Six Nations: Scrum-thing to build on for sure ahead of massive match in Wales, say Malcolm and Konkel

By Gary Heatly

Scotland skipper Rachel Malcolm and No.8 Jade Konkel both believe there are plenty of positives to take forward into the round two match versus Wales in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations this coming weekend.

Bryan Easson’s charges lost their tournament opener to world number one side England 57-5 on Saturday in front of a record women’s crowd north of the border of 3,988 at the DAM Health Stadium in Edinburgh.

And while both players and their team mates were frustrated to concede 38 points in the first half – Easson believing the team “sat off England too much” in that period – the second 40 minutes was much better.

Back-row Malcolm said:  “I was really pleased with our set piece against England, I thought our pack did well against a talented England pack, we got ball from pretty much all of our scrums and almost all of our lineouts so we have got big positives we can take, but learn from too ahead of Wales.

“A massive attribute we pride ourselves on is our heart and to get a turnover in the 82nd minute and then creating opportunities in the 84th minute is what we are all about.”

“I think our scrum worked really well against England,” Konkel, who earned her 50th cap, adds.

“We had a pretty stable platform to work from. As a pack, people were putting their hands up, leg driving and making a big impact. We were getting ‘go forward’ and started to get a bit more structure in that part of our game which is good.

“We’re just going to keep improving like that the more we play together.”

Wales are a team in transition after a tough time last year, but clearly having 12 contracted players and 12 on retainer deals under new head coach Ioan Cunningham is helping them as they beat Ireland in Dublin 27-19 on Saturday.

They were 14-5 down at the break, but fought back and it should be a cracker at Cardiff Arms Park this coming Saturday because they are 11th in the world, Scotland are ninth and the teams will meet in the pool opener at the World Cup later in the year in New Zealand too.

Malcolm, 30, said:  “What we need to improve on going into Wales is converting our chances while we were also giving England chances from our own mistakes at times rather than their brilliance, so we need to be more disciplined and play with heart and passion as we did in the second half.

“We need to look at converting our chances against Wales, that was the chat on the pitch against England that we need to convert them.”

“Against Wales, we’ve had some wins and some losses over the years, they are always close games,” Konkel, 28, states.

“World rankings don’t necessarily tell the whole picture, they are a very physical team and it is always a super physical match when we play them.

“But I’d like to think that if we focus on ourselves we should come away with a win and that’s what we’re going to be striving for. It’s about learning from this England performance and really pushing on for the win.”

Scotland’s solo try against England came from full-back Chloe Rollie after a neat pass from centre Hannah Smith while 20-year-old stand-off Meryl Smith managed to get on for a full debut.

Loosehead prop replacement Lisa Cockburn injured a knee in the second half and was due to have a scan post-match to see if she will be available for Wales and the rest of the tournament.

Wales versus Scotland takes place at 4.45pm on Saturday, April 2 at the Cardiff Arms Park and is live on BBC Two

 The main photo of Rachel Malcolm and Jade Konkel is from Scottish Rugby/SNS