Scotland Women v Japan Women
Scotland were left wondering what could have been in their final Autumn Test of the year against a slick and spirited Japan side at Scotstoun on Sunday.
The home side were given a rapturous welcome by the 2,236 supporters who turned out in Glasgow, but a late winner won the game for the visitors as Scotland looked for their first victory on their home turf.
It was the Scots who were to register the first points of the game in the opening minutes. The ball was worked along the line to winger Megan Gaffney who crossed the whitewash in the corner. Helen Nelson stepped up to take the conversion which drifted wide.
Japan quickly responded with a try of their own in the opposite corner from Taniguchi. A missed conversion from Hirayama kept the scores even at the 5-minute mark.
An action-packed start to the match saw the visitors score their second try in as many minutes. Tangiguchi broke through the Scottish line down the middle of park and a couple of phases later the visitors dived over in the corner.
Hirayama had a shot at goal after Scotland were penalised for side entry, but her kick dropped slightly short.
Resolute defence by Japan were limiting the Scots efforts, despite some strong carries from Jade Konkel. A kick up the field from Lisa Thomson helped in their efforts to reset. Japan were penalised in their attack and Thomson chose to kick to the corner in the opposition 22 once again.
A clean take in the line out, followed by some quick ball saw Hannah Smith break through the Japan line. The visitors gave away another penalty, so Thomson again kicked to find touch and keep the pressure on.
Skipper Rachel Malcolm delivered another successful lineout from her new hooker position. Scotland pushed hard after forming a driving maul to earn their second try of the game, with Lisa Cockburn crossing over for her first try for her country.
The second half opened with some great breaks by Scotland. Hannah Smith broke through several tackles down the right wing to take Scotland into the 22. A last gasp tackle stopped her from scoring before the ball was eventually knocked on.
Japan then came alive for the first time in the second half. Full back Chloe Rollie was forced to defend after a loose ball was kicked just outside of the Scotland line.
Scotland looked the dominant team for the majority of the second half as they worked their way downfield. In a promising position the ball was worked out to winger Gaffney who dived over the line for her second try of the match. The conversion effort by Nelson fell just short.
Scotland had gathered some good momentum and were being urged on by the home support. Another well-worked lineout on the 5 metre line allowed a second opportunity for a driving maul as the players helped push Rachel Malcolm over the whitewash. The conversion was missed, but the home side had a 10-point lead with 20 minutes remaining.
Japan weren’t finished just yet, however, and they closed the gap with a try under the posts following a period of sustained pressure. Ebuchi dived down at the base of the posts and Hirayama slotted the first kick of the afternoon, to take the lead down to three points.
Unfortunately for Scotland it wasn’t to be as victory was snatched away with less than two minutes remaining. Substitute Ayasa Otsuka found herself in plenty of space as they stretched the defence to run in what would be the match-winning score in for the visitors.
Hirayama once again stroked over, with the visitors seeing out the final play of the game to take the spoils.
Scotland: 15. Chloe Rollie (Harlequins); 14. Rhona Lloyd (Loughborough Lightning), 13. Hannah Smith (Watsonians), 12. Lisa Thomson (Darlington Mowden Park), 11. Megan Gaffney (Watsonians); 10. Helen Nelson (Loughborough Lightning), 9. Jenny Maxwell (Loughborough Lightning); 1. Lisa Cockburn (Darlington Mowden Park), 2. Rachel Malcolm (Loughborough Lightning), 3. Mairi Forsyth (Corstorphine Cougars), 4. Emma Wassell (Corstorphine Cougars), 5. Sarah Bonar (Loughborough Lightning), 6. Louise McMillan (Hillhead Jordanhill), 7. Rachel McLachlan (Darlington Mowden Park), 8. Jade Konkel (Harlequins).
Substitutes: 16. Issy Drexler (Watsonians), 17. Panashe Muzambe (Edinburgh University / Watsonians) on for Cockburn (78'), 18. Anne Young (Edinburgh University), 19. Christine Belisle (Cartha Queens Park), 20. Evie Tonkin (Darlington Mowden Park) on for Rollie (79'), 21. Mhairi Grieve (Firwood Waterloo) on for Maxwell (72'), 22. Sarah Denholm (Edinburgh University) , 23. Abi Evans (Darlington Mowden Park).
Japan: 15. Ai Hirayama; 14. Noriko Taniguchi, 13. Ayaka Suzuki, 12. Kanako Kobayashi, 11. Anna Kasai; 10. Minori Yamamoto, 9. Moe Tsukui; 1. Sachiko Kato, 2. Maiko Fujimoto, 3. Saki Minami, 4. Ayano Sakurai, 5. Yuna Sato, 6. Seina Saito, 7. Kyoko Hosokawa, 8. Maki Takano.
Substitutes: 16. Makoto Ebuchi on for Minami (66'), 17. Ayumu Kokaji on for Fujimoto (60'), 18. Kie Tamai on for Takano (50’), 19. Misaki Suzuki on for Sato (54’), 20. Sora Konishi on for Hosokawa (66'), 21. Megumi Abe on for Yamamoto (50’), 22. Ayasa Otsuka on for Kobayashi (56’), 23. Mana Furuta.
live commentary 1:00 PM Sunday 24 Nov 2019
Jenny Maxwell9. Scrum half
Helen Nelson10. Flyhalf
Megan Gaffney11. Left Wing
Lisa Thomson12. Inside Centre
Hannah Smith13. Outside Centre
Rhona Lloyd14. Right Wing
Chloe Rollie15. Full Back
Lisa Cockburn1. Loosehead
Rachel Malcolm2. Hooker
Mairi Forsyth3. Tighthead
Emma Wassell4. Lock
Sarah Bonar5. Lock
Louise McMillan6. Blindside Flanker
Rachel McLachlan7. Openside Flanker
Jade Konkel8. Number 8