WATSONIANS won the Tennent’s Premiership title on Sunday by defeating Hillhead/Jordanhill 36-26 in a superb final at Myreside.
The two sides were the best in the ten-game regular season and, having made it to this showpiece stage, it was always going to be a cracking encounter. And so it proved with both sides going at each other from the kick-off.
Watsonians, who had beaten Hills twice during the regular season, edged into a 17-12 lead at the interval and when they scored two more tries after the break to stretch that advantage to 29-12 the trophy looked like it would be theirs. However, this Hills side are made of stern stuff and are led by the likes of current Scotland back-row Louise McMillan, their captain, and ex-international front-rower Heather Lockhart. They came back into things at 29-26 thanks to two converted tries before a final score from Watsonians saw them home 36-26.
Watsonians’ try-scorers were Panashe Muzambe, Charlotte Runcie, Hannah Smith, Anna Forsyth, skipper Rachel Bragg and Emma Evans, while Nicola Nightingale kicked three conversions. Lockhart, fellow Scotland cap Sophie Anderson, Debbie Lee and Aimee Johnson scored the tries for Hills while Anderson kicked one conversion and Mairi McDonald two as they nearly battled back for a famous win. Scotland loosehead prop Muzambe was a stand-out performer for the victors, while centre Lucy Mills carried an attacking threat and defended very well for Hills.
“I am so proud of the team, because they really had to dig in to win this game against very good Hills side,” Watsonians head coach Freddie Main said. “They defended well at times against the wide game that we like to play and that meant that we had to change our tactics a bit and the team adapted to that well.
“Some indiscipline let Hills back into the game in the second half, but at that point the team really showed the character that they have and what they are all about. They didn’t panic, regrouped well and then put the seal on the win which was just amazing. There are some very good individual players in this group, but this was not a win built on individuals, but one built on a team spirit and a desire to help each other and get better collectively every time they take to the pitch.”
Captain Bragg said: “I am so proud to lead this bunch of girls, we really had to fight for this one, but we never took a backward step and did it for each other.”
Hills skipper McMillan said: “We knew coming into this game that Watsonians had played very well in the regular season and would take some beating, but we worked hard in training during the week and, out on the pitch, I really could not have asked for more from the team. The way we fought back showed the quality we have and we can definitely build from here. The pack also gave us everything they had while the backs found space against a good defence.”
Meanwhile, Ayr will be staying in the top flight for 2020 after they defeated Heriot’s in a play-off at Oriam 41-12. West of Scotland will be joining Heriot’s in Tennent’s National League Division One next season after they won a regional league play-off with Kelso 35-10.
All clubs now have a break ahead of the Sarah Beaney Cup and the other knock-out competitions which begin early next year while Scotland are preparing for the Six Nations.