STUART BATHGATE @ Murrayfield
THE league and cup double was secured in emphatic style by Hillhead/Jordanhill with a 12-try victory which was never in doubt after three scores in the opening 11 minutes set the tone for the match.
“It was a great result in the end, but fair play to Watsonians who made it hard for us all the way through and definitely had their spells during the game,” said victorious coach Morgan Martin. “But our girls were dominant overall and we’re really delighted with the performance and the score-line, to put the icing on the cake of our double this season.
“The girls just clicked straight away, moving the ball at pace and really efficient at the breakdown. I couldn’t have asked for any more at that point. We have a young team, but a l0t of the girls have played here before and that probably helped us settle into the game a little bit quicker than Watsonians.”
The big challenge now facing Hillhead/Jordanhill is finding enough games to really challenge the players and drive up standards.
“All the teams we are playing against are improving regularly, but we’re still getting a lot of scores like these. I’m sure our opponents will continue to work hard to provide more challenge, and we’re also looking outwith Scotland. In pre-season, for example, we are going down to Worcester to play a Tyrell Premier 15s team from down there, because we want to make sure we’re always challenging the girls.”
A quick start
Erinn Foley opened the scoring for Hills with a short-range try after six minutes, and that was quickly followed by a superb solo score from Abi Evans. The full-back did well to evade the first two would-be tacklers close to halfway, then once in clear space embarked on a long looping run to the far corner. With 11 minutes on the clock, Evans scored again after a powerful run by Hannah Smith, and it was already a question of how many Hills would win by.
Nicola Halfpenny missed the chance to get Watsonians off the mark with a penalty after quarter of an hour, and although the Edinburgh side began to put some pressure on Hills, they spilled too much ball in crucial positions. It was a brief, pointless period of territorial dominance by Watsonians, ended after 24 minutes when Emma Barlow broke away for Hills’ fourth try, to be followed almost immediately by Hannah Smith with the fifth. Sarah Smith converted her namesake’s try – her first success in five attempts.
When Evans completed her hat-trick, benefitting from another Hannah Smith break, there were 30 minutes on the clock and 32 points for Hills on the scoreboard. It remained that way at half-time, then three minutes into the second period Watsonians scored through Molly Wright after a couple of tap penalties had taken play deep into their opponents’ 22.
Hannah Smith soon stretched Hills’ lead again, however, with two tries which again benefited from very weak tackling by Watsonians. Sophie Anderson converted the latter, and with 25 minutes still to play the Glasgow side were within sight of their half-century at 44-5.
Wright got her own second after good approach work by Scotland hooker Lana Seldon, and Halfpenny converted to add a semblance of respectability to Watsonians’ tally. Evans then got her fourth after Watsonians failed to clear their lines properly, and, after a lengthy stoppage for an injury to Anderson, Hannah Smith scored in the right corner to finally take her side past the half-century.
With less than five minutes to go, Hill’s No 11 Lucy Mills got their 11th try, converted by substitute Amanda Moore. There was still time for captain Louise McMillan to get the 12th, with Moore again adding the two points to complete a comprehensive rout.
It was a tough afternoon for Watsonians, but head coach Dave Flynn is sure that his team will learn from the experience.
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“They are the top team in Scotland for a lot of good reasons and we saw that today. This is their fourth final in a row, it was our first and we seemed a little bit overawed to begin with, but once we settled down it was a lot better,” he said. “If we have to come here to lose to learn how to win one then that’s fine, and I think there is loads of stuff we’ll learn from today.
“We rallied quite well and that’s a big thing. There were some problems on the pitch, but we managed to sort them out – not all of them or we would have won the game – yet I’m proud of the guys and what they achieved. That’s exactly what you want: good problem-solvers on the pitch. Were they at the level needed to be? No. But is there the potential to get there? Absolutely.”
Hillhead/Jordanhill: Tries: E Foley, A Evans 4, E Barlow, H Smith 4, L Mills, L McMillan. Cons: S Smith, S Anderson, A Moore 2.
Watsonians: Tries: M Wright 2. Con Halfpenny.
Scoring sequence (Hillhead/Jordanhill first): 5-0; 10-0; 15-0; 20-0; 25-0; 27-0; 32-0 half-time ; 32-5; 37-5; 42-5; 44-5; 44-10; 44-12; 49-12; 54-12; 59-12; 61-12; 66-12; 68-12.