Challenges ahead but chance to Brive again

After defeat to Portugal in the Bowl semi final of the FIRA Grand Prix Series in Brive today, Scotland Women 7s must improve on performances going into the second and final Series tournament in two weeks' time (15/16 June, Marbella), as they look to retain their European ranking with a top-ten overall finish.

Yesterday saw the squad lose to Ukraine, Italy, Ireland and France in the pool stage and after defeat to Spain in the remaining pool game this morning, they faced Portugal in the Bowl semi. Despite valiant efforts all round, they were beaten and went into the play-off for 11th/12th place against opening opponents Ukraine, but failed to score.

Head coach Scott Forrest said: "It was a challenging day - a challenging weekend - and I really felt for the girls. I couldn't fault their effort, it was 100% from all the players. The performances weren't where we had hoped they would be, however.

"We always knew it was going to be a tough ask but learnt a lot of harsh lessons out there. Although we finished last (12th) this weekend, our aim is still to get into the top ten but we're not really thinking about that just now - the first job is to improve our performances."

Unlike their debut season last year, which lasted for a 12-week period, the squad had just four days together - a selection weekend followed by a training weekend - before arriving in France for the tournament, and have two days to regroup before the Marbella event.

Games and teams - 2 JuneSarah Law against Spain

Scotland 0-40 Spain
Starting team:
Maxwell, Smith, Forsberg, Shields, Slaven, Sergeant, Johnston (subs: O'Donnell, Law - pictured above)
A powerful Spanish outfit, who subsequently progressed to the third place play-off, pounded the Scots from all sides. Despite some good efforts from Scotland's less experienced players, including a few bullish hand-offs from Jenny Maxwell, the Spanish smashed their way through, forcing turnover ball and pouncing on any hesitation from the Scots.

Scotland 5-26 Portugal
Starting team:
Wheeler, Forsberg, Gaffney, Slaven, Sergeant, Johnston, Maxwell [pictured above] (subs: Law, Green)
A good start from the Scots saw them retain ball for the first three minutes of the opening half but scrappy play by the Portuguese caused disquiet and turnover ball on two occasions leading to two tries in the first seven minutes for the opposition. Scotland came back fighting in the second half and a solid phase of play with good offloads and awareness led to a try in the corner for Tess Forsberg. The Portuguese capitalised on handing errors immediately after and, as they were then officially warned for slowing down play, Scotland's chance to fight back was finished by the clock.

Scotland 0-19 Ukraine
Starting team:
Wheeler [pictured above], Forsberg, Gaffney, Slaven, Law, Sergeant, Johnston (subs: Smith, Maxwell, Green)
Facing their opening round adversaries again, the Scots lessened the defeat but still couldn't find the line against the Ukrainians who snatched the ball from kick-off and crossed within a minute, converting the score. Breaks from Megan Gaffney and Steph Johnston started promisingly but were brought to ground by their solid tackling from the opposition with another converted try on the half-time hooter. It was four minutes into the second half before Ukraine secured possession again, initial efforts to cross held up on the line by Gaffney and Jenny Maxwell, until Ukraine powered across for a third score. Scotland were unable to fight back and the final score remained 0-19.

Scotland Women 7s squad in FIRA Grand Prix Series, Brive, 1/2 June 2013

1. Lindsay Wheeler (Richmond)
2. Tess Forsberg (Richmond)
3. Lyndsay O'Donnell (Worcester)
4. Kelly Shields (Murrayfield Wanderers)
5. Megan Gaffney (Hillhead/Jordanhill)
6. Katy Green (Darlington Mowden Sharks)
7. Ruth Slaven (Murrayfield Wanderers)
8. Sarah Law (Murrayfield Wanderers)
9. Annabel Sergeant (Richmond)
10. Steph Johnston (RHC Cougars)
11. Jennifer Maxwell (Leeds Met University)
12. Sarah Smith (Hillhead Jordanhill)

See the squad biographies for this tournament.

Scotland were pooled with Ukraine, Italy, Ireland, France and Spain; England, Russia, Netherlands, Portugal, Germany and Wales competed in Pool A. Following today's tournament, seedings will determine pools for the next Series event.

Scotland must finish tenth or higher at the end of both tournaments (Marbella - 15/16 June) in order to retain their Grand Prix status and their final placing will give their ranking for 2014.