Tennent’s Women’s Premiership Final 2022/23 | Match Report
Stirling County claimed their first ever Tennent's Premiership title at Bridgehaugh on Saturday 28 January in a thrilling battle against Corstorphine Cougars.
It was a quick start for Cougars as they opened the scores at a sunny Bridgehaugh in the opening five minutes. A scrum tight to the try line opened things up for the play to be taken blind by stand-off Tanya Griffith before reaching winger Lorna Young who crashed over the line to score in the corner.
In minute 13, Cougars were awarded a penalty deep inside Stirling’s 22 creating the perfect opportunity for an attempt for three. Kiyomi Honjigawa stepped up for the kick, which sailed through the sticks to extended their lead.
But the tempo soon shifted for County when youngster Lucy McRae sprinted her way through the wall of blue and red to take Stirling inside Cougars half for the first time in the game. County were awarded a penalty just five meters out from the try line and scrum half Jodie Hutton opted to quickly take a tap from the boot and ship the ball to Rachel Cox who crashed over the line for County’s first try of the match.
It was some 15 minutes before another try was scored. County put in the hard yards working through their phases inside Cougar’s half, before Macrae and Nicole Flynn linked up to find space on the wing to claim another five points and retake the lead from the visitors.
In the final minutes of the opening half, Cougars came close to a try scoring opportunity but the ball was knocked on and referee Mary Pringle blew the whistle for half time.
Half time: Stirling County 10 Corstorphine Cougars 8
County came out the blocks with a spark ignited in their play, scoring within just two minutes of returning to the field.
Outside centre Rachel Shankland darted her way through the defence to get on the front foot before offloading to Flynn who helped cement the home side’s position in the opposition’s 22. Another penalty awarded to County allowed Hutton to tap and pass to Angharad Hopwood who crashed over the whitewash to extend County’s lead.
County looked like they were finding their feet in this second half as they continued to work through their attacking phases. Stand-off Ceitidh Ainsworth managed to identify herself some space to power through the defence before offloading to hooker Aicha Sutcliffe, who was close by in support. Sutcliffe fired across the line for County’s third try. Ainsworth added the extras with a close-range conversion.
With 10 minutes left on the clock, another penalty awarded to County inside Cougars danger-zone set up the next try scoring opportunity. The forward pack carried to draw Cougars’ defence in, before whipping the ball wide through the backs, reaching Flynn who bagged her second try of the match.
Despite strong attacking attempts to narrow the deficit, Cougars were unfortunately unable to capitalise on key moments in the second half.
In the final moments of the game Cougars Merryn Gunderson was shown a yellow card for a high tackle leaving the visitors to close the match with 14 players.
Just minutes later, a knocked on ball called the game to a close, and Stirling County were crowed the Tennent’s Women’s Premiership winners for the 2022/23 season.
Full time: Stirling County 27 Corstorphine Cougars 8
Player of the Match, selected by Eva Donaldson: Lucy Macrae
Tries: Rachel Cox, Nicole Flynn (2), Angharad Hopwood, Aicha Sutcliffe
Cons: Ceitidh Ainsworth
Tries: Lorna Young
Pens: Kiyomi Honjigawa
Stirling County: Fi Keys; Nicole Flynn, Rachel Shankland, Lucy Macrae, Sky Phimister; Ceitidh Ainsworth, Jodie Hutton; Ailsa Luke, Aicha Sutcliffe, Katie Lindsay; Sarah Murdoch; Kiera MacDonald, Heather Davis, Ciorstaidh Ainsworth.
Replacements: Megan Kennedy, Angharad Hopwood, Sophie Murphy, Ilja Puccianti, Brogan Henderson.
Corstorphine Cougars: Kiyomi Honjigawa; Lorna Young, Ailsa Clark, Morgan Welsh, Rheo Laurenson; Tanya Griffiths, Zoe Turner; Merryn Gunderson, Lucy Park, Kaylee Fraser; Lucy Kidd, Adelle Ferrie; Pip Benson, Lily Glendinning, Emma Turner.
Replacements: Louise Green, Devan Anderson, Lauryn McGrotty, Rebecca Bestwick, Emily Mullen.
Ref: Mary Pringle
AR 1: Chelsea Gillespie
AR 2: Beatriz Casares Fernández