Sarah Beaney Cup 2022 | Semi-final Preview
Just one game stands between 12 teams and reaching Silver Saturday on Saturday 14 May at BT Murrayfield. Here, we preview the six semi-finals taking place across the Sarah Beaney Cup competition this weekend.
Sarah Beaney Cup
This year’s competition format saw teams compete in Pool stages in Cup, Plate and Bowl level fixtures before progressing to the semi-final round.
In the Sarah Beaney Cup, which is the top tier of the competition, our six Premiership teams were joined by Garioch and Stewatry, table leaders from the National 1 Division, and split into two pools.
Pool A: Watsonian FC, Corstorphine Cougars, Garioch, Cartha Queen’s Park 1XV
Pool B: Stirling County, Heriot’s Blues, Hillhead Jordanhill, Stewartry, West of Scotland FC
Due to player injuries, Garioch withdrew from the competition.
Topping Pool A two wins and 10 points were Watsonian’s. Cougars win over Cartha Queen’s Park secured them five points and second place, progressing them on to the semi-finals.
Watsonian’s are the current Sarah Beaney Cup title holders after they won the trophy for the first time ever, recording a 17-21 victory at BT Murrayfield against the 2018 winners, Hillhead Jordanhill.
Determined to once again reach the final and lift the trophy, Watsonian’s captain Alice King relishes the contest ahead.
“We are really looking forward to a competitive game against Stirling this weekend”, said Alice.
“The team is feeling good about the upcoming game, but Stirling is always a solid opposition but also an enjoyable side to face. We’re just going to focus on our own game, and we will give it everything we have got!
“It would be a huge achievement for us to get to the final again. Since our 2019 win, we’ve seen a lot of changes with the player-base of the team, so it's a new challenge we face and goal we are aiming for.”
Stirling County’s captain, Ailsa Luke is hopeful that her team can claim their spot in the final and achieve one of her personal goals of playing in the Sarah Beaney Cup final on Silver Saturday.
“Obviously making the final would be amazing”, said Ailsa.
“As captain, I see all the hard work the players and coaches have put in and I would love for them to have the opportunity to play the final. On a personal level too, it would mean a lot. This is my ninth season competing in the Scottish Cup and that’s something I haven’t managed to achieve yet.
“After two difficult play-off games in the Tennent’s Premiership league, as a team during the pool stage for the Cup, we have gotten back on track and are playing some really good rugby. I think we have learnt a lot from every game we have played which puts us in a good place for the semi-finals.
“The semi-final against Watsonian’s should be a really good game. They are an incredibly strong team and every game against them is tough. We know our defence is going to have to be solid playing against them and so that’s been a real focus for us.”
Hillhead Jordanhill and Stirling County both qualified for the semi-finals with three wins and 16 table points each. Poll position was decided by the head-to-head record. Hillhead's 40-31 win over County in round three gave them the top spot in Pool B and the home semi-final.
Hillhead Jordanhill and Cougars have enjoyed some exciting competition during the league season, and coincidently, these two teams also met in the semi-final round of the Tennent’s Premiership earlier this year, so this weekend’s fixture is likely to be just as enthralling.
Philippa Abernethy, vice-captain for Hillhead Jordanhill said: “Our journey through the pool stages of the Cup has felt like a bit of a rollercoaster. The pool was extremely close between the top three teams, and after losing a very tight game against Heriot’s in the first round we knew that we had to switch it on for the rest of the games.
“I was enormously proud how hard the team worked at training and how much we came together in our games to win the remaining fixtures and eventually finish top of the pool, securing our home semi-final.
“We all know that Cougars will put in a solid fight for the this weekend. We will have to work hard to continue the form we have shown in our later pool fixtures and secure a win in our last home game of the season.
“It would mean so much to the whole team to reach the Cup Final at BT Murrayfield this year. We have had a big influx of new players this year, and the team have put in so much hard work to get ourselves in this position. A spot in the final would be the ideal end to a fantastic season.”
