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Scotland 3 – 17 Wales

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© Scottish Rugby Blog

A healthy turnout at Scotstoun were treated to a stop-start showing which dulled the optimism after the impressive victories in South Africa. And it’s safe to say Philip Doyle will know one area which needs urgent improvement for when these two sides meet again in the 6 Nations.

A squint line-out gave Wales possession on the Scotland 10m line, but after a few phases with Wales’ stand-off Ellinor Snowsill heavily involved, Sarah Bonar managed to get over the ball when Snowsill had tried to dart towards the line.

Both sides were looking to get the ball wide as early as possible, but failure to execute led to a procession of scrums, in which Wales looked the stronger in the early stages.

They eventually forced a penalty from one, which they put to the corner and successfully mauled their way over the try-line through openside Bethan Lewis.

A high tackle on Megan Gaffney allowed Lisa Thomson the chance to get Scotland some possession in Welsh territory, only for Jodie Rettie to overthrow and Snowsill to put Scotland back in their own 22 with her clearing kick.

An infringement at that line-out gave Scotland the penalty, but Thomson failed to find touch and the Welsh could come again.

Fortunately, a Welsh handling error derailed that attack, but when Scotland knocked on again just a couple of phases later, Wales got the shove on. Another scrum penalty went against Scotland, Mairi Forsyth pulling it down, and handed possession back to Wales.

They took their chance this time, Lisa Neumann doing well to get on the end of Lauren Smyth’s grubber, collect from the floor and stretch out over the line.

Scotland’s errors leading to scrums were damaging any chance they had to grab a foothold, and scrums were often resulting to penalties as the Welsh pack dominated the set-piece.

Helen Nelson finally got Scotland on the scoreboard with a long range penalty, after good surges by first Chole Rollie and then Rhona Lloyd on the right wing had put Scotland in the Welsh half.

With under a minute remaining in the first-half, the same old story of scrum put-in Wales leading to a penalty put Scotland under pressure, and Emma Wassell was sent to the sin-bin for pulling down the maul with the try line a dragon’s breath away.

Wales opted for the scrum. The referee whistled again for another penalty. They scrummed again, but Scotland held firm, if anything Welsh loose-head Gwenllian Prys popped up, and although they butchered an overlap on the left, Scotland hooker Rettie was penalised for a high-tackle 5m out.

Another scrum, and this time a penalty try. This is exactly the kind of thing that John Anderson was meaning when he had it as his Hands In The Ruck on a recent podcast. It’s effective, but it’s not pretty, and it shouldn’t be this decisive in a rugby match.

Half-time: Scotland 3 – Wales 17

Wales opened the second-half on the attack, Rettie penalised at the breakdown this time, allowing Wales to kick to touch. Wales knocked-on, but once again they marched straight through the Scotland scrum and won the penalty.

They opted for the scrum rather than the easy kick at goal, but this time there was no whistle, Scotland were able to win the ball back and eventually clear.

Scotland’s afternoon got worse when Megan Kennedy, usually one of the side’s best close-quarter carriers, was stretchered off.

The referee had blown the whistle so that Kennedy could receive medical attention, so you know what that meant.

Rather than milk another penalty, Wales opted to play, but failed to add to their tally when an ambitious grubber through was retrieved by Megan Gaffney.

When Scotland were awarded a penalty of their own at a scrum, they tried to up the tempo. A quick tap and kick through for speedster Lloyd dribbled over the side-line, but at least they were in the right areas of the park.

At least they were, until Bethan Lewis stripped the ball and charged westwards. Thankfully, opposite number Louise McMillan had the gas to track her down.

 McMillan then nearly turned unlikely try-scorer when she picked off Ffion Lewis’ loose-pass and charged away, but play was called back for an earlier knock-on.

Scotland were wisely trying to avoid any set-piece action, opting to tap and go when being awarded penalties, but there wasn’t enough quality to trouble the Welsh defence, before the inevitable knock-on would occur as they chased an unlikely route back into the match.

Wales thought they had extended their lead when replacement scrum-half Ffion Lewis picked up from the base and went over, a position obtained through more good mauling work, but she was held up over the line.

As the game lumbered towards the 80th minute, a mesmerising run from Chloe Rollie gained a good 50m of territory, but Wales won a penalty at the next phase breakdown.

Scotland got one last piece of the pill, but another handling error ensure the second-half stayed scoreless.

SRBlog Player of the Match: hard to choose when seeing so little of the ball in open-field, the back-row put in a shift, and Rollie did have a couple of good charges, but I’ll opt for Rhona Lloyd on the right wing. She too made one or two nice breaks, and did well to prevent her opposite winger scoring on a couple of occasions.

Referee: Nikki O’Donnell (RFU)

Attendance: 2, 196

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