Sarah Beaney Cup preview: runners, riders and verdict

Stirling County and Watsonians reprise recent Premiership Final clash with home advantage switched to Bridgehaugh

Stirling County and Watsonians meet at Bridgehaugh. Image: Bryan Robertson
Stirling County and Watsonians meet at Bridgehaugh. Image: Bryan Robertson

STIRLING COUNTY and Watsonians meet in a repeat of the Premiership final on Saturday, this time in the Sarah Beaney Cup with two other pool stage matches also being played.

County came out on top in that last meeting and this time they also have home advantage. Furthermore, they are welcoming back  raft of key players who have been away on Celtic Challenge duty, which is a timely boost as they hunt their first win in the pool stage.

However, holders Watsonians are also welcoming back Celtic Challenge players and they have the momentum of having won all three of their matches in this competition to date.


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Elsewhere, Cartha Queens Park, who have lost three from three, host a Heriot’s Blues side who have won one and lost one to date.

And Garioch, who have lost two from two, are at home to last year’s finalists, Corstorphine Cougars, who have won one and lost one that they have played so far.

At the end of the pool stage, the top two will play in the final as part of Silver Saturday on April 27th at Murrayfield.

The Lowdown –

Cartha Queens Park v Heriot’s Blues

Venue: Dumbreck @ 1.15pm

Teams –

Cartha Queens Park: C Olsen; M Gribben, R Cobban, C Boan, G Steele; S Jessiman, K Brown; B Charlton, G Walker, C Baker-Hughes, J Enright, R Mathieson, K Gray, E Gilmour, S Djoh©. Subs: L Torrance, M Nieuwoudt, C Bell, I Desoindre, G Stewart, E Chaplin, A McIntosh.

Heriot’s Blues: H Riddoch; E Ashton, P Kellie©, G Chicot©, M McNee; L Martin, A Evans; R Healy, A Savage, M Dadie, C Syme, C Harrison, R Sodden, D Stamp, T Brough. Subs: P Furze, L Stewart, O Bell.

Key battle: Rosa Cobban versus Pearl Kellie

Team news –

Cartha Queens Park: It has been another tough selection this week. A few players miss out due to injuries picked up against Watsonians last time out and there are a few positional changes due to work commitments. On the plus side, Cecilie Olsen returns at full-back after missing the last game due to attending a wedding.

Heriot’s Blues: Giselle Chicot and Pearl Kellie return from Glasgow duty and will co-captain the side. Phoebe Furze and Olivia Bell are set for debuts off the bench. Alison Wilson is with Edinburgh while Millie Capaldi is heading to Wales too as a travelling reserve.

What the coaches say –

“The squad are very much looking forward to Saturday’s fixture and welcoming Heriot’s to Dumbreck. We have reviewed the last fixture in detail and implemented our ‘work0-ons’ in training. The coaching team are incredibly proud of the attitude of the squad and the environment they are creating …” – Ally Hunter (Cartha Queens Park)

“With nearly a month gone since our last Cup fixture the team are raring to get going again this weekend against Cartha. Tabbie Brough will lead the pack and with a well-established player base our expectations are high. We welcome three relatively new players to the squad: Phoebe Furze, who played as a youth in Hong Kong, Lucy Stewart, formally of Edinburgh University, and Olivia Bell, a former ESMS pupil who is looking forward to her first rugby match. As always, we are focused on the fixture and progression as a team …” – Craig Robertson (Heriot’s Blues)

Verdict: Heriot’s have not played since early February and that was a defeat to Watsonians. However, they won in their first game against Garioch and if their experienced 10-12-13 combination of Lisa Martin and the two co-captains can control things they may just have enough against an ever-improving Cartha side who will be buzzing to be at home.

Away win.

 

 

Garioch v Corstorphine

Venue: Kellands Park @ 2pm

Teams –

Garioch: E Dicks; K Grant, T Fowlie, S Ross©, L Sneddon; N Chalk, A Rose Love; J Shaw, M Stewart, L McDiarmid, J Silcocks, B Mullinor, A Perry, S Burnett, H Small. Subs: K Eades, K Jamieson, A Ross, E Leitch.

