SOME of the best women’s players in the country will take centre stage on Silver Saturday at BT Murrayfield. Over the course of seven hours or so at the national stadium in Edinburgh, three pieces of silverware will be battled for.
First up at noon, Greenock Wanderers will take on Cartha Claymores in the National Bowl final. In the Tennent’s West Regional League, Greenock finished in third spot while Cartha, the 2nd XV of Cartha Queens Park, were fourth.
When the two sides met in October, Greenock came out on top 69-7, but a closer match is expected this time around with Cartha having taken confidence from their 36-0 away win at Caithness in the semi-final of this competition last month.
Greenock also won on the road in the last four – 22-10 at Kirkcaldy – and their head coach Ally Hunter said: “When the club played in finals day the last time in 2019 we were on the back pitches, so the squad are very excited to get a chance to play on the main Murrayfield pitch.
“We have got a lot of new faces in the squad since the pandemic and it has been good to see the group coming together this year and they deserve this big day. We expect a physical battle from Cartha and we know we will have to play well to win.”
The Claymore’s have built up over the last couple of years because such great numbers were turning up to training at Dumbreck – and the 2nd XV have had a great 2021-22.
Head coach Steven McLoughlin said: “I took over the team at the end of December and the progression in the squad over the last five months or so has been brilliant to see.
“We have players of all different ages and experience levels from lots of different backgrounds, but they have come together as a unit and really produced some good rugby thanks, in part, to a great team spirit.
“It might be daunting for some players to be playing at Murrayfield, but if they can embrace that and concentrate on the game then we can certainly give Greenock a good match, it should be a great day.”
Next up at 2.30pm is the National Plate final between Ayr and Biggar. Ayr finished fifth in Tennent’s National League Division One this term and will be joined at that level by Biggar next season after they won the West Regional League and then the regional play-offs.
The Millbrae outfit won all of their Plate pool matches and then defeated Livingston 36-17 in the last four in April. “What is a very new team has made improvements all season,” Ayr head coach Stuart Fenwick said. “We lost a few games early on in the league mainly because we had so many players that were new to the game, but as the season has gone on we have learned and progressed and seen some real improvements.
“Everyone’s really looking forward to this game and have trained hard this week after a very tough semi-final – we can’t wait to get to Murrayfield.”
Biggar, who beat Dundee Valkyries 51-0 in the last four, are boosted by the availability of their Scotland cap Emma Orr. She played 13 for the national team during the recent Six Nations, but starts at 10 for the Hartree Mill club with her sister Alison in the back-row.
“Having Emma back is great, it is like she has never been away and that is testament to the close-knit nature of this group,” head coach John Bogle said. “The club has had a number of age-grade girls teams at Murrayfield over the years, but for a senior women’s team to have made it this far – with the squad being made up of a lot of locals – is a big achievement and we cannot wait for the match now.”
Season Appeal 2022
We hope you are enjoying our unrivalled coverage of Scottish Rugby. While mainstream media continues to reduce its interest in the rugby family in Scotland, The Offside Line does its very best to make sure all levels of the domestic game are reported.
Our commitment to the game and sharing its stories means that we do not have a paywall, so we would ask you (only if you can!) to support The Offside Line, either with a one off donation, or with a monthly contribution.
We have been keeping Scottish rugby in the news since 2016 and will have 3 million page views this year, making The Offside Line first for Scottish rugby.
To round off the day, Watsonians and Hillhead Jordanhill meet in a repeat of the 2019 Sarah Beaney Cup Final. Watsonians came out on top on that occasion while at the end of January they defeated Hills 67-0 at Myreside to win the Tennent’s Premiership final.
As a result, the Edinburgh side are going for a 2021-22 league and Cup double and their head coach Freddie Main said: “What has impressed me most about this group of players in recent months is the way they have stuck together, formed close bonds and always trained hard even when the fixtures have not been coming regularly.
“The leaders within the playing group set the standards and the younger and newer players have risen to that challenge and, as a result, the squad is in a good place.
“People might look at the score against Hills from January, but we know this is going to be a much tougher contest. They are a very well coached team with players who can hurt you all over the pitch while they also have their Scotland players back, so it is set-up to be a cracking final between two good teams.”
