WATSONIANS and Stirling County will meet in the Premiership final on December 16th at Myreside after they both secured resounding bonus point wins on Saturday.
The Edinburgh side were already assured of a place in the final before they travelled across the capital to take on Heriot’s Blues, but the 84-12 victory guaranteed that they will finish top in the regular season standings and so have home advantage in the final.
Defending champions County needed to defeat Garioch to secure their place in the final with one regular season game still to go – and they did it in style with an 83-5 triumph at Bridgehaugh.
Watsonians now have 63 points from a possible 65 and 13 wins from 13 after the win away to Heriot’s. The home side, third in the table, gave as good as they got early on, but had Lisa Martin, their stand-off, sent-off in the first half and they were on the back foot after that.
Watsonians began to take advantage of the extra player, leading 38-12 at the interval and going on to add 46 unanswered points after the break.
Mary Nelson led the way with a hat-trick of tries while Briar McNamara scored twice and Sarah Donnelly, Sophie Anderson, Lucy Winter, Molly Poolman, Ami Conchie, Ailie Tucker, Jessica Elliott, Shannon Macey and captain Rachel Law also touched down. McNamara kicked five conversions and Susie Clements kicked two.
Alison Wilson and the aforementioned Martin scored the Heriot’s tries with the latter converting one.
Watsonians skipper Law, who had taken the match ball onto the field at the Hive Stadium alongside her vice-captain Ailie Tucker on Friday evening before the Edinburgh Rugby match, said: “It was a very pleasing performance from us against Heriot’s Blues.
“We had probably one of the strongest squads we’ve been able to field all season involved, so it was brilliant to see it come together and for us to put in such a good performance.
“We’ve been focusing hard on our defensive structures and ball retention over the past few weeks and it was something I thought we did well in this game.
“We are now looking forward to building into this coming weekend’s game against Corstorphine before turning our attention to the final.
“We have worked so hard this season, so it’s fantastic that we have secured a home final.
“The support we’ve received playing at Myreside this season has been outstanding, so when the final comes we will be looking to put in a performance that our supporters can be proud of.”
Meanwhile, Stirling County ran in 13 of their own to overpower bottom side Garioch. Ceitidh Ainsworth, Eilidh Fleming, Aicha Sutcliffe (3), Heather Davis, Chloe Brown, Kiera MacDonald (2), Ciorstaidh Ainsworth, Sky Phimister, Sophie Murphy and Emily Sweeney crossed for the hosts. Ceitidh Ainsworth kicked seven conversions and Rhea Work kicked two.
Josie Shaw scored the only try of the game for Garioch.
“We were delighted to get the five points that will take us to Watsonians for the final December 16th,” said County head coach Mark Ainsworth. “Credit to Garioch who never gave up and tested our resolve right to the final whistle.”
In the other game at the weekend, Hillhead Jordanhill defeated Stewartry 71-8 at Hughenden and sit fourth in the table. Beth Tobin was the star with four tries for the victors while Roma Fraser and captain Hannah Telling both crossed twice. Debbie Lee, Sonia Smolina and Frances Campbell were the other try scorers and Millie Warren converted eight of the tries.
Sophie Mann scored a try and Lisa Ritchie kicked a penalty for Stewartry, who are seventh in the table and facing a fight against bottom placed Garioch to avoid ending up in a a round-robin promotion-relegation play-off against the regional-table toppers in early 2024.
“It was a really pleasing all round performance which leads us nicely into the final game of the league season against Heriot’s,” said Hillhead Jordanhill head coach Stephen Gillies.
“We played our style of rugby from start to finish which made for an enjoyable match to watch in the Glasgow sun. Stewartry are always a challenge physically and this game was no different, so best of luck to them in the coming weeks.”
Victorious captain Telling added: “I was really pleased with how we played. Stewartry are a relentless team who bring real physicality, so it’s great to have put in a good team performance against them. We executed what we wanted to and that has put us in a great place to fight for third place in our final game.”
Corstorphine are fifth after a 28-0 walkover win over sixth placed Cartha Queens Park.