this one? They had all the ball, all the territory, played most of the rugby and were 15-0 up thanks to the cultured boot of their new signing at stand-off, Ulsterman Michael Rainey, with 20 minutes to go.
It looked like that they might pay the penalty for lacking the killer instinct, and should have been further ahead, when up popped veteran County stalwart Murray Fraser with a solo tap-and-go penalty close to the Hawks line after Hawks had been slow to retire ten metres.
As if galvanized, Hawks replied immediately with a fine try by centre Tom Philip after prop Liam McIntyre and flanker Scott Hutton had ripped holes in the Stirling defence.
At 20-7 with ten minutes to go, that man Fraser clung on to a pass on the burst from Stirling’s makeshift fly-half Craig Sangster to go in under the posts. Suddenly there was only one score in it. But Hawks were still attacking when County’s left wing Rob Lewis fielded what looked a dangerous kick ahead and counter-attacked, eventually putting the opposite wing Stuart McAllister in right at the end of normal time.
This left it all down to Sangster’s kick, a state of affairs which had the Stirling fans and most of the team barely able to watch, such is his reputation with the boot. But from ten yards in from the touchline it sailed through the posts.
There was just time to restart and for Rainey to try a long- range drop goal, but it was all too late and Stirling had won a famous last-gasp victory.
As their coach Eddie Pollock put it, smiling broadly: "The result was never in doubt."
Scorers. Glasgow Hawks: Try: Philip. Pens: Rainey 5. Stirling County: Tries: Fraser 2, McAllister. Cons: Sangster 3.
Hawks: R Munday; J Adams, T Philip, I Leighton, S Gordon; M Rainey, C Little, L McIntyre, C Docherty E Murray, I Smith, R McKay, S Hutton, R Maxton, N McKenzie. Subs: S O’Donnell for Munday, 55 mins; J Malakoty for Murray, 55.
Stirling County: M Fraser; S McAllister, M McGrandles, S Hill, R Lewis; C Sangster, K O’Brien; C Read, A Moffat, G Blackburn, B McFarlane, A Kellock, C Deacons, R Wylie, A Hogg. Subs: D Frame for McGrandles, 60; M Browne for Read, 40; C McPhail for Deacons, 40.
Referee: D Changleng (Gala).