BT Premiership Stirling County ................... 15 Hawick ............................. 22 Kevin Robertson reports from Bridgehaugh Stirling County’s form slump continues with this latest league defeat at home to Hawick.

It was their sixth successive league loss, leaving the Bridgehaugh team in a tussle to avoid relegation from the top-flight, with key matches against Currie, Edinburgh Accies and Glasgow Hawks to come.

The match started at a cracking pace, with Hawick making the early running and the visitors created two scoring opportunities in the opening minutes which they just failed to execute.

The visitors then missed a penalty kick at goal after the County defence were caught off-side.

County couldn’t get hold of the ball in the early exchanges, and Hawick went ahead when they quickly moved the ball from left to right with outside centre John Coutts eluding a despairing tackle attempt to squeeze in to score the opening try in the right corner, converted by Neil Renwick, giving the Borderers a seven-point lead after 13 minutes.

County responded and Hawick conceded a penalty for illegally slowing down the ball in their 22.

County kicked for the right corner and secured the penalty line-out only for the visitors to collapse the driving maul.

County kicked the resultant penalty to touch with the same outcome, resulting in Hawick scrum-half being yellow-carded. County again kicked the penalty to the corner, secured the line-out and drove over the visitors’ line with Ruaridh Leishman touching down for a try on 18 minutes. The conversion by Jonny Hope hit the upright, reducing the deficit to 5-7 in the visitor’s favour.

Hope was on target four minutes later, converting a 35-metre penalty-kick after County pushed Hawick off a scrum, to put the Bridgehaugh side into an 8–7 lead.

County couldn’t take further advantage of their numerical superiority and only succeeded in producing a catalogue of errors to gift Hawick a try when a careless pass back from the base of the ruck was sent over the head of waiting stand-off Fraser Lyle who had to hurriedly retreat and recover possession before the ball was hurriedly kicked straight back to the visitors, who quickly moved the ball wide for hooker Ross Graham to a try score in the right corner.

This restored the lead for the Borderers at 8-12 after 27 minutes. with the conversion missed and that’s the way it stayed at half time.

County looked a different side after the re-start and went ahead on 42 minutes with scrum-half Alex Black scoring a try at the foot of the posts, after the home side secured a penalty line-out on the left flank, before moving the ball in field. Hope kicked the conversion putting County back in front at 15-12.

Matt Smith and Cammy Hughes replaced injured duo Shaun McDonald and Matt Lamb, with Archie Russell moving to the right-wing.

Hawick drew level in the 48th minute with a successful 30-metre penalty kick from Renwick after County were penalised for collapsing a scrum.

County continued to give possession away to the visitors, who were gaining the upper-hand, and on 61 minutes from a penalty line-out catch on the left side within the home 22.

Hawick’s forwards mounted a series of attacking drives to the County line, before veteran Wullie Blacklock dived over to score in the corner.

Renwick converted the try from out wide, to put the visitors back in front with a 15 - 22 advantage, which they held for the remainder of the match.