Scotland Women kicked off their 2010 Six Nations campaign in style, beating France Women 10-8 this evening (6 February) with a courageous performance in challenging conditions.
Swirling mist and rain at Lasswade didn't dampen the spirits of the vociferous crowd that cheered the home team to victory with a 79th-minute winner by player of the match, Lucy Millard.
Sporting a team ranging from debut cap Celia Hawthorn to Veronica Fitzpatrick (50 caps) and Donna Kennedy (103 caps), the side saw off the French challenge with a great display of running rugby.
Led on to the field by Veronica Fitzpatrick, celebrating her 50th cap, it was the French who set the early pace, kicking to the corner. The linout was won by Scotland but the ball turned over and carried across the line by Sandra Rabier. The conversion was wide of the posts. (4 minutes)
France drove deep into Scotland's territoty but the ball was retrieved and kick away by Lucy Millard. A lineout for the Scots at the 5m mark signalled a frantic run of play in the French half; when the ball did stray theother side of the line, it was scooped up and kicked and chased at speed by Celia Hawthorn.
A break by the French number 10, Aurelie Bailon, was foiled by her opposite number and forced back into the visitors' 22.
Heading towards the half hour, France maintained the pressure and won a penalty at 38 minutes, though the kick was wide.
Half time: Scotland Women 0 - 5 France Women
Despite a slow start to the second half, the Scots surprised the opposition with a bolt-of-lighting break from Lucy Millard who headed off on a solo stormer to cross in the corner. The conversion went wide of the uprights.
Now level pegging, France pressed forward and a fluried period of action form both sides resulted in a batch of substitutions.
France were awarded another penalty at 57 minutes which duly went over the bar; 5-8.
Louise Moffat replied with a promising break, extended by Celia Hawthorn, though the debutant was stoppd in her tracks.
Just after nine, the mist at last began to lift and the crowd (488) raised their game accordingly. A fumbled French pass rolled ominously toward the line, hounded by the Scottish pack. A scrum followed just metres from the line, by the uprights, with a quick ball passed wide to Lucy Millard who drove across the line (79 minutes).
The conversion was wide; the final whistle pierced the air;the score read Scotland Women 10 - 8 France Women.
Head coach Gary Parker was overjoyed with the team performance;"The team played smart rugby, worked hard in the kicking game and the girls battled throughout. We shouldn't underestimate how great this result is.
"We haven't been able to play much in the last six weeks (due to the weather) but we've showed we can really compete and we can put up a fight.
"The crowd was brilliant. We're all delighted and now we have to move forward."
Scotland Women v France Women
15 Celia Hawthorn (Edinburgh University)
14 Victoria Blakebrough (Richmond)
13 Lucy Millard (Team Northumbria)
12 Erin Kerr (London Wasps)
11 Veronica Fitzpatrick (RHC Cougars)
10 Tanya Griffith (RHC Cougars)
9 Louise Dalgliesh (RHC Cougars)
1 Heather Lockhart (Hillhead / Jordanhill)
2 Sarah-Louise Walker (Watsonians)
3 Gillian McCord (RHC Cougars)
4 Lindsey Wheeler (Team Northumbria)
5 Louise Moffat (Murrayfield Wanderers)
6 Lynne Reid (RHC Cougars)
8 Susie Brown (Richmond)
7 Donna Kennedy (Worcester)
16 Sarah Quick (Murrayfield Wanderers)
17 Rosalind Murphy (Edinburgh University)
18 Louise Gray (Henley)
19 Ruth Slaven (Murrayfield Wanderers)
20 Sarah Gill (Murrayfield Wanderers)
21 Lynsey Douglas (London Wasps)
22 Cara D'Silva (RHC Cougars)
Not used: Sarah Gill, Louise Gray
Earlier in the evening (kick-off 6pm) Scotland A Women had faced their French counterparts at Lasswade.
The teams ran out into thick mist which obscured much of the game to many of the crowd. France made the first break though the Scots registered the first score, a penalty after 14 minutes from Nicola Halfpenny.
France responded with a try four minutes later, from Celine Allainmat and another six minutes later, from Cathy Langenfeld, the latter converted, to register a half-time score of 3-12.
A converted try soon after the restart from Fanny Griselin and Celine Allainmat was followed, ten minutes later, by a repeat performance by the duo. Despite gusty performances from the home side, the game was effectively beyond Scotland's reach.
Full time: 3- 26.
Scotland A Women v France A Women
15 Julie Sanaghan (Kirkcaldy)
14 Christina Ovenden (Richmond)
13 Steph Johnston (Hillhead / Jordanhill)
12 Laura Steven (Murrayfield Wanderers)
11 Katy Green (Murrayfield Wanderers)
10 Nicola Halfpenny (Melrose)
9 Lisa Martin (Murrayfield Wanderers)
1 Ellen Beattie (Murrayfield Wanderers)
2 Nikki McLeod (Edinburgh University)
3 Mairi Forsyth (Grangemouth)
4 Anna Swan (Edinburgh University)
5 Natalya Macholla (Stirling County)
6 Jemma Forsyth (Grangemouth)
8 Keri Holdsworth (Watsonians)
7 Tess Forsberg (Murrayfield Wanderers)
16 Lindsay Smith (Hillhead / Jordanhill)
17 Alison Macdonald (RHC)
18 Kelly Mitchell (Murrayfield Wanderers)
19 Jenny Johnston (Hillhead / Jordanhill)
20 Claire Bain (RHC)
21 Annabel Sergeant (Dundee University)
22 Sarah Dixon (Watsonians)
SCOTLAND WOMEN 6 NATIONS SCHEDULE
Saturday 6 February Scotland Women v France Women (Lasswade, kick-off 7.30pm)
Sunday 14 February Wales Women v Scotland Women (Bridgend, kick-off 2pm)
Sunday 28 February Italy Women v Scotland Women (Colleferro, nr Rome, kick-off 1.30pm GMT)
Saturday 13 March Scotland Women v England Women (Meggetland, kick-off 1.30pm)
Friday 19 March Ireland Women v Scotland Women (Ashbourne, Co Meath, kick-off 7.30pm)