Watsonians Ladies urged to cap off improvement with silverware

Louise McMillan (Hillhead/Jordanhill, left) and Emily Cotterill (Watsonians) hope to win the Sarah Beaney Cup
Louise McMillan (Hillhead/Jordanhill, left) and Emily Cotterill (Watsonians) hope to win the Sarah Beaney Cup
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Watsonians Ladies head coach Dave Flynn believes the team spirit and a willingness to improve as a unit has helped the Myreside club reach Saturday’s Sarah Beaney Cup final – and now he wants the players to show what they can do on the big stage.

The Capital outfit have played in Bowl and Plate finals on the back pitches of BT Murrayfield and elsewhere in recent years, but this weekend will see them compete on the international pitch against Hillhead/Jordanhill (2.10pm) as part of a busy “Silver Saturday”.

The Glasgow club will start as favourites given that they have won the BT Women’s Premier League this term and are the holders of the Cup.

However, Sonians have had a good season in the top flight, finishing in mid-table and rounding off their campaign with a 97-0 victory over Ayr on Sunday.

They also came out on top in one of the games of the season when they saw off Murrayfield Wanderers 46-43 in the semi-final of this event earlier in the month.

That result has given the team confidence and Flynn, who coaches the side along with Scott Nightingale, said: “It’s been fantastic to see how far the team have come this season and I’ve been really pleased to see some of the more experienced players add new facets to their game.

“The whole squad are a great bunch and although they are all competing for places every player wants to help each other get better.

“Most rewarding has been watching just how far some of the less experienced ladies have came since the beginning of the season, some of whom had never picked up a rugby ball eight or nine months ago and are now playing and thriving at top flight level.

“I’m sure the semi was a great game for the neutral! The lead changed hands so many times it was hard to keep track of, but it was useful to have a hard semi-final and a tough quarter-final [with Edinburgh University].

“We’re not just going there on Saturday to take part. Much the same way Hills are out to win the trophy we are also going there with the aim of winning.

“The team relish a challenge and the better the opposition are the better they play. Hills are obviously a top side and have been worthy league champions but cup rugby is a different ball game.

“We’ll concentrate solely on what we can do, put our best foot forward and see what happens.”

The starting XV and replacements will be decided later in the week, but the likes of captain Emily Cotterill, Scotland cap Lana Skeldon, Molly Wright, Nicola Nightingale, Emma Evans and Bryony Nelson are likely to be key to the outcome.

There is a good balance of youth and experience in the maroon and white ranks and Irishman Flynn added: “It is great to have experience in the squad and they help raise the overall standard.

“There are no egos around and the less experienced players train in exactly the same way as the internationals.

“We are very lucky to have an abundance of forwards and in particular front-rows and we also have some real quality in our backline and when picking a squad for the final it is frightening to think just how much stronger again the team might be without a few long-term injuries.

“One of the main reasons I am delighted for the ladies making this final is that there are others who should also be knocking on the door of international caps in the squad and this match will be an ideal opportunity for them to show their abilities to [Scotland head coach] Shade Munro and the wider Scottish set-up.

“This is a brilliant chance to show their ability on the big stage, to create a bit of history for the club and it will likely be a career highlight for most of them as not many get the chance to play on the main pitch at Murrayfield.

“A cup final is a great day out so I want the squad to take in the atmosphere and all the build-up, but still stay fully focused on the rugby and performing as well as I know they can.”