Scotland push Ireland close in first game of Women's Six Nations

Scotland pushed Ireland close in their first match of the Women’s Six Nations, although it was the hosts that won by only four points at Energia Park, Donnybrook this afternoon.

Lisa Thomson kicked off Scotland’s Six Nations campaign and both sides exchanged possession in the early stages.

Ireland looked to have scored the first try of the game, but it was disallowed for a double movement. Referee Aurelie Groizeleau brought the play back for a penalty against Scotland for not releasing and the hosts opened the scoring through a successful Ellen Murphy penalty.

The hosts stretched Scotland’s defence to the far left of the field, then worked their way to the far right of the pitch where hooker Cliodhna Moloney barged her way down the wing to score first try of the game for Ireland. [8-0]

With the hosts having a majority of the possession in the first 20 minutes Scotland put in a terrific defensive effort. As Ireland upped their intensity heading towards the try line Chloe Rollie and Megan Gaffney put in a great double tackle however Ireland centre Sene Naoupu was able to get over the whitewash and score another try for the hosts. [13-0]

Halfway through the first-half, Scotland gained ten meters from a line out maul on the halfway line. Ireland hooker Cliodhna Moloney was penalised for side entry and Lisa Thomson was able to kick for touch to take the Scots to down near the 22meter line for another line out. From the set-piece, the ball made its way to stand-off Helen Nelson who put in a cross-field kick, but unfortunately it came to nothing.

Just before the half time whistle Scotland mounted their best-looking attack of the game. With composure they worked their way up the park, as the forwards moved towards the try line. Number eight, Jade Konkel, opted to pass out to the back line instead of the waiting pod of forwards. Scrum-half Mairi McDonald got the ball at first receiver on the five-meter line and found centre Thomson who was able to break a tackle from Irish stand-off Murphy and crash over the try line. Vice-captain Helen Nelson added the further two points.

HALF-TIME: Ireland 13-7 Scotland 

With the hosts only leading by six points at the half-time break Scotland had it all to play for in the second half.

With ten minutes gone, the ball found itself in the hands of skipper Rachel Malcolm who made a storming run up field. She was able to offload to Loughborough Lightning team-mate Rhona Lloyd who took it on and passed back to Malcolm to take it up the field.

Unfortunately, Ireland were able to gather possession and pass out wide, Megan Gaffney used the touch line to Scottish advantage as she bundled Aoife Doyle into touch, to silence the Irish attack.

In the 54th minute Gaffney played her part in an exciting attack as she gained yards up the wing, she was able to pass out to Chloe Rollie but was unfortunate to be brought down by the Irish.

Moments later Rollie showed her trademark sidestep and beat four Irish defenders to mount a good-looking Scotland attack up the middle of the pitch. However, she was once again brought down by the Irish defence who, this time, were ready for her.

With 25 minutes gone since the play restarted, both teams where still looking to get the first score of the half.

Thomson kicked a penalty to touch and Scotland mounted their attack from the set piece, as the forward pack worked through the phases Smith took the ball on and looked to be inches from the whitewash.

The referee brought play back as Ireland had been offside and Scotland opted to scrum as they knew a converted try would have put them in front for the first time in the game.

Scotland composed themselves and worked through the phases up to the five-metre line. However, Irish winger Beibhinn Parsons intercepted a pass to Rollie on the wing and ran the length of the field to score a try, which was almost identical to that of Rollie’s two years ago, at the same ground.

With ten minutes to go Thomson broke the Irish defensive line to put Scotland up field. Ireland were reduced to 14 players when replacement prop Leah Lyons was shown a yellow card for a high tackle on Scotland, and Harlequins team-mate, Konkel.

Scotland capitalised on it straight away. Konkel controlled the ball well at the back of the scrum, picked it up and took it to the try line. It was recycled by McDonald down the blind side to replacement back-row Siobhan Cattigan who found second-row Emma Wassel on the outside to allow her to dive over for Scotland’s second try of the game. Lana Skeldon was successful with the conversion with an impressive kick from near the touchline.

With three minutes left on the clock there was only five points separating the two teams.

Scotland had an attacking lineout in the final play of the game which Mari Forsyth collected it at the back of the set-piece. The visitors attacked but found a green wall of defence in front of them.

Despite a courageous last ditch attempt it was the hosts who would have the final say when they turned the ball over at the breakdown and kicked it off the pitch to record the victory.

FULL-TIME: Ireland 18-14 Scotland 

We’re very proud of our players, we are very proud of the way we got ourselves back into that game. We knew Ireland were going to throw everything at it in the first 20 minutes and that’s exactly what happened, we weren’t meant to give away so many points in the first 20 but we eventually got ourselves into the game more and more which led to a lovely try straight off the training park Philip Doyle

Referee: Aurelie Groizeleau

Try: Thomson, Wassel

Con: Nelson, Skeldon

Scotland Women: 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. 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 CAPTAIN (Loughborough Lightning), 7. Rachel McLachlan (Darlington Mowden Park), 8. Jade Konkel (Harlequins)

Replacements: 16. Molly Wright (Watsonians) on for Konkel (77mins), 17. Panashe Muzambe (Edinburgh University / Watsonians), 18. Lisa Cockburn (Darlington Mowden Park) on for Barlett (62minutes), 19. Siobhan Cattigan (Stirling County) on for McLachlan (55mins), 20. Louise McMillan (Hillhead Jordanhill) on for Malcom (68mins), 21. Sarah Law (Darlington Mowden Park) on for Nelson (50mins) , 22. Evie Tonkin (Darlington Mowden Park) on for Gaffney (70mins), 23. Alex Wallace (Harrogate RFC).

Ireland Women: 15. Lauren Delany; 14. Aoife Doyle, 13. Sene Naoupu, 12. Michelle Claffey, 11. Beibhinn Parsons, 10. Ellen Murphy, 9. Kathryn Dane; 1. Lindsay Peat, 2. Cliodhna Moloney, 3. Linda Djougang, 4. Aoife McDermott, 5. Nichola Fryday, 6. Ciara Griffin CAPTAIN 7. Edel McMahon, 8. Anna Caplice.

Replacements: 16. Victoria Dabanovich-O’Mahony, 17. Laura Feely, 18. Leah Lyons, 19. Ciara Cooney, 20. Dorothy Wall, 21. Nicole Cronin, 22. Claire Keohane, 23. Laura Sheehan.

live commentary 1:00 PM Sunday 2 Feb 2020

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