Carnegie ran in three tries during their 27-22 win at Nottingham – including one for debutant Elijah Niko – although Stirling admitted afterwards it should have been a far more comfortable margin of victory.
“It was a hard-earned win, but it was nice to get points on the board and qualify for the next stage of the competition,” said Stirling, who also saw captain Pete Lucock and hooker Joe Buckle go over the line.
“We were way off the mark from where we want to be, but I suppose you can look at it from a positive which I will and the team will.
“That is that we left a lot of points out there and could have easily run in another 40 points.
“It is frustrating that we created so many chances and didn’t take them, but if we hadn’t have created anything then I’d be worried. When you’re creating things, but not finishing them, that is an easy thing to fix.”
Doncaster Knights were edged out 31-29 at Coventry, a late combeack seeing Clive Griffiths’s side fall agonisingly short, although they still earned themselves two points from their trip to the West Midlands.
A Colin Quigley try gave the Knigths an early lead which they regained before the break when Ollie Stedman’s effort cancelled out three penalties for the hosts for a 12-9 half-time lead.
But yellow cards helped cause most of the damage done Doncaster’s hopes when the hosts ran in four unanswered tries to establish a 31-15 lead.
The Knights roared back, however, replying with tries from Will Owen and Cameron Cowell.