Ladies take many positives from a great game of rugby
Hillhead Jordanhill 40
Watsonians Ladies 39
By Dave Flynn
Sunday’s top of the table clash was definitely one for the neutral and very much a tale of two halves as Watsonians Ladies travelled west to take on Hillhead Jordanhill at Hughenden. Despite the warnings about Storm Callum, and the resultant necessity for a pitch inspection in the morning, Glasgow presented a warm sunny day and whilst it was damp underfoot the conditions were glorious for expansive rugby.
As expected, things kicked off at a ferocious pace with some big collisions, and the game taking place mostly in Hills’ half. Good breakdown pressure from Watsonians resulted in Captain Nicola Halfpenny slotting the first points of the day with a penalty after 6 minutes. The same pattern played out over the next few minutes before a lapse in defensive shape by Watsonians saw a line break for the Hills 12 to score the first of her 3 tries on the day before she was carried off with a dislocated elbow (best of luck to her with her recovery).
Hills are the current champions and showed their prowess with some clinical finishing in the first 30 minutes though line breaks aside, Watsonians were more than holding their own. They continued to keep things positive despite being 33-3 down at one point in the first half. With that sort of scoreline after 30 minutes most teams would feel dead and buried, though Watsonians were made aware that they still had a chance in the game if they scored next. That first score was to arrive just before half time from Charlotte Runcie- a series of pick and go’s by the forwards in the middle was moved right for her to score in the corner with 2 to play.
As the teams switched ends at 33-10 so had the momentum, as the second half began with a period of Watsonians dominance- It took around 8 minutes to break the deadlock with a try by Charlotte again, though the signs were there that Hills were beginning to creak as their scrum dominance was faltering and Watsonians were gaining more territory. A number of injury breaks were stunting momentum for the away side though each time play resumed, Watsonians kept their focus and drive to score.
Following the next score, and Charlotte's second of the day, we were punished again for a lapse in defensive concentration with Hills’ final points of the day to make it 40-17 with 23 to go. Emma Evans and Bryony Nelson were next to score before Rachel Bragg got the forwards in on the act of scoring with a pick and go following strong carries from Alice King and player of the match Molly Wright. At 40-34 with 8 to go, all the play was in Hills’ half and again the pattern of Watsonians dominance between injury stoppages remained as the game wore on.
A further period of sustained pressure resulted in Bryony Nelson scoring her second on the day following a shift in to the centre from wing. The conversion was agonisingly short though and, with two minutes to play, the ladies were confident that if they retained the ball they were capable of scoring again. A penalty was awarded from the restart and unfortunately a kick for territory failed to find touch- Hills managed to hold on to the ball until Full time.
This match was a great spectacle of rugby with some flowing movement and tries scored and a positive advertisement for the women’s game in Scotland. Hugely entertaining for the neutral and a sore one for the Watsonians players in the result but following their second half performance it felt far from a loss. The ladies went to the well time and again in this match and weren’t found wanting against a home side who showed effective game management to grind out a win. The Watsonians players produced great levels of intensity and physicality and an ability to adapt throughout the game which they’ve lacked at times in the past and would happily have played on for a lot longer. They will take great belief in themselves from today’s performance on to the top 4 league split. The next ladies’ fixture will be on Sunday 28th October (Location and Opposition TBC).
Player of the Match: Molly Wright
Matchday Squad (all used): Molly Wright, Lana Skeldon, Libby McCue, Rachel Bragg, Sarah Jones, Ailie Tucker, Emily Armstrong, Alice King, Emma Jones, Nicola Nightingale, Emma Evans, Abbie Baillie, Charlotte Runcie, Bryony Nelson, Isla Craigie, Christina Evans, Emily Cotterill, Freya Gannon-Burns, Celine Thery, Chloe McCue.
Click HERE for the full album from Saturday's match.
With thanks to WFC Official Photographer, Graham Gaw.