West of Scotland’s Burnbrae Belles clinch promotion to SRU National League

West of Scotland's women side have gained promotion to the National League.
West of Scotland's women side have gained promotion to the National League.

West of Scotland Rugby Football Club’s ladies’ team the Burnbrae Belles have won promotion to the National League.

The girls - already West Regional champions - clinched their spot after coming through the play-offs against the other regional champions.

The Belles beat Shetland 76-10 in their semi-final at Burnbrae last week to set up a final showdown away to Kelso.

And on Sunday they achieved their season’s target of promotion with a 35-10 victory over the Borderers.

The triumph rounded off a perfect campaign for the Belles who had been crowned West Division champions, after winning every match with a try bonus point in a division that saw them face the ladies of Ardrossan Academicals, Biggar, Greenock Wanderers, Hamilton and Wigtownshire.

An early season win at Greenock was a huge confidence booster having been well beaten in a cup match at Fort Matilda last season.

Although they went behind early on, they quickly hit back and a fine performance saw a comfortable victory, running in a number of tries in the process. This set the pattern for the season with free-flowing rugby being responsible for a number of substantial victories.

After overcoming semi-final opponents Shetland the Belles suffered a rare setback when Kelso, who defeated Glasgow University in the other sem-final, drew home advantage for the final, forcing Burnbrae to head south to Poynder Park.

The pitch was soft but overhead conditions were fine and dry with no more than a gentle breeze blowing and West had a number of fans in support, giving full backing throughout.

It was clear from the start that the home side’s greater size would give them an advantage.

The question was could the lighter but pacier West girls defend well enough to keep the match close until their undoubted superior fitness took over?

An early try gave West a boost but Kelso quickly hit back with two tries of their own. All three tries were unconverted.

For most of the rest of the half, it was strong West defence versus the powerful Kelso forwards, but the Burnbrae wall was not breached again and with a few minutes to go to half-time, the home side led 10-5.

West were awarded a penalty in the home 22, almost directly in front of the posts. No matter where a penalty is awarded, the West girls usually run it, but this, though, was a winner takes all match.

Prosaic rather than poetic was the order of the day, the penalty was kicked and at half-time, West trailed by two points.

Not long into the second half, West moved into an 11-10 lead after another successful kick at goal.

The Kelso forwards continued to drive but it became clear they were tiring.

West began to win more clean ball and make more breaks than tackles and an unconverted try put them 16-10 ahead, a good position but Kelso only a converted try from moving ahead.

However more excellent West defence weakened the strength and resolve of the hosts and West began to dominate.

Three late tries, two of them converted, saw West deserved but certainly not comfortable winners.

The 10-35 scoreline was rather unfair on a hard-working Kelso side. No matter the margin, though, the outcome was the same. West of Scotland Ladies will play in the National Division next season.