The bare facts of the scoreline belied a performance from both sides in this afternoon’s Sarah Beany Cup final, with Murrayfield Wanderers outpointing Melrose 68-20.
A vocal crowd, enhanced by the arrival of the morning’s competing women’s Plate and Bowl teams from Dalziel, enjoyed plenty of end to end action, albeit the Edinburgh outfit’s experience in finishing saw them nail the points while Melrose frequently experienced little reward for much effort.
Wandies were out of the traps first with a scything break through the Melrose defence by Scotland Women prop, Suzy Hex, to touch down first, the conversion attempt just wide.
Shortly after the restart it was captain and stand-off Lisa Martin whose spiralling pass out to Sarah Gill continued to Hatty Cumber, who scored by the posts, Sarah Law’s conversion just short to put Wanderers 10-0 up after six minutes.
With the action moving to the other end of the field, Melrose pressed and caused errors – the penalty eventually came and just short of 12 minutes, Scotland cap Nicola Halfpenny slotted it through the uprights.
It was the rouge-coiffed Suzy Hex who was at the centre of the next score as her break and pass to Laura Steven saw the centre cross for Wandies’ third score, the extras again wide.
Melrose retaliated as they worked their way upfield, winning another penalty for Melrose with the boot of Halfpenny scoring.
A good break and a wide pass from Martin to Sarah Gill came back inside to Cat Ward, which saw the winger score the fourth try for Wandies; this time full back Gill took on the kicking duties and slotted it to put Wanderers 22-6 ahead after 25 minutes.
Despite some solid defence and intelligent attack, particularly by Scotland centre Gillian Inglis, the traffic continued one way and good passing from centre to wing put Cumber over for her second, the score again converted by Gill.
It was a hat-trick for Hatty, just before half time, after a wide pass from Sarah Law to Martin saw her cross, making the score Melrose 6-34 Murrayfield at HT
The restart saw sub Elise Allier score after quick ball from the scrum by Lisa Martin, on the 5m, with no extras, to put the capital side ahead 39-6.
Sustained attack saw the penalty to Wandies and Martin kicked to touch – however the windscreen of the nearby ambulance felt the force of her boot.
A break from Laura Steven, mapping out a great line through the defence, saw the centre score between the posts, the try converted by Gill. Wandies were reduced to 14 shortly after, however, with substitute Michelle Ovens taking the walk to the sin bin.
It was Murrayfield who upped their game here, however, as a break from substitute prop Lisa Robertson set up the next try for fellow sub, Alex Read, converted by the posts to make it 53-6.
Just shy of 60 minutes all Melrose’s hard work paid off as centre Gillian Inglis crossed for the score in the top corner, a terrific conversion at an angle by Halfpenny (13-53).
Lisa Robertson was next on the score sheet as she powered over, the conversion slicing in front of the uprights to make it 13-58.
Melrose came back fighting moments later with a searing run from Chloe Rollie who ran in a great individual score, converted again by Halfpenny, to make it 20-58 at 70m.
After a lengthy break as Melrose’s Rivera received attention, (and was taken to hospital as a precaution though happily she seems to be ok), the restart went Wanderers way and Lucy Park crossed for the score, the conversion short, to make it 20-63.
A sure break by young talent Rhona Lloyd for Wandies was stopped short by a tackle into touch from Emma Pate, the Melrose scrum half. Into the last few minutes and another period of good work from Lisa Robertson put captain Martin over for the five points, with no conversion, on the whistle to bring the final score to Melrose 20 – 68 Murrayfield Wanderers.
Nineteen-year-old geography student, Hatty Cumber, was awarded player of the match, taking part in her first ever Cup final.
15 Sarah Gill, 14 Hatty Cumber, 13 Laura Steven, 12 Helen Nelson, 11 Cat Ward, 10 Lisa Martin (Captain), 9 Sarah Law; 1 Suzanne McKerlie Hex, 2 Sarah Quick, 3 Beth Dickens, 4 Cat Syme, 5 Emma Wassel, 6 Jennifer Cram, 7 Ruth Slaven, 8 Rachel Cook
Substitutes: 16 Kirsty Fisher, 17 Michelle Ovens, 18 Lisa Robertson (wearing 23), 19 Alex Read, 20 Lucy Park, 21 Elise Allier, 22 Rhona Lloyd
15 Chloe Rollie, 14 Suzie Webb, 13 Isla Craigie, 12 Gillian Inglis, 11 Tara Elms, 10 Nicola Halfpenny, 9 Emma Pate; 1 Megan MacIver, 2 Laura Purves, 3 Hannah Cooper, 4 Sarah Hope, 5 Natasha Rivera, 6 Emma Hackney, 7 Rachel Wood, 8 Lana Skeldon
Substitutes: 16 Megan Morrison, 17 Gillian Thomson, 18 Claire Gillian, 19 Diane Jackson, 20 Fiona Wylie, 21 Alexandra Gordon Smith
Referee: Alex Pratt
Player of the Match: Hatty Cumber (Murrayfield Wanderers)