Watsonians v Stirling County, Sunday 24 April, 2pm KO (hosted at Penicuik Sports Pavilion)
Hillhead Jordanhill v Corstorphine Cougars, Sunday 24 April, 2pm KO
A total of nine teams competed in the National Plate competition this year, split across two pools.
Pool A: Ayr, Dundee Valkyries 1XV, Shetland, Broughton, Strathmore
Pool B: Biggar, Livingston, Orkney, Wigtownshire
Unfortunately, due to player injuries, Orkney withdrew from the competition.
In pool A, Ayr were the victors winning all four of their fixtures to claim 19 table points. Dundee Valkyries 1XV took second place with three wins and 14 table points.
Biggar topped pool B with nine points, followed by Livingston in second place with five points.
Ayr will be host to Livingston in the first semi-final of the National Plate competition, whilst Dundee Valkyries travel to Biggar.
Livingston are no strangers to this stage of the National competition, beating Stornoway to reach the National Bowl final in 2019. The West Lothian side claimed second place against Greenock, who took the title.
Lauren Prentice, captain of Livingston Ladies said: “Going into the competition we knew we had a tough pool, so we were elated with our performance and to make it to the semi-final stage.
“The team has worked hard to get to this point, and we have prepared as much as we possibly can do for the semi-final. We know Ayr are a strong opposition, but I have no doubt in my mind the squad will give it their all. I would be immensely proud of Livingston to get back to BT Murrayfield and I know it would make our coaches and supporters proud too.”
Lauren added: “I’d like to wish all the teams playing in the semi-finals this weekend the best of luck. It’s amazing to see how many strong women’s teams have played over the course of the season and I feel they are all truly inspirational to woman in sport.”
In the second semi-final of the National Plate, Dundee Valkyries will travel to Biggar.
It's been an especially momentous season already for the Dundee Valkyries, a team who established themselves in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic to play their first ever seen of competitive rugby in the Tennent's Midlands/East division.
Biggar and Dundee met previously in the 2021/22 season at the Tennent’s Regional league play-off, both toping their regional league. Biggar returned from Dundee victorious, with a 15-22 win which sees them promoted to the Tennent’s National 1 Division next season.
The Valkyries team are very excited about the challenge ahead and prospects of reaching the National Plate final in their debut season.
Valkyries captain, Stephanie Craig said: "We've had some really tough games in the pool stages but it’s been absolutely amazing to see how much competitive rugby has brought the team on in the last 2 months. We're really proud of our performance especially against the National 1 sides.
"Everyone has been training really hard and preparations have gone well for this weekends semi-final against Biggar. We are going into semi-finals with an open mind. We played them just over a month ago at home in the National 1 play-offs and it was a tough match so we're expecting them to really bring it to us with it being a home fixture for them.
"To reach the finals in our first competitive season would be amazing and we’re determined to put Dundee on the map of women’s rugby. Hopefully, we can perform well enough to make our Silver Saturday debut, this really would be the cherry on top of an already successful season. But win or lose, we have so much to be proud of this year, from winning the Regional league and growing our player base to start a 2XV squad in our first season has been unreal!
Abbie Baillie, captain of Biggar said: “We’ve had a really successful season so far and we have all been super eager to keep that up. Our pool stage was shorter than expected but they were two fantastically competitive fixtures.
“We played away against Dundee last month for the league play-off and it was certainly a tough game, so we are looking forward to facing them at Hartree Mill this time around.
“Biggar is an up-and-coming women’s team, and a lot of us have been playing together since U15 level, so it would mean the world to everyone involved and the whole club if we were to finish this season on a massive high, in the final with a Plate in hand.”
Ayr v Livingston, Sunday 24 April, 2pm KO
Biggar v Dundee Valkyries, Sunday 24 April, 2pm KO
No less than 17 teams competed in the National Bowl, initially being split into four pools of competition.
Pool A: Aberdeenshire Quines, Caithness, Dundee Valkyries 2XV, Fraserburgh, Peterhead
Pool B: Greenock Wanderers, Bishopton, Dunfermline, Liberton, Midlands Development Team
Pool C: Glasgow University, Cartha Queen’s Park 2XV, Inverness Craig Dunain
Pool D: Grangemouth, Hamilton, Kirkcaldy, Lismore
The winner from each pool progress to the semi-finals, and they are: Caithness, Greenock Wanderers, Cartha Queen’s Park 2XV and Kirkcaldy.
