Women’s 6N: “We dug out Italy win, but the pleasing thing is there is still more to come from this team,” says Easson

Gary Heatly

It is a measure of how far Scotland have come in the last 12 months that although they won in Italy for the first time in 25 years on Saturday they still were not 100 percent happy with the performance.

At the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma, the sides were level at 7-7 after 40 minutes, but second half tries from centre Emma Orr and full-back Chloe Rollie got them over the line 17-10.

It was not pretty at times, but they dug in to bounce back from the thumping loss to England and finishing the ‘best of the rest’ behind the Red Roses and France in the standings is in their hands now with the last game in Ireland to come next Saturday.

A third-place finish would earn a WXV 1 place for later this year and secure qualification for Rugby World Cup 2025.

“I think it is a mark of the team now that we are critiquing wins because we want to get better,” head coach Bryan Easson said.

“We want to be fighting and winning against the best teams and to do that we’ve got to be more consistent with our performances. We’ll always look at areas we can improve and our minds are already on Ireland. It’s really positive to be in this position.

“We’re learning a lot with each other and working together as a group at putting in a more consistent performance next week.

“Against Italy I thought we put ourselves under pressure at times. We didn’t keep the ball for long enough and we overplayed a little in the middle third.

“When we attacked in the second half we put them under more pressure. It was scrappy. It wasn’t the best performance – however, we executed when we needed to.

“We would have lost this game a year ago, two years ago. You learn how to win and how to build a lead and we did that. That was probably the pleasing thing, we knew how to dig out a win, although it wasn’t a brilliant performance.

“I think the win in Cardiff [in round one back on March 23] tops this one. I think the way we dealt with that game was probably better than how we dealt with this one.

“It was nice to see the attack function better than it did last week [versus England], but I think the defensive performance against Wales was arguably one of the best Scotland Women have ever put in. We had a real high from that and Wales is very much a match that has been on the edge for us a number of times.

“Against Italy frustration was there in terms of the performance, but I’m immensely proud of the way we managed the shifts in momentum.

“We knew we would find a way to win. It wasn’t always the prettiest, but we just had to dig in and stay true to the game plan. When we did that in the second half, we tore Italy apart defensively. When we played into their hands, that’s when we struggled.

“We probably let it get closer than it should have. I think we left points out there.”

In the first half, despite early pressure from the visitors, Italy went ahead in the 32nd minute.

A solid lineout saw the ball make its way into midfield and back-row Ilaria Arrighetti’s neat pop pass found Alyssa D’Inca charging through and the centre showed good pace to go over for a try. Centre Beatrice Rigoni converted.

Scotland levelled things up three minutes later, an excellent lineout drive seeing hooker Lana Skeldon going over for her 16th Test try with stand-off Helen Nelson converting.

That was the way it stayed until the two second half tries made it 17-7.

A penalty from Rigoni then made it 17-10 with six minutes to go and, with 18 seconds left, a dangerous tackle by Rollie saw her yellow carded.

Italy kicked to touch, but then knocked the ball on from the resultant lineout and Scotland had won.

Rollie’s card was later upgraded to a red via a bunker review while Skeldon was named player of the match.

Scotland: Chloe Rollie; Rhona Lloyd, Emma Orr, Lisa Thomson, Francesca McGhie; Helen Nelson, Caity Mattinson; Molly Wright, Lana Skeldon, Christine Belisle, Eva Donaldson, Louise McMillan, Rachel Malcolm (C), Alex Stewart, Evie Gallagher. Subs: Elis Martin, Leah Bartlett, Elliann Clarke, Fiona McIntosh, Rachel McLachan, Mairi McDonald, Meryl Smith, Coreen Grant.

Thanks to Guinness Women’s Six Nations for the image of Scotland celebrating in Parma

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