Match Report: Scotland 22-34 Wales
Wales came out on top in a see-saw, eight-try thriller at DAM Health Stadium in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations as Scotland fell just short in a fascinating tussle in Edinburgh.
A passionate build-up was immediately tempered as Rachel McLachlan had to go off for a head injury assessment within the opening minute, after taking a blow when tackling Welsh flanker Bethan Jones.
And the visitors were the first to show their hand, with Sisilia Tuipulotu storming over to finish a cleverly-worked line-out from close range.
Scotland steadied themselves and engineered a first foray into opposition territory when Caity Mattinson landed a delightful 50:22, the line-out from which Scotland won a penalty for an illegal entry. They looked set to cross the line, but some stellar Wales defence – a feature throughout to their credit – held firm and forced the error.
Wales consistently looked threatening in open play, Keira Bevan’s darting run on her 50th cap eventually amounting to nothing, but it was a theme of a first half of much to and fro.
Sioned Harries dotted down after 15 minutes, only for referee Maggie Cogger-Orr to consult with her officiating team to void the try for being offside.
Scotland got on the scoreboard when Helen Nelson slotted a penalty from 20m out after Wales were adjudged to not have rolled away at the breakdown.
Another outstanding run from Bevan saw her gain lots of ground, before Harries followed suit with some lovely footwork for measure. It ended with loosehead Gwenllian Pyrs rumbling over, with Bevan coverting to make it 12-3.
Bryan Easson’s charges, as has often been the case in this fixture in recent iterations, refused to show too much concern with the deficit and they roared back into proceedings when Lana Skeldon went over after Scotland gambled with a kick to touch when a penalty three was on offer. The gamble paid off and then some with Nelson’s excellent conversion from the touchline to bring the hosts within two points.
A searing break from wing Fran McGhie created a platform for Scotland to stage one more attack before the interval, but even with Kerin Lake being shown a yellow card for a cynical offside, it remained 12-10 to Wales as Cogger-Orr signalled the end of the half.
HALF-TIME: SCOTLAND 10-12 WALES
Wales came flying out of the second half blocks, Pyr adding a second try in similar style to her first but, as was the case at every turn of this encounter, Scotland rallied in in quick time.
And what a reply it was. Coreen Grant, on her first home start, timed her run perfectly to sprint onto a Nelson pass in a well-worked move which once more brought the home side hope that they could overturn a two-point gap at 17-19.
But it was Tuipulotu, eventually named Player of the Match for the second successive week, who kept Scotland at arm’s reach, burrowing over after a sleight of hand pass by Jones, with Bevan converting to make it 24-17.
Could the hosts come again? They did, and how. Chloe Rollie, she of the fleet of foot, scored a second try of the championship with one to rival and even better her effort against England last time out. A savage step left her opposite player in all sorts of trouble and Rollie scuttled over for a great try. Two points the difference yet again, at 22-24 and with 15 minutes left on the clock.
Both sides went all in to earn field position, with Wales knowing that any opportunity to stretch their narrow lead would give them a form of stability in this back-and-forth bonanza. When they were awarded a penalty right in front of the posts, Elinor Snowsill did just that, extending the visitors’ advantage to five points with as many minutes to play.
Ffion Lewis eased over for a fifth Welsh try in the dying embers, offering Scotland a cruel conclusion to a captivating Test match, and one that either side could have won up until the last moments.
FULL-TIME: SCOTLAND 22-34 WALES
Scotland: 15. Chloe Rollie (Loughborough Lightning) 14. Coreen Grant (Saracens) 13. Emma Orr (Heriot’s Rugby/Biggar) 12. Meryl Smith (University of Edinburgh) 11. Francesca McGhie (Watsonians); 10. Helen Nelson VICE-CAPTAIN (Loughborough Lightning) 9. Caity Mattinson (Worcester Warriors); 1. Leah Bartlett (Loughborough Lightning) 2. Lana Skeldon (Worcester Warriors) 3. Christine Belisle (Loughborough Lightning) 4. Lyndsay O’Donnell (Bristol Bears)
5. Louise McMillan (Saracens) 6. Rachel Malcolm CAPTAIN (Loughborough Lightning) 7. Rachel McLachlan (Sale Sharks) 8. Evie Gallagher (Worcester Warriors)
Replacements: 16. Jodie Rettie (Saracens) (for Skeldon, 79 mins) 17. Anne Young (Sale Sharks) (for Bartlett, 69 mins) 18. Elliann Clarke (University of Edinburgh) (for Beslisle, 57 mins)19. Eva Donaldson (University of Edinburgh) (for O’Donnell, 67 mins) 20. Eilidh Sinclair (Exeter Chiefs) (for McLachlan, 1 min, HIA; then 30 mins) 21. Mairi McDonald (Exeter Chiefs) (for Mattinson, 57 mins) 22. Beth Blacklock (Harlequins) (for Smith, 74 mins) 23. Liz Musgrove (Wasps) (for Grant, 66 mins)
Wales: 15. Courtney Keight 14. Lisa Neumann 13. Hannah Jones CAPTAIN 12. Kerin Lake 11. Carys Williams-Morris; 10. Elinor Snowsill, 9. Keira Bevan; 1. Gwenllian Pyrs 2.Kelsey Jones 3. Sisilia Tuipulotu; 4. Abbie Fleming 5. Georgia Evans; 6. Bethan Lewis 7. Alex Callender 8. Sioned Harries.
Replacements: Carys Phillips, Cara Hope, Cerys Hale, Natalia John, Kate Williams, Ffion Lewis, Robyn Wilkins, Hannah Bluck.
Referee: Maggie Cogger-Orr (NZR)
Assistant Referee 1: Beatrice Benvenuti (FIR)
Assistant Referee 2: Maria Pacifico (FIR)
TMO: Leo Colgan (IRFU)
Yellow card: Kerin Lake (Wales, 39 mins).
Player of the Match: Sisilia Tuipulotu (Wales)