Stewartry Sirens 24
Glasgow University 19
DAVID BARNES @ Murrayfield
A LATE try from scrum-half Clare Manson clinched a nail-biting win for Stewartry Sirens over a plucky Glasgow University side, who showed great battling spirit in a match where they were outgunned in terms of both bulk and experience.
Stewartry finished fifth in the Premier League this year, while Glasgow Uni finished in the same position in the league below, but any gap in pedigree was minimal in this contest.
“They turned up and played some really good rugby, and defended really well, so we had to battle for the full 80-minutes,” acknowledged Stewartry head coach David Thomson. “We showed a lot of heart, especially in the way we defended.
Stewartry captain Jenny Yates praised the resilience of her team. “That was frantic, we played really good rugby but we made it hard for ourselves,” she said. “Our determination was the difference. We never gave up, even in the last 10 minutes. We’ll be stopping at every pub on the way home that’s for sure.
As well as snatching that decisive try at the end, Manson also scored the game’s opening try, with stand-off Lisa Ritchie adding the conversion. Glasgow Uni struck back through Ciara Keenan, before an excellent break from Phaedra Snailham gave Stewartry a 12-5 lead at the break.
The second half was deadlocked for 20 minutes, until an excellent break and try by Glasgow Uni centre Shona Jessiman followed by a conversion from Dana Silerova tied the match.
Stewartry bounced back almost immediately with Lauren Gunn carrying powerfully, and then Chloe Johnstone offloading excellently out of contact to send Snailham over for her second try.
Glasgow University dug deep and when Elinor Grant rumbled over under the shadow of the posts and Silerova added the extras, it looked like they might just edge it – but Stewartry showed great composure to get back up the park then build pressure until the students finally ran out of tacklers and Manson was able to sneak over for the game’s decisive score.
“We played to the best of our abilities and I guess just at the end there wasn’t much else we could do, they kept the ball for so long and eventually got over the line, so we don’t have too many grumbles about that,” said Murray Houston the Glasgow Uni coach. “Considering we were playing a team in the division above us, it is nice to come out there and perform and stay in the game even when we fell behind.”
Stewartry Sirens: J Yates; L McKinnon, P Snailham, C Johnstone, D Burnett; L Ritchie, C Manson; D Currie, L Gunn, D Swan, L Ballentine, C Dooley, S Durnam, L Turner, A Henderson. Subs: L McLauchlan, T Tyeson, A Baird, L Ramsay.
Glasgow University: M Grant; I King, C Keenan, S Jesslman, C Olsen; K Hughes, V Renwick©; K Gray, G Walker, E Grant, A Prasad, S Mathew, I Desoindre, T Armstrong, D Lee. Subs: S Huzell, E Gilmour, G Watson, L Webb, M Wales, E Todd, H Preclik.
Referee: Gregor McIntosh
Stewartry: Tries: Manson 2, Snailham 2; Cons: Ritchie 2.
Glasgow University: Try: Keenan, Jessiman, Grant; Con: Silerova.
Scoring sequence (Stewartry first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-5; 12-5 (h-t) 12-10; 12-12; 17-12; 17-17; 17-19; 22-19; 24-19.
Yellow cards –
Player-of-the-Match: Stewartry second-row Clare Dooley put in a huge shift.