Glasgow Warriors 12
DAVID BARNES @ Hive Stadium
IT was bitterly cold, and that along with the magnitude of the occasion for two teams who’d had little preparation time together will have contributed to this being a jittery and disjointed affair at times – but none of the 2,000 hardy souls who braved the elements at the Hive Stadium were in any mood to allow the arctic conditions to detract from the magnitude of the occasion.
“I probably got a little bit emotional this morning,” said Edinburgh head coach Claire Cruikshank at the conclusion of this first ever women’s inter-city derby between representative sides aligned to Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors.
“I think it hit me that for 20 to 25 years I’ve been involved, and when I started playing for Scotland we had to pay for the honour, so to get to where we are now with a packed out stand and two teams supported by the professional men’s teams … it is kind of ‘dreams come true’. To be here for the first one is something I will remember for a very, very long time.
“Really pleased,” was Cruikshank’s assessment of her team’s overall performance. “The cold weather probably didn’t help with the handling skills for both teams, but I thought we played very well in the first half in terms of moving the ball and keeping control. In the second half we got a bit scrappy and let Glasgow back into it, but to ride it out – and not give any points away during that period where we were down a player due to the yellow card – was very pleasing for us.
“We’ve only had six sessions together so everyone is still adapting to how we want to play, with different team-mates and perhaps different styles to their clubs, so it is a work in progress and as we move through the competition I’d expect us to see combinations become more comfortable together,” she added.
“I think everyone played well and I was really impressed with Merryn Gunderson at No 8, while Fi McIntosh in the second-row has not played for a long time so it was good to get her back involved. The person I am really delighted for is Jenny Maxwell, who was coming back after almost two years out and looked pretty sharp for the 20 minutes we gave her, which was amazing.”
Edinburgh tool the lead after five minutes when a thundering carry in the middle park from Katie Lindsay got momentum going, before sharp incursions from Rachel Philipps and Nicole Marlow created the space for Cieron Bell to stride home, with Marlow sending the tricky conversion in off the far away post.
Edinburgh doubled their account on 12 minutes by capitalising on turnover ball from a loose Ceitidh Ainsworth pass, with Sarah Denholm‘s inch-perfect grubber sending Briar McNamara on an unchallenged canter to the line.
But it wasn’t all one-way traffic during this opening quarter, and when Warriors struck back through a close range rumble from Louise McMillan, it was little more than they deserved based on possession and territory.
Edinburgh got back on the front foot and extended their lead on the half hour mark when, after several phases on Glasgow’s line, loose-head prop Poppy Fletcher eventually muscled over, with Marlow again adding the extras, making it 21-5 at the break.
Edinburgh lost Bell in the sin-bin for a high-tackle on opposite number Sky Phimister early in the second half, but Glasgow struggled to make inroads during that period with an extra player, and it was only after the home side returned to full strength that Warriors struck again through an Ailie Tucker try – with the the introduction off the bench of half-back siblings Mairi and Carla McDonald along with powerful back-row Sophie Anderson having provided some fresh impetus.
However, that proved to be the high-water mark for the visitors, with Edinburgh striking back through a second try for the hard-running McNamara, and the capital side dominated the final 10 minutes, twice coming within a whisker of scoring again.
On the first occasion, a terrific last-gasp tackle from Anderson bundled Bell into touch as she dived for the corner and on the second occasion it took some brilliant defence from impressive teenager Lucy MacRae to prevent Rachel Philipps getting the ball down over the line.
“It was our first hit-out and we always knew it was going to be challenging around cohesion,” said Glasgow head coach Chris Laidlaw. “But we’re really proud of the attitude and general performance of the girls up to this point.
“I thought the forwards stuck in really well through the likes of Ailie Tucker, Nikki Simpson and Lucy Winter, and Sophie Anderson added a bit when she came on. We had young half-backs in Rhea Clarke and Ceitidh Ainsworth who have not played a huge amount of rugby together so they will get better as a pair.
“We’re really excited about the potential for growth in this group, and that’s the challenge for us as coaches and a player group – we want to accelerate this quickly to see where we can get to through this Celtic Challenge programme [which will involve four more games against Irish and Welsh opposition over the next five weeks].
“It’s a brand new programme, we’ve had four to six weeks together, and this is a really good reference point moving forward for the rest of the campaign,” Laidlaw added. “We started off with only one session per week for three weeks, then moved forward to two sessions per week, and were in for full days this week, so it’s not a huge amount of time but that’s the nature of the challenge. Everyone wants more time on task, but, ultimately, we’ve got what we’ve got, and we have to make the most of it.
“We’ll now get back together on Wednesday, and have Wednesday and Thursday together, before travelling down to Wales on Saturday to play [against Gwalia Lightning] on the Sunday. Then, out of the back of that, we’ll move to more of an evening programme of two night per week before game day.”
Edinburgh Rugby: N Marlow (H Chrisp 66); H Walker, R Phillips, B McNamara (H Ramsay 69), C Bell; S Denholm, J Maxwell (L Brebner-Holden 21); P Fletcher (P Muzambe 47), N Haynes (M Whitehouse 47), K Lindsay (M Poolman 47), F McIntosh, N Logan (A Ferrie, 71), G Bell (F Walker 60), A Stewart, M Gunderson.
Glasgow Warriors: I McGuire-Evans (P Kellie 5); S Phimister, C McLaren, L MacRae, R Fraser; C Ainsworth (C McDonald 49), R Clarke (M McDonald 49); A Tucker (K Craig 71), N Simpson (F Fraser 71), E Fleming (D Lee 66), E Turner (E Thomson 66), L McMillan, H Bogan, I Hannay (S Anderson 49), L Winter.
Referee: Hollie Davidson
Edinburgh: Tries: Bell, McNamara 2, Fletcher; Cons: Marlow 4.
Glasgow Warriors: Tries: McMillan, Tucker; Con: MacRae.
Scoring sequence (Edinburgh first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 14-5; 19-5; 21-5 (h-t) 21-10; 21-12; 26-12; 28-12.
Yellow cards –
Edinburgh: Bell (45 mins)