Match Report: Scotland 36-10 Ireland
It was a night of record-breaking moments for Scotland as they concluded their 2023 TikTok Six Nations campaign with a 36-10 win over Ireland in front of 4,862 strong crowd at DAM Health Stadium on Saturday night, wrapping up the competition with their first back-to-back wins since 2006.
Ireland claimed the first points of the night in the opening five minutes when Referee Sara Cox deemed that Scotland were unable to support their body weight in the ruck, and so Ireland’s fly-half Dannah O’Brien lined up to take the three, which sailed through the posts.
Both Scotland and Ireland had flitting moments in attack as they challenged each other’s defensive efforts, but neither quite able to capitalise on the opportunities presented.
At the 15-minute mark, strong work at the breakdown from Coreen Grant and Emma Orr inside Ireland’s half saw Scotland claim a penalty, allowing half-half Helen Nelson to kick to touch for a Scotland line out. Playing to their strengths, Scotland mauled to take them closer to the try line but were unfortunate to have the ball ripped in the charge forward.
Scotland had a few more glimpses of strong attacking phases with Fran McGhee, Meryl Smith and Louise McMillan in particular making their presence on the pitch known, with Scotland entering Ireland’s half on handful occasions, but the green machine speed at the breakdown saw the women in blue and their chances for five put to a stop.
With less than 10 minutes on the clock of the first half, Ireland’s attacking play began to take shape as they worked short side, entering Scotland’s 22. Smith’s attempt to prise the ball from the Irish clutches was deemed unlawful with the player already on her knee from the tackle, giving Ireland a penalty in a strong field position. O’Brien kicked for the corner for a try scoring opportunity from a lineout. Winning their line out, Ireland began to maul but solid defensive work from the forward pack and hand under the ball from McMillan saw Ireland denied the try as they rumbled over the line.
Another Irish lineout in the 36th minute set in motion the events which would soon lead to a try scoring opportunity for Scotland. Ireland were unable to take the lineout cleanly, and so Scotland were awarded a scrum.
Number 8, Evie Gallagher, picked from the back and shipped the ball through the back line, reaching Chloe Rollie who dodged her way past four defenders. As Scotland began stringing the phases together, Mairi McDonald carried the ball on her own, resulting in Ireland being penalised at the breakdown, deep in their 22.
Helen Nelson took the chance for a Scotland lineout with a kick to touch some five meters from the try as hosts looked to conclude the first half in the lead. A classic Scotland line out and driving maul went to plan, with the forwards releasing the ball to McDonald, who then found Smith, and the inside centre crashed over the whitewash running a strong short line to claim her first try for Scotland. Nelson’s conversion was wide, but Scotland were up at half time.
HALF TIME: SCOTLAND 5-3 IRELAND
It was a bright start to the second half for Scotland as they claimed their second try of the match through hooker, Lana Skeldon at 47 minutes.
With the visitors taken into touch in their own half, Scotland had the lineout, and as you might expect, began a driving maul which took them further into the opposition’s territory with Skeldon making a break down the short side with Jade Konkel-Roberts in support.
Scotland were awarded advantage as Ireland’s Dorothy Wall was penalised. Nelson made a fantastic kick to touch, for another lineout close to the try line. McMillan gathered cleanly in the air and the forward pack powered on through, allowing Skeldon to add to her string of tries in the TikTok Six Nations campaign.
Ireland looked to retaliate quickly, and some three minutes later had advantage deep in Scotland’s 22, O’Brien kicked to touch for the lineout. A strong driving maul was difficult for Scotland to defend, and soon after Ireland’s captain Nicola Fryday was over the whitewash for the try. O’Brien’s conversion flew through the posts and Scotland and Ireland were drawn.
Of course, Scotland had something to say about it, eager to pull ahead. And pull ahead they did!
A Scotland lineout in Ireland’s half was once again retained by the women in blue, and was popped out the back to Skeldon, who found Smith, ready to charge. Her fantastic athleticism saw Scotland taken deeper into Ireland’s 22, before captain Rachel Malcolm took her chance to propel Scotland closer to the try line. Next to go was Evie Gallagher, who was just short of the whitewash, but it would be prop Leah Bartlett who would finish the job, rumbling over the crossed over. Nelson’s conversion was nailed, and Scotland took a seven-point lead, as the record breaking crowd of the DAM Health Stadium roared.
