Match report: Ireland 15-12 Scotland

Match report: Ireland 15-12 Scotland

Scotland's 2024 Guinness Women's Six Nations campaign ended in heartbreak as they so narrowly lost out on a place in WXV1 and securing Rugby World Cup qualification after losing 15-12 to Ireland in Belfast.

Scotland had been in pole position to grab third place in the table for most of the game, with Ireland only taking the lead for the first time in the 74th minute via O’Brien’s penalty, but it was enough for the hosts to instead be the ones to secure WXV1 and Rugby World Cup spots.

Lisa Thomson got proceedings underway. The opening minutes saw the two teams battle in the air as they exchanged kicks, but with Ireland’s scrum-half, Aoibheann Reilly, deemed to be offside as Ireland exited their half, Lisa Thomson lined up for a penalty, getting Scotland into Ireland’s 22 for the first line out of the match. 

Elis Martin’s dart went straight to the hands of Emma Wassell at the front and Scotland began to drive the maul. Linda Djougang was penalised for entering the maul from the side and Thomson once again put boot to ball for a second line out, this time just over 5 metres from Ireland’s try line. The lineout was perfect once more and Scotland’s powerful maul couldn’t be stopped, with Martin at the back to dot down for Scotland’s first try of the match, with just eight minutes on the clock. It was a tough conversion for vice-captain, Helen Nelson, which fell short of the sticks.

Only a few moments later, Scotland were forced into a change at scrum-half, as Caity Mattinson was injured in a ruck.With immediate medical attention required, the game was paused as Mattinson was stretchered off the pitch, replaced by Mairi McDonald.

Ireland were keen to retaliate and put Scotland’s defence to the test but relentless pressure from the women in blue saw the threats extinguished at every given opportunity, with Evie Gallagher, Alex Stewart and Christine Belisle all showing what they’re made of.

However, after defending well for over 20 minutes, Ireland gathered momentum to take themselves into striking distance for a try. Attempting several times to maul across the whitewash from a close range line out. In the 33rd minute, Thomson worked well to slip herself between the ground and the ball in Neve Jones’ hands as Ireland drove across the line, ending Ireland’s hope of a try.

Ireland had a further three attempts to maul across the line but Scotland continued to push back and stop them getting onto the scoreboard.

As the first-half reached its concluding minutes, Ireland were penalised for not rolling, giving Scotland a line out in their territory. Martin’s throw was adjudged not to be straight, and the forwards packed down for a scrum as the clock went red. Ireland looked to stretch Scotland and with Gallagher penalised for playing the ball illegally at the ruck, Ireland looked to have one more go for some points, as Dannah O’Brien kicked for a line out in the left-hand corner. Diligent work from Louise McMillan to steal at the line out paid off, and Helen Nelson ended the half, kicking the ball into touch.

Half-time: Ireland 0 – 5 Scotland

Ireland were galvanised as the sides returned to the pitch. A cross-field kick, gathered by the women in green then saw winger Katie Corrigan put into space, as she crashed over for Ireland’s first try of the match in the opening minute of the second-half. O’Brien was unable to take Ireland into the lead, missing her conversion.

Ahead of restarting, Elliann Clarke entered the field replacing Christine Belisle in the front row. 

Scotland were hungry for more, and with a penalty conceded by Ireland for not releasin in the tackle, Thomson’s kick to Ireland’s 22 gave Scotland a line out. After Wassell secured the ball at the lineout, Scotland began to string together their phases of attack with Gallagher, Wassell and Clarke working exceptionally to take Scotland closer to the try line. After stringing together eleven phases of play, as Scotland pursued the 10 metre line, Meryl Smith found Thomson who’s running line tore through the defence, as she crashed over for her ninth Scotland try. Nelson converted with ease to take Scotland into the lead. 

Ireland fired back and with a series of infringements from Scotland, momentum gathered for the hosts. Leah Bartlett was penalised for being offside and Ireland utilised their position in Scotland’s territory to earn a line out on the five.  Clíodhna Moloney dotted down and O’Brien equalised with the conversion.

Scotland made a series of additional changes ahead of the final 15 minutes with Eva Donaldson, Rachel McLachlan, Lisa Cockburn and Molly Wright replacing Louise McMillan, Alex Stewart, Leah Bartlett and Elis Martin respectively.

Several penalties were going against Scotland and Ireland were working their way up the field as a result, and in the 74th minute it lead to the hosts taking the lead for the first time. Wassell was pinged for not rolling away in the ruck, and from the penalty just left of the posts O’Brien slotted through.

The final five minutes were spent inside Ireland’s 22, with Scotland winning penalties and kicking to the corner but repeatedly being repelled. With 30 seconds to go, Parsons was deemed to have knocked the ball on deliberately and was yellow carded. Scotland kicked the penalty to Ireland’s 22, but the lineout went awry and Ireland kicked to touch to end Scotland’s chances of WXV1 and World Cup qualification from this Six Nations tournament.

Full-time: Ireland 15-12 Scotland

Scotland: 15. Meryl Smith 14. Coreen Grant 13. Emma Orr 12. Lisa Thomson 11. Francesca McGhie 10. Helen Nelson (vice-captain) 9. Caity Mattinson 1. Leah Bartlett 2. Elis Martin 3. Christine Belisle 4. Emma Wassell 5. Louise McMillan 6. Rachel Malcolm (captain) 7. Alex Stewart 8. Evie Gallagher

Replacements: 16. Molly Wright (for Martin 62 mins) 17. Lisa Cockburn (for Bartlett 62 mins) 18. Elliann Clarke (for Belisle 47 mins) 19. Eva Donaldson (for McMillan 61 mins) 20. Rachel McLachlan (for Stewart 61 mins) 21. Mairi McDonald (for Mattinson 11 mins) 22. Cieron Bell 23. Nicole Flynn

Ireland:15. Méabh Deely 14. Katie Corrigan 13. Eve Higgins 12. Enya Breen 11. Béibhinn Parsons 10. Dannah O’Brien 9. Aoibheann Reilly 1. Linda Djougang 2. Neve Jones 3. Christy Haney 4. Dorothy Wall 5. Sam Monaghan 6. Aoife Wafer 7. Edel McMahon 8. Brittany Hogan

Replacements:16. Clíodhna Moloney 17. Niamh O’Dowd 18. Sadhbh McGrath 19. Fiona Tuite 20. Shannon Ikahihifo 21. Molly Scuffil-McCabe 22. Aoife Dalton 23. Katie Heffernan

Referee: Natarsha Ganley (NZR)
Assistant Referees: Aurelie Groizeleau (FFR) and Holly Wood (RFU)

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