Scotland avoided the wooden spoon with a hard fought but ultimately deserved win against Wales in the final match of the Women’s Six Nations.
Lisa Thomson got a bit lucky when her touch-finder penalty bounced before hitting the sideline, but once the line-out was complete, the Scots drove on, and playing with penalty advantage, the ball went from right to left, where Jenny Maxwell dove over the line in the corner.
Wales then dominated in territory for the next 10mins or so, on the one occasion Scotland did pinch the ball back, Chloe Rollie’s pass to Maxwell was too sharp for the winger to hold, but when Wales’ fly-half Robyn Wilkins was later offered the chance to reduce the deficit off the tee, her effort drifted wide. The contact off the boot didn’t sound particularly clean, so it seemed like a bit of a let-off for the hosts.
Wales kept the ball in the Scotland 22, and only a good read and cover tackle from Lisa Thomson prevented Wales from getting over the line when she rushed up to distract Wales full-back Jasmine Joyce from being able to feed Caitlin Lewis for a sure-fire try in the corner.
Scotland had infringed during the attack, so Wilkins reduced the deficit off the tee, and before the restart No:8 Siobhan Cattigan went off for an HIA, with Saracens’ Jodie Rettie coming on as a replacement.
A second Wilkins penalty put Wales into a 1-point lead, but when Wales failed to deal with the restart which bounced into touch, they opted for a scrum in their own 22, seeing as it had been a source of success for them the last two times the teams had met and they’d got a slight nudge on in the earlier exchanges here.
Cartha QP’s Renaissance Woman, Christine Belisle, wasn’t playing that last time out though. Once she’d put Wales’ tighthead Donna Rose under too much pressure, Scotland went to the touchline.
A shortened line-out was taken by the incomparable Emma Wassell, and although Maxwell was denied her second try of the game out left, Megan Kennedy did burrow her way over from close range.
Straight from the restart though, Kennedy was caught on the floor, so Wales looked to reduce the deficit immediately with a kick to touch 5m from the Scotland line.
A horrific throw from Robyn Lock let Scotland off the hook, and once Liz Musgrove had smacked the ball back into the Welsh half, Rettie got clamped over the ball to win a Scottish penalty.
It won’t come as a surprise to anyone who follows this Scotland team to here the phrase: “Wassell climbed highest to claim the line-out”, and once back into open play she was involved again as Scotland pounded away at the Welsh line.
Wassell didn’t manage to get over the whitewash, but Belisle did.
Once the restart was claimed, Chloe Rollie – for possibly the first time in this tournament – found herself in a bit of room, and the Quins full-back engaged the turbo thrusters to break into the Welsh half.
It drew another penalty from the visitors, but Scotland were unable to extend the lead going into the sheds when the line-out went askew.
Half-time: Scotland 17 – 6 Wales
Like their male counterparts, Scotland can be liable to overplaying in their own 22, and a misplaced pass by Thomson handed Wales possession at the start of the half in Scotland’s 22.
A weird breakdown passage where Belisle had her hands on the ball but referee Clara Munarini refused to make a call either for the turnover or hands in the ruck, so play continued until Welsh winger Lisa Neumann crossed in the right corner to make it a one-try deficit.
From a seemingly innocuous position on halfway following a Welsh knock-on, Scotland swung the momentum back their way.
Louise McMillan nipped round the edge of a ruck and fed Cattigan, who tripped over her own feet as she burst into the Wales 22.
Wales were eventually caught offside, and after another Wassell line-out take, the maul was set up and blindside flanker Evie Gallagher was latched on to score her first international try in only her third outing.
Helen Nelson’s 70th minute penalty extended the lead. Her cross-field kick a minute or so earlier had bounced kindly into the arms of Musgrove, and the winger nearly made it all the way until an excellent tackle by Wales’ stand out performer Joyce hauled her down, but as they scrambled back, the Welsh were caught offside for the fourth time in the match.
Caitlin Lewis nabbed herself a consolation score from what looked like a forward pass and although it was brilliantly converted by Wilkins from way out wide, it would only have been enough to grab a losing bonus point as Scotland recorded their first win at Scotstoun stadium.
SRBlog POTM: it’s getting boring to pick Emma Wassell who was once again in the running, so Christine Belisle can take the virtual champagne for another impressively versatile, try-scoring shift.
Referee: Clara Munarini (FIR)