Womens Premier League 2014-15
Sunday 07th December 2014
RHC Cougars Womens XV -v- Melrose , KO at 2:00pm at Barnton
RHC Cougars Womens XV -v- Kirkcaldy
30th November 2014
The Cougars travelled to Kirkcaldy for their penultimate game of the season on a high after their win over Murrayfield Wanderers before the Autumn Internationals break. However, with twelve players unavailable the side was looking to gel together a new-look squad at short notice in the face of a rapidly improving Fife outfit.
The game was the return of RHC stalwarts and internationalists Louise Dalgleish and Tanya Giffith, with retired players Sarah Paterson, Anna Swan and Jenny Duff also making their return to the side. New players Caitlin Harvey and Amelia Thomson made their second and first appearances in the first XV respectively to make up some of the 10 changes from the side which faced Wandies a month before.
Kirkcaldy also boasted a much-changed side from the 12 players that had faced RHC in October, with two Garioch players making the trip south to jump two leagues up to the Premiership.
Both sides took time to find their rhythm, with the first ten minutes a scrappy interchange with neither team maintaining possession past a few phases. RHC broke the deadlock first however, with a perfectly weighted pass from Captain Claire Bain finding the hands of speedster Caitlin Harvey who ran 60m to dot down between the posts, converted by a drop-kick from flanker Lorna Murdoch.
Kirkcaldy were quick to erase the impression that this match would become another 41-0 drubbing however. Stringing together two dozen phases, winning three penalties in the process, the Fife side drove 50m up the pitch with tight carries consistently finding RHC on the back foot. The pressure told and the last run brought their centre through just outside the posts.
RHC started back strong with a carbon copy of their first try, a series of tight drives opening space wide for Harvey to take advantage of and sprint 50m for her second score to open the gap between the two sides at the halftime whistle.
Half time came with the game looking tantalisingly close, RHC having come off the worse to the referee’s whistle to the tune of 18 penalties to only 2 conceded by Kirkcaldy.
The first score following the break came after a series of breakthroughs over an unusually static Kirkcaldy defence. Quick ball making yards before full-back Griffith spied an opportunity to ark around the defence and sprint in for her own score to make it 17-5.
Kirkcaldy didn’t give away another opportunity to Harvey again however, assaulting the breakdown at any opportunity to force frequent turnovers and starving the Edinburgh side of possession. The sides battled over the centre of the pitch but the tide turned with a yellow card issued to Cougar Faye McCallum. Taking advantage of RHC a player-down in the forwards Kirkcaldy continued to drive hard yards over the gainline and were rewarded with their second try straight between the posts. With a simple conversion the score was a close 17-12.
RHC gathered beneath a post for a talk from scrum-half Louise Dalgliesh and returned to the field determined to increase their score tally. Turning to the secure game style which brought them victory in their last fixture the Cougars pushed back up the pitch. After twelve phases Dalgliesh’s experience told, and, behind a ruck just 1m from the line, she took one glance before diving over the top of her teammates to score her first try back on the field since preseason.
Dalgleish’s half-back teammate Bain needed no further invitation to take advantage of a tiring Kirkcaldy defence taking a second phase from the restart to break from 50m out to step one defender and outpace three more, placing the ball down in the back corner for RHC’s final score. 27-12.
With just seconds left on the clock Cougar Jenny Duff broke the line only to be brought down by three Kirkcaldy players, taking an unlucky head knock in the process. The whistle blew to bring the very competitive game to an end.
Final Score, RHC Cougars 27 – 12 Kirkcaldy.
Credits go to Tristan Gray for the report
RHC Cougars Womens XV -v- Stirling County
14th September 2014
This Sunday RHC Cougars Ladies went away to Stirling County, both sides keen to bounce back from first round defeats in the Premiership League. After a close first half RHC found their rhythm and sped to a solid 29-3 win over the Stirling side.
The game opened up in Stirling’s favour, as a barnstorming forwards pack made things difficult for the scrambling Cougars defence. The pressure told and RHC failed to retain possession, losing the ball to impressive Stirling rucking time and time again.
Extended possession eventually told and Stirling spent the first ten minutes of the match firmly in the opposition half, eventually forcing a breakdown penalty and slotting an easy kick from between the posts to go 3-0 up.
The early setback forced an RHC rethink and they opened up the game, keeping well away from a Stirling pack which was dominating the breakdown. RHC flanker Hannah Telling made her impact in her first game of season with a strong run down the left wing to bring the Cougars into the Stirling half for the first time. A more inventive backline began to push Stirling’s defence, winger Sarah Nimmo popping a kick over towards the corner and chasing it down herself only to be pulled into touch.
A knock-on gave Stirling a scrum in their own 22, only to have it wheeled by RHC. A solid returning scrum gave Cougars all the opportunity they needed and no.8 Karen Dunbar crashed over to give Cougars the leave just before half time. The confidence boost gave RHC all they needed to get rolling and skipper Claire Bain went over two minutes later to extend their lead as the whistle went. Cougars 10 – 3 Stirling.
Stirling came back on straight into the offensive, their no.8 man of the match causing no end of issues with two breaks and forcing an overlap saved by a last-minute tackle from RHC full-back Leanne Neary. Stirling piled on the pressure with another five minute sitting in the RHC five-metre, a try-scoring opportunity ended by an impressive double tackle from Neary and Fly-half Tanya Griffith.
Neary and Griffith began a regular team-up, the fly half responding immediately with a break down the right win and pop to Neary, who dodged or handed off four tacklers on her way to her first try of the game. Bain converted to give RHC a clear 17-3 lead.
Cougars came straight back from the restart to camp in the Stirling 22 only to be held back by an impressive defensive effort. A couple of knock-ons were won back in moments as the Cougars scrum dominated their opposition, led by a man of the match performance by loosehead Sarah Edgar. Faced with continuing resistance Griffith and Neary teamed up again as the fly-half’s enterprising grubber put Neary over for her brace in the corner.
Stirling, keen for a comeback, began to take advantage of continuing control of the ruck with a forwards rumble 60m down the pitch to sit on the RHC tryline. Over five minutes of repeated attempts at the line converted to nothing as three successive try attempts were held up. An eventual knock-on gave Griffith all the excuse she needed to boot the ball down the other side of the pitch.
An exhausted set of forwards began to open up the game, with both man of the matches coming off injured with 20 minutes on the clock. A more even scrum evened out the game, only to have RHC scrum-half Mhairi Grieve burst through three missed tackles, bright pink boots a blur as she evaded two covering defenders to touch-down between the posts.
Bain slotted through to complete a strong performance for the Edinburgh side. Both sides opened still looking rusty but found their pace in the second half. With a 26 point victory the Cougars’ superior set piece and experienced back line took the match, with plenty to build on for both sides before round three.
Final Score, RHC Cougars 29 – 3 Stirling County.
27 January 2013
Photos of the game against Melrose are available to view in the gallery pages
Photos are by Neil Thomson.