Celtic Challenge: Edinburgh fight back to beat Clovers as Glasgow lose to Brython Thunder

Capital club safely through to top-three play-offs but Warriors have lost all five of their games so far

23 unanswered second-half points clinched the win for Edinburgh over Clovers. Image: Peter Watt
23 unanswered second-half points clinched the win for Edinburgh over Clovers. Image: Peter Watt

EDINBURGH Rugby ran in 23 unanswered second-half points to come from behind to defeat the Clovers 35-21 and secure a place in the top three of the Celtic Challenge as the league splits.

The Irish side led 21-12 at half-time at Hive Stadium, but Edinburgh were dominant in the second 40 minutes and the  bonus-point win means they have won four from five to date and are still in the mix for the top spot come March 3.

Edinburgh head coach Claire Cruikshank said:  “We are delighted. We knew what we had to do to make sure of a top-three spot and to go out there in the second half and play like that was really pleasing.

“There was no panic at half-time when we were behind because we’d been playing against the wind and 14 of their points came when we were a player down.

“We knew if we imposed our game on them in the second half then we would create chances and I thought it was just an all-round good team performance.

“And I still feel we are growing and getting better as a group which leaves us in a good spot ahead of the second phase of the competition.”

Meanwhile, Roma Fraser scored two tries to really catch the eye, but Glasgow Warriors finished the first phase of the competition winless after a 22-12 loss in Colwyn Bay against Welsh outfit Brython Thunder.

They will be in the bottom half in the play-offs and head coach Chris Laidlaw said:  “We’re disappointed as a group to come away with nothing from the game.

“We felt like we’d done enough during that match to come away with more points on the scoreboard – we had 15 or 20 minutes of sustained pressure in the first half and we were then on top throughout the second half. Unfortunately, no more points allowed them to stay in front, but I felt we did well in keeping ourselves in the game and to get the try in the last 10 minutes and keep fighting was pleasing.

“We’ll have to dust ourselves down and review this game and then we’ll focus everything on the final rounds of the competition.

“We look forward to the challenge of upping the performance levels once again and targeting that first win.”

In the other round-five match, the Wolfhounds made it five wins from five as they defeat Gwalia Lightning 36-24 at Energia Park in Dublin.

It all means that Wolfhounds (24 points), Edinburgh (20 points) and Clovers (14 points) are now in the top half and fighting for the title in the second phase of the event while Gwalia (12 points), Thunder (6 points) and Glasgow (0 points) will battle it out in the bottom half.

The play-offs will be on February 17, February 24 and March 3 – in week one Edinburgh will be at Hive Stadium versus Wolfhounds with Glasgow at Scotstoun versus Thunder. In week two Glasgow will be away to Lightning and in week three Edinburgh will be on the road to Clovers.

Edinburgh Rugby 35

Clovers 21

Clovers took the lead in the 14th minute when a kick from stand-off Kate Flannery was not dealt with by the defence and winger Alana McInerney pounced to score. Flannery converted and it was 7-0.

Edinburgh scored their first try in the 20th minute. A good break by Emma Orr got her team close to the Clovers’ line and, after her centre partner Lisa Thomson had nearly scored, tight-head Molly Poolman went over. Full-back Nicole Marlow converted and it was 7-7.

Three minutes later Edinburgh winger Nicole Flynn was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle. With the player advantage, loosehead Niamh O’Dowd scored Clovers’ second converted try.

Winger Chisom Ugwueru then scored a try before Flynn returned and when full-back Méabh Deely converted it was 21-7.

As Flynn returned, Edinburgh got their second try through hooker Millie Whitehouse. It was unconverted.

It was 21-12 at half-time and the gap was six points by the 45th minute thanks to a Marlow penalty.

Edinburgh had their tails up and, just before the hour mark, Scotland cap Orr ran in a cracking unconverted try and it was a one-point game.

With 11 minutes to go Edinburgh scored their bonus point fourth try through captain Sarah Denholm and they were ahead for the first time. Sub Briar McNamara converted and it was 27-21.

McInerney was then somehow held up over the try line by Thomson and sub Jenny Maxwell and a McNamara penalty and a Thomson try sealed the 35-21 win.

Teams –

Edinburgh: N Marlow; N Flynn, E Orr, L Thomson, C Bell; S Denholm©, L Brebner-Holden; P Muzambe, M Whitehouse, M Poolman, A Ferrie, N Logan, M Gunderson, A Stewart, F Walker. Subs: A Ronald, P Fletcher, K Lindsay, F McIntosh, S Taganekurukuru, J Maxwell, B McNamara, H Walker.

Clovers: M Deely; C Ugwueru, A Corey, K Waldron, A McInerney; K Flannery, A Hughes; N O’Dowd, B Buttimer, R Ormond, S McCormack, D Wall©, J Clohessy, B Heylmann, S Touhey. Subs: A Fleming, G Burke, R Maher, C Bennett, E McCormack, M Wall, M O’Driscoll, A Lam.

Referee: Rob McDowell.

Scorers –

Edinburgh: Tries: Poolman, Whitehouse, Orr, Denholm, Thomson; Cons: Marlow, McNamara. Pens: Marlow, McNamara.

Clovers: Tries: McInerney, O’Dowd, Ugwueru; Cons: Flannery 2, Deely.

Scoring sequence (Edinburgh first): 0-5; 0-7; 5-7; 7-7; 7-12; 7-14; 7-19; 7-21; 12-21 (h-t) 15-21; 20-21; 25-21; 27-21, 30-21; 35-21.

Yellow card –

Edinburgh: Flynn (23 mins).


Brython Thunder 22

Glasgow Warriors 12

Brython Thunder took the lead after 21 minutes in Colwyn Bay when their skipper Alex Callender, the back-row, went over for an unconverted try.

11 minutes later the home side scored their second try, a well-worked quick tap eventually seeing winger Amy Williams going over in the corner for a five-pointer.

Visiting hooker Nikki Simpson then made a cracking try-saving tackle.

However, Glasgow were struggling to get going here and, in the 35th minute, another tap penalty caught them out and scrum-half Seren Singleton went over this time. Stand-off Mollie Wilkinson converted and it was 17-0.

Glasgow had to score next and they did with the try of the day. A pass went loose towards winger Roma Fraser five metres or so inside her own half, but she controlled it with her foot, picked it up and they glided past a couple of defenders.

Things opened up for her after that and she showed great pace to go in and score under the posts. Full-back Carla McDonald could not convert in tough conditions and it was 17-5 at the break.

In the 48th minute, Glasgow looked like they had scored their second try when Simpson’s short lineout to second-row Eve Thomson saw the latter catch the defence out and charge over the line.

It looked like the referee had given it, but then, perhaps after a nudge from the touch judge, she signalled the throw had been squint and ruled it out.

Glasgow were on the front foot now and four minutes later stand-off Ceitidh Ainsworth’s cross-field kick so nearly found Fraser, but the ball was just lost.

Just after the hour mark, a clearance kick from Thunder was not dealt with by Glasgow and home centre Ellie Tromans collected. She looked to be away up the left, but Ainsworth put in a great tackle to put her into touch.

With five minutes to go, Glasgow were given a lifeline when Fraser showed dancing feet to score her second try from some 30 metres out. Replacement Lucy MacRae converted and it was 17-12.

However, it was Thunder who had the final say, Callender’s second score giving them a four-try bonus point and denying Glasgow a losing one.

Teams –

Brython Thunder: L Smith; E Hing, E Tromans, M Webb, A Williams; M Wilkinson, S Singleton; C Thomas-Bradley, R Carr, K Carr, N John, C Munday, K Mackay, A Callender©, S Wakley. Subs: A Morgan, M Johns, C Harrison, M Summer, K Hudd, M Davies, S Picton-Powell, D Mugabe.

Glasgow Warriors: C McDonald; R Fraser, C McLaren, G Chicot, P Kellie; C Ainsworth, R Clarke©; A Tucker, N Simpson, C Brown, E Thomson, E Turner©, H Bogan, I Hannay, M Hyland. Subs: A Sutcliffe, D Lee, K Fraser, E Williamson, A Orr, L Winter, M McDonald, L MacRae.

Referee: Jenny Davies.

Scorers –

Brython Thunder: Tries: Callender 2, Williams, Singleton; Con: Wilkinson.

Glasgow Warriors: Tries: Fraser 2; Con: MacRae.

Scoring sequence (Brython Thunder first): 5-0; 10-0; 15-0; 17-0; 17-5 (h-t) 17-10; 17-12; 22-12.

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About Gary Heatly 439 Articles
Gary has loved rugby ever since he can remember and since 2004 he has covered the sport and others in a professional capacity for many publications and websites and runs his own company, GH Media.

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