Following a good win against Cartha, Stirling travelled to Glasgow for their third league fixture of the season against Hillhead, who have long been at the top of the women’s game. Hillhead were sitting one place above County in the table, so lots to play for and County took some confidence from a pre-season win against Hills.
Conditions were dry, with a strong breeze blowing down the slope at Hughenden. County chose to play uphill in the first half and held out against concerted pressure for the first twenty minutes. The defensive line eventually gave out when Hills drove over from close range, despite appearing to have stood up from a tackle close to the line.
Stirling then suffered a blow when Neve Henderson had to come off , which led to a re-shuffle in the back line. Kirsty Wilson stepped into fly-half and her first touch was to take a ball from a midfield scrum, just inside her own twenty-two. Spotting a gap, Kirsty pinned her ears back, broke the line and then cruised round the full back to run in under the posts. A great score to put County level.
Just four minutes later, Stirling extended their lead when Orla Proctor made a typically powerful run down the touchline, fended off the cover defence and went over in the corner. Not satisfied, she ran round under the posts, fending off one last defender in the process. It helped Hev take the score to 7-14 at the break but did nothing for the blood pressure of the County faithful on the touchline!
HALF-TIME: Hillhead 7-14 Stirling County
The start of the second half was always going to be critical. Unfortunately it was Hills who took the initiative. They brought on a powerful number 8 and applied consistent pressure for twenty minutes – in almost a re-run of the first half. County didn’t use the slope and wind effectively to take the game into the Hills half and eventually succumbed to pressure on their line. That brought the scores level at 14-14. From the re-start, Stirling didn’t get their kick chase right and allowed Hills to establish pressure again, which led to another score – 21-14.
For the rest of the game Stirling were in the ascendancy and Rowan McNeil drove over on 67 minutes to make it 21-19. Unfortunately the conversion was missed and despite further pressure, Hills held out. A frustrating outcome but there were lots of good performances and plenty of lessons in game management to take forward.
The next game sees Heriots visit Bridgehaugh on Sunday 3rd October at 2pm. Stirling welcome back two internationals from their successful campaign in Italy – Siobhan Cattigan and Evie Gallagher. With a few players missing, they will give an important boost to the squad as we look for the second win of the league season.
FULL-TIME: Hillhead 21 – 19 Stirling County
Our thanks to sponsors Precise Medical Aesthetics for supporting the team.