Kath Vass provides this week's enjoyable and insightful match report:Kath Vass provides this week's enjoyable and insightful match report:
Watsonians Ladies v Aberdeenshire Quines 30.9.2007 Myreside, Edinburgh
A surprisingly balmy afternoon last weekend was the setting for the first visit of Quines to Myreside this season. It was just before the hour when your reporter heard a high-pitched group cry, startled, it took a while to realise it was the fresh-voiced visitors' rallying cry. Vocal expressiveness was not enough, however, to pull their team through a meeting with a team still exuberant from the away win at Kirkcaldy.
Fears that the winning streak would not continue as a number of players were unavailable due to injury (including Captain Louise Fraser and regular reporter Natalie Nicholls) and also the clash with the Scotland Touch Trials. But thanks to the last minute help of Lismore regular Sharon Forsyth and a brave bunch of those poor souls who thought they were out of it for a season or more (Miss Young and Miss Byrne) 'Sonians had a starting 15 to be proud of and a bench to lighten the heart of any coach.
Barely on the hour, the whistle for kick-off was soon followed by a flurry of intense activity, the ball moving swiftly through the ranks to no. 10 Abby MacArthur and an expert pop to Emma Evans who sailed over the line. Three minutes gone and the score was 5-0, with the conversion becoming 7-0. Phew. What a start.
After that, the game, tightly controlled by the referee, seemed to run for a little time then halt as infringement and penalty and scrum followed each other around the centre third of the park. 'Sonians were certainly getting the practice they needed in defensive and attacking lineouts and scrummaging. Highlights of this circular phase of the match was the excellent stopping of a runaway Quines winger by Alex Pratt and Amanda Byrne. A lost contact lens was the result of that clash which held up Pratt for a short while only. Next 'highpoint' was a high tackle on the effervescent Sarah Jones by the Quines number 9 (a former International Prop-forward). Possibly a yellow card offence in Marseilles but Myreside on a Sunday afternoon was a different matter. Still, a penalty to Watsonians after a short injury stoppage (one of the three "injuries" being a burst bra-strap, hey, it happens). All were soon fixed and ready to proceed.
The vociferous Quines sideline did nothing to help advise the referee, but they certainly tried, as Sonians went through the full repertoire of their short lines. More could have been made of the excellent driving and control of Nikki DiRollo at 9, but a lost ruck after she passed it on, in a good attacking position, meant Sonians were again looking around to make the tackle in the middle of the park as Quines attempted to break through. Slow movement in the centre of the pitch lacked the dynamism needed to succeed against a sturdy defence. A break again by MacArthur was negated by a lack of support and a throw-away pass to touch.
The turn in the game came at 28 minutes as, after a long tough maul, two major phases of play, Emma Evans put Pratt and MacArthur away, with the stand-off scoring. An Evans conversion making it 14-0.
Again play seemed to founder in the centre of the pitch as no great gains or losses were made by either side. There was plenty of incident as players lay injured and the half increased in length, an injury to full-back Lesley Gray (not serious) meant a change in staff on the pitch with Sarah Mckeown coming on, a general shift about resulting in Captain-on-the-Pitch Keri ('The Future Mrs. Lewsey') Holdsworth moving to the centre. What can I say? There were more lineouts, won against the head as well as another scrummage with the same result. But after 50 minutes the whistle blew for half-time.
Watsonians 14 Aberdeenshire Quines 0 HT
The second half began with one change and Pratt back on the pitch, McKeown back on the sideline. It was a firry start by Watsonians with powerful scrums and thunderous runs. A tendency to overthrow the ball and drift on the run cut down options for the Sonians backs but, finally, a central scrum and a full width journey of the ball, enabled MacArthur to give to a powerful Evans. Score. 19-0, no conversion. Five minutes had gone and visitors seemed to be feeling the burden of their journey as Sonians took control. A restart collection by S. Jones gave the incredible MacArthur another chance to shine by scooting up the right wing. With the conversion Watsonians were becoming more comfortable in the match leading 26-0.
Again the game seemed to slow as Quines took a bit more interest and after a hard grind up the park were rewarded in the 26th minute by a score, with the conversion it became 26-7. Deserved as the hosts lost some momentum. It wasn't long before a good advantage given by the referee for offside, allowed the unstoppable Sonians stand-off to score again. 31-7. Definitely Abby MacArthur's day.
The steady platform of the scrum shuffled as Kate Ho came off to a well-deserved round of applause. Just one of a number of changes on the park in the latter part of the match. Another offside against the Quines scrum-half showed the crowd just how accomplished line kicker Evans is, with a far-reaching right-footed kick to the right touchline. Quality. This was not reflected in the lineout itself as a rare loss by Sonians left Quines in possession; but their 2 was rumbled quickly into touch by Scotland Hooker Sarah Louise Walker. The repeat line was not straight, but any mistake was redeemed as the ball was taken against the head and play moved on. There was an excellent run of play where first Sarah Jones then Sara Mckeown took it on to the opposition the ball finally emerging after being plucked from the melee by Annabelle Barlow.
We were now nearing the end of the game, bodies and voices tiring but still Mac Arthur attacked the line. The enthusiastic Sonians forwards piling in but a tad too much as they were caught going over the top. More scrums and determined pressure by Sonians finally gave the reward of a try for Holdsworth in the top right-hand corner. It was all over. No conversion giving the full time score as 36-7.
Player of the Match Abby MacArthur