By Gary Heatly
Scotland’s women ran out of steam on day three in the Polish heat as they finished fourth in Krakow over the weekend, but it was still enough for them to finish third overall – and earn bronze medals – in the Rugby Europe Championship sevens series for 2022.
A runners-up spot in Lisbon, Portugal, in the first event backed up by this fourth place finish is a pretty positive result for Scott Forrest and his charges.
Young players such as Meryl Smith and Emma Orr have shown their undoubted potential over the two events while Rhona Lloyd was back to her try scoring best and a number of other players contributed well.
The defence also looked strong and now for Forrest the job is to select his squad which will compete in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham later this month. That squad is due to be named in a few days.
The pool phase took place during Friday and Saturday in Krakow in the 10-team event and Scotland won four out of four to top Pool B and make the semi-finals.
Tries from Shona Campbell (3), Liz Musgrove (2), Helen Nelson and Abi Evans – brought into the squad for the injured Megan Gaffney – along with five conversions from Nelson gave them a 45-0 win over Wales first up on Friday.
A 38-7 win came later that day against Belgium when Chloe Rollie, Lisa Thomson, Lloyd (2) and Smith scored tries and Thomson and Smith both kicked two conversions apiece.
France on Saturday morning was always going to be a tougher test, but unconverted tries from Lloyd, Smith and Musgrove got them over the line 15-0.
Orr, Smith and Lloyd then scored the tries – and Thomson converted one – as they edged past Spain 17-14 to top the pool.
Ireland topped Pool A here with Poland second.
In the ranking games, Germany beat a young Wales team 33-14 to take ninth while Belgium and France defeated Czechia and Romania 14-10 and 36-7 respectively to see them go into a the fifth/sixth match.
In the seventh/eight match, Czechia hit top form to defeat Romania 45-0 and then it was Belgium who ended up fifth after seeing off France 26-14.
Ireland continued to show their improvement from Lisbon in the first semi-final by getting the better of Spain 26-0 and then, in one of the hardest fought ties of the three days, Poland battled past Scotland 14-0.
That result guaranteed the Polish side the overall Championship title and the home crowd were ecstatic.
In the third/fourth match, Spain got off to a flyer before Scotland came back into it, but they ultimately lost 21-17. Tries came from Musgrove, Eilidh Sinclair and Thomson with Thomson kicking one conversion.
And then it really was a cracking final which went back and forth before Ireland could celebrate after coming through against the hosts 21-17.
The 20 points gained in Krakow by Ireland catapulted them into second place in the overall Championship standings.
Poland finished on 38, Ireland on 34 and Scotland were third on 32.
Spain won the men’s event in Krakow and, as a result, were crowned overall champions too.
Points scorers for Scotland in Krakow
Meryl Smith 24 (4 tries, 2 cons)
Rhona Lloyd 20 (4T)
Liz Musgrove 20 (4T)
Lisa Thomson 18 (2T, 4C)
Shona Campbell 15 (3T)
Helen Nelson 15 (1T, 5C)
Chloe Rollie 5 (1T)
Emma Orr 5 (1T)
Abi Evans 5 (1T)
Eilidh Sinclair 5 (1T)
Points scorers for Scotland over the two events
Meryl Smith 50 (8T, 5C)
Rhona Lloyd 45 (9T)
Lisa Thomson 27 (3T, 6C)
Helen Nelson 27 (1T, 11C)
Chloe Rollie 25 (5T)
Liz Musgrove 25 (5T)
Shona Campbell 20 (4T)
Rachel McLachlan 5 (1T)
Emma Orr 10 (2T)
Abi Evans 5 (1T)
Eilidh Sinclair 5 (1T)
Travelling squad for Krakow
Shona Campbell (Edinburgh University)
Abi Evans (Durham DMP Sharks)
Evie Gallagher (Stirling County)
Rhona Lloyd (Les Lioness du Stade Bordelaise)
Rachel McLachlan (Sale Sharks)
Liz Musgrove (Unattached)
Helen Nelson (Loughborough Lightning) (C-C)
Emma Orr (Biggar)
Chloe Rollie (Exeter Chiefs)
Eilidh Sinclair (Exeter Chiefs)
Meryl Smith (Edinburgh University)
Lisa Thomson (Sale Sharks) (C-C)
Evie Wills (Hillhead Jordanhill)
Thanks to Rugby Europe/Scottish Rugby for the photos