RWC: “We have to enjoy it”: Easson wants his players to relish NZ test after Oz frustrations

By Gary Heatly

Scotland head coach Bryan Easson has urged his players to enjoy the challenge that awaits them next weekend when they face New Zealand at the Rugby World Cup.

For the second weekend in a row the Scots were agonisingly edged out on Saturday, Australia beating them 14-12 to go with an 18-15 loss to Wales from six days before