WXV 2: “I think there’s more in us, that’s the exciting thing,” says Bryan Easson after fifth Scots’ win on the spin

Gary Heatly

Bryan Easson was a happy man after he watched his Scotland charges defeat USA 24-14 with a bonus point in Cape Town on Friday to keep their WXV 2 title hopes alive, but he knows they can play even better.

The victory was the Scots’ fifth Test one on the spin – the first time that has happened since 2001 – and they will be going for a sixth against Japan next Friday.

If they win that it will not only give them a chance of being the inaugural WXV 2 champions – Italy are currently top on points difference after a 36-18 bonus point triumph over South Africa on Friday and they play USA next Saturday – it would also see Scotland equal the run of six victories in a row from 22 years ago.

“I think there’s more in us, that’s the exciting thing,” head coach Easson said after the USA win backed up an opening WXV 2 bonus point victory over South Africa seven days before.

“All round it was good against USA. Attack-wise, the first 20-25 minutes was excellent, We got some real pace on the wings and some of our decision-making in attack was excellent.

“We pinned them early, we knew there wasn’t a lot of kick attack from them and when we got the ball back I thought we attacked really well. We found some space on the edge when we needed to.

“Second half they came out the traps and put us under a lot of pressure. Defensively we put in a lot of good sets and looked really comfortable.

“At times in the past we would have forced passes or forced the game, but I thought we looked composed. We probably could have done more with the ball when we had it, we didn’t have a lot of the ball in the second half, but when we did we looked composed.

“There were some real positives on both sides of the ball and to beat a team who are above us in the world rankings with a bonus point is something we’re really proud of.”

While tries grab the headlines, defence is so often the foundation for wins on the rugby field and it was the case here.

“I thought Rachel Malcolm and Evie Gallagher were outstanding, especially in the first half, defensively they were just awesome and thing things for us in that department. Our defence has really moved on,” Easson added.

“We’ve always been a decent defensive side and it’s something we take pride in. Martin Haag and Tyrone Holmes [assistant coaches] have done a lot of really good work.

“Tyrone leads on defence and he’s been awesome. He’s a really passionate guy – I don’t know any defence coach that’s not passionate, but Ty certainly takes the biscuit on that one. He’s worked really hard with the players on the breakdown and it is showing out there on the pitch.”

With their first attack in the Athlone Sports Stadium in the 11th minute Scotland scored the opening try.

Centre Emma Orr’s good break set up winger Francesca McGhie who finished well for an unconverted effort.

In the 16th minute, after a number of forward drives, second-row Emma Wassell went over for Scotland’s second try from short range. Stand-off Helen Nelson converted and it was 12-0.

It got better for Scotland in the 19th minute when back-row Rachel McLachlan’s pass set up Rhona Lloyd and the winger did the rest to score try number three. It was unconverted and it was 17-0.

Scotland scrum-half Mairi McDonald was well held up by her opposite number Carly Waters over the try line six minutes later.

Freda Tafuna, the USA back-row, thought she had scored a try after 33 minutes following a kick charge down by second-row Hallie Taufoou, but referee Clara Munarini spotted a knock on after conferring with the TMO.

That opportunity had given USA some confidence and they were carrying and tipping on well before earning a penalty near the Scotland try line.

From the resultant lineout they managed to set things up for tighthead prop Charli Jacoby to go over. Stand-off Gabriella Cantorna converted and it was 17-7 at half-time.

USA started where they left off in the second half, fresh face Keia Mae Sagapolu from the bench carrying well, but after 50 minutes the score was still the same.

Captain Kate Zackary and winger Tess Feury both had glimpses of space out wide for USA before the hour mark while Scotland put some phases together before a knock on and it was a 10-point game heading into the last 20 minutes.

Just after the hour mark Scotland scored a crucial fourth bonus point try.

It came through full-back Chloe Rollie and replacement Meryl Smith converted to make it 24-7.

Feury so nearly scored a try for USA straight afterwards and then substitute Paige Stathopoulos did go over. Feury converted and it was 24-14.

Rollie almost got her second try with eight minutes to play, but a last gasp tackle from USA replacement Taina Tukuafu kept her out.

The Scots’ No.8 Evie Gallagher was named the player of the match and these are exciting times for women’s rugby in this country.

 The third WXV 2 game of round two is Japan-Samoa on Saturday at 3pm UK time.

Scotland versus USA: Chloe Rollie; Rhona Lloyd, Emma Orr, Lisa Thomson, Francesca McGhie; Helen Nelson, Mairi McDonald; Leah Bartlett, Lana Skeldon, Christine Belisle, Emma Wassell, Louise McMillan, Rachel Malcolm (C), Rachel McLachlan, Evie Gallagher. Subs: Elis Martin, Anne Young, Lisa Cockburn, Eva Donaldson, Jade Konkel, Caity Mattinson, Meryl Smith, Liz Musgrove.

Scotland scorers versus USA: Tries: McGhie, Wassell, Lloyd, Rollie. Cons: Nelson, Smith.

Scotland-USA highlights are here

Italy-South Africa highlights are here

Keep an eye out on GH Media’s channels for Scotland women’s coverage through to the end of WXV 2 in October…

Thanks to Scottish Rugby/World Rugby for the main image from the USA match and Rugby People  for the image of Bryan Easson