County welcomed back two internationals to the club this weekend, with Siobhan Cattigan joining up with the team again and Evie Gallagher finally making her full senior debut for the club she had played for since the age of seven. They were very welcome additions to a squad missing several key players through injury, sickness and unavailability. Heriots are the newly promoted team in the premiership and have recruited a number of experienced former international players.
In conditions that were similar to last week, there was a strong wind gusting down the pitch. This time, County took the wind in the first half. We paid the price for over-playing early on, allowing Heriots to fly hack through and re-gather for the opening score.
County bounced back though with some excellent phase play, that saw Shib Cattigan finish off under the posts and give Stirling a 7-5 lead. Heriots then came back with another unconverted try before County broke well through midfield and got the ball to Kirsty Wilson, who had too much speed for the covering defence. She went in for her fourth try in four games, with Hev Davies again adding the conversion to give County the lead 14-10.
County continued to play rugby in our own half, which meant that mistakes put us under pressure immediately. Heriots took the lead again to make it 14-17. Heriots then defended heroically on their line before half-time, when Stirling patiently built pressure but couldn’t make it count.
HALF-TIME: Stirling County 14 – 17 Heriot’s
The tone for the 2nd half was set early with Heriots crossing for the first of four consecutive tries. They had a strong back line and had brought on ex-international Lisa Martin at fly-half, who used the wind well to pin County back. Unable to exit effectively, County fell off tackles we would have made in the first half. County were boosted late on when Shib Cattigan came back on – but the game was gone by that point. County finished strongly and got the final try to make it 19-43.
The score line was somewhat harsh. There was good rugby played by both teams, but Heriots deserved their win. They had a strong back line and kicked very well. It was impressive to see the new 50/22 law used in the women’s game. Stirling continue to develop and will learn from the experience. There is no side in the Premiership we can’t match – but we need to be smarter in how we play.
Congratulations to Hev Davies who was nominated player of the match by both teams. She put in another tireless performance in attack and defence – a human dynamo who never gives up.
Next week, it’s another home match to finish off the first round of fixtures. Watsonians are the visitors, coming with three wins under their belts. They will be boosted by some international returns and it should be another exciting encounter.
FULL-TIME: Stirling County 19 – 43 Heriot’s
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