Narrowing the gap as progress maintained

An animated crowd of nearly 8000 watch an improving Scotland side take on the World Champions at Northern Echo Arena in Darlington this evening.


Despite coming on the losing side of a 42-13 scoreline, the Scots showed passion and commitment, with two penalties, a conversion and a debut try from Eilidh Sinclair, making her first start in the blue jersey.

Head coach Jules Maxton said: “We’re a work in progress. We could have scored another try and put some more points on the board but our defence has improved and I was pleased with our contact area at times – it’s just about consistency.

“For Eilidh Sinclair, it was her first start and one she’ll definitely remember – it was good to see her go under the sticks.

“A lot of people travelled down and we appreciate the support we got here today – it’s a great experience to play in front of a crowd of nearly 8000.”

See the full interview with Jules and try scorer Eilidh Sinclair

A flaming arrival for both teams heralded a non-stop ding-dong battle on the pitch as the home side crossed the whitewash within the opening minute, local lass Ruth Laybourn touching down; stand-off Katy Mclean skelfed the conversion just wide.

The deficit was reduced minutes later when centre Nuala Deans nailed a penalty, in her unique style. However England pulled ahead again when Taylor touched down – Mclean’s conversion attempt again wide.

A great Scottish defensive line and dogged tackling repelled numerous advances from the home side and stand-off Lisa Martin [below] pulled the visitors back to within four points (10-6) when she slotted a penalty at close range after 20 minutes.

Photo: Neil Kennedy

After giving away a string of advantages, England eventually pushed over the whitewash, at the end of a driving maul, with Lucas credited – again Mclean’s conversion went astray. Another drive from the lineout, however saw England score a fourth, unconverted, to make it 20-6 at the half-time whistle.

Despite a fifth try for England, just after the restart, the Scots didn’t let heads go down and stuck to the task – Lisa Robertson and Lana Skeldon were particularly effective in the pack, with the added muscle and guile of Jade Konkel and Rachael Cook.

Then a wee touch of magic from winger Eilidh Sinclair, making her first start for Scotland – England had numbers out wide but a missed pass was pounced on by the 19-year-old product of Community School of Auchterarder who scooped it up and broke for the line to touch down by the posts [below]. Martin’s boot didn’t miss the conversion.


Photo: Neil Kennedy

A slamming tackle from the England 11 saw Konkel felled and subsequently removed from the field, though she was able to make her own way down the tunnel, her presence on the pitch missed for the remainder of the match.

England answered back with a try from Laybourn, then another from Thompson, the latter converted with Reed taking over kicking duties as Mclean was sin binned with ten minutes to go.

Scotland piled on the pressure in the last period of play, threatening to score on a number of occasions but, against the run of play, England notched the final points, Laybourn completing her hat-trick.