Premiership Final: Watsonians and Stirling County collide in winner-takes-all clash

Garioch have a chance to secure top flight safety if they can get the better of Cartha Queens Park

Watsonians and Stirling County face-off in the Women's Premiership Play-Off Final at Myreside tomorrow. Image: Pater Watt
Watsonians and Stirling County face-off in the Women's Premiership Play-Off Final at Myreside tomorrow. Image: Pater Watt

THE WOMEN’S PREMIERSHIP FINAL between Watsonians and Stirling County, on the stand pitch at Myreside on Saturday afternoon, is shaping up to be a cracker.

Watsonians have home advantage having finished top of the Premiership table at the end of the regular season with 13 wins and one draw, the only non-victory coming last Saturday against Corstorphine who scored late on to grab a 22-22 tie.

Meanwhile, County have not played since late November due to the cold snap, but they have won 11 and lost two of the 13 games they have played to date and ran in 83 points against Garioch in their last outing.

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When the sides met back in October over the road on Myreside’s M1 pitch, Watsonians won 39-21 and it was an entertaining match between two attack-minded teams.

Another of those types of games can be expected here between last year’s Sarah Beaney Cup winners and the 2021-22 league champions in the shape of Watsonians and the reigning league champions in the shape of Stirling County.

And, as well as aiming to lift silverware, players on both sides will also be looking to put their hands up for Celtic Challenge selection with either Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors in the coming weeks and months.

Players to keep an eye out for are Rachel Philipps, Ailie Tucker and Freya Walker for Watsonians and Ciorstaidh Ainsworth, Aicha Sutcliffe and Holland Bogan for County, but there are potential matchwinners throughout both squads.


The Women’s Premiership final Lowdown –

Watsonians v Stirling County

Venue: Myreside @ 3pm

Teams –

Watsonians: S Macey; M Taoi, R Philipps, B McNamara, A Conchie; S Clements, R Law©; A Tucker, M Poolman, C Abernethy, S Anderson, K King, L Winter, G Laverty, F Walker. Subs: L-A Lawrie, A Swan, S Donnelly, L Buckingham, M Nelson, J Elliott, J Lyons.

Stirling County: Stirling County: S Phimister; F Keys, C McLaren, Ciorstaidh Ainsworth, S Murdoch; Ceitidh Ainsworth, J Murdoch©; A Luke, A Sutcliffe, C Brown, H Bogan, S Murphy, S Taganekurukuru, H Davis, R Cox. Subs: K MacDonald, P Aitken-Robinson, E Fleming, E Graham, E Quigley, J Fletcher, R Moore.

Referee: Chelsea Gillespie

Key battle: Lucy Winter versus Sam Taganekurukuru

Team news –

Watsonians: Karis Craig is unavailable after picking up an injury last week, so Molly Poolman moves to hooker. Captain Rachel Law, Rachel Philipps, Sophie Anderson, Lucy Winter, Grace Laverty and Mary Nelson all return to the squad after missing the Corstorphine game.

Stirling County: Having not played since November 25th, the players have been able to rest up and there are no injuries, so a strong 22.

What the coaches say –

“Selection was incredibly difficult this week with 28 players to choose from. We’re excited to play a Premiership final on the main pitch at Myreside and expect a great contest against a Stirling side with pace and power throughout the team …” – Bruce Millar (Watsonians)

“We are looking forward to the contest and hope that we can put in a performance worthy of a final …” – Mark Ainsworth (Stirling County)

Verdict: This should be a very entertaining match with, apart from Karis Craig’s absence for Watsonians, both squads pretty much at full strength. Watsonians will start as favourites given their unbeaten season, but it is a ‘free hit’ for County and they know how to peak in finals as they showed last season. If players like Lucy Winter, Rachel Law and Briar McNamara step up for Watsonians they may just have too much.

Home win.


There is also an important league match between Garioch and Cartha Queens Park taking place on Saturday.
If Garioch can back up last week’s win over Stewartry then the Inverurie side will be safe in the top flight for 2024-25, but if they lose then they will have to wait until January 13th when Stewartry play away at Stirling County to find out where they finish. Cartha are sixth and will finish there no matter what happens.

Garioch v Cartha Queens Park

Venue: Kellands Park @ 2pm

Teams –

Garioch: L Davis; E Dicks, C Burrows, S Ross©, L Milne; N Chalk, A Rose Love; J Shaw, J Silcocks, L McDiarmid, E Williamson, H Small, S Burnett, M Hyland, N Simpson. Subs: M Stewart, K Jamieson, K Eades, A Ross, L Keay, L Sneddon, I Jack.

Cartha Queens Park: I Whyte; B Feletar Grimes, J McAslan, E Sutherland, A Milne; C Bell, S Jessiman; R Cobban, S Djoh©, C Baker-Hughes, A McIntosh, E Gilmour, E Chaplin, G Walker, C Boan. Subs: TBC.

Key battle: Megan Hyland versus Gilbert Walker

Team news –

Garioch: Shae Pepper is unavailable, so captain Sammy Ross moves to 12 with Laura Milne taking a wing spot. Up front, Ellie Williamson starts in the second-row.

Cartha Queens Park: In their first outing since November 18th, as many players as possible have made themselves available, but they will be travelling light.

What the coaches says –

“After the important win over Stewartry, we have a really settled team again this week. We are looking forward to the game, we know we are capable of getting a result and securing the points to guarantee our Premiership survival …” – Dave Duguid (Garioch)

“After the disappointment of the late call-off last time we were supposed to face Garioch, the team is looking forward to the last league match of the season. The encounter between the teams was close at Dumbreck with Cartha QP taking the win and we’re looking to repeat that this weekend and so end the league on a positive note before the Cup run next year …” – Ally Hunter (Cartha Queens Park)

Verdict: The win over Stewartry and a settled starting XV will give Garioch confidence going into this one. Cartha beat them by two points earlier in the season, but home advantage and a desire to stay up may get Garioch over the line.

Home win.


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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.