Greenock Wanderers LADIES travel south for first cup round
Greenock Wanderers ladies get their Sarah Beaney Cup campaign off and running at 2pm in the Borders on Sunday when they travel to Poynder Park to face hosts Kelso in the first round.
The locals will travel with a large squad and no little support as they head to one of the iconic venues in Scottish club rugby in the hope of progressing to the next round in the highly prestigious knock-out competition.
The ladies were left frustrated a fortnight ago when their league game against Melrose was switched from the world famous Greenyards to Liberton in Edinburgh but hopefully there will be no repeat on Sunday and the local girls can enjoy the excellent facilities and playing surface at Poynder Park that has been graced by some of the finest players in the world.
Hosts Kelso currently ply their trade in the second division of the BT Women’s National Leagues, one division below Wanderers, but that is an irrelevance when cup-tie rugby is involved - particularly with a Borders team on home soil. The Kelso girls have won one and lost one in the league so far this season but look an efficient outfit with some powerful forwards and speedy backs.
Wanderers however will travel with confidence after recording their first victory of the season two weeks ago against Melrose. The Greenock girls dispatched the Borderers 20-12 with a fine display of attacking rugby that saw Tina Hemphill and skipper Hannah Mutton cross the opposition line for the third week in succession.
The story of the season so far for Wanderers has been a positive one. Two defeats from their three league games to date fails to do justice to the effort, commitment and quality of play being produced by the Greenock ladies and as improvements continue it is hoped that the results will start to reflect the skills on show.
Up front new additions to the squad Sophie Hicks and Anne Thomson have settled in well in the back row. Both girls are fit, athletic and strong over the ball at ruck time resulting in plenty of turnover possession coming back on Wanderers side. Also catching the eye is Nicole Boffey who has exploded onto the scene with some rock solid tackling in defence and elusive running in attack.
With Captain Emma Grace unavailable due to work commitments, stand-in skipper Hannah Mutton has risen to the task with aplomb. Mutton’s natural leadership skills give her unquestioned authority in the changing room and on the park where her ability speaks for itself. Vice-captain Emily Gray has also led her pack of forwards by example and with the local side gaining momentum there is real optimism that a legitimate title challenge may ensue.
As always though the locals will take one game at a time and a late selection will determine Sunday’s starting lineup.
Founder member and main strike runner Caitlyn Haldane may have an outside chance of making the side after her nasal injury two weeks ago. The injury has responded to treatment and she should be back in her usual berth sooner rather than later.
Whether she makes Sunday’s tie or not, the hard running centre received a personal boost when she was selected for the extended national training squad by Scotland Women’s head coach Shade Munro. The squad meets periodically at the sports complex at Heriot Watt University and her inclusion clearly shows she is in the thoughts of the national selectors.
A full report on Wanderers cup match will appear in next week’s Telegraph.
By Donnie Cunningham