Hill Jills 17 - 21 Watsonians

Watsonians created history with a shock win over Hillhead-Jordanhill in a thrilling Sarah Beaney Cup final last night.

Watsonians are crowned Sarah Beaney Cup champions. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS/SRU
Watsonians are crowned Sarah Beaney Cup champions. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS/SRU

They lifted the trophy for the first time in their history, breaking the stranglehold that the Glasgow side and Murrayfield Wanderers have held since 2001.

It was only the fourth time that a team from outside the big two had won the title and the first since Aberdeenshire Quines in 2010. Royal High won in 2003 and 2005. The most prolific winners Wanderers are no more after a breakaway to Heriot’s but the Myreside ladies have stepped up to fill the void in the capital. After losing 68-12 to Hill Jills in last season’s final, Watsonians presented a good challenge in the league this season, beating them 28-27 on the last weekend after losing by just a point in Glasgow.

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That suggested it would be a closer affair this year and so it proved on what was a fantastic showcase for Scottish women’s club rugby in front of the BBC Alba cameras.

The Edinburgh side recovered from the loss of an early try and showed great character, composure and no little skill to run out deserved winners.

Things got off to an all-action start with a converted try apiece as Hannah Smith opened the scoring for the holders before Alice King went over to level things up.

Watsonians then made a move as prop Ailie Tucker waltzed over under the posts and skipper Nicola Nightingale added the extras.

Mairi McDonald then slotted a penalty to cut the gap to four points heading in at the break.

Hills lock Sarah Jones made a good break early in the second half to get her side on the front foot, but there was admirable defence from Watsonians.

There was a lengthy stoppage when Hillhead-Jordanhill forward Kendal King went down injured and was stretchered off after on-field treatment. A very even contest was unfolding with the underdogs showing good accuracy without actually managing to break through the Glaswegian wall.

The fiercely-fought battle claimed another Hills casualty on the hour mark as centre Hannah Smith limped off and was replaced by Amy Watkins.

A further blow for the champions followed minutes later as the Watsonians international pair of Lana Skeldon and Megan Gaffney combined beautifully to carve through. Gaffney was stopped just short of the line but full-back Emma Evans was on hand to finish off under the posts.

Skeldon’s conversion opened up an 11-point lead and heaped real pressure on the hot favourites with 15 minutes left to play as the heavens opened.

Hills’ forwards put the squeeze on but were held up numerous times over the Watsonians line.

The breakthrough finally came as a 71st-minute penalty try was awarded for a high tackle by Gaffney on Abi Evans, for which the former also paid for with a yellow card to bring the Hughenden outfit within four points. But the 14 women of Watsonians closed it out.