It was a tough day at the office for Scotland Women's 7s in Brive today as they took on four teams ahead of them in the top 12 European ranking at the FIRA-AER Grand Prix tournament.
Pictured: Katy Green against Italy
Despite losing all four matches, the Scots remain in contention for a top-ten finish tomorrow.
Nearly half of the twelve-woman squad made their Scotland Women 7s debut today - experienced fifteens forward Lindsay Wheeler, and new Scotland Women caps this season Kelly Shields and Lyndsay O'Donnell, plus Sarah Smith and Jenny Maxwell who are fresh to international level in either form.
Head coach Scott Forrest [full interview with match action above] was under no illusions of the task in hand: "It's been a harsh lesson today for the girls and for myself. We've got to look to improve tomorrow - we came into this tournament ranked 11th, we've still got the chance of finishing in the top ten and we have to aim for that.
"Everyone's got a role to play - some playing every minute of every game, some only playing a few minutes here and there. But we need all players to step up and do their job."
Brive - Day 1
Scotland 0-27 Ukraine
Team: Wheeler, Forsberg, Gaffney, Green, Law, Sergeant, Johnston (subs: Shields, Maxwell, Slaven).
The Ukrainians again gave the Scots plenty to think about, leaving them somewhat shell-shocked and tough shift for the less experienced players. The Scots found it hard to keep ball with too many errors creeping in - lost possession, missed passes, fumbles and turnover ball - and too little time in Ukraine territory.
Scotland 5-38 Italy
Team: Wheeler, Forsberg, Gaffney, Green, Law, Sergeant, Johnston (subs: Slaven, Smith, Maxwell).
Handling and ball retention improved steadily as the game progressed but Italy were quick to pick up on any slip.
Sarah Smith's debut nearly resulted in a try when she bounded up the wing, however her legs were just clipped by the chasing Italian to bring her down just short of the line.
The pace had been upped, however, and Gaffney secured ball to weave through the opposition and dot down by the post. The conversion went wide and full time sounded.
Scotland 0-24 Ireland
Team: Wheeler, Forsberg, Gaffney [pictured above], Slaven, Sergeant, Johnston, Maxwell (subs: Law, Shields, Smith).
Scotland's best performance of the day came against a team they know well at XVs and 7s, splitting the crowd in their support. The Scots were fired up from the start and it was over four minutes before Ireland were allowed out of their half, fast ball, increasing confidence in support play and breaks for the line features of Scotland's game.
After being penalised at the breakdown, Ireland got their hands on the ball, took their chance to break and scored. A shaky restart and a loose pass saw the irish cross again on the halftime hooter (10-0). After the break, Wheeler [pictured below] turned on the gas and looked to be on the money for a score, running almost the full length of the pitch but a foot in touch just short of the line saw the green machine use the advantage to break to the other end of the field and score again. The pace took its toll on both sides in the closing minutes, a scrappy ball was scooped up by Ireland and they scored again on full time.
Scotland 5-38 France
Team: Wheeler, Forsberg, Gaffney, Slaven, Sergeant, Johnston, Maxwell (subs: Smith, Shields, Law, O'Donnell).
Up against the local crowd as well as the home team, Scotland weren't quick enough pff the mark at the start to prevent France working quick ball along the line and dotting down in the corner within two minutes. Breaking again for the line at the restart, Maxwell made an impressive tackle on her opposite number who was taken out unawares, however the French recovered to corss again. The Scots rallied to hold off the French attack again, stopping the ball on the line but the opposition saw the gap and dived over to make it 19-0, going wide again at the restart to make it 24-0 by half time. Despite valiant efforts by Gaffney to wrestle the ball out of French ossesion again and again in the second half, the French regrouped and scored, adding a conversion to put them ahead 31-0 then 38-0. The Scots then found some extra gas in the tank as the game drew to a close, with new cap Sarah Smith weaving through the pack to break from almost halfway and ease past the opposition to dot down just before the final whistle.
See the squad biographies for this tournament.