Beaten Neath put up spirited fight
NEATH put up a spirited fight in their defeat in Scotland.
After a difficult week for the Gnoll side — coach Patrick Horgan looked set to move on before confirming he was staying in his role — Neath added greatly to this British & Irish Cup clash.
And they opened the scoring with a fourth-minute penalty from Johnny Davies after the hosts were penalised for not releasing in the tackle.
Stirling responded and an impressive 40-metre drive by the forwards led to a break from halfway by scrum-half Sean Kennedy, who exchanged passes with Matt Lamb for Kennedy to score the opening try.
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But Neath went in front when they charged down two kicks and were then awarded a penalty after County were caught offside. Davies kicked it to give his side a 6-5 advantage.
Just two minutes later, County registered their second try. And it had a familiar look about it, with their forwards mounting another catch and drive before releasing Kennedy, who again exchanged passes before running under the posts for his second score.
County continued to press and Archibald added two penalties on 25 and 35 minutes to increase the lead to 18-6.
Just before half-time, County were awarded a penalty five metres from the Neath line, and the forwards drove through four phases before Stevie Swindall dived through a pile of bodies to touch down.
On 45 minutes, County won a turnover on halfway and Kennedy raced clear before offloading to Danny Gilmour, who powered through three tackles to score the home side's bonus-point try.
County appeared to take their foot of the gas, and Neath scored a try on 53 minutes through scrum-half Chris Morgans in the left corner, converted by Johnny Davies.
Neath kept up the pressure, though the home side came close to scoring when Nathan just put a foot in touch when sprinting down the right.
Archibald kicked a penalty on 63 minutes to take the score to 33-13.
Tempers flared when County's Hutton and Neath's Nicky Downs were sin-binned. This seemed to inspire Neath and Kevin James broke clear to score a try in the corner converted by Elliot Jones, to reduce County's lead to 13 points.
Kennedy again carved through the defence before passing to Graham Lindsay, who squeezed over the line.
The visitors scored an unconverted try by Gareth King to cap an entertaining match.
Stirling County : Tries: S. Kennedy (2), Swindall, Gilmour, Lindsay. Cons: Archibald (3). Pens: Archibald (3).
Neath : Tries: Morgans, James, King. Cons: J Davies, E Jones. Pens: J Davies (2).