England’s physicality prevails against improved Scotland

Scotland women fell to a 0-63 defeat to a very well-drilled and clinical England side in the second game of the 2014 Six Nations campaign, at Rubislaw, Aberdeen.

England’s dominance in the set-piece, as well as their physicality in the contact and effective counter attack, provided a solid platform for them to control the game and ease to a comfortable victory. However, this was a much improved performance from the Scotland Women, who exhibited some extremely impressive attacking play and first-up defence, especially in the first half.

Scotland's Laura Steven, on the attack.

Scotland made a late change ahead of the game with number 8 Lindsay Wheeler, having to withdraw due to a leg injury sustained in training. Anna Stodter was promoted to the starting XV, taking Wheeler’s place in the back-row, as Murrayfield Wanderer’s Rachael Cook, took the vacant spot on the bench.

Scotland head coach, Jules Maxton, said: “It’s frustrating that we work ourselves into the right areas of the field, but can’t finish when we get there.

“Today, we put in a strong performance, especially in the first-half, but we just weren’t clinical enough to score and that’s what hurt us in the end.

“We were up against an extremely strong England team, who had size and physical presence on their side, using it to their full advantage.

“The girls put in a very gutsy performance today, they never let up until the very final whistle, which says a lot for the character of the squad.

“There’s a lot of positives we can take from this game. If we can work to our full potential from the first to last whistle, we’ll continue to improve and compete with these top sides.”

The half-time score of 0-29, didn’t quite tell the tale of the first 40 minutes, as Scotland dominated possession and territory for prolonged periods of play, flirting with the whitewash on a number of occasions. However, there was no return for Scotland’s graft as despite persistent pressure on the England line, the visitors held out to ensure the home-side went into the changing rooms at the half without a point.

On the contrary, England racked up five first-half tries, two of which were against the run of play, as Scotland were unable to cope with the urgency and tempo of the opposition’s counter-attack and ability to be clinical in the right areas.

From the start of the second-half, England utilised their size and strength in the pack to control the rest of the game. The visiting side’s power in the scrum, in addition to their accuracy in the contact, provided a platform for their impressive stand-off, Katy Mclean, to dictate the run-of-play and bring her electric backs into the foray.

The England side went on to add another 34 points to their first-half tally, nilling Scotland in the process, bringing the final score to 0-63. England scores came from full-back Emily Scarratt, wingers Lydia Thompson and Claire Allan, centre Amber Reed, props Claire Purdy and Sophie Hemming, lock Joanne McGilchrist, and back-rowsHannah Gallagher, Margaret Alphonsi and Sarah Hunter. Captain Katy Mclean, also grabbed a try as well as converting four of the scores.

There is now a two week break for the Scotland Women side to regroup before they head to Italy, taking on the Azzurri in Naples on Sunday 23 March.

Scotland Women v England Women, Six Nations Championship, Rubislaw

Scotland team: Steph Johnston (Worcester); Annabel Sergeant (Richmond), Gillian Inglis (Melrose), Laura Steven (Murrayfield Wanderers), Megan Gaffney (Hillhead-Jordanhill); Lisa Martin (Murrayfield Wanderers), Louise Dalgliesh (RHC Cougars); Heather Lockhart (Hillhead-Jordanhill), Sarah Quick (Murrayfield Wanderers), Tracy Balmer (Richmond), Jade Konkel (Hillhead-Jordanhill), Deborah McCormack (Richmond), Ruth Slaven (Saracens), Tess Forsberg (Richmond) and Anna Stodter (Loughborough University).

Replacements (all used): Nikki McLeod (Stirling County), Lindsey Smith (Hillhead-Jordanhill), Lisa Robertson (Murrayfield Wanderers), Emma Wassell (Murrayfield Wanderers), Rachael Cook (Murrayfield Wanderers), Sarah Law (Murrayfield Wanderers), Tanya Griffith (RHC Cougars) and Katy Green (Darlington Mowden Park).

England Team: Emily Scarratt; Lydia Thompson, Amber Reed, Rachael Burford, Claire Allan; Katy McLean (captain), La Toya Mason; Claire Purdy, Victoria Fleetwood, Laura Keates, Rebecca Essex, Joanne McGilchrist, Hannah Gallagher, Marlie Packer and Sarah Hunter.

Replacements (all used): Mercedes Foy, Sophie Hemming, Sasha Acheson, Emily Braund, Margaret Alphonsi, Georgina Gulliver, Ceri Large and Kay Wilson.

Referee: Christine Bigaran (FFR)