Updated Sarah Beaney Cup preview: Hillhead Jordanhill v Watsonians venue moved

Stirling County also in contention with a game in hand

Hillhead Jordanhill and Watsonians met in the 2022 Sarah Beaney Cup final. Image: Graham Gaw
Hillhead Jordanhill and Watsonians met in the 2022 Sarah Beaney Cup final. Image: Graham Gaw

WE have reached the business end of the Sarah Beaney Cup group stage with just three sides still in the running to make the final which is on Silver Saturday on April 27th.

Hillhead Jordanhill (24 points from five games) currently lead the way. They are unbeaten so far in the competition and their final group match against Watsonians (21 points from five games) on Saturday will be crucial in the grand scheme of things.

Make it six wins from six and 2022 champions Hills will be guaranteed to make the final while a bonus point victory for 2023 winners Watsonians would see them through.

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The two teams have built up quite a rivalry in recent years. Two years ago Hills edged the final between them 10-5 while in the 2018 final they won 68-12. In the 2019 final, Watsonians came out on top 21-17.

There are lots of permutations that could still come into play whatever happens in Glasgow in the latest Hills-Watsonians meeting because third placed Stirling County (15 points) have two games to play and could yet make it to Murrayfield.

Their first job is to try and get a home bonus point win over sixth placed Garioch on Saturday before they can even think about their last pool stage game versus Heriot’s Blues on April 14th.

In the third match on Saturday, fifth placed Heriot’s host fourth placed Corstorphine.

How it stands –

The Lowdown –

Stirling County v Garioch

Venue: Bridgehaugh @ 1pm

Teams –

Stirling County: S Phimister; B Henderson, F Keys, ⁠Ciorstaidh Ainsworth, S Murdoch; Ceitidh Ainsworth, J Murdoch©; E Fleming, A Sutcliffe, C Brown, A Love, S Murphy, H Bogan, H Davis, S Taganekurukuru. Subs: A Luke, J Duncan, M MacDonald, K MacDonald, S Mitchell, P Aitken-Robinson, R More.

Garioch: T Fowlie; L Sneddon, S Ross©, S Pepper, L Milne; N Chalk, A Rose Love; J Shaw, M Stewart, L McDiarmid, J Silcocks, B Mullinor, H Small, M Hyland, N Simpson. Subs: K Jamieson, M Falls, K Grant, J Delgarno, L Davis.

Key clash: Hev Davis versus Megan Hyland

Team news –

Stirling County: Brogan Henderson, Eilidh Fleming and Hev Davis are added to the starting line-up from the last outing versus Corstorphine.

Garioch: They are boosted by the availability of Glasgow duo Megan Hyland and Nikki Simpson in the back-row, the latter having recently been in the Scotland camp covering hooker.

What the coaches say –

“We are looking forward to welcoming Garioch to Bridgehaugh. To maintain any hope of finishing in the top two we need to pick up maximum points from this game and hope bonus points are not collected by both Hills and Watsonians at Hughenden …” – Mark Ainsworth (Stirling County)

“It’s going to be tough, Stirling have selected a very strong team to we are under no illusions, but we are going out to end the season on a high and show our improvement …” – Dave Duguid (Garioch)

Verdict: Garioch had a good win last time out against Cartha, but Stirling need five points from this game and will also be keen to bump up their points difference.

Home win.



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Heriot’s Blues v Corstorphine Cougars

Venue: Goldenacre @ 2pm subject to a pitch inspection set for 10am

Teams –

Heriot’s Blues: H Riddoch; M Thomson, P Kellie©, G Chicot©, B Cameron; L Martin, A Evans; M Capaldi, T Jenkinson, M Dadie, C Syme, A Murray, A Savage, D Stamp, M Taylor. Subs: M Nellies, R Healy.

Corstorphine: K Honjigawa©; R Laurenson, L McGrotty, L Campbell, L Young; T Griffith, P Benson; E Donaldson©, K Fraser, K Lindsay, C Hadley, A Ferrie, A Anderson, M Welsh, M Gunderson. Subs: L Green, A Reteau, I Jamieson, L Sundqvist, A Casson, L Davidson.

Key clash: Pip Benson versus Amelia Evans

Team news –

Heriot’s Blues: A fairly settled starting XV. Bethan Cameron earns a wing spot with Megan Taylor, recently playing hooker, moving to No 8.

Corstorphine: Scotland wider squad member Merryn Gunderson is at No 8 while players like Aurore Reteau and Lua Sundqvist get a chance on the bench.

What the coaches say –

“We will be fielding an experience squad in our penultimate Cup game this weekend. All I am asking from the team is maximum effort and energy and that they enjoy the fixture and play to their full potential …” – Craig Robertson (Heriot’s Blues)

“We’re looking forward to finishing our Cup campaign against Heriot’s at Goldenacre … if the rain stops! We usually have a tight game against them and we’re expecting the same this weekend …” – Eric Jones (Corstorphine)

Verdict: Heriot’s will want to end their home season fixtures with a win, but Corstorphine will have been left frustrated by recent losses to Stirling and Hills that ended their final hopes and they may bounce back here.

Away win.



Hillhead Jordanhill v Watsonians

Venue: Burnbrae @ 2pm

Teams –

Hillhead Jordanhill: from C McGowan, D Lee, F Campbell, H Telling©, H Lockhart, H Stembridge, K Yeomans, LJ Crawford, P Abernethy, R Davidson, S Marra, S Petiet, B Tobin, B Carberry, C McDonald, E Barlow, H Dunnett, H McHugh, MA Wales, M Warren, R Fraser, S Smolina.

Watsonians: S Macey; B Nelson, A McKenzie, B McNamara, M Taoi; S Clements, M Nelson; A Tucker, L-A Lawrie, M Poolman, A Swan, L Buckingham, L Winter G Laverty, F Walker. Subs: C Abernethy, S Donnelly, C Hall, J Menday, S Anderson, A Hughes.

Key clash: Emma Barlow versus Briar McNamara

Team news –

Hillhead Jordanhill: Hester Stembridge, LJ Crawford and Suus Petiet are in the 22-strong squad.

Watsonians: They have not played since early March and are boosted by the return of Edinburgh players Molly Poolman, Freya Walker and Briar McNamara.

What the coaches say –

“We’ve had a really positive two weeks of training since our win over Cougars in preparation  for this game. We’ve got massive respect for Watsonians as a group and as a rugby playing team and, as always, we’re looking forward to the challenge. The last few months have been great in terms of the atmosphere within the squad and also in terms of learning and development. There can be no getting away from the potential reward from this game, but, in reality, it’s just another chance to show what we can do …” – Stephen Gillies (Hillhead Jordanhill)

“We are really looking forward to playing Hills at the weekend. We have had a good break to recharge and regroup as a team and now that all Celtic Challenge players are back in the mix we are looking to put in a strong performance come Saturday …” – Ailie Tucker (Watsonians, captain)

Verdict: This really is a tough one to call. With a 4G pitch booked as a back up to Hughenden, it looks set to go ahead and, like all matches between these sides, it’ll not be one for the faint hearted. Watsonians have some key players back, but Hills are at home and the cohesion they have built up of late may just get them over the line, but it’ll be tight.

Home win.

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About Gary Heatly 462 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.