Corstorphine: K Honjigawa; K Weighill, L McGrotty, L Campbell, L Young; T Griffith, P Benson; L Green, K Fraser, E Donaldson©, E Harness, C Hadley, A Anderson, R Laurenson, S Aitken. Subs: E Sword, K Yorkston, H Heath, B Douglas, I Jamieson, A Beethan, L Davidson.

Key battle: Nikki Chalk versus Tanya Griffith

Team news –

Garioch: Struggling with injuries and availability, but still able to put out a strong team. Nikki Simpson and Megan Hyland are rested after the Celtic Challenge with Glasgow.

Corstorphine: Scotland call-up duo Merryn Gunderson and Alex Stewart are both still with Edinburgh, as are Adelle Ferrie, Katie Lindsay, Lucy Kidd, Zoe Turner and Hannah Ramsay, so it says something about the depth that the Cougars are still travelling with 22. Sarah Aitken debuts at No 8 with Karly Yorkston, Halle Heath and Lauren Davidson set to make first appearances off the bench.

What the coaches say –

“We are looking forward to a tough game, Cougars are always tough to play against, but we feel like we have improved since we last played …” – Dave Duguid (Garioch)

“Alana Beethan returns from long-term injury to come off the bench while Rheo Laurenson, usually a winger, is covering in the back-row …” – Eric Jones (Corstorphine)

Verdict: Garioch at home are never easy to get the better of, but their Glasgow duo still missing is a blow, and Cougars should have enough so long as their experienced players take things by the scruff of the neck with some newer faces involved.

Away win.

 

 

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Stirling County v Watsonians

Venue: Bridgehaugh @ 2pm

Teams –

Stirling County: S Phimister; R More, C McLaren, ⁠Ciorstaidh Ainsworth, F Keys; Ceitidh Ainsworth, J Murdoch©; P Aitken-Robinson, A Sutcliffe, C Brown, S Murdoch, S Murphy, K MacDonald, H Davis, R Cox. Subs: A Hopwood, A Luke, J Duncan, Z MacDonald, S Mitchell, B Henderson, E Middleditch.

Watsonians: R Law; S Macey, B Nelson, J Lyons, A Conchie; S Clements, M Nelson; A Tucker, L-A Lawrie, C Abernethy, A Swan, C Hall, L Buckingham, L Winter, S Anderson. Subs: TBC.

Key battle: Rachel Cox versus Sophie Anderson

Team news –

Stirling County: Chloe Brown, Ceitidh Ainsworth, Claudia McLaren and Sky Phimister were all in the Glasgow matchday 23 last week and return to start here. Sam Taganekurukuru is with Edinburgh.

Watsonians: Ailie Tucker, Lucy Winter and Sophie Anderson return from Glasgow duties to bolster the pack. Bryony Nelson, who previously earned one Scotland cap, comes in at centre. The bench will be confirmed nearer kick-off. Briar McNamara and Freya Walker are with Edinburgh.

What the coaches say –

“We are happy to welcome back many of the Celtic Challenge players which has lifted the atmosphere and quality at training. I was worried that they would take a while to settle back into our system as they have been playing a completely different style of rugby, however, they have slotted back in and hit the ground running. As always, we expect a tough encounter against a quality Watsonians team …” – Mark Ainsworth (Stirling County)

“There’s a lot of history between these two teams over the last few seasons, so we are ready for a real physical battle. Obviously, it wasn’t to be for us in the league final before Christmas, but we’ve had time together to right the wrongs and are looking forward to putting in a good performance …” – Rachel Law (Watsonians captain)

Verdict: County have home advantage and a batch of Celtic Challenge players back, but Watsonians have started this competition with 15 points from a possible 15 and have three key players returning from representative commitments themselves. A lot may depend on what bench strength Watsonians end up with and how quickly County’s returning faces re-integrate into their style of play.

A tight home win.


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About Gary Heatly 457 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.