Walking in a Wandies Wonderland
Cup Finals day at Murrayfield is always a great occasion, and particularly so for Murrayfield Wanderers Ladies team, who were competing for the Sarah Beaney memorial cup on the back pitches against Edinburgh rivals Royal High Corstorphine.Cup Finals day at Murrayfield is always a great occasion, and particularly so for Murrayfield Wanderers Ladies team, who were competing for the Sarah Beaney memorial cup on the back pitches against Edinburgh rivals Royal High Corstorphine. Having beaten Wandies twice in the league this year, the Cougars took to the pitch brimming with confidence and no doubt anticipating a clean sweep. Unfortunately for them, Wanderers had other plans.Right from the first kick off, Wandies were camped in opposition territory, and the forwards took on the renowned Royal High pack up front, driving them back and winning turnover ball, particularly through the backrow of Rimski, R@ndy Ruth and Katy purple eye Green.Royal High botched a clearance attempt under the pressure from Wanderers, and player of the match Lynsey Harlybucks did well to take the ball and offload to Lucy Zulfi Millard. Unfortunately the fullback got squashed from behind at the same time as catching the ball and spilled it forward, thus wasting a chance of an early lead.. Luckily, the defending champions did not have long to wait for the first try, which came from quick turnover ball, moved quickly through the hands to give Charlie Radcliffe of Rad Cabs fame, a try in the corner. Fellow winger Harley converted successfully. The sizeable crowd (I’m sure you can guess who most of them were cheering for!) were kept entertained in the first half with good tactical kicking by both teams, and good play by both scrum halves. Wanderers defended RHC’s pick and drives very well, with the Murrayfield front 5 showing excellent work rate and commitment forcing their opposite numbers to run out of ideas. Perhaps they were intimidated by Rainbow’s hair, specially dyed red and blue for the occasion. Wandies backs built on the good work they have putting in all season, with Tangerine Steve at inside centre breaking the defensive line with most of her touches of the ball. Great distribution skills from Lisa Shorty Martin got the back line moving, and Rhona Shephead showed Royal High she’s not past it yet with a couple of great breaks of her own. Royal High’s backline saw some unusual combinations, in a personnel departure from what has been functioning in a winning side all season. This change of tactic didn’t pay off, however, with the Wanderers midfield creating space for the pacy back three to put another 3 tries past their rivals over the course of the game. Captain and fullback Zulfi scored once in each half, and Harley topped off a fine personal performance with the clinching try seven minutes from time, which she also converted. RHC scrum half Daggy boshed over for a try in the second half to close the gap temporarily, but the league champions just didn’t enjoy enough possession or territory to seriously threaten the Wandies lead.A highly competitive game, which saw three yellow cards for infringements at the breakdown, saw Wanderers down to 13 players at one point, thankfully for them, this not for too long though. Both teams competed well throughout, with lots of big hits going in.As with any cup final, there were some instances when tempers were lost (not by Lana na na na na na Blyth, however), but all in all it was a good spectacle and a Wandieful advert for the Women’s game.The last few minutes might have seen a fifth try had greedy-guts Tange and Shep not gone for the same balInstead they ran into each other and the opportunity was lost (it was most amusing for the fullback behind them though who could see it coming but couldn’t warn them in time. Although not so funny when Royal High booted the ball back and I had to run back whilst wheezing through the laughter) So Wandies retain the cup, and ditched the lattes in favour of a few celebratory drinks after the game. There were no specially tailored karaoke renditions, and preparations now turn to the Amsterdam Sevens.