Beginning to build on their momentum, Scotland were on the hunt for another try.
Keeping their boots firmly inside the visitor’s territory, flanker Rachel McLachlan sent a cracking wide pass into the hands of winger Fran McGhie. Scotland’s breakthrough star of the 2023 Six Nations danced her way through the Irish defence, soaring over the whitewash to score her first try for Scotland in style. With the bonus point secured, next up was Nelson with the conversion. Her ice-cool composure saw the ball safely go through the sticks and Scotland extended their lead by 14 points.
In the final 10 minutes of the game, Scotland naturally were hungry for more. A solid scrum inside Ireland’s 22 saw the ball released to the backs, with Rollie making her way through the wall of green. A high tackle on the full-back gave Scotland advantage, as they continued to make ground. Malcolm dashed over the line but her try was denied with an unfortunate knock on.
With play taken back for the advantage for the high tackle to Rollie, Nelson kicked for the corner, and Scotland prepared once again for a lineout and driving maul, which went to plan.
After a series of phases from the forwards, Mattinson took play blind to find Malcolm, who crashed over the line for a fifth try. The conversion was a tight squeeze, but not one that would get past Nelson, as she added to her string of successful conversions.
You’d be forgiven for thinking with minutes left on the clock, there wasn’t room for anymore, but Scotland had other ideas.
With fresh legs on the field, a fantastic chip from Nelson was chased down the field by Beth Blacklock, who managed to gather the ball. The forwards once again had a chance to propel Scotland closer to the line. Scotland were awarded penalty advantage with Ireland offside, and Nelson used her boot for touch and it was time for one final Scottish fling at the lineout.
Although the ball was lost at the lineout, Scotland were still able to gather and Blacklock once again showed her strength in action, before safely getting the ball to Rollie. Scotland were within stretching distance of the try line and the forwards patiently strung together the phases. But with space out wide, it was time for Mattinson to release the ball to Emma Orr who shipped the ball to Rollie who sprinted over the line in the left corner in the dying moments of the game, as the crowd erupted. Nelson’s conversion unfortunately didn’t make it, however, Scotland still wrapped up the game with their best ranking in the competition since 2017.
FULL TIME: SCOTLAND 36-10 IRELAND
Scotland 15. Chloe Rollie (Loughborough Lightning) 14. Coreen Grant (Saracens) 13. Emma Orr (Heriot’s) 12. Meryl Smith (University of Edinburgh) 11. Francesca McGhie (Watsonians) 10. Helen Nelson VICE-CAPTAIN (Loughborough Lightning) 9. Mairi McDonald (Exeter Chiefs) 1. Leah Bartlett (Loughborough Lightning) 2. Lana Skeldon (Worcester Warriors) 3. Christine Belisle (Loughborough Lightning) 4. Jade Konkel-Roberts (Harlequins) 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) (76 mins for Skeldon) 17. Anne Young (Sale Sharks) (76 mins for Leah) 18. Elliann Clarke (University of Edinburgh) (76 mins for Belisle) 19. Eva Donaldson (University of Edinburgh) (71 mins for McMillan) 20. Eilidh Sinclair (Exeter Chiefs) (71 mins for McLachlan) 21. Caity Mattinson (Worcester Warriors) (56 minutes for Mairi McDonald) 22. Beth Blacklock (Harlequins) (76 mins for Smith) 23. Liz Musgrove (Wasps) (76 mins for McGhee)
Ireland 15. Lauren Delany 14. Aoife Doyle 13. Aoife Dalton 12. Vicky Irwin 11. Natasja Behan 10. Dannah O’Brien 9. Molly Scuffil-McCabe 1. Linda Djougang 2. Neve Jones 3. Christy Haney 4. Nichola Fryday CAPTAIN 5. Sam Monaghan 6. Brittany Hogan 7. Grace Moore 8. Deirbhile Nic a Bháird
Replacements 16. Clara Nielson 17. Sadhbh McGrath 18. Kathryn Buggy 19. Hannah O’Connor 20. Dorothy Wall 21. Ailsa Hughes 22. Anna McGann 23. Méabh Deely
Referee: Sara Cox (RFU)
Assistant Referee 1: Clara Munarini (IFR)
Assistant Referee 2: Katherine Ritchie (RFU)
TMO: Matteo Liperini (IFR)
Player of the Match: Meryl Smith (Scotland)