Report: Wales 18-20 Scotland

Report: Wales 18-20 Scotland

Scotland won in Wales for the first time in 20 years, recording a seventh straight victory in the process, as they got their Guinness Women’s Six Nations campaign off to the perfect start in Cardiff.

Tries from wingers Coreen Grant and Rhona Lloyd, coupled with a flawless Helen Nelson display from the tee, saw the Scots record an opening day victory in which they held off a late Welsh rally.

An early Wales penalty was replied to in scintillating fashion by the visitors when Saracens flyer Grant produced a moment of magic. After winning a line-out on their throw – a problem in the first half – Emma Orr popped to Meryl Smith and then on to Grant, who had the composure on no less gas to scamper up the left-hand touchline, wrong-footing Wales full-back Jenny Hesketh to career over for the game’s opening try.

Helen Nelson’s sublime touchline conversion added gloss to a telling moment in the opening exchanges (3-7, 10 mins).

Scotland held the game’s momentum but could not force their way towards a second try despite having the hosts in plenty of defensive bother.

Nelson’s penalty, after Wales were penalised for not releasing, widened the gap to seven points (3-10, 16 mins) before the effervescent Grant – later named Player of the Match – almost bettered her first involvement when racing 40 metres up the same wing before being brought down by Jasmine Joyce.

Wales’ habit of transgressing at the breakdown afforded Scotland numerous penalty opportunities but for all their sloppiness, the hosts held firm. And at the other end, Bethan Lewis saw her line-out maul try-finder spoiled by a calm and organised Scottish defence.

Leah Bartlett was adjudged to have gone off her feet just before the break, which allowed Bevan to add a second penalty to redress the half-time balance (6-10, 39 mins).

Half-time: Wales 6-10 Scotland

Wales had the better of the second-half conditions at a blustery Arms Park but it was Scotland who had the bit between their teeth as they sought an historic result.

And it was Lloyd who put gave her side a sizeable lead when she finished in the right-hand corner after Emma Orr had made a trademark galloping venture into opposition territory. Nelson kicked another cracker in adding the extras (6-17, 49 mins).

Each time Wales threatened a foray back, Scotland had an answer, including a delightful 50:22 from Lisa Thomson which alleviated pressure and bought time for her side to reset.

Wales’ breakthrough did arrive when Sisilia Tuipulotu barged over from close range, with the extras coming from Bevan (13-17, 59 mins).

Bryan Easson’s charges lost Lana Skeldon to a nasty-looking knee injury but her replacement Elis Martin painted a picture of how Scotland’s depth charts have grown in recent times with some assured line-out throwing as the visitors tried, ultimately in vain, to grab a third try.

Despite that score failing to come, when Wales brought down a scrum within range, the impeccable Nelson landed her fourth kick from four to offer some breathing room as the game’s final knockings approached (13-20, 73 mins).

Alex Stewart, impressive on her international debut with a number of telling contributions, was sent to the sin bin with two minutes to go and when opposing openside Alex Callender got over the line shortly after, a missed conversion by Lleucu George proved decisive.

With the clock in the red after the restart, a Sian Jones box kick went dead to signal full-time and with it, that heavenly seventh consecutive win for Scotland.

Scotland return to Hive Stadium in Edinburgh next Saturday to take on France (kick-off 2.15pm) and tickets for that game are still available HERE.

Full-time: Wales 18-20 Scotland

Wales: Jenny Hesketh, Jasmine Joyce, Hannah Jones, Kerin Lake, Nel Metcalfe; Lleucu George, Keira Bevan; Gwenllian Pyrs, Kelsey Jones, Sisilia Tuipulotu, Natalia John, Abbie Fleming, Alisha Butchers, Alex Callender, Bethan Lewis.

Replacements: Carys Phillips, Abbey Constable, Donna Rose, Georgia Evans, Kate Williams, Sian Jones, Niamh Terry, Carys Cox.

Scotland: Meryl Smith (Bristol Bears), Rhona Lloyd (GB Sevens/Stade Borderlais), Emma Orr (Heriot’s Blues), Lisa Thomson (GB Sevens), Coreen Grant (Saracens); Helen Nelson (vice-captain, Loughborough Lightening), Caity Mattinson (Gloucester-Hartpury); Leah Bartlett (Leicester Tigers), Lana Skeldon (Bristol Bears), Christine Belisle, Emma Wassell (both Loughborough Lightening), Sarah Bonar (Harlequins), Rachel Malcolm (captain, Loughborough Lightening), Alex Stewart (Corstorphine Cougars), Evie Gallagher (Bristol Bears).

Replacements: Elis Martin (Leicester Tigers) (for Skeldon, 61 mins), Molly Wright (Sale Sharks) (for Bartlett, 74 mins), Elliann Clarke (Bristol Bears) (for Belisle, 60 mins), Louise McMillan (Saracens (for Bonar, 69 mins), Eva Donaldson (Leicester Tigers), Mairi McDonald (Exeter Chiefs), Shona Campbell (GB Sevens), Chloe Rollie (Loughborough Lightening) (for Smith, 76 mins).

Referee: Clara Munarini (FIR)
Assistant referees: Sara Cox, Holly Wood (both RFU)
TMO: Leo Colgan (IRFU)

Attendance: 5,965

Guinness Player of the Match: Coreen Grant (Scotland)

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