England prove too strong for Scotland Women at BT Murrayfield
It wasn't quite what the Scotland squad had in mind this weekend as they ran out onto the main pitch at BT Murrayfield in front of their friends and family on Monday afternoon (1.30pm kick-off).
Following a cancellation due to inclement weather on Sunday at Scotstoun, as a result of Storm Ciara, the teams saw a quick turnaround with the replayed fixture held at BT Murrayfield.
It set an eerie atmosphere for the afternoon as the game was forced to be played behind closed doors because of spectator safety.
It didn’t hamper England, however, as they were quickly on to the attack from the kick off, as they forced Scotland towards their own line. The hosts held them back for a few phases but when a rolling maul took pace, England went over from close range. Sarah Burn was the player who emerged with the ball to take the spoils.
The conversion was successful by Emily Scarratt, who had an excellent afternoon with the boot, as England took an early lead 0-7.
The ‘Red Roses’ found early success in disrupting the Scotland line-out to put the pressure on the hosts, before they were penalised for not rolling away. England kicked to the corner to set up another line-out close to the Scotland line, before being well defended.
Scotland had their first period of attack through a surging run from Chloe Rollie to relieve some of the pressure. Jade Konkel picked up the ball from the back of the ruck beating a couple of defenders, but the attacked fizzled out and was turned over.
In a half that saw Scotland forced to defend for long periods, Lisa Thomson made some outstanding tackle in defence as the snow started to fall in the capital.
England put pressure on the Scotland scrum to win another penalty in front of the posts, Emily Scarratt kicked at goal and was successful, to give the side a 10-point lead after 18 minutes for last year's champions.
However, with England holding possession, they worked the ball along the line and worked the ball to winger Jess Breach who slid in the corner for England’s second try of the match, with the extras not taken.
Scotland enjoyed a brief period of possession with some impressive drives by Jade Konkel and Lana Skeldon, supported by Lisa Thomson at various opportunities, but the strong English defence continued to turn the ball over.
Evie Tonkin made a great break down the left, but again a turnover cost the Scots as Abby Dow scored a wonderful solo try, breaking through the middle and finishing off her own run in style down in the corner.
A great kick by Scarratt sailed through the posts and England held a 22-point lead, as the teams headed for some well-deserved heat in the sanctuary of the dressing rooms.
Half-Time: Scotland 0 - 22 England
England came flying out of the blocks for the second period and scored two tries in quick succession at the start of the second half. The second of which saw Emily Scott dive on the ball after a cross-field kick by Harrison and stretches the defence. Another successful kick by Scarratt was made all the more impressive when considering the blustery conditions.
With both teams turning to their bench, England's professionalism showed as their replacements made a big impact against a tiring Scottish defence.
Abby Dow added to her tally in the corner as England's forward initially put the pressure on under the posts before shipping it out wide for the winger to do the rest.
England thought they had another score when they worked the ball along the line and then sending a hero pass over to Jess Breach to score. However, as Scotland gathered under the posts, the referee called for the TMO and the pass was adjudicated to have gone forward and no try was awarded.
With England still in prime attacking territory in Scotland’s 22 their forward pack drove towards the line and their skipper Sarah Hunter took the ball over the whitewash. A successful conversion pushed the score line even further in England’s favour.
With a few minutes left on the clock, Scotland were still left without a try and had to face two powerful scrums in succession to force them back into their half. England made the most of a handling error as Scotland looked for a quick line-out, as they kicked the ball towards their line to add one final score before full time.
Full Time: Scotland 0-53 England
Head Coach Philip Doyle said at the end of the match: "It was a very hard day at the office. The first half, our scrum was excellent, unfortunately our line outs let us down and we played the price. We can't give that possession to a side like England and expect to come away without letting in some scores.
"England are a fully professional side and we are not, but we at least closed the gap on them and that is all that I had asked from the team today.
"It is hard to take for sure but we will now look forward to Italy. That is a side that we can definitely challenge and again improve." Philip Doyle
"Conditions were absolutely awful out there and there are some players really hurting, but we will lick our wounds and move forward.
"I am very proud of the team and how they handled themselves with the rescheduling of the match. Credit to the players and the management on how we lifted ourselves up this morning to go again today. Credit to Scottish Rugby as well for managing to put this match together in 24 hours in a different location."
Scotland: 15. Chloe Rollie (Harlequins); 14. Rhona Lloyd (Loughborough Lightning), 13. Lisa Thomson (Darlington Mowden Park), 12. Helen Nelson (Loughborough Lightning), 11. Evie Tonkin (Darlington Mowden Park); 10. Sarah Law (Darlington Mowden Park), 9. Mairi McDonald (Hillhead Jordanhill); 1. Leah Bartlett (Loughborough Lightning), 2. Lana Skeldon (Darlington Mowden Park), 3. Mairi Forsyth (Corstorphine Cougars), 4. Emma Wassell (Corstorphine Cougars), 5. Sarah Bonar (Loughborough Lightning), 6. Rachel Malcolm (Loughborough Lightning), 7. Rachel McLachlan (Darlington Mowden Park), 8. Jade Konkel (Harlequins).
Replacements: 16. Molly Wright (Watsonians) on for Skeldon (50mins), 17. Panashe Muzambe (Watsonians/Edinburgh University) on for Forsyth (70mins), 18. Lisa Cockburn (Darlington Mowden Park) on for Bartlett (57mins), 19. Siobhan Cattigan (Stirling County) on for McLachlan (45mins), 20. Louise McMillan (Hillhead Jordanhill) on for Wassell (63mins), 21. Rachel Law (Edinburgh University), 22. Annabel Sergeant (Heriots Blues Women) on for Law (48mins), 23. Coreen Grant (Cambridge University).
England: 15. Emily Scott; 14. Abby Dow, 13. Emily Scarratt, 12. Amber Reed, 11. Jess Breach, 10. Zoe Harrison, . Natasha Hunt, 1. Vickii Cornborough, 2. Lark Davies, 3. Sarah Bern, 4. Poppy Cleall, 5. Zoe Aldcroft, 6. Sarah Beckett, 7. Vicky Fleetwood, 8. Sarah Hunter
Replacements: 16. Amy Cokayne, 17. Hannah Botterman, 18. Shaunagh Brown, 19. Harriet Millar-Mills, 20. Amelia Harper, 21. Claudia MacDonald, 22. Katy Daley-Mclean, 23. Sarah McKenna
live commentary 1:30 PM Monday 10 Feb 2020
Mairi McDonald9. Scrum half
Sarah Law10. Flyhalf
Evie Tonkin11. Left Wing
Helen Nelson12. Inside Centre
Lisa Thomson13. Outside Centre
Rhona Lloyd14. Right Wing
Chloe Rollie15. Full Back
Leah Bartlett1. Loosehead
Lana Skeldon2. Hooker
Mairi Forsyth3. Tighthead
Emma Wassell4. Lock
Sarah Bonar5. Lock
Rachel Malcolm6. Blindside Flanker
Rachel McLachlan7. Openside Flanker
Jade Konkel8. Number 8