Hills have Scotland trio Louise McMillan, Mairi McDonald and Evie Wills available and they start for the Glasgow outfit.
“It’s been a mixed Cup run from us starting with a loss to Heriot’s at home which meant we have really had to scrap and be honest with each other as players and coaches since then,” said head coach Aird Jardine.
“However, I think this has worked as a positive for the team as we have become a lot closer. We have then, in turn, played some of the best rugby I have seen from the ladies in my time being their coach.
“I hope on the day that the squad are able to embrace it and really enjoy it. They have all put in a lot of effort and sacrifice in to get here, so I hope they all do themselves proud.”
Twin sisters Cait and Philippa Abernethy are set to be in direct opposition to one another in the front-row, and prior to kick-off there will be a minute of applause to mark the contribution internationalist Siobhan Cattigan – the Stirling County player who passed away aged 26 in November – made to rugby in Scotland. Players from Watsonians and Hills will also wear wristbands with her name on them during the game.
Yvonne Tunnicliff will take charge of the Bowl final, Allana McLean will be on the whistle for the Plate final and Mary Pringle will be in charge of the Sarah Beaney Cup final.
THE LOWDOWN –
GREENOCK WANDERERS V CARTHA CLAYMORES
VENUE: Murrayfield @ 12pm (National Bowl final)
Greenock Wanderers: K Purves; H Shankster, E Sweeney, C Haldane, N De Angelo; B Addison©, H Mutton; C Hemphill, A Thomson, E Gray, S Donaldson, C Nicholson, K Brown, R Spence, L Cadenhead. Subs: M Crumlish, C Woods, E Marner, K McWilliam, M Lyle, M Hutcheson, N Boffey.
Cartha Claymores: C Bell; V Halstvedt, R Shankland, E Hancock, S Cockburn; H Welshman, A Rigamonti; A Prasad, G Walker, E Gilmour, J Enright, S Donnelly, L Taylor©, K Gray, I Desoindre. Subs: A McNeill, G Stewart, A Tolfrey, A Waterson, E Sutherland, Z Johnston, G Camplisson.
KEY BATTLE: Hannah Mutton versus Alice Rigamonti
AYR V BIGGAR
VENUE: Murrayfield @ 2.30pm (National Plate final)
Ayr: G McIvor; A Wilson, H Young, R Gibson, E Struthers; C Shennan©, L McBride; L Turner, S Main, L McLauchlan, N Duffy, J Jones, M Murrie, E McSorley, L Downie. Subs: L Dick, J McDowall, L Croniken, K Grindrod, B Aitken, H McMillan, L Finnie.
Biggar: G Kimm; A Forsyth, E Knights, A Baillie©, E Inglis; E Orr, R Clarke; R Struthers, A Henderson, M MacIver, L Watson, A Russell, R Coffey, A Orr, V Kennet. Subs: C Ertze, M McCarry, J Bell, K Ritchie, B Boyd, V Haddow, F Conn.
KEY BATTLE: Catherine Shennan versus Emma Orr
WATSONIANS V HILLHEAD JORDANHILL
VENUE: Murrayfield @ 5pm (Sarah Beaney Cup final)
Watsonians: J Lyons; B Nelson, S Clements, B McEmsley, F McGhie; C Bain, R Law; A Tucker, K King, C Abernethy, N Brown, S Jones, F Walker, C Runcie, A King©. Subs: S Kearley, J Relph, R Sinclair, LL Wilkie, H Davisson, M Nelson, I Craigie.
Hillhead Jordanhill: A Moore; K Bennett, L Mills, E Wills, B Carberry; C McDonald, M McDonald; P Abernethy, S Kyalikunda, S Johnson, K Yeomans, J Ross, H Telling, L McMillan, D Lee©. Subs: H Lockhart, R Millar, S Beal, F Campbell, M-A Wales, P Saverton, E Barlow.
KEY BATTLE: Cait Abernethy versus Philippa Abernethy
The event is free, but anyone looking to attend is asked to register by Scottish Rugby beforehand via THIS LINK.