Rugby Union: Lion in wilderness

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Stirling County. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30

Watsonians. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

AFTER years of exposure to All Black philosophy it was inevitable something would rub off on Gavin Hastings. He has learned the value of pacing himself through a season from his four visits in seven years, while being fully aware that he will be judged on performances in an environment altogether more intense than the club scene.

A damp Bridgehaugh against a fired-up Stirling County side shaping up as surprise but genuine title contenders is not the natural habitat of an eminent Lion.

But there was an inescapable feeling that the big-occasion player had returned only out of obligation to a club anchored to the foot of the table. There had been much talk beforehand about how Hastings' presence might lift Watsonians. Patently they failed to lift him. 'I was disappointed that the team weren't more desperate,' he said.

'Of my own display, I was mainly pleased to find myself putting in a few decent tackles. It was mostly about adjusting to the pace of the game again. I envisage playing about seven games before the All Blacks international, that's about the right schedule.'

So Watsonians' loss will be Scotland's gain. The rustiness manifest in a spilled pass at the posts will soon be eradicated - perhaps by a spell of South African sunshine. Hastings leaves next weekend to play in a testimonial for Naas Botha, the Springboks' retiring stand-off. Now that is the natural habitat for a proud Lion.

Stirling County: Tries Harper, Brough, Logan; Penalties M Mackenzie 3; Conversions M Mackenzie 3. Watsonians: Penalties Hodge 2.

Stirling County: K Logan; A Turner, I Wright, R Kennedy, R Mailer; M Mackenzie, K Harper; J Gibson, K Mackenzie, B Robertson, S Hamilton (capt), M Norval, G Mackay, J Brough, B Ireland.

Watsonians: G Hastings; F Henderson, S Hastings, P Bell, J Kerr; D Hodge, S Johnston; G Luck, K Hay, R Macleod, D Gray, D Hathway, S Aitken, J Mathieson, J Macdonald (capt).

Referee: D Leslie (Hamilton).

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