RHC Cougars 10 – 12 Heriot’s Blues Women

Union Park, Edinburgh

Match Report by Giselle Chicot

After a couple of weeks trying to find their feet and building their game plan, last Sunday, the Heriot’s Blues Women (HBW) proved they belong in the Women’s Tennent’s Premiership. They demonstrated they were a strong and organised team in defence, with creative thinking in their attack, proving they can take on the best teams in Scotland.

The start of the game proved difficult for both teams, each side was working hard, yet neither managed to score in the first 30 mins. A hard-fought battle then took place between the forwards in RHC Cougars’ 10 metres, until experienced Second Row, Cat Syme, finally managed to get the ball down over the whitewash for the first try of the game. The conversion kick proving difficult from the touch line, it was unconverted.

The home team responded quickly, making it up to Heriot’s try line. HBW’s tight knit defence kept the Cougars forwards at bay despite their numerous attempts at pick and go. Eventually the ball was passed out wide to the backs where the Cougars Outside Centre dotted the ball across the line. The try was unconverted which meant that both teams went into half time with five points each.

After half time RHC Cougars quickly took the lead with another try, yet it was unconverted. However, HBW’s discipline paid off as the opposition’s frustration grew and it eventually led to a yellow card for a tackle over horizontal by Cougars’ Full Back on her opposite number Pearl Kellie .

HBW continued to build momentum with some strong carries from the forwards inside the opposition’s 22, before handing the ball to the eager backline, who, with some fantastic footwork and quick hands, scored what was believed to be another five points for the Blues. However, after a quick review, the referee discarded the try due to a knock on.

At the same time the Cougar’s Outside Centre was shown a yellow card after a deliberate attempt to trip up Full Back, Pearl Kellie in front of the line. A scrum was awarded to HBW for the infringement, in the opposition’s 22. HBW didn’t think twice about taking the opportunity and charged through RHC Cougars’ defence for another try,this time from the youngest player on the pitch, Hooker, Morgan Nellies. The try was converted by Centre, Lisa Martin, and HBW tookthe lead (10-12) with 13 mins to go.

The pressure was then on for HBW as try scorer Morgan Nellies was then yellow carded, for not taking a step back on a RHC Cougars’ penalty. With only 14 players left on the field, HBW manage to keep the game in their control until the dying minutes when Centre Lisa Martin kicked the ball out of field to secure the win.

It was a momentous victory for the women’s team, who were promoted to the Women’s Tennent’s Premiership this season and have been battling against top tier teams since September. It was a particularly emotional day for captain Kirsty McConnell, who expressed how pleased she was with the team’s performance:

We really played together as a team for the first time this season. Particularly in defence – we were unified in-line speed and made our tackles for each other. It was brilliant! I was really impressed when the subs came on too. It’s great to know we can rely on the bench to keep our momentum in the game. In attack we managed to work out how to finally use the strong backline we have and play to our strengths. The unity and trust within the players are really building on and off the pitch, which has shown today in our on-field performance. It’s such an incredible bunch of down to earth, humble players that got that result. I’m very proud to captain them – it really was the best day!”

Forwards coach Lucy Brown, who has contributed to the success of HBW scrums this season, had a few words to say about the game:

We knew the game would be a challenge, as Cougars have been dominant this season, but from set piece to every individual’s performance, we were successful. The team worked well with dealing with pressure from Cougars and managed to maintain discipline when a player down. It’s a credit to the team in how well they organised and came together to get the win, and edging out Cougars, through being connected and clear in both attack and defence. It was rewarding to see the pieces finally coming together, and this group of players truly deserve the win on Sunday!”

Head of Women and Girls Rugby at Heriot’s Rhona Shepherd:

“As a coaching team we have been so impressed with the whole squad’s dedication to learning, their courage to keep trying new skills under pressure and their compassion with one another, they thoroughly deserve the result but that was inevitable at some stage as this is all really about their commitment to the process.”

The POTM from the opposition:

Kathryn Stewart (8)

From HBW:

Forward: Giselle Chicot (6)

Back: Emily Oliver (14)


Picture Credit: Shona Stott @Rugbypeoplenet

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