AFTER a fainthearted start against Wales left her team with too much ground to make up a week ago, Scotland captain Lisa Martin is well aware that an exceptional 80-minute effort will be needed against France at Scotstoun tonight.
Had the Scots played all game the way they did in the second half in Colwyn Bay a week ago, they might well have won rather than going down 18-17. Against altogether tougher opponents in Glasgow this evening, Martin knows there can be no repeat of that half-hearted start.
“It was one of those things in the first 40 minutes [against Wales] – I don’t think the mindset was there for the full 40,” the stand-off said. “We knew what we had to do, we knew what the game plan was, and we knew that we had to be a bit more confrontational – a bit more of a bully, really, in the pack, because we knew Wales would come for us. We didn’t really do that enough.
“We’re under no illusions that France are going to be a complete step up from that. The focus in training has been about the breakdown and set piece. It’s getting that first set piece right, that first minute right, that first action on the pitch right. “
Nothing really went right against the French in La Rochelle last year, when Scotland lost 55-0, and although they also lost heavily to England, Martin believes that the squad has changed considerably since then. The alteration has come not so much in terms of personnel but in experience gained, particularly in the case of the side’s three France-based professionals – Chloe Rollie, Lisa Thomson and Jade Konkel – who Martin thinks can provide some valuable insight into how the French are likely to play.
“It was a bit of a stumbling block in terms of the Six Nations, but we did kick on again last year off the back of it,” the stand-off said of that loss to France 12 months ago. “We’re a completely different team now, as are France. Having Chloe, Lisa and Jade over there has helped massively in terms of how they aim to play the game.
“We know France are going to be physical up front, and they’ve got a good young, fast back line, but if we can negate their power up front then I think their backs are going to struggle with back-foot ball. If we can put them under pressure with back-foot ball I think we can reap some rewards there. Get balls kicked over to the back three and then fun times.”