Scotland Women 7s qualify for 2019 Grand Prix with third place finish
Scotland Women 7s secured their place in next year’s Rugby Europe Grand Prix Series after producing some excellent sevens play to finish third in Kazan, Russia.
Eight tries from Lisa Thomson, Liz Musgrove, Jenny Maxwell, Helen Nelson (2) and Hannah Smith (3) helped the Scots to two victories from three over Wales (29-14) and Portugal (21-10) on day one.
Smith (4) and Helen Nelson added to their tallies on day two and Eilidh Sinclair (2), Lauren Harris, Abi Evans and Louise McMillan opened their accounts in Kazan as Scotland progressed to their first ever Grand Prix Cup semi-final with victories against Ireland (17-15) and Poland (19-12).
The Scots impressive run in Russia ensured they would finish the Grand Prix Series fourth overall in their first year back in the competition.
Scotland 29 -14 Wales
The Scots exploded out of the blocks in their first match and were in front within a minute as Lisa Thomson touched down underneath the posts to make the conversion a formality for captain Helen Nelson.
Scotland doubled their lead through Musgrove (Nelson adding the extras) before Wales responded to narrow the gap.
Jenny Maxwell finished off some excellent sevens interplay to extend the lead once more but a second Welsh try made the score 19-14 at the break.
The second half was all Scotland and Nelson led from the front, powering through to give Scotland some breathing space.
Hannah Smith, who missed the first leg in Paris through injury, added some gloss to the result after the clock went red.
Scotland 0 - 47 Russia
It was much tougher match in Scotland’s second outing as they played hosts and Cup runners-up in Paris, Russia.
The visitors were never really able to get a foothold in the game and, in spite of some committed defence in the first half, they were down by three tries and 19 points at half-time.
Russia capitalised on their abundant possession after the break and added four further scores to their tally to win 47-0 and put them in a commanding position atop Pool B.
Mairi McDonald, Bryony Nelson and Evie Wills all came off the bench to win their first sevens caps in the second period.
Scotland 21 - 10 Portugal
Scotland’s final match of the day saw them score three tries in the opening minutes and then hold out against a relentless Portuguese attack to seal their place in the top 8 for the weekend and a place in the Cup quarter-finals.
It was Helen Nelson who again made an excellent example for her team when she brushed aside a defender in the opening exchanges and cantered over for the opening score.
Hannah Smith scored two more in the opening quarter to put the Scots in a strong position.
Portugal grabbed their first score after camping on the Scottish line and continued their assault throughout the second half but could only record one more score.
Scotland 17 - 15 Ireland
The pool runner-up spot on day one saw Scotland enter the cup quarter-finals to play Ireland.
It was the Irish who enjoyed the brighter start and they opened the scoring midway through the half.
Scotland were not down-heartened, however, and first Eilidh Sinclair and then Hannah Smith showed their strength and pace to hold a 12-5 half-time lead.
Things looked to get tricky for the Scots when Lisa Thomson, try-scorer on day one, was sin-binned for knocking the ball down and Ireland scored two unconverted tries to give them a slender advantage.
Scotland fought to the death and, stealing an Irish line-out with seconds left, they mounted one more attack.
Bryony Nelson was agonisingly close to scoring her first ever international sevens try but was dragged down just feet short.
The Scots recycled well and it was Louise McMillan who stepped and reached to put her team into their first Cup semi-final.
Scotland 22 - 24 France
Scotland progressed to take on winners of their home first leg, France, in the semi-final.
France struck first with two early tries but Eilidh Sinclair got Scotland on the board midway through the half.
The french looked composed in hitting straight back but it was Hannah Smith who stepped a defender at close range to make sure the Scots were well in the match at half-time (12-17).
Scotland had the best of the second half and, rebounding from another early Fracne try, Lauren Harris raced down the wing and reached to close the gap to seven points with only a couple of minutes remaining.
There were shades of their Ireland quarter-final as again, with the clock red, Scotland poached a French line-out and worked to release Abi Evans who got her first try of the weekend.
Helen Nelson’s conversion wide-out slipped agonisingly wide and Scotland would play in the third-place play-off after another strong performance.
Scotland 19 - 12 Poland
The two teams met in the first leg in Paris earlier this year and Scotland ran out narrow winners to consign Poland to bottom place in their pool.
Both sides looked utterly changed from Marcoussis, however, and Scotland were coming off the back of two great performances that saw them shock Ireland and nearly repeat the feat against France.
Once more the Scots went behind early on but regrouped well and led 7-5 at the break thanks to Hannah Smith’s try.
Smith bagged her second of the match at the beginning of the second half and, after a second Polish score, Helen Nelson finished the job by dotting down from close-range.
The win put Scotland in third for the tournament - their highest ever placing at the Grand Prix.
Rugby Europe Grand Prix Series - Kazan 7s - Results
Pool B - Scotland 29 -14 Wales
Pool B - Scotland 0 - 47 Russia
Pool B - Scotland 21 - 10 Portugal
QF - Scotland 17- 15 Ireland
SF - Scotland 22 - 24 France
3rd-place play-off - Scotland 19 - 12 Poland