Four-try Scots edged in Madrid
Scotland Women scored four tries but were ultimately edged out 29-24 by Spain at the Compultense National Stadium in Madrid today, with the 3,400 crowd spurring the home team on in a tight contest.
The first few minutes had good attacks from both sides, but the supporters had only six minutes to wait to see their side put the first score on the board (5-0).Despite the early setback, Scotland showed patience in attack and continued to use their set plays to work their way up the pitch whenever they had the opportunity.
Momentum picked up for the visitors as they made good ground, thanks to strong carries from the forwards and quick breaks from the backs. Spain, however, remained dangerous in attack, and broke through the Scottish defence for what looked like another score, only for Referee Aurelie Groizeleau to call them back for a forward pass.
Scotland responded well and a scrum at half way gave the visiting team the opportunity to push up the pitch. Scotland piled on the pressure at the Spanish try line but were held up well by the home defence. However, patience eventually paid off and Helen Nelson snuck under the posts for Scotland’s first try of the game.
Nelson converted her own try and Scotland took a well-deserved lead (5-7).
Scotland retained possession from the restart and Lauren Harris flew up the wing to create another opportunity in Spain's 22. A fantastic carry from Lana Skeldon took Scotland up to the Spanish 5m line and Scotland’s second try of the afternoon came shortly after.
Once again patience was key as Scotland worked through their phases, not panicking, and waiting for their opportunity. And, on the 21st phase, it fell to Hannah Smith who spotted the gap to dot down to extend the visitor's lead (5-12).
However, Spain reacted well and just before half-time a well worked line-out set up the opportunity to drive over the line, closing the gap just before the break.
Half Time: Spain 10-12 Scotland
A penalty gave Scotland skipper Lisa Thomson the opportunity to kick to touch, setting up a set piece opportunity close to the Spanish line.
Spain’s defence held strong and seemed to have thwarted Scotland’s chance to score, however, the clearing kick up field was fielded well by full back Chloe Rollie who used her pace to attack the heart of the Spanish defence.
A cleverly lofted pass to Thomson drew the defence in and, in turn, gave Smith space on the outside once she received the ball to glide in for her second score of the game. The score seemed to spur on the hosts, who responded in emphatic style, tighthead prop Laura Delgado crossing and stand-off Patricia Garcia adding the extras (17-17).
Excellent Scottish defence on their line was unfortunate to be called offside and quick thinking from Garcia in the resultant penalty saw her nip over for a try (24-17).
The momentum continued in Spain’s favour as they went over again minutes later after break down Scotland’s left wing, with Gracia again there to finish off a slick move and score her second try of the afternoon (29-17).
The introduction of fresh legs for Scotland, which included a debut for Sophie Anderson, saw Scotland raise the tempo once again. Persistent pressure in Spanish territory resulted in penalty to Scotland, giving them space and opportunity.
From the set piece the Scottish backs worked it wide looking for a gap, which Rollie found as she dived over for Scotland’s fourth try (29-24).
With less than a minute left on the clock, Scotland pushed hard to retain possession from the restart but the Spanish held on to win and enthralling encounter by a slim margin.
Full Time: Spain 29-24 Scotland
With four tries away from home, Scotland will be taking lots of positives away from this match into the Six Nations next month.
Head Coach Shade Munro, said: “To score four tries but lose the game is always disappointing.
”On a positive side, our ability to finish our attacks the way we did is always a good thing.
"This was a good game of rugby, a good crowd and I thought Spain played very well. That has been a great game of rugby for us to have under our belts.
”We tried to replicate how we played against Canada in November. In that match we carried hard and had good speed to the breakdown. It was good to see that again here, but we were too inconsistent in the second half.”
Captain, Lisa Thomson added: “Spain turned the tempo up when we were down, they capitalised on that.
”We played some good rugby out there. Playing more through the backs, but everyone put a shift in. We just need to get better at switching back on when we have a little dip.
“Our performance today compared to the Italy match was miles better and we have built on things from the Canada match as well, so a good match to have ahead of our first Six Nations match on Friday 1 February.”