A record crowd and broad sunshine greeted both teams at the DAM Health stadium in Edinburgh for the opening game of the 2022 TikTok Six Nations.
Scotland took to the field with some new confidence after their World Cup qualification against Columbia. A win was on their mind against the oncoming juggernaut that is the fully professional England team, but without disrespect to Colombia this was a considerable step up in quality of oppositon.
Scotland started well, putting England under pressure in contact and at the breakdown. Their set-piece looked controlled and their forwards looked every bit as strong as the Red Roses pack.
England seemed to settle down and get into their groove more quickly though and it wasn’t long before Marley Packer scored her first of three tries after a penalty was taken with a quick tap. Poppy Cleall followed up with England’s second try at 13 minutes after some strong forward play.
Scotland were not for giving in and after a penalty from the visitors was kicked into the right corner by Lisa Thomson, the resulting lineout was won, phases were put together and a sublime offload from Hannah Smith sent Chloe Rollie over for what was to be Scotland’s only try of the match.
England then went into overdrive with three successive tries scored in nine minutes including Packer’s second of the game. The sheer class and obviously huge amount of familiarity this Red Roses squad has thought training time together showed as England went into halftime with a comfortable lead.
Scotland 5 -31 England HT
Scotland came out fighting in the second half, spending the first 10 minutes trying to batter down the impenetrable English defence. A lineout spill by the visitors actually saw Rachel McLachlan power over the line but it was judged to have been a Scotland knock by the officials and the try was disallowed.
A further three tries were then chalked up by the opposition with Holly Aitchison, Connie Powell and Marley Packer all scoring, Packer sealing her hat-trick in the process. All the conversions bar one came from a resurgent Emily Scarratt, returning after long term injury.
Scotland came back strongly at the end, battering at the English defence in the 70th minute until a knock on finally relieved the pressure and allowed England to clear their lines.
Scotland can take many things away from this encounter at the loud, patriotic and heart-warming DAM Health Stadium.
They looked fitter, stronger and more controlled than ever. Their quality of their play at the set-piece was comparable to England’s, their forwards did cause a fair bit of damage and the whole team have shown they can put phases together to gain meters and stretch a defence. More time together as a squad can only help this group.
England are the dominant team in women’s rugby at the moment but considering that they are fully professional and Scotland are not, how good could Scotland be if the SRU dug deep and paid our female athletes what they are worth? Better or worse than, say Old Glory DC?
Final Score: Scotland 5 – 57 England
Referee: Joy Neville (IRFU)
Player of the match: Marley Packer (Eng)