In the first semi-final of the National Bowl, it's Krakens versus Claymores as Caithness host Cartha Queen's Park 2XV on Saturday 23 April.
It has already been a momentous season for the two sides, as they each made their competitive debut in the Tennent's regional leagues, and both sides will be eager to end their inaugural season on a high at Silver Saturday.
The Caithness Krakens won all four of their pool fixtures in the lead-up to the semi-final, scoring 208 points in the process, which will no doubt give them confidence ahead of this weekend.
Caithness' girls sides have enjoyed a lot of success this season too, with the U16 and U18 sides contesting the National Shield title at DAM Health Stadium earlier this year.
Looking ahead to Sunday, Krakens' captain, Hazel Stewart said: "We are delighted to be in the semi-finals of the National Bowl. We have faced tough competition and learned from every game we have played.
"For many of us, including myself, this is our first ever rugby season. Rugby has brought us together and no matter what the future holds we will always have a special bond. Our main strength is that we all care for each other on the pitch, we look after each other.
"One of our team sayings is 'the real winners are the ones who have the most fun' and we all certainly do that! We are all looking forward to giving it our all on Saturday and the support from the whole county has been amazing.
The Claymores' captain, Lynsay Taylor said: “As a team and a club, we are immensely excited to make the long trip to Caithness for our semi-final. This season has certainly been beyond all of our expectations. To go from being the first club in Scotland to field second 15 women’s team in the league structure to making the final at BT Murrayfield would be a great achievement for everyone involved.
“We have had a great run so far in the Plate competition but by far the moment that stands out was our last minute try up in Inverness. They’re such a strong opposition to face, so to sneak that win really galvanised the squad.
“I couldn’t be prouder of how this team have really pulled together, especially because a lot of us didn’t know each other even a year ago. As we are the new team on the block, we are very much the underdog going up against Caithness but there will be no doubt we will give it everything we have got.”
Greenock Wanderers, reining champions of the National Bowl, will face Kirkcaldy at Beveridge Park on Sunday.
The West Coast outfit amassed a staggering 266 game points in just four fixtures, which no doubt will give them confidence ahead of this weekend.
Beverley Addison, captain of Greenock Wanderers said: “We are hugely excited to have made it to the semi-final and have been preparing meticulously for what we know is going to be a tough and competitive match with Kirkcaldy Ladies.
“We have played Kirkcaldy many times before, and it’s always been a hard game, but we are excited for the challenge and will be aiming to showcase our own brand of rugby.
“This season has required a lot of hard work from our players and coaches to re-build the team from the covid layoff, and we have seen that hard work pay off with our results getting better and performances stronger from week to week.
“Reaching the final would just be the cherry on top of a fantastic season, and it would allow us to say a real thank you to our coaches Ally, Graham and Robert who have really made us a whole new team this year.”
Kirkcaldy Ladies are equally no stranger to the National Bowl final, having last competed for the title at BT Murrayfield in 2017.
In similar fashion to this weekend's opposition, Kirkcaldy won all three of their pool games, scoring 163 points in the process.
Speaking to Scottishrugby.org, Kirkcaldy captain, Carrie-ann Downs said: “We’ve enjoyed a successful pool stage winning all of our games, which has boosted morale within the squad. We are looking forward to a physical game against Greenock and hope to secure that spot in the final.
“The team have been building throughout the season which has seen new players joining the squad, playing rugby for the first time, so reaching the semi-final is proof of the hard work and commitment the coaches and players have put in.
“As captain I could not be prouder of the team. Reaching the final would be the ultimate goal for us and prove after a tough start to the season we can rebuild and achieve what we put our minds to.”
Caithness Krakens v Cartha Claymores, Saturday 23 April, 1pm KO
Kirkcaldy v Greenock, Sunday 24 April, 2pm KO