WATSONIANS have completed an unbeaten regular season campaign in the Premiership, but a late try from Katie Weighill on her league debut gave Corstorphine a deserved share of the spoils on Saturday.
The Myreside outfit went into their 14th match of 2023-24 off the back of 13 wins and looking to make it a full house ahead of the winner-takes-all final against Stirling County this coming weekend.
However, Corstorphine were up for the fight in the mud and rain in this Edinburgh derby and, indeed, the visitors had a conversion to win the game at the death via former Scotland cap Tanya Griffith, but the difficult kick was unsuccessful and things finished 22-22.
Julie Lyons, Karis Craig (2) and Minala Taoi, the latter on debut, scored the Watsonians tries here with Briar McNamara converting one.
Meanwhile, Lucy Kidd, Pip Benson, Kiyomi Honjigawa and Weighill were the Corstorphine try scorers and Honjigawa kicked the conversion.
Both sides took three points from the game meaning table-toppers Watsonians finish on 66 points from a possible 70 while Corstorphine leapfrogged Heriot’s Blues on points difference into fourth spot.
“It was a gruelling game in very tough and muddy conditions at Myreside,” said Watsonians tight-head Caitlin Abernethy. “It was really good to get an intense and competitive run out to set us up for the final that is coming up.
“With the draw we are still on course for an overall unbeaten league season and we are really looking forward to trying to extend the run in the final.”
Corstorphine head coach Eric Jones said: “Credit to the players from both sides in terrible conditions.
“I thought that we showed some good resilience to come back from 17-7 down at half-time and then again from 22-17 down in the last minute, but we were quite confident we could.
“We spoke at half-time about retaining the ball better and putting a bit more pressure on Watsonians kicking game which they had some success from in the first half.
“I thought our bench did well when they came on and Katie Weighill took her score well in the last play of the game to bring the scores level.
“We were hoping that we could work the ball into the middle of the pitch to make the kick easier, however, the opportunity opened up on the outside and the try was scored wider.
“Overall, the league season has been frustrating in a way as we’ve lost two games by a single point and two others by a converted try, so very small margins and we could have been challenging at the top of the table.
“However, this was a good way to finish the league and we’ll take momentum into 2024.”
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In Saturday’s other game, Garioch secured their first win of the season at the 13th attempt to get themselves off the bottom of the table at the expense of their opponents Stewartry.
The 29-15 bonus point win at Kellands Park against their nearest rivals in the standings gives Garioch a real chance of avoiding finishing bottom and, in this game, the whole squad played their part.
Josie Shaw, Jess Silcocks (2), Charlotte Burrows and Shae Pepper scored the Garioch tries and Alisha Ross converted two of them.
Caitlin Craik and Phaedra Snailham scored the Stewartry tries while Lisa Ritchie kicked a penalty and a conversion.
It all means that if Garioch, in seventh on nine points, can beat Cartha Queens Park in their final regular season match this coming weekend then they will guarantee safety.
If not then Stewartry, in eighth on five points, could still have a chance of getting off the bottom when they play Stirling County in January.
The team that finishes bottom of the table is set to play in a round-robin against the top teams from the Caledonia Midlands/East and the West regional leagues in early 2024 to see who will be in the Premiership for 2024-25.
After their win, a jubilant Garioch head coach Dave Duguid said: “I am really proud of the team. With 10 minutes to go we were drawing 15-15 and we managed to dig in and play sensible rugby after that to get over the line. Conditions were getting pretty bad at the end, but we dug in and ground out another two tries.
“To get the five points and make sure they didn’t get any bonus points was really good. It’s been a long time waiting for a win, so it feels good.”
Gordon Thomson, part of the Stewartry coaching team, said: “We travelled to the North East under no illusions that it would be a tough game against a team of similar ability.
“We expected to be put under pressure in the first 20 minutes and I thought we withstood the early pressure well.
“As in all games, we had our opportunities, but were unable to convert these into points.
“We came back into the game in the second half, but our penalty count was too high and at this level three yellow cards to none is going to take its toll.
“On reflection, we won our home game against Garioch and lost our away game, so we can’t be too disappointed with the overall result and we’ll keep on battling away.”