STUART BATHGATE @Scotstoun
SCOTLAND went down to their third defeat in three matches in the Six Nations Championship, but in some respects at least this was their best showing so far against a side who beat them 64-0 last year and are ranked second in the world. The defensive lapses were again in evidence, as they had been two weeks earlier in the 26-3 loss to France, but there was an encouraging display of defiance at the breakdown.
“I think we’re progressing each game,” head coach Shade Munro said. “In some aspects the French game we were better in than we were today, but conversely there were some aspects where we were better here. We played a bit more rugby today.
“I was pleased that we were at least trying things, but there were easy tries for England through poor communication in defence.
“We learn from games like that. If that’s one of the best teams in the world, it shows you where we’re at. It’s just the physicality side of it – they need to be able to repeat it over and over again.”
Scotland had to make a late change for the second match in succession, with this time captain Lisa Martin dropping out because of an eye problem. Helen Nelson moved to No 10 with Hannah Smith coming on at centre, Rachel Malcolm took over as skipper and Eilidh Sinclair was promoted to the bench.
England were on the attack straight from kick-off, and took a third-minute lead when Danielle Waterman finished off a fast passing move. Sarah Bern got the second five minutes later, profiting from a mistake by the home defence who had drifted too far wide.
Scotland enjoyed a good period of pressure after that, and Sarah Law got them off the mark with a penalty. A kick and chase by Rhona Lloyd then ended in Jade Konkel barging over, and although Law was just wide with the conversion attempt, it was an encouraging sign for the Scots after a worryingly one-sided start.
However, England were soon back on the offensive, and Charlotte Pearce got their third try midway through the half. Katy Daley-McLean kept up her fine form with the boot by notching her third conversion.
Again Scotland fought back, with the powerful driving of Konkel once more to the fore, and after a number of offences English flanker Izzy Noel-Smith was sinbinned. Scotland ran the penalty but were soon turned over, and although they enjoyed a long spell of penalty, England had the last word in the half when Ellie Kildunne got the bonus-point try. Daley-Mclean was off target this time, leaving the score at the break 8-26.
Ten minutes after the restart, left-winger Pearce got the fifth try, again unconverted, but England continued to incur the wrath of referee Joy Neville, and after 55 minutes Rowena Burnfield became the second English forward to be yellow-carded. While Burnfield was still off, Siobhan McMillan followed her for making contact with an opponent who was off the ground.
Within two minutes of the Scotland prop going off, Lagi Tuima made good use of the extra space by bursting straight through the middle to score between the posts, and this time Daley-Mclean did add the two points. Waterman then got her second try all too easily as the home defence tired, but she was denied her hat-trick at the death when the TMO ruled she had gone into touch just before touching down.
Scotland: C Rollie; E Musgrove, L Thomson, H Smith, R Lloyd; H Nelson, S Law; S McMillan, L Skeldon, M Kennedy, E Wassel, D McCormack, S Bonar, R Malcolm, J Konkel. Substitutes: J Rettie, M Lowish, L Smith, S Cattigan, L McMillan, M Grieve, E Sinclair, L Harris.
England: E Kildunne; D Waterman, L Tuima, L Cattell, C Pearce; K Daley-Mclean, L Riley; V Cornborough, A Cokayne, S Bern, A Scott, T Taylor, R Burnfield, I Noel-Smith, P Cleall. Substitutes: L Davies, R Clark, J Lucas, C O’Donnell, M Packer, C Mattinson, A Reed, K Smith.
Scotland: Try: Konkel. Pen: Law.
England: Tries: Waterman 2, Bern, Pearce 2, Kildunne, Tuima. Cons: Daley-Mclean 4.
Scoring sequence: 0-5, 0-7, 0-12, 0-14, 3-14, 8-14, 8-19, 8-21, 8-26 half-time, 8-31, 8-26, 8-38, 8-43.
Yellow cards: Scotland: S McMillan. England: Noel-Smith, Burnfield.
Referee: J Neville (Ireland).