Scotland Women 13-13 France Women
A dramatic late try from debutant Rachel Shankland secured an historic result for Scotland in this afternoon’s Women’s Six Nations clash, as Bryan Easson’s side claimed a 13-13 draw with France at Scotstoun.
In suitably autumnal conditions in Glasgow, it was the visitors who registered the match’s opening score. A pinpoint throw from Agathe Sochat saw France form a formidable rolling maul, from which Safi N’Diaye crashed over for the opening try. The conversion was astray, but the visitors led 5-0 with six minutes on the clock.
Yet the home side responded strongly, taking the match to France with Jade Konkel and Megan Kennedy to the fore inside French territory. When referee Sara Cox penalised the visitors for going off their feet at a ruck, Helen Nelson was on hand to knock over the penalty in a swirling wind and cut the deficit to two points.
Indeed Scotland were in the mood to play, and Easson’s side were asking their opponents questions in the opening quarter. A half-break from Smith forced the visitors to scramble, whilst the darting runs of Chloe Rollie from full-back provided a constrant threat from any loose kicking by a French player.
It would be France who would be the next to add to their tally, however, somewhat against the run of play; a scrum penalty allowed Jessy Tremouliere to add three points for her team, and France led 8-3 after 22 minutes.
Back came the home side once more, though, as they looked to respond with a score of their own. A strong carry from debutant Rachel Shankland took Scotland into France territory once more, before fellow Stirling County player Kennedy produced a similarly tackle-breaking burst up the middle. The visitors would ultimately survive without conceding, but the match was finely poised at the half-hour mark.
Scotland came close to adding more points on the board with five minutes to play in the opening stanza, after powerful work from Smith, Lisa Thomson and Konkel earned a penalty that was kicked to the corner. Were it not for a pass adjudged to be forward from Smith to Shankland, the Scotland winger would have had the chance to mark her debut with a try.
There was no let-up in defence, either. With France threatening a score of their own with the half in its final minute, Sarah Bonar’s excellent turnover saw Scotland clear their lines as the half-time whistle sounded at Scotstoun.
Undeterred, the visitors came out firing in the opening moments of the second period. Good work from Megan Gaffney snuffed out a French attack on one wing, whilst Shankland’s endeavour did likewise on the other.
It would once again be the maul that proved the key to France’s second try, and it arrived on 45 minutes. A penalty kicked to the corner saw Agathe Sochat rumble over from five metres, Jessy Tremouliere’s wayward conversion leaving the score at 13-3 to France.
After being starved of possession for the opening 10 minutes of the second half, Scotland began to express themselves once more with ball in hand. Konkel’s carrying continued to break tackles, one such charge seeing the Scotland number eight carrying three Frech defenders with her on the way. In open field, too, the Scotland back three was looking for work; Rollie’s acceleration almost saw her clear from an inside break, whilst Gaffney and Shankland were coming off their wings in search of work.
The home side were on the charge, and pressure became points on 64 minutes. With France going off their feet at the breakdown on their own 10 metre line, Nelson stepped up to slot a kick from 40 metres to narrow the gap to 13-6 with just 15 minutes to play.
Just two minutes later, the fly-half had the opportunity to narrow the gap further. With the angle against her on this occasion, however, the kick died just short and the gap remained seven points.
Still Scotland came forward as the game entered the final 10 minutes; an outside arc from Shankland almost sent Rollie away down the wing, the full-back denied only by the covering French defence.
With seven minutes to go, the breakthrough for Scotland arrived. A charging break in midfield from Smith was continued by Thomson, before the ball was shifted wide at pace. Konkel’s scoring pass was collected by Shankland, and the debutant raced home untouched. From the toughest of angles Nelson’s kick was flawless, and the score was tied at 13-13.
Scotland were sensing history, as they fronted up to the French attack one final time. A kick ahead was regathered by Gaffney, before Mairi McDonald’s pass allowed Nelson to kick the ball into the stands and ensure that – for the first time in Women’s Six Nations history – Scotland would be taking a share of the spoils against France.
Referee: Sara Cox (RFU)
SP Energy Networks Player of Match: Jade Konkel
Pen: Nelson (2)
Scotland: Chloe Rollie (Harlequins); Rachel Shankland (Stirling County), Hannah Smith (Watsonians), Lisa Thomson (Unattached), Megan Gaffney (Heriot’s Rugby Club); Helen Nelson (Loughborough Lightning), Mairi McDonald (Hillhead Jordanhill); Leah Bartlett (Loughborough Lightning), Lana Skeldon (Unattached), Megan Kennedy (Stirling County), Emma Wassell (Corstorphine Cougars), Sarah Bonar (Gloucester/Hartpury), Rachel Malcolm CAPTAIN (Loughborough Lightning), Rachel McLachlan (Unattached), Jade Konkel (Harlequins).
Replacements: Molly Wright (Watsonians) on for Skeldon (51 minutes), Katie Dougan (Unattached), Christine Belisle (Cartha Queens Park) on for Kennedy (51 minutes), Siobhan Cattigan (Stirling County) on for Malcolm (71 minutes), Louise McMillan (Hillhead Jordanhill) on for McLachlan (51 minutes), Rachel Law (Edinburgh University), Abi Evans (Darlington Mowden Park), Annabel Sergeant (Heriot’s Rugby Club).