Hillhead Jordanhill 0
GARY HEATLY @ Myreside
PLAYER-OF-THE-MATCH Briar McNamara and speedy Fran McGhie led the way with try hat-tricks as Watsonians turned on the style to win the women’s Tennent’s Premiership final at a canter.
The two sides had met twice in the regular season and those encounters ended in a draw and a narrow win for ‘Sonians, but this game was much more one sided.
The Edinburgh outfit were 26-0 up after 24 minutes and never looked back, dominating possession and territory to retain the silverware they won when it was last played for back in 2019-20.
“I am very proud of the way the players played in this game,” said victorious head coach Freddie Main. “Over recent months the girls have worked ever so hard individually and as a group and, heading into Christmas, our performances started to get much better.
“We then played very well against Stirling County in the semi-final two weeks ago and topped that showing with this performance in the final.
“The girls knew that Hills would come at them physically and they had to be ready for that. The pack were excellent and really got the team on the front foot and gave the backs some good ball.
“When they got that ball the backs made smart decisions and Briar [McNamara] was excellent. She is a very clever rugby player and she dominated the midfield and also brought her team mates into the game.
“The girls deserve to enjoy this success for now and then we will regroup ahead of the Sarah Beaney Cup which looks like starting later in February.”
Hills, too, have had a good campaign, but they just could not get a foothold in this game. “Credit to Watsonians, they are a good side and they never let us settle in this match,” said beaten head coach Aird Jardine. “They scored a few early tries and it was always going to be tough for the girls to come back from that.
“There will be hurt in the dressing room after a result like this, but I don’t want the squad to be too down because they have been a credit to themselves and to the Hillhead Jordanhill club since rugby returned last summer.”
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Kiwi centre McNamara, who joined Watsonians last summer after a stint with Liberton, only returned to playing in October after a freak ACL injury, but her class shone through in this final played in front of a decent crowd. The 25-year-old ran in the first try under the posts – and then converted it – after nine minutes and that set the tone for the 80 minutes.
Winger McGhie showed her pace to score two minutes later with McNamara again adding the extras. Try number three came in the 17th minute when hooker Kaeli King powered over from short range and McNamara banged over an impressive conversion despite the strong cross-field wind.
When second-row Sarah Jones bagged Watsonians fourth try 16 minutes before half-time it was 26-0. The game was all but over as a contest and Hills were shellshocked. There was still time for McGhie to get her second try to make it 31-0 at the break.
Hills, with the experienced replacement Heather Lockhart leading from the front, tried to rally after the interval, but the hosts had their tails up.
Winger Bryony Nelson scored try number six after 48 minutes, then scrum-half Rachel Law, McNamara twice, centre Susie Clements and McGhie rounded things off with further five pointers. McNamara converted three of them for a personal haul on the day of 27 points.
Watsonians: S Macey; B Nelson, S Clements, B McNamara, F McGhie; C Bain, R Law; A Tucker, K King, S Donnelly, N Brown, S Jones, F Walker, L Wilkie, A King©. Subs: J Relph, S Kearley, H Davisson, M Nelson, J Lyons.
Hillhead Jordanhill: E Barlow; K Bennet, L Mills, H McHugh, P Saverton; C McDonald, M-A Wales; P Abernethy, S Kyalikunda, A Johnston, K Yeomans, T Armstrong, F Campbell, H Telling, D Lee©. Subs: H Lockhart, R Millar, S Beal, B Carberry, J Ross.
Referee: Calum Lazenby
Watsonians: Tries: McNamara 3, McGhie 3, K King, Jones, Nelson, Law, Clements; Cons: McNamara 6.
Hillhead Jordanhill: No scorers
Scoring sequence (Watsonians first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 19-0; 21-0; 26-0; 31-0 (h-t) 36-0; 41-0; 43-0; 48-0; 50-0; 55-0; 57-0; 62-0; 67-0.
Player-of-the-Match: A number of candidates for Watsonians with winger Fran McGhie and second-row Sarah Jones putting in strong shifts, but for three tries, six conversions and a haul of 27 points, it has to be their centre Briar McNamara.
Talking point: Scotland have a massive World Cup qualifier coming up on February 25th in Dubai and all eyes are on that, but for the decent sized crowd it was disappointing to see current international players not being able to play in this game for both sides.