A strong Saints performance and victory was cut short after Stirling suffered from several injuries which meant St Andrews’ first home match of the season finished early.
A tight BUCS table meant the stakes for this match were high and this was further emphasised by previous results. Saints had come into this game after their first loss of the season against champions Glasgow last week, which ended 42-24, so were looking to bounce back against a Stirling side whom they had beaten 32-17 in the away tie.
A 4 pm kick-off meant this game was played under the lights on the rubber crumb pitch at University Park. The start was perfect for Saints, as they piled early pressure on Stirling’s defence and pinned them into their own 22. This brought reward also when Emma Stormonth crossed the line for the first try of the match. A difficult angle meant this try went unconverted but Saints would continue with their strong play and push Stirling back. Once again Saints’ would break through Stirling’s defensive line and post a score of 10-0 after only 10 minutes of the match played.
This perfect start wouldn’t last however as Stirling got back into the game. Some good running and rucking put Stirling in St Andrews’ half for the first time. A gap in Saints’ defensive line allowed Stirling’s full back to surge through and score a great try and get her team back in the match.
A first injury set-back for Stirling put their comeback on hold however. When play resumed Stirling again put pressure on St Andrews’ defence. A wayward Stirling pass though would be brilliantly intercepted by Emily Jones who surged across the other half of the pitch without opposition to put Saints back in control of the match with a third try. The first successful conversion of the game made the score 17-5 to St Andrews just over halfway through the first period.
Stirling were not going to be pushovers however and they immediately responded with some strong play. Saints put up a resolute defence but Stirling’s pressure would eventually bear fruit as they crossed the line for a second try close to the posts. This was well converted and reduced Stirling’s deficit to just five points again.
St Andrews responded strongly to Stirling’s revival and would put the game beyond doubt by the end of the first half. Saints pressure on the left-wing paid off and a strong surge and try from Rhiannon Fox-Rothwell restored the 10-point cushion. The rest of the first half would continue in this regard as St Andrews pushed Stirling back on the defensive. As the clock went past 40 minutes, Saints kept up the pressure looking for a last breakthrough before half-time. Some excellent passing opened up space and Maggie Fletcher would find that breakthrough to record St Andrews’ fifth try of the match. An entertaining first half then, would end at 27-12 to the home side.
The second half wouldn’t quite settle down after the restart. St Andrews picked up where they left off by pushing Stirling back. Battling defence from Stirling would prove their downfall however, as a series of injury stoppages would lead to them not having a full team to complete the match. There was an attempt to continue the match but after much discussion between the referees and coaches of both teams, it was agreed that the match end there. The final score being 27-12 to St Andrews.
An unusual conclusion but a strong performance and important victory for St Andrews nonetheless. There was a series of good tries combining strong running, passing and several periods of sustained pressure resulted in scoring. Defensively there were some gaps but overall St Andrews were resolute and had to be strong to contain Stirling when they did come at them. St Andrews can be happy with their performance and should take real confidence into next week’s game where they welcome league leaders Aberdeen to the sports centre, with Saints sitting only one point behind them and Glasgow in the BUCS Scottish 1A division.