Thistles lose narrowly to Welsh Development XV in inaugural Celtic Challenge match

Francesca McGhie scores two of home team's five tries

Thistles hooker Aila Ronald carries the ball against the Welsh Development XV. Photo: Scottish Rugby / Ross MacDonald / SNS Group
Thistles hooker Aila Ronald carries the ball against the Welsh Development XV. Photo: Scottish Rugby / Ross MacDonald / SNS Group

The Thistles 27

WRU Development XV 29

THE THISTLE’S suffered a narrow defeat to a WRU Development XV in the first ever Celtic Challenge fixture, played at Scotstoun Stadium this [Sunday] afternoon. The new competition has been set-up to provide domestic club players in Scotland, Wales and Ireland a representative stepping stone into the international game.

The hosts dominated possession and territory early on, with their scrum on top, but they failed to capitalise and ended up falling behind to an unconverted Rosie Carr try.

Claire Cruikshank‘s side bounced back to take the lead through two unconverted tries scored by Roma Fraser and Holly McIntyre, but a second Welsh try from Gwennan Hopkins made it 10-10 at the break

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Welsh captain Abbie Fleming bustled over and Lauren Smyth added the extras early in the second half, before the Thistles countered once again with a Francesca McGhie try, however there was no conversion so the visitors stayed just ahead.

Rachel Philipps came close to scoring the home team’s’ fourth try before being bundled into touch just short of the line, but there was no stopping Panashe Muzambe when she got within range, and this time Meryl Smith added the two-point supplement.,

The lead swung towards the visitors when Kat Evans crossed the whitewash, with Chelsea Jones converting, then back towards the hosts when McGhie grabbed her second, before the decisive score from Ffion Owens sealed an away victory.

“We’ve had a short time together so we are really buoyed by the work the players have put in and the effort shown today,” said The Thistles head coach Cruikshank.

“It’s exciting to think about the progression of this group and thinking about where we can go. The scoreline wasn’t what we wanted but it’s about the long-term development of these players so from our point of view there is plenty of positives to take and plenty of areas to work on and improve.

“It was an exciting game to watch, end-to-end rugby and lots of tries so there is a lot to look forward to over the course of the tournament.”

The Thistles are back in action against Ireland’s Combined Provinces XV at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast on Saturday 4th February.


Teams – 

The Thistles: Roma Fraser (Cartha Queens Park); Holly McIntyre (University of Edinburgh), Emma Orr (Biggar), Meryl Smith CAPTAIN (University of Edinburgh), Francesca McGhie (Watsonians); Sarah Denholm (University of Edinburgh), Mairi McDonald (Exeter Chiefs); Panashe Muzambe (Exeter Chiefs), Aila Ronald (University of Edinburgh), Elliann Clarke (University of Edinburgh), Erinn Foley (Hillhead Jordanhill), Natasha Logan (University of Edinburgh), Eva Donaldson (University of Edinburgh), Jess Fyfe (Cartha Queens Park), Freya Walker (Watsonians). Replacements: Nikki Simpson (Garioch), Lindsay McDiarmid (Garioch), Molly Poolman (Watsonians), Charlotte Boan (Cartha Queens Park),  Emma Turner (Corstorphine Cougars), Rhea Clarke (University of Edinburgh), Carla McDonald (Hillhead Jordanhill), Rachel Philipps (University of Edinburgh).

Welsh Development XV: Leanne Burnell (Pontyclun Falcons); Amelia Tutt (Loughborough Lightning), Catherine Richards (Cardiff Met), Jenna De Vera (Scarlets U18s/ Burry Port), Anwen Owen (Nelson Belles / Bristol Bears); Lauren Smyth (Bristol Bears), Niamh Tinman (Pontyclun Falcons/ Cardiff Met); Rosie Carr (Pontyclun Falcons/ Cardiff Met), Kat Evans (Saracens), Danielle Dinapoli (Cheltenham Tigers), Charlie Mundy (Pontyclun Falcons), Abbie Fleming (capt, Exeter Chiefs), Gwennan Hopkins (Hartpury College), Katie Hopkins (Pontyclun Falcons), Mel Gnojek (Seven Sisters). Replacements: Tara Finnegan (Pontyclun Falcons), Dali Hopkins (Ospreys U18s/ Greyhounds), Abbey Constable (Gloucester Hartpury / Cheltenham Tigers), Ffion Owen (Pontyclun Falcons / Cardiff Met), Kira Philpott (Llandaff North), Seren Singleton (Cardiff Met), Chelsea Jones (Nelson Belles), Danai Mugabe (Cardiff Met)

Referee: Jonny Perriam


Scorers – 

The Thistles: Tries: Fraser, McIntyre, McGhie 2, Muzambe; Con: Smith.

Welsh Development XV: Tries: Carr, Hopkins, Fleming, Evans, Owens; Con: Smyth, Jones.

Scoring sequence (The Thistles first): 0-5; 5-5; 10-5; 10-10 (h-t) 10-15; 10-17; 15-17; 20-17; 22-17; 22-22; 22-24; 27-24; 27-29.

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