Scotland: Grange and Watsonians take the lead in the Premierships

After day two of the Premiership double header weekend Grange men have moved into pole position, while in the women`s competition Watsonians are in the driving seat on goal difference from Wildcats – and 3-2 victories seem to have been the order of the day.

The day`s big game between rivals Watsonians and Edinburgh University proved as close as always – Watsonians won 3-2 but it was close in the end.

After a goalless first quarter it was 16-year-old Jess Garden who opened the scoring for the champions, and that was followed by a penalty corner conversion by the ever-reliable Emily Dark for a 2-0 half-time lead. Dark scored another set piece in the third quarter and the game seemed over. But penalty corner conversions by Edinburgh`s Louise Campbell and Jika Nyirenda closed the gap, but not enough as the champions held out for the narrow victory.

Wildcats are level with Watsonians on points after a comfortable 5-0 win over Inverleith. The goals came in regular progressions, in the first quarter Emma McDiarmid and Alex Stuart found the net, McDiarmid added her own second in the next quarter, Kaz Cuthbert scored in the third and Lexi Sabatelli added a fifth in the final quarter.

Kaz remarked: “We had plenty of opportunities in a competitive game with Inverleith, but a clinical performance from the Cats produced a six point weekend.”

A goal three minutes from the end gave Uddingston a 3-2 win over St Andrews University and moved the Lanarkshire up to the top half of the table. It was a bit of a ding-dong affair, Lexie MacMillan opened with a penalty corner after only two minutes but soon after Fiona Hawkings replied for the students. By half-time Uddingston were back in the lead through Maisy Darce from open play.

Hannah Coull brought the scores back to level in the third quarter, and that`s how the final outcome looked until MacMillan popped in the winner with only three minutes remaining.

Asked if Uddingston deserved the three points, new coach Gareth Ikin said: “I would say so, it was certainly a game that ebbed and flowed with each team having spells on top, but thankfully we were able to create and convert our opportunities when we were in the ascendancy.”

Also moving up to the higher echelons are Grange who came away from Aberdeen with an 11-2 win over Gordonians. Top scorer with five was Hanna McKie, there were doubles each for Heather Croll and Rachel Shiel while Iona Syme and Kirsten Cannon got the others.

In the final game of the day Glasgow University earned their first points of the campaign with a single goal victory over Hillhead, a silky finish by Dara Devine in the third quarter was the difference between the teams.

Grange just keep on winning and as a result have moved into pole position in the men`s Premiership, but it is not always totally convincing – example a 3-2 win over neighbours Watsonians.

The Premiership holders found themselves a goal down to a penalty strike by Watsonians` Dan Coultas. But by the interval ex-Clydesdale`s Jamie Green along with new Aussie signing Cale Walsh had given Grange a 2-1 lead.

But Watsonians were not cowed and Coultas sunk another penalty corner for a 2-2 score. But Grange had the last laugh when their penalty corner expert Aidan McQuade smacked in the winner.

A successful Tayside experience for Hamish Imrie`s Edinburgh University, the students followed a 4-0 win over Grove Menzieshill with a similar score at Dundee Wanderers. Once again Andrew Lobb and Sam Hunt were on target, this time supported by Tom Cahalin and Alexander Marsland.

The Inverleith v Grove Menzieshill clash in Edinburgh finished in a 3-3 with the home side grabbing a share of the points in the final minute.

Ollie James gave the Taysiders the lead in the first minute but Inverleith`s penalty corner expert Charlie Jack scored twice for a 2-1 lead – Jack scored half a dozen over the weekend – good shooting. Grove Menzieshill then went into a 3-2 lead through Ross McPherson with a penalty corner deflection and Murdo Kiddie with a back post tap-in, and a Tayside victory looked secured.

But at a breakaway Inverleith captain Kyle Taylor nicked the ball past the keeper in the final minute to secure a share of the points.

Kyle remarked: “Frustrating game, we started well but let Grove Menzieshill take control of the game in the second half. Very happy to get an equaliser in the final minute which was a good show of our character.”

Uddingston moved up the table with a 2-1 win over Hillhead who remain pointless after back to back defeats this weekend. Finn Halliday and Syawal Razak at a penalty corner were the Uddingston scorers while Matt Carder scored for Hillhead with a brilliant reverse stick lob over the keeper.

Hillhead`s coach Yan Adams remarked: “A bad start for Hillhead. We had all the pressure in the final quarter but couldn`t convert a number of strong chances.”

And finally, ESM have won their first points of the season with a 2-1 win over Kelburne, Paddy Crookshanks and Rich Wright at penalty corners scored for the Edinburgh side while Tommy Austin replied for the Paisley outfit who remain without a win.

by Scotland Hockey

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