Women’s 6N: “This is a springboard to a bright future”, says skipper Rachel Malcolm as Scots finish with back-to-back bonus point wins

 Gary Heatly

Scotland made it two wins on the bounce in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations for the first time since 2006 on Saturday evening, turning on the style in the second half to secure a bonus point 36-10 win over Ireland.

In front of a record home tournament crowd of 4,862 at the DAM Health Stadium in Edinburgh, they weathered early pressure from the dogged visitors, who finish bottom, in round five before cutting loose.

Backing up the Italy win seven days previously, it is the first time Scotland have won two games in the Six Nations since 2017 and, importantly, saw them finish fourth and secure a place in the second tier of the new WXV event being run by World Rugby later this year.

“This win was a statement around our tournament,” back-rower Rachel Malcolm, the captain, said.

“We have stuck together through tough times and that is exactly what we did during that match.

“Ireland were phenomenal in that first half and put us under an incredible amount of pressure, but we stuck to what we were good at.

“In that second half we had the confidence to just stick to the game plan, stick to what is working for us.

“To score at the death [a sixth try via full-back Chloe Rollie] shows the class, the maturity and the fitness of this team. What a performance.

“Some of these girls have played almost every minute of this tournament and were still putting in such a dominant performance into the final minute of that game. I could not be prouder of them as a captain.

“We have taken massive steps but we can still improve.

“In each of the games we have either had a pack that has worked or a backline that has worked. That is the first performance when we have put the two together. Looking to the future that is fantastic.

“We are here to compete. People have questioned whether we deserved to be in this tournament. We have shown in the last two weeks that we deserve to be here and not only that, we are here to compete.

“This is a springboard to a bright future.”

A good start from the visitor saw them earn a penalty in the fourth minute and stand-off Dannah O’Brien kicked it over to make it 3-0.

The next points did not come until just before half-time, centre Meryl Smith, later named player of the match, running a lovely line to go over for a Scotland try and a 5-3 lead at the break.

That gave Scotland confidence coming out for the second half and, in the 48th minute, hooker Lana Skeldon spun out of contact to dot down and make it 10-3.

Ireland fought back six minutes later when skipper Nichola Fryday scored a try and O’Brien converted to make it 10-10.

In the 57th minute a great run by Smith eventually set up loosehead prop Leah Bartlett for a try which stand-off Helen Nelson converted from out wide for 17-10.

With 15 minutes to go came the moment of the match.

Young winger Francesca McGhie showed amazing pace to score her first try for her country. Nelson converted that one and the next one from Malcolm before Rollie’s five pointer finished things off in style and got the party started.

England defeated France at Twickenham earlier in the day in front of a world record crowd to win the Grand Slam while a bonus point victory for Wales in Italy saw them finish third and their opponents fifth.

More information on WXV is set to come in the next few weeks, but this is a great platform for Scotland to build from.

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

Keep an eye out on GH Media’s channels for comprehensive debrief coverage of Scotland TikTok Women’s Six Nations campaign until May 3…

 Jade Konkel-Roberts is pictured celebrating via the Scottish Rugby Twitter feed