After the Scotstoun wash-out of Sunday, an eerily deserted Murrayfield hosted the delayed meeting between these two sides but it only served to dish up the inevitable.
In the opening minute England both forced a penalty and there was an injury worry for Scotland flanker Rachel McLachlan.
Once McLachlan was back on her feet, England soon took the lead. Although Emma Wassell did tremendously to haul opposite number Poppy Cleal to the deck just short of the line, Sarah Bern managed to power her way over at the next phase.
Murrayfield had seen enough lost Scottish line-outs on Saturday to last an entire Six Nations, and England nearly scored again after seizing on an all too familiar set-piece failure.
However, when England had two good attacking line-out opportunities, they too failed; the first one overthrown and the second was squint, but this was already looking a backs to the wall job for Scotland after only 10mins.
The teams had walked out to a bright winter sun, but after quarter of an hour, Storm Ciara decided it was her turn to get involved, as the snow began to fall.
It forced England fly-half Zoe Harrison to knock-on as England probed in the 22, but after the Scotland scrum was again put under pressure, Jade Konkel, having previously got her side out of danger in similar situations, was penalised for not releasing after the tackle. Emily Scarratt opted for the 3-points to put England 10-0 ahead.
Scotland did manage to get into England’s half off the back of some English handling errors, but a couple of their own handed possession back to England, and Scarratt’s accurate kick towards the corner, forced Helen Nelson to desperately clear to touch.
Another line-out error from England, this time for a technical infringement when forming the maul, helped get Scotland out of a bit of trouble, but this wasn’t “men against boys”, to use a classic sporting cliché, this was pros against mainly amateurs.
Jess Breach dove into the left corner, then Abby Dow scored a brilliant solo score, taking the ball in midfield before fending off three tacklers and out-pacing Nelson on the outside to score in the right corner. Scarratt’s well judged conversion left Scotland a mountain to climb, with none of the appropriate equipment to scale it.
Scotland had only made it into the England 22 once in the first-half, when Evie Tonkin found a bit of room in the left, but she had been instantly stripped of the ball just before Breach’s try.
Half-time: Scotland 0 – 22 England
England thought they had scored again early in the second half, but Poppy Cleal was ahead of the kicker when she looked to feed on the scraps.
The visitors soon scored again though, when they went through the backs and Emily Scott dummied her way over. Scarratt was very unlucky with her conversion attempt, which was on target, but dropped short in the worsening weather conditions. (Let me assure you that the weather in Glasgow was worse, I doubt they could have played here today either. It looked a bit breezy in the morning, then rain, wind, blustering gales, snow, thunderstorms and some more snow followed. Then it turned into a nice day.)
Scott scored her second try of the afternoon when Harrison’s fiendish cross-kick was tipped back by Dow for a simple tap-down, which Scarratt converted through the squall on this occasion.
It was one-way traffic, going at such pace that England should have been made to pay a toll for such easy access.
Wassell and her boiler-room buddy Sarah Bonnar had done well to hold up Dow, and with that earn the scrum put-in, but once that scrum got mashed, England worked the ball wisely and widely.
The imperious Scarratt threw a forward pass to Breach, which was noticed by the TMO, but it was a free play as Scotland had already been pinged for offside.
Scotland held up the resultant maul, but England’s pack got the drive on from 5m, and Sarah Hunter scored easily from the base.
As the game entered the last 10mins, Murrayfield could have doubled up as a set for a Christmas movie (of which, science has proven that “Die Hard” is the best) and as tight-head Mairi Forsyth trudged off, you could see her arms were red raw from the cold.
The punishment wasn’t quite over. Chloe Rollie, the top try-scorer in the English Women’s Premiership, tried to throw a quick line-out for herself at the edge of Scotland’s 22, but fluffed her lines, allowing Claudia MacDonald another easy score. With that surname, you’d have thought she’d do us a solid.
It was 80-0 to England last year at Twickenham, so the gulf in class is obvious and apparent. The fact that the SRU can’t take any ticket money from this rearranged clash will hurt their pockets, but if they’re serious about trying to expand the women’s game, they could use some of Dodson’s bonus to support this area.
There are a handful, I think eight, players on professional contracts with English clubs, but clear deficits in the set-piece need to be resolved if you want this team to be competitive. The scrum was mashed, the line-out was worse than the men’s team display.
No platform = no play.
Referee: Clara Munarini
SRB Player of the Match: in such a one-sided game, it’s hard to call. Helen Nelson did some decent wriggling runs to try and make yards, and apart from with Bren’s try, defended capably. Jade Konkel did what she could, saving some backwards walking scrums with her great hands, but I’ll opt for Emma Wassell.
A hard shift at the coalface but she tackled well and was the only viable line-out option.
Attendance: about 40 friends and family, plus a few journalists. Except me, my train got cancelled so I watched it in the flat.