BT NATIONAL WOMENS BOWL FINAL
BT MURRAYFIELD BACK PITCHES
SATURDAY 28TH APRIL
OBAN LORNE LADIES 45-5 GARIOCH RFC
History was made on the back pitches at BT Murrayfield on Saturday as Oban Lorne Ladies lifted the BT National Bowl title with a hard fought 45-5 win against Garioch RFC.
The Oban players and coaches have been working extremely hard over the past few weeks to build on winning the National League Division 2 title and have been training upto five times per week to prepare for their final appearance.
Having impressed both in attack and defence against a variety of opponents this season the team knew that if they played to their potential on Saturday, as in the 29-5 semi final win over Howe Harlequins the team would have a very realistic chance on lifting silverware on Saturday.
Head Coach Corrie Louw and Team Manager Darrell Williams fielded a very strong starting lineup at Murrayfield led by team captain Laura ‘America’ McCormick. Being introduced to the team were 17 year old back row Eilidh Shearer who has progressed well through the rugby setup at Oban High School. In fact 12 of the 22 players fielded on Saturday attended Oban High School and have been part of the School and Clubs fantastic Girls Rugby setup.
Oban made a shaky start to the match in front of a large crowd and found themselves 5-0 down after only a few minutes . Garioch spun the ball wide from a lineout to find their dangerous winger Liadh Broughton in acres of space. Broughton used her impressive pace to finish off out wide and gifted her side an early lead.
The poor start to the game compounded with giving away a couple of penalties and freekicks failed to dampen Oban’s spirits as they hit back almost immediately. Stand Off Lucy Stewart broke free from 35 meteres out, side stepped a couple of covering defender’s to finish off an outstanding solo try. Stewart converted her own try putting Oban 7-5 ahead.
Oban pressed the Garioch defence to add to the scorline but were finding Garioch hard to breakdown. A great opportunity was passed up around the 20 minute mark as first Laura MacCormick was high tackled close to the line followed by an Ellie MacNiven knock on from the resulting penalty as the tryline beckoned. Oban were offered another opportunity after turning the ball over at a 5 metre scrum but Garioch frustrated the ladies in Green and managed to ease the pressure with a good clearing kick.
Referee Mhairi Hay was officiating the game very well and was allowing the game to flow giving for an exciting and open contest to spectate.
For most of the first half the match was played near the centre of the pitch. Garioch were trying their best to spin the ball wide to their speedy wingers while Oban were carrying well in the close quarters with powerful runs from the likes of Erika Skofca, Georgia Mitchell, Laura MacCormick and Camilla Leslie.
With it looking like remaining a two point game just before halftime Prop Ellie MacNivens powerful run gifted Oban some good possession close to the tryline. Some quick and quality passes from Scrum Half Audrey Barr and Lucy Stewart eventually let the ball find Centre Kirsty Sinclair who scored her first try of the day.
Another Stewart conversion took the score to 14-5. Ellen Barlow did have a break away from the kick off but the team could build on another promising phase of play. The score remained at 14-5 to Oban in what had been an extremely competitive and hard fought 40 minutes of rugby.
At the break Corrie Louw instructed his team to be more dynamic and gain momentum in possession knowing his players had the ability to finish off well if they got in behind their opponents.
Garioch looked to hit back as they dominated the start of the second half and almost scored within the first few seconds of play. Oban’s outstanding defence led by the always reliable flanker Ailsa MacLachlan along with Eilidh Shearer kept the Garioch attack at bay.
Oban winger Ellen Barlow realised the pressure on her side with another trademark run upfield. Ellie MacNiven made amends for her earlier mistake near the tryline by finishing off and other phase of fantastic handling to touch down beneath the posts giving her side their third try of the day. Again Stewart converted extending the lead to 21-5.
The Green Army were now well on top and were dominating most areas of the match. Credit must go to Garioch however as they were making Oban work very hard particularly at the breakdown and at the scrum where the Oban front row of Georgia Mitchell, Laura MacCormick and Ellie MacNiven had to put in a powerful shift to secure the ball. Second row pairing of Selina Keppie and Rebecca Sims were also working hard both in attack and defence to secure the ball for their team.
Oban went close to their third try of the game as winger Sophia Rosinski failed to gather a Skofca pass with the tryline in sight.
Kelly Lamont had been putting in an assured performance at fullback with some fantastic tacking and fielding off the ball from Garioch clearing kicks. Lamont scored a deserved try mid way through the half with Rebecca Sims superbly offloading to the onrushing fullback for Oban’s fourth try of the game.
At 26-5 Oban could now relax a little and looked more comfortable throwing the ball around against a tiring but determined defence.
Fullback Lamont looked to add to her try scoring exploits but was brought down short of the line. Lamont and Sims managed to combine yet again with the latter picking and touching down from close distance taking the score to 31-5 with 15 minutes remaining.
The caching team freshened the side up going into the closing stages of the game with Veronica Spiers, Nienke Van Geal and Rachel MacDonald all taking to the field.
Oban again added to their points haul as Kirsty Sinclair’s run forward from a stray Oban pass let in 17 year old Eilidh Shearer for her first ever Senior Rugby try, much to the delight of the whole Oban Lorne team and support!
The Ladies in Green were hungry for more tires and again went close with winger Rachel MacDonald just losing control off the ball near the line after a promising break.
Oban rewarded the whole 22 playing squad for their efforts with a further four changes to the team with 5 minutes remaining with Claire MacPherson, Hannah Cringles, Liz Cromer and Jenny Farthing all making an appearance.
The days performance was capped off with a pre-planned try form the back off a scrum with Lucy Stewarts inside pass fining Erika Skofca who finished off the scoring for the day as Oban ran out in the end comfortable 45-5 winners.
As Mhairi Hay below the final whistle there were huge celebrations and relief from the whole team as they had deservedly secured the BT National Women’s Bowl for 2017/2018.
The team and coaching staff were awarded their medals and the National Bowl from an emotional SRU Vice President Dee Bradbury who has been a huge part of Oban Lorne RFC over the years having been a player, captain, club secretary, Minis Convenor, President and now Honorary President of Oban Lorne RFC.
Oban Stand Off Lucy Stewart was awarded player of the match as selected by Scotland Women’s International Lisa Martin.
Success at the National Stage has been a huge achievement for the Oban Lorne Ladies, Players, Coaches and is a huge mark of how much the Ladies section have built successfully in their short history. The final win on Saturday would not have been possible without the hard work and determination from all of the players involved along with Coach Corrie Louw and Team Manager Darrel Williams. Support was also given to the players at the final with George Hamilton as Team Physio and Club Treasurer Willie Malone also travelling as part of the cup final squad.
Finally the club would like to thanks all of their sponsors for their support to the ladies section. This includes PMG for the sponsor of the players bus to Murrayfield and back as well as JAM Drilling for their continued input into the Ladies team along with Lonan Properties and Coastal Connections. The preparations put in place for the final would not have been possible without the support of these businesses.
Oban Lorne RFC would also like to thank the Oban Times for their continued coverage every week.
The Ladies still have one match remaining this season as they travel to take on Grangemouth Stagettes RFC in the last remaining National League 2 fixture of the season. This game is due to be played on Sunday 13th of May.