Murrayfield Wanderers aim for fourth consecutive Beaney Cup

Murrayfield Wanderers captain Louise McMillan and her Hillhead/Jordanhill counterpart Sarah Quick look ahead to the Sarah Beaney Cup final
Murrayfield Wanderers captain Louise McMillan and her Hillhead/Jordanhill counterpart Sarah Quick look ahead to the Sarah Beaney Cup final
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Murrayfield Wanderers ladies’ coach Rhona Shepherd is expecting a tight encounter with seasoned rivals Hillhead/Jordanhill in the Sarah Beaney Cup final tomorrow as the Capital side look to clinch the double.

Wandies go into the showpiece final at BT Murrayfield (1.15pm) looking for a fourth consecutive title in the event which is named in memory of one of their former players.

However, they know it will be tough against a team from the west who they just pipped for the BT Women’s Premier League title back in January.

In the deciding match in that league campaign, Wandies edged out Hills 18-12 and the Glasgow side have big-game performers such as skipper Louise McMillan, Jade Konkel and Abi Evans.

Wandies have a fair few match winners themselves though and Shepherd, who coaches the team with Alan Douglas and Ruth Slaven, said: “I have been really impressed by the team’s work ethic and togetherness this season.

“In the summer we lost a few players for various reasons, but a number of youngsters have stepped up into the first team and that has really pleased me.

“As a teenager it can be quite daunting coming into a senior team that is used to winning trophies, but because we have a very good youth set-up the girls gain experience in the under-15s and then the under-18s and that leaves them ready to step-up.

“For example, teenager Sula Callender is likely to start for us in the final and she has come on leaps and bounds in recent months and is a regular in the squad.

“The senior players who have Scotland caps are great at helping Sula and the other younger ones learn and get used to the environment; the balance in the side is great.

“I have been involved in rugby for many years and the matches with Hillhead/Jordanhill have always been keenly fought. They are a good side and I can’t see much in it, but we are determined to win the trophy again.”

In a tight match it can be the ‘x-factor’ players which can tilt the balance and in the back three Wandies have a lot of pace to burn.

Eva Rojas, Eilidh Sinclair and one of Scotland’s stars of the recent Six Nations, Chloe Rollie, are set to be in those positions while centre Helen Nelson is improving all the time.

It could be double delight for Murrayfield Wanderers at the national stadium with the men’s team taking on Carrick in the Shield final at 5.45pm.

Having won 17 of their 18 league matches to win BT East League Division One this term, Bruce Aitchison’s men will head into the final in good spirits, but Carrick are the holders.

And a third Capital side, Portobello, will be keen to get the ball to outside back Ali Bain in their BT Bowl final with Blairgowrie (11am). He has already bagged 30 tries this season and should enjoy the opportunity of playing on the vast pitch at the national stadium.

There are three other finals being played on a full day of club rugby.

At 11am the women’s Bowl on the back pitches features Kirkcaldy and Garioch while on the pitch next door at the same time Stirling County will face Stewartry in the women’s Plate.

At 3.30pm back in the main stadium the BT Cup final takes place with Melrose taking on Ayr.

The teams met last week in the BT Premiership final at The Greenyards and Ayr just managed to edge it 12-8.

As a result Melrose, for whom former Boroughmuir No.8 Iain Moody could be a key man, are out for revenge and their head coach Rob Chrystie said: “The guys have regrouped after losing last week and they have trained well. A final at the home of Scottish rugby brings out the best in all players and it should be a good game.”