Scotland Women V Spain Women
On a cold and damp evening at Scotstoun Stadium, Scotland received a warm welcome from the 2,565-attendance crowd who had gathered to cheer on the women in their first leg of their WRWC qualifying matches against Spain.
Scotland started off well and dominated the first half but a penalty for Spain in front of the posts saw the visiting opposition collect the first points with a penalty after 11 minutes (0-3).
Scotland remained strong and kept Spain on the back foot and attacked in Spain’s half as they built their momentum and following a number of phases and hard carriers from the pack, their hard work paid off as lock Deborah McCormack got over the whitewash on the left wing at 29 mins.
Hooker Lana Skeldon had a difficult kick from the touch-line which fell short; Scotland with the narrow 5-3 lead as the half-time mark approached.
Helen Nelson worked well in attack with full-back Chloe Rollie and centre Lisa Thomson, who repeatedly crashed through Spain’s defence and plugged the holes in their line, but Spain tracked back and held them off.
Despite holding the majority of the possession, Scotland struggled to make effective use the ball, and Spain’s rapid defence hindered their ability to make gain line.
When Spain managed to retain possession, they retaliated with a try of their own before the half-time whistle sounded (37 mins) which was converted by Spain’s stand-off Patricia García (5-10).
HALF-TIME: SCOTLAND 5 SPAIN 10
Spain came out fighting in the opening minutes of the second half but Scotland held off in defence and gave Spain’s back line too much territory, resulting in them going over the whitewash; but referee Claire Hodnett went to the TMO with the attempt coming short of the line to give Spain the scrum on Scotland’s 5 metre line.
Spain’s flanker Paula Medín crashed over the line but is held up by Scotland who work hard to keep Spain at bay.
Scotland’s scrum held up well against the brute force, and back-rows Jemma Forsyth and Karen Dunbar dug deep in defence.
McCormack, Tracy Balmer and Skeldon performed well and made excellent ball carries, along with centre Thomson who proved menacing for Spain’s defence.
The play was broken up with scrums and Spain fought hard to minimise Scotland’s chances at possession, continuing with quick attacking phases, but Scotland held their own and kept a concrete defensive line.
Scotland almost turned things around and looked deadly in Spain’s 22, but Rollie was stopped short; a theme for Scotland who repeatedly made powerful breaks but couldn’t demolish Spain’s equally hardened defence.
Scrum-half Sarah Law also put in a shift for Scotland but came off for Jenny Maxwell (68 mins) who brought her own to the role.
Munro freshened Scotland’s pack, with Forsyth and McCormack subbing off, and Rachel Malcolm and Sarah Bonar coming on to win their first caps.
As the game entered its final minutes, Spain looked close to scoring a second try but handling let them down and Scotland had the scrum in their 22 (70 mins).
Scotland wouldn’t admit defeat and kept up the intensity, running hard at Spain but were pushed out on the try line by a reactive Spanish defence with five minutes on the clock.
The opportunity for Scotland was there, with Spain panicking and giving away penalties, but they couldn’t secure a final score and Spain saw out the game 5-10.
The score-line may not have gone Scotland’s way, but the women showed promise and will go to Madrid next week with a chance of securing their place at the 2017 WRWC.
FULL-TIME: Scotland 5 Spain 10
Referee: Claire Hodnett
Player of the Match: Helen Nelson