Kicking off the weekend’s Scotland action, the women’s under-20 side travelled to Kingston Park in Newcastle for their second and final fixture in this season’s age grade programme.
Having defeated the RAF 32-7 at Meggetland last month, the young Scots were on course to finish the season on a high and didn’t disappoint, returning north tonight with a 34-0 victory over Northumbria University.
Head coach Alex Laybourne said: “We were resolute in defence and I said to the girls after the game, from where we were at the beginning of the year to where we are now is just a massive improvement. As a group they’ve come on so far.
“It was a pretty good win considering they’re [Northumbria] in the BUCS trophy final next week. They won their semi last week and they’re in the final at Loughborough next week – they’re unbeaten this year, they’ve been scoring a lot of points, they’ve won their university league, and they’re a powerful and well organised outfit.”
The game started off fairly evenly balanced, the visitors dominated possession of territory but were up against fairly resolute defence which took some time to break down. The Scots had talked about keeping a really high tempo and eventually – after nearly 20 mins – managed to get on their outside shoulder and put Rhona Lloyd away to score her first try.
Then it was more of the same from kick-off, as the Scots girls kept the university women under pressure and, four minutes later, Lisa Thomson went over in a fairly similar fashion but on the other side of the pitch – again, the Scottish forwards were hammering away in the wider channels.
Lloyd scored again, pretty much off the restart, making three tries in six minutes which wore the opposition down somewhat. The home side then came back at the Scots at the end of the first half, creating quite a lot of pressure on their defence which held firm.
Scotland kept forcing turnovers then, at the end of the first half, regained control and momentum to see Lisa Croniken score in the corner and make it 24-0 at half time.
Laybourne said: “At half time we talked about being more clinical, putting away more of the chances and also defensively about keeping their zero on the board.”
The leaders started strongly in the second half, Lisa Croniken scoring her second, and on the hour mark there were a number of changes to the side.
Laybourne said: “Our substitutes did well to keep the momentum going and keep the defensive effort there. They got a bit more ball again but our defence held out and Megan Kennedy went over to score, with about ten minutes to go.
“With five minutes to go we kept the game fairly well balanced in the middle and ended the match 34-0.
“The score – and the previous result – shows that the under-20s programme is working and there is plenty of talent coming in to support the national side.”
Scotland Women under-20 v Northumbria University
15. Caitlin Harvey (Caithness); 14. Abi Evans (Northumbria University); 13. Jessica Young (Morpeth); 12. Lisa Thomson (Melrose); 11. Rhona Lloyd (Murrayfield Wanderers); 10. Hannah Illingworth (Tynedale); 9. Caitlin Morrell (Tynedale): 1. Kristin Jones (Garioch / Inverness Craig Dunain); 2. Megan Kennedy (Stirling County); 3. Katie Dougan (RHC Cougars / University of Edinburgh); 4. Lisa Croniken (Ayr Ladies / Dundee University); 5. Kathryn Stewart (Morgan Women); 6. Lousie McMillan (Hillhead Jordanhill); 7. Lucy Park (captain) (Murrayfield Wanderers); 8. Siobhan McMillan (Cartha Queens Park).
Replacements (all used): 16.Stephanie Campbell (Inverness Craig Dunain); 17. Ailsa Luke (Lismore); 18. Liusaidh McMaster (RHC Cougars / University of Edinburgh); 19. Heather Davis (Stirling County); 20. Nicola Howat (Howe of Fife); 21. Jodie Hutton (Sirling County); 22. Ellie-Louise Wilson (Lismore); 23. Lucy Winter (Stirling County); 24. Eilidh Towers (Glasgow University)