WXV 2: Scotland have put four wins on the table, but they can get better and the next mountain to climb is USA

Gary Heatly

On Saturday a number of the Scotland squad used their rest day to travel up Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain.

While they were taking in the amazing sights from the top in South Africa they will have no doubt reflected with a quiet satisfaction on Friday’s opening WXV 2 win over the hosts at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch.

They will also have taken a moment to think about the three wins before that against Italy, Ireland and Spain which all means that Scotland have recorded four victories in a row for the first time since late 2021 and early 2022.

Reason to be cheerful right enough, but the great thing about this group is that they know there is so much more to come.

Next up is USA in what will be a tough test on Friday at the Athlone Sports Stadium in Cape Town (1pm UK time, live on RugbyPass TV), but they have the quality and belief to know that, if they stick to their processes, they can record another positive result.

USA defeated Samoa 36-26 on Saturday in their WXV 2 opener meaning that they and fledgling table leaders Scotland are both on five points in this short, sharp tournament that runs until October 28.

“I think this group can go on and achieve some incredible things, but we just have to focus on the next game,” skipper Rachel Malcolm said after the 31-17 win over South Africa.

“It is clichéd, but if we start thinking how far we can go and what we can do then you lose sight of the process and, at times against South Africa, we probably did lose sight of the process a bit.

“That is the bit we need to get right against USA. The last time we played USA they came out on top [21-17 in Edinburgh last year] and they have had some good recent performances so we are going to have to be at our best to go out and get another win.

“There is a lot to look at, but the character, skill and depth we have in the squad means I have no doubt that we’ll do that this week and I’m super excited for the challenge ahead.”

When South Africa pulled things back to 24-17 on Friday they were in the ascendancy, but cool heads and a converted Lisa Thomson try got Scotland over the line.

The calmness and decision making qualities the squad have out on the pitch now has massively improved even since the Rugby World Cup last year and back-rower Malcolm said:  “You’ve seen it from us over the last couple of years, situations like that previously would probably have been a bit of a banana skin for us. But the experiences that we’ve had and the development of our leadership group means we now know how to adapt to situations and handle things better.

“We knew that South Africa were going to be a really tough challenge, and I think they brought a huge amount of physicality and put us under massive pressure at different points of the game.

“But we’ve taken a massive step forward in terms of our decision making, that’s one of the big positives from this game.

“It was far from our best, so we need to look at that, but that’s the sign of a good team, finding a way to win in those really tough games.

“There’s lots that we can look at going into USA. There’s lots that we didn’t show [versus South Africa] that we would have liked to.

“We want to go out and perform better than that – and we’ll need to when we come up against the USA.”

Scotland versus South Africa: 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 South Africa: Tries: Gallagher, Skeldon 2, Bartlett, Thomson. Cons: Nelson, Smith 2.

Scotland-South Africa highlights are here

USA-Samoa 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 image from the South Africa match – the image from Table Mountain is from Caity Mattinson’s Instagram