“Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive: Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,” This could be mistaken as a side-line description of a rugby game, of a pack of forwards hungry for the ball in a scrum. However, it is taken from Rabbie Burns’ “Address to a Haggis”, describing a hungry pack of diners devouring their dinner.
The game which took place between Hilljills and Stirling County on the day after we celebrated the great Robert Burns could be summed up in a much simpler phrase, taken from the same poem: “O what a glorious sight”. The supporters who ventured out in the plummeting temperatures were entertained under the lights of Hughenden by a display of clinical set pieces, precise passing and fast powerful running which saw Hillhead Jordanhill run in 13 tries overall, of which 7 were converted. Stirling, as always, put up a strong fight and at times had a solid defence and some clever play saw them touch down early into the second half, hinting at a possible comeback, which never showed face.
The game was off to powerful start with Sophie Anderson breaking a tackle and crashing over the line with only 3 minutes gone on the clock. 5 minutes later fullback Amanda Moore threw a clever dummy to put herself over the try line. Play then slowed down as the forwards took centre stage and competed in a number of scrums on Stirling’s 5m line before the ball was shipped once again to Moore who crossed the line and subsequently converted the try to bring it to 17 points in the same number of minutes.
The rest of the 9 tries in the first half came from a mix of backs and forwards, clearly showing the depth of talent in the Hilljills squad. A side step master class was performed by backs Sarah and Hannah Smith who ran in 1 and 2 tries respectively. Constant powerful running by Abi Evans was rewarded when a lineout ball was shipped across field to put her in at the corner. With forwards not wanting to shy away from the points tally both Hannah Telling and Kirsty McConnell showed pure class to beat the defence and cross the line. All but 3 of the first half tries were converted by full back Amanda Moore bringing the half time score to 57-0.
The second half took a slightly slower pace with Stirling County showing both a strong defence and keen attack. They were rewarded for this early on when they fought back and claimed their first try of the night; a missed conversion brought the score to 57-5. From here supporters might have mistaken the game for a round from the Australian Open as the ball was kicked back and forth down the pitch as both teams fought to settle back in to the game. Thankfully, the cold was there to remind us we were at Hughenden and after a slow advance from Hilljills, Hannah Smith reached out to put the ball over the line, claiming her hat-trick and bringing the score to 62-5.
Once again the forwards stood up to the mark with a scrum on Stirling’s 5m line. A keen eye for space came from Hilljills skipper Louise McMillan who opted to pick and go left before shipping it out to winger Emma Barlow who danced over the line in fine form.
The second hat-trick of the night came deservingly to Amanda Moore who backed herself from half way, beat the Stirling defence and crashed over the line, she then converted to bring her personal points tally for the night to an impressive 29. This solid display of attack paired with a number of critical tackles earned Moore Player of the Match. The final try of the night came from Abi Evans who once again showed impressive pace to cross the line at the corner.
The final minutes of the game showed a revival of the strong Stirling defence who held off any Hilljills advances. Credit must be given to the Stirling side who showed fight and determination throughout the entire game in the face of a relentless Hilljills. The final whistle came with the scoreboard sitting at 79-5, giving Hilljills a bonus point win and putting them 11 points clear at the top of the table with only 2 games to go. This crowns Hillhead/ Jordanhill as winners of the BT Women’s Premier League.
Scottish Rugby were there to present the well-deserved trophy to the squad whose hard work throughout the season has been outstanding both on and off the field. With Hilljills regularly turning out 20 plus girls for training each week it is clear to see the foundations of this team are built on hard work and a hunger for perfection, which is now paying off. Captain Louise McMillan reflected on this after the game: “The girls have been rewarded for the hard work put into the season so far. Our focus now turns to the Premier Development Cup and Sarah Beaney Cup where we hope to retain both titles to take 3 out of 3.”
Hillhead/Jordanhill Squad: Siobhan McMillan, Lindsey Smith, Heather Lockhart, Hannah Telling, Sophie Anderson, Marta Estellés Chaparro, Kirsty McConnell, Louise McMillan (C), Rachael Whyte, Sarah Smith, Lucy Mills, Hannah Smith, Abi Evans, Aimée Watson, Amanda Moore, Debbie Falconer, Fiona Reardon, Stella Kyalikunda, Ally Cook, Emma Barlow
Stirling County Squad: Megan Kennedy, Tracy Scott, Rowan McNeil, Sarah Murdoch, Shannon Goundry, Nikki McLeod, Heather Davis, Lyndsay O’Donnell, Jodie, Hutton, Rachel Shankland (C), Amy Bilsborough, Siobhan Cattigan, Katrina Roszynski, Katie Mcliwraith, Lindsay Macnaughton, Ashley Aitken, Lara Flint, Rhonwyn Spence, Jenny Menday, Eilidh McNab
Hilljills now move on to the next challenge of The Premier Development Cup. Round 1 is away against Stewartry Women on Sunday 4th February, 14:00 KO.
Report: Hannah McHugh
Pictures: Hannah McHugh; Grant Payne
More photos from the game can be seen on the snsgroup website