Improved performances in Marbella

An improved performance saw the Scots realise a number of their targets set at last weekend's training session, between the first Grand Prix tournament in Brive and this second and last Series event in Marbella.

Head coach Scott Forrest said: "We're realistic about where we are given the preparation we've had. Performance was what we wanted to improve on and we set ourselves very specific aims -  to score more tries and concede less tries, to score in the first half and concede fewer than two scores in the first seven minutes - which we met. The encouraging thing overall was that we improved each game.

"In the Ireland game which was first up, however, we didn't put in a good performance; we were a bit shell-shocked. We'd worked a lot on the basics of attack and defence in the last two weeks and it was silent there. We scored a decent try at the end, though, from go-forward.

"The Germany game was a big step up in that we scored first - we hit one of targets ther in that we scored in the first half. We lost it right at the end, which was disappointing because we'd put ourselves in the position to win the game."

Improvement continues

The Scots picked themselves up against Portugal, scoring on half time and their defence was a lot better but then they went 12-5 down in the second half. They showed great character to fight back, however, with Johnston slotting a conversion unfder pressure right on full time to draw level. Ending the day against France, a quality side, who the Scots had played two weeks ago in Brive, the performance was improved and the Scots conceded ten fewer points than the last time they met.

Forrest adds: "We conceded 21 tries on day one in Brive, it was 15 here. We scored six tries on day one - we only scored three over the whole tournamentin Brive. So that's a massive improvement having only had one weekend together.

"The girls took a lot of confidence from it but it's tough for them; it's easy for me to say we're improving but when we're not getting anything back from it with results, it a tough place for them to be.

In addition to meeting teams who have had considerably more time together and played in more tournament this season, the Scot had the added challenge of temperatures hitting the mid-thirties in southern Spain.

Forrest says: "We spoke a lot about it coming into the weekend but the players have coped really well with the heat. The only time they're in the sun is when they're warmng up and playing and they're very good at putting their feet up in the shade between games.

"They've nailed their recovery - they did that in Brive in the opening tournament. With the temperatures in the thirties it would be very easy for people to start losing weight becuase they're not getting their hydration but everyone's put on a little bit of weight, actually, which means they're getting it right off the pitch."

Scotland meet England today (kick-off 12.50 BST) in their final pool game after which their final two matches will be decided. Scotland have to finish in the top ten to retain their place in the European Series.

Scotland v Ireland
This was the first match of the tournament, kicking off at the hottest time of the day. The Scots struggle to keep shape in the first half and saw little ball as the Irish were ahead 17-0 by half time. A better second half saw more go-forward and the Scots capitalised on Irish mistakes, taking quick ball to get Wheeler out wide and break up the wing to touch down. FT: 31-5
Team: Wheeler, Slaven, Gaffney, Maxwell, Johnston, Sergeant, Smith - subs Forsberg, Green

Scotland v Germany

A much improved performance where the Scots should have taken the honours but took their eye off the ball in the closing minute. The Scots came out of the traps at pace with quick ball to Wheeler who raced down the touchline to dot down beside the posts, the conversion nailed by Johnston. There was much more attack in the performance and a second score from Johnston came just before half time, which she also converted. With the ball deep in Scotland's half with minutes to go, Maxwell made the break and ran three-quarters of the field to score, the conversion just short, to put the Scots ahead again. With less than a minute left, however, Germany secured ball at the restart and ran in a final score to win 22-19.

Team: Wheeler, Slaven, Gaffney, Maxwell, Johnston, Sergeant, Green - subs Forsberg, Law

Scotland v Portugal

The improvements continued as the Scots put down their marker in the first half with a well-worked try from Johnston, using the wide channel and crossing just wide of the posts to open the scoring. Into the second half, the Scots let Portugal back into the game with some missed tackles and hesitant passing. But Scotland regrouped and pushed for the score, Sergeant crossing in the top corner. Johnston kept her cool as full time approached to convert and draw level,

Team: Wheeler, Slaven, Gaffney, Maxwell, Johnston, Sergeant, Green - subs Forsberg, Smith

Scotland v France

A powerful French side had already seen off Series leaders England 26-0 and didn't take their foot off the gas in their final game. Scotland fought hard and had phases of solid attack but ultimately the French seized every chance and charged through the defence, showcasing their physique, to  go ahead 14-0 at half time and finish the game 33-0.

Team: Forsberg, O'Donnell, Gaffney, Green, Sergeant, Johnston, Maxwell - subs, Shields, Smith.