Women’s 6N: “The two minutes either side of half-time were a massive swing” as Easson and Malcolm reflect on Wales loss

Gary Heatly

Heading into the dying moments of the first half, Scotland had battled back to just 12-10 down against Wales on Saturday evening and were on the front foot with visiting centre Kerin Lake in the sin bin in Edinburgh.

However, Wales defended well to keep Scotland out and then, right at the start of the second half, the team with 14 players actually scored a converted try themselves through loosehead prop Gwenllian Pyrs which made it 19-10.

The game still had plenty of legs in it before Wales eventually won 34-22 to give them a second bonus point victory from two in this year’s TikTok Women’s Six Nations, but those were clearly important moments.

“I thought the two minutes either side of half-time were a massive swing,” said Scotland head coach Bryan Easson at the DAM Health Stadium after the game.

“We had opportunities just before half-time to score, we didn’t. Then it was disappointing post-half-time when they were down to 14, we got charged down and we lost a score.

“In the second half we were better defensively. But fair play to the Welsh, they just kept going. It was a tough one. Our tackle count was phenomenal.

“I thought some of the performances were outstanding. It’s a new side, there’s a lot of youngsters in there, and we’re gaining experience every time. Up until the last play of the game there was a score in it. It could have gone either way. A lot to be proud of in there.”

Captain Rachel Malcolm said:  “The thing with a player advantage [for example here when Lake was off] is that you don’t always capitalise on it in that 10 minute period, it is sometimes at the end of the game [when the opposition are energy sapped].

“We felt like we were building and [rather than the period just before and after the break] I am more disappointed that we didn’t capitalise on things later in the game when we had a bit more energy.

“We had the aim all week of being relentless, and I think we achieved that, but unfortunately for us Wales were equally relentless.

“When they had the ball they did a really good job of keeping hold of it, and eventually we succumbed to that pressure. It’s small margins, there are little things that we can fix.”

The game

Wales took the lead in this one in the third minute when a neat lineout move set up tighthead prop Sisilia Tuipulotu, later named player of the match, to make it 5-0.

They then had another try disallowed in the 14th minute and Scotland tried to build into things.

They did get their first points on the board in the 27th minute when stand-off Helen Nelson kicked a penalty.

Almost immediately Pyrs went over from short range for Wales’ second try and scrum-half Keira Bevan converted.

The last 10 minutes of the half belonged to the hosts and a try came from hooker Lana Skeldon, converted by Nelson, to make it 12-10. Lake was then yellow carded.

As mentioned, with 14 players it was Wales who scored their crucial third try just after the break.

Scotland had to score next and they did when winger Coreen Grant ran a lovely line to go over. Nelson’s conversion made it 19-17.

Soon after Tuipulotu’s second try made it 24-17 to Wales.

With 15 minutes to go Scotland responded when the dancing feet of full-back Chloe Rollie went over for their third try. Nelson could not convert from a tricky angle and it was 24-22.

In a thrilling finale in front of a crowd of 3,031, Wales scored 10 late points through a try by replacement scrum-half Ffion Lewis and five points from the boot of stand-off Elinor Snowsill.

Elsewhere at the weekend, France defeated Ireland 53-3 on the road and England beat Italy 68-5 in Northampton.

After two rounds of action, England lead the way in the Six Nations table with 10 points from 10, Wales also have 10 points, France have nine and Scotland, Italy and Ireland have zero.

What’s next…

There is now a break in the competition for Easter, but then rounds three four and five come thick and fast before it all ends on April 29.

Round three for Scotland bring a trip to the Stade de la Rabine in Vannes to take on France on April 16.

Easson added: “In the coming days we’ll be getting some down time away from the group because three games on the bounce [after Easter] is a real tough shift.

“The girls will be working away at their clubs and we’ve got the regional training centres here in Scotland as well, so we’ll still be working behind the scenes [this week and then be back in for that France week.”

Scotland V Wales: 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