There was less than a fag paper separating these sides before the start, so a close encounter always looked to be on the cards – and so it turned out.
But there was high drama as Watsonians staged a remarkable second-half fightback to steal a game that had looked beyond them.
Stirling dominated the first half, with the vast majority of territory and possession, and led deservedly at the break, thanks to touchdowns from Reyner Kennedy and Shaun MacDonald, both goalled by skipper Jonny Hope.
Watsonians’ rare forays into the County danger zone were rewarded with just the one penalty from Ali Harris, pictured, as their attack lacked penetration.
After the restart, Watsonians were much improved and pinned Stirling back for long periods but were punished for the inability to convert pressure into points, as County stretched their lead when Ewan MacGarvie finished a lightning break in fine style.
But then came that fightback as they finally breached the County line in 57 minutes when Gregor Nelson dived over, Harris converting, before Ross Graham did likewise four minutes later, Harris again on target. Jamie Hodgson and Michael Allen swiftly followed suit, Harris converting both as Watsonians surged into the lead.
Callum Hunter-Hill gave County hope with a score late, Hope adding the extras, but it was too little too late.