Women’s 6N: Glimpses of attacking play, debutantes and impact of bench has left Scotland camp positive ahead of Wales match  

Gary Heatly

Scotland head coach Bryan Easson says “the feeling within the group in the huddle afterwards was one of positivity rather than negativity” following a 58-7 loss to England in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations opener on Saturday.

And both he and skipper Rachel Malcolm believe the group is in a good place ahead of a crucial round two game this coming weekend against Wales.

At the weekend in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,053 at Kingston Park in Newcastle, England showed why they are the world’s number one team.

They scored 10 tries through Claudia MacDonald (2), Amy Cokayne (2), Tatyana Heard, Poppy Cleall, Sadia Kabeya and co-captain Marlie Packer (3).

Packer’s fellow co-captain Sarah Hunter left the field midway through the second half after earning her 141st and final cap to a standing ovation in her home city.

Chloe Rollie’s try converted by Helen Nelson gave Scotland a boost at the end, but it was England’s day.


We heard from all the Scotland players and coaches who spoke before the tournament began that supporters would see a new attacking style from the team.

In the early stages versus England centre Emma Orr nearly scored a try and then, in the last 10 minutes, Rollie went over, the same player had another slaloming run and replacements Beth Blacklock and Eva Donaldson linked up well.

“There were a lot of positives in there: first 20, last 10 definitely there were glimpses there of what we can do,” Easson said.

“We reacted to England’s first try really well, I thought some of the attacking play to go into the ‘22’, the momentum we had, Emma Orr was very, very close.

“If we had scored then I’m not saying the outcome would have changed, but what would have happened in the next 20 minutes might have changed.”

Malcolm added:  “We saw glimpses late on and as well in the first half. That first 10 minute period we definitely created opportunities and when we look back at the World Cup and use that as our comparison, how we created opportunities here was progress.

The next step is going to be that in terms of breaking defences down, we did that at times, but I think we got stuck a bit in the middle third and we’ll look at that ahead of Wales, but I’m definitely proud of the girls trying something new.”


Watsonians’ 19-year-old winger Francesca McGhie started the game and put in a solid performance which showed much promise for the future.

She is now Scotland cap number 233 while Harlequins’ centre Beth Blacklock, 25, is cap number 234 after making an impact off the bench in the second half.

“They are excellent additions to the squad,” Easson said.

“Fran was really nervous all week, understandably, and just to see a young kid, 19, perform the way she did was excellent.

“She had a really good chance on the far side, her one on one was excellent she got on the outside, she made a couple mistakes, but these things happen and the good thing was she just brushed them off and got on with the rest of the game and her head didn’t go down.

“Beth came on and gave us something. She had a good line break from our own line.

“With players like this coming in it can really push us forward nicely for the future.”

Impact of the bench

In previous year, Easson has not always been too keen to use his whole matchday 23, but with professionalism kicking in he now has a wider pool of players that he feels are up to the rigours of international rugby.

Scotland were 43-0 down after 51 minutes when Easson began emptying the bench at Kingston Park – and in the last 29 minutes the score was 15-7 and the subs brought some energy to proceedings.

“To see the bench come on and finish the way they did really shows the growth of this group,” he said.

“I thought the way the applied themselves and the pace they played at was testament to what we are trying to do.”

And Malcolm said:  “he impact the bench had probably shows how the squad has gelled. We traditionally haven’t used our bench as much as we did here, but the impact that they had shows how together we are as a squad and how we are all on the same page.

“That is so important and I think on and off pitch the buy in from the team in terms of everything that we want to do has been fantastic and the vibe around the camp in the last three weeks has been spot on.”

Next up…

As mentioned, Scotland now host Wales in round two of action this coming Saturday, April 1 at the DAM Health Stadium in Edinburgh at 5.30pm – click here for tickets.

The Welsh edged out Scotland twice last year in close games while they began the ongoing event with a 31-5 bonus point victory over Ireland over the weekend.

“We will get straight into our preparation for the Welsh game,” Easson said.

“There are things to work on from England no doubt, but the feeling within the group in the huddle afterwards was one of positivity rather than negativity.”

England are top of the table after round one, Wales are second and France third after Sunday’s 22-12 triumph in Italy.

Meanwhile, the Scotland Futures lost out 66-19 to England under-20 at the same ground later in the day while the under-18 Six Nations Festival has been confirmed for April 7-15 at Wellington College in England.

Scotland V England: Chloe Rollie; Coreen Grant, Emma Orr, Meryl Smith, Francesca McGhie; Helen Nelson, Caity Mattinson; Leah Bartlett, Lana Skeldon, Christine Belisle, Lyndsay O’Donnell, Louise McMillan, Rachel Malcolm (C), Rachel McLachlan, Evie Gallagher. Subs: Jodie Rettie, Anne Young, Elliann Clarke, Eva Donaldson, Eilidh Sinclair, Mairi McDonald, Beth Blacklock, Liz Musgrove.

Keep an eye out on GH Media’s channels for comprehensive coverage of all things Scotland throughout the TikTok Women’s Six Nations…

Thanks to Rugby People for the main image