Stirling County 12
GARY HEATLY @ Murrayfield
NIAMH MACGREGOR scored two tries as Biggar turned on the style to defeat Stirling County in the National Youth Girls Under-18 final. The eventual winners led this one at Murrayfield by seven points at the interval and the game was still in the mix, before 22 unanswered points in the second period secured the silverware.
It completed a Biggar double because their under-16s girls team won their own Cup final against the same opponents at Hive Stadium earlier in the day.
Biggar coach Donald Voas said: “This group of players are so talented, but they are also willing to put in the hard work and they turn up and train and train to get better. We know how good a side Stirling are and the first half was close, but it was important to have our noses in front at the break.
“After the interval, the girls backed their fitness, took things up a level and scored some great tries. The club could not be prouder of them and we look forward to seeing what their rugby futures hold. It’s exciting.”
Biggar got off to the perfect start, scoring a try after just six minutes when winger MacGregor picked up the ball around halfway and weaved her way past a couple of defenders on her way to the line.
County could have been shellshocked by that, but they quickly regrouped and in the ninth minute they scored an excellent try of their own. It was their full-back Emily Norval who glided in with stand-off Emily Forsyth converting to make it 7-5.
Six minutes later Norval’s team mates created space for her again and she neatly ran in her second try. This one was not converted leaving, Stirling 12-5 to the good.
County were then dealt a blow when skipper Gemma Thomson, the No 8, was forced off injured and Maddi Harrop came on.
A minute later Biggar back-row Emily Coubrough pumped her legs to go through a couple of defenders and score under the posts from short range. Stand-off Poppy Mellanby converted and it was tied at 12-12.
Just before the half hour mark, Biggar back-row Holly Wilson charged through and caused bother for County, but when the ball went wide it was lost – and so too was the opportunity.
Biggar were on the front foot as the first half edged towards the end of 35 minutes and it was playmaker Mellanby who scored their third try with a great run through the middle. The same player converted – clipping the bar and going over – to make it 19-12 at the break.
Straight after the break, Biggar scored their fourth try and it was all about MacGregor. A Stirling clearance kick bounced awkwardly near the winger on around the halfway line, but she turned and collected it, sped past the nearest defender, straightened up and then things opened up for her, so she ran in for her second try of the day, and although it was unconverted they were now 24-12 ahead and in the driving seat.
Mellanby looked like she had time on the ball whenever it was in her hands and a slaloming run nearly got her Biggar’s fifth try, but County defended well and they certainly were not for giving up.
Soon after Stirling showed the battling qualities that they have when winger Scarlett Haddow got away on the outside, but she was well marshalled as she tried to pop the ball off wider and it went into touch.
With 17 minutes to go, Coubrough hacked the ball on a couple of times to take her team into the County 22. A few phases later the ball was shipped left and replacement Fiona Laing’s neat tip on pass to fellow sub Tilda Henderson saw her score a five-pointer.
Wilson showed good strength to score a converted effort and Eve Walker, the second-row, scored an unconverted one, the team’s seventh try, at the death to put the icing on the cake for Biggar.
Mark Reid, the coach of Stirling County, said: “It was a tough game and Biggar played some very good rugby, but the girls gave it everything they had.
“We scored a couple of nice tries in the first half, but we lost a couple of players as the game went on unfortunately to knocks and Biggar’s strength in depth maybe told later on.
“The girls can hold their heads high and they have represented Stirling County brilliantly all season long to date.”
Meanwhile, Garioch won a trophy for the north-east when they defeated Dumfries Saints at Hive Stadium to be crowned National Youth girls under-18 Shield champions.
Skipper Megan Riach scored the opening try for Garioch and Saba Alexander converted.
Dumfries went in at the break 12-7 ahead though because captain Daisy McFegan and Kacee Knox scored tries with Amy Peacock converting one.
Jocelyn Norrie’s converted try early in the second half put Garioch up 14-12 and then Riach bagged her second score of the day and it was a seven point lead.
Louise Taperell’s converted effort then made it 19-19 until Riach’s hat-trick effort put the Inverurie side back in front 24-19.
McFegan’s second score tied things up once again as Dumfries kept fighting, but then Norrie completed her brace as Garioch were victorious 29-24.
Biggar: S Murray; I Kane, F Lejkowski, A Barrett, N MacGregor; P Mellanby, A Godfrey; E Logan, S Cullen, K Calikes, E Walker, L McCutcheon, H Wilson, E Coubrough, I Spence©. Subs: A Court, N Kimm, M MacGregor, T Henderson, F Laing, R Hynd, E Kane.
Stirling County: E Norval; S Haddow, H Howland, M Walker, O Izon; E Forsyth, J Black; R Blackhall, M Lidbetter, E Rae, D Morrison, M Gibbons, Z Pike, E Gibbons, G Thomson©. Subs: M Khan, M Harrop, 0 Porter, M Smith, L Woods, N Reid, R Guthrie-Dawber.
Referee: Beatriz Casares Fernandez.
Biggar: Tries: MacGregor 2, Coubrough, Mellanby, Henderson, Wilson, Walker; Con: Mellanby 3.
Stirling County: Tries: Norval 2. Con: Forsyth.
Scoring sequence (Biggar first): 5-0; 5-5; 5-7; 5-12; 10-12; 12-12; 17-12; 19-12 (h-t) 24-12; 29-12; 34-12; 36-12; 41-12.
Player-of-the-Match: For Stirling, full-back Emily Norval scored two excellent tries in the first half while Scarlett Haddow is a talented winger, but it was Biggar’s day and the award reflects that. Niamh MacGregor, the winning team’s winger, takes it for her two scores while honourable mentions go to back-row Holly Wilson and Emily Coubrough.
Talking point: Biggar’s girls programme is just growing and growing. This win followed up an under-16 Cup win a few hours earlier at Hive Stadium and girls rugby convenor Katie Mellanby and everyone else at Hartree Mill is clearly doing something right and have created a good environment and culture for young female players there.