There was a curious, conflicted, reaction from Hawick head coach Nikki Walker after watching his side win a tricky away fixture at the end of a considerable road trip.
Walker should have been delighted with a result that keeps his side in the top four but he was critical of the manner in which his charges performed.
“We didn’t play particularly well,” he said. “We put ourselves under pressure, especially in the first quarter.
“But it maybe shows how far we’ve come that we’ve travelled here and not played well and still won. There were some good things but there was a lot of poor stuff too. Our attitude is good but the accuracy isn’t there.”
Walker’s assessment was fair enough, but his side deserve commendation for their defensive effort especially, weathering that first quarter onslaught with a highly disciplined show that denied County any penalties and ultimately led to Rory Hutton’s break for the first try, which Ali Weir converted.
Weir and Stirling winger Jonny Hope swapped penalties as the game fragmented in the cold afternoon, with the hosts particularly guilty of countless handling errors that made it impossible to impose any kind of pressure on Hawick.
Indeed, Hawick cemented the victory with a late touchdown by replacement Greg Cottrell. Weir missed with the extras but it didn’t matter because by then the game was over as a contest and the right team took the plaudits.
Stirling head coach David Adamson seemed at a loss to explain his team’s dismal display. “We were pretty lacklustre,” he admitted. “Not being able to score from the early pressure showed that we need to be more streetwise. You’ve got to take your chances and we didn’t.
“We let them come back and score two soft tries that I’m really disappointed about. We were poor in the lineout also and other teams will now target that part of our game.