Scotland Women snatched a last minute victory from the jaws of defeat to finish in fifth place, with a 27-25 win over Spain, in their final FIRA-AER Championships match. An injury time try secured an important win as Scotland affirmed their position in the European rankings. However, it was not an easy task against a tenacious Spanish team that dominated proceedings in the early stages.Scotland Women snatched a last minute victory from the jaws of defeat to finish in fifth place, with a 27-25 win over Spain, in their final FIRA-AER Championships match.
An injury time try secured an important win as Scotland affirmed their position in the European rankings. However, it was not an easy task against a tenacious Spanish team that dominated proceedings in the early stages.
In the opening minutes the Scots were exposed to the devastating skill of the Player of the Tournament, Spanish open side Barbara Pla, who broke loose and scored in typically exuberant fashion.
The score was converted by centre Laura Llado who added a further three points to her tally with a penalty in the eighth minute. The Scots found themselves trailing a ten point deficit inside the first ten minutes of the encounter.
It looked as if the Scots may rally as blind side flanker Lyne Reid touched down, for her first international try, in the 14th minute but their hopes of a revival were cut short moments later as Spanish replacement, Marta Pocurull, reasserted Spanish authority with a try, converted by Llado.
The Scots defence remained regimented and disciplined withstanding Spanish pressure but they could not find any flow in their attack. The only other score of the half was from Spanish kicking ace Llado, who landed a penalty in the 39th minute.
HALF TIME 5-20
The match was certainly a game of two halves and whatever was said in the changing rooms by Scotland Coach Jamie Dempsey had its affect on the players, as a reinvigorated Scotland team took the field after the interval.
In a flurry of four tries the Scotland team got right back into the game. Lindsay Wheeler ignited the Scotland resurgence with a try in the 49th minute, it remained unconverted.
In spite of a Spanish try by wing, Ana Riel, in the 60th minute, a series of Scottish replacements proved instrumental. Substitute centre, Laura Steven, made an immediate impact on the game with scores in the 65th and 69th minutes. Fellow substitute, Sarah Gill converted one of the tries.
Trailing by three points the Scotland pressure was incessant. But it was not until the 79th minute that the Scots gained the lead for the first time in the match. An outstanding solo try by full back, Lucy Millard, finally capped off an unprecedented fight back.
The Scots had to endure a nervous final few seconds as they conceded a penalty in front of the posts but the pressure finally got the better of the ever-steady Llado, who skewed her effort wide of the target.
FULL TIME 27-25
Scotland Women's Coach, Jamie Dempsey, attributed the second half turnaround to the efforts put in by players and coaches alike during the competition: "In the first half we were simply trying too hard and forcing our rugby. In the second, we played with a much better tempo and pace and were able to mount attacks on the gain line, getting behind the Spanish.
_x001C_Our set piece was again the platform from which we were able to gain the forward momentum and we owe a huge amount of gratitude to forwards coach, Hugh Campbell, for his efforts throughout the tournament.
Victory over the Spanish was crucial in securing Scotland's position within the European rankings and displayed the strength of character in a young squad that have an appetite for success.
Scotland Women's Performance Manager, Jo Hull said: _x001C_Saturday's result was a major step in the right direction. In the blistering heat of the final tournament tie, our fitness and focus were paramount and shone through to the end.
_x001C_It was really positive for the team to finish on two wins and as a unit we are constantly improving. Development and improvement over the next 18 months is crucial with our long term focus on the World Cup 2010. Many of our current squad will form the core of that campaign."
The next major event in Women's rugby will be the sevens home nations tournament taking place at Murrayfield Wanderers pitches on Sunday 1 June, tying in with the Emirates Airline Edinburgh Sevens. The squad for the tournament will be announced tomorrow (Wednesday 28 May).
Scotland Women: Lynsey Douglas (Richmond); Ronnie Fitzpatrick (RHC), Lucy Millard (Murrayfield Wanderers), Suzi Newton (Blaydon/ Team Northumbria), Cara D Silva (RHC); Erin Kerr (Richmond), Louise Dalgliesh (RHC); Heather Lockhart (Hillhead/Jordanhill), Sarah-Louise Walker (Watsonians), Beth Dickens (Murrayfield Wanderers), Jilly McCord (RHC) CAPTAIN, Lindsay Wheeler (Blaydon/ Team Northumbria), Lyne Reid (RHC), Louise Moffat (RHC), Ruth Slaven (Murrayfield Wanderers).
Substitutes: Joan Hutchison (Hillhead/Jordanhill), Ellen Beattie (Murrayfield Wanderers), Alex Pratt (Watsonians), Keri Holdsworth (Watsonians), Sarah Gill (Murrayfield Wanderers), Julie Sanaghan (Kirkcaldy), Laura Steven (Murrayfield Wanderers), Louise Forsyth (RHC), Tanya Griffith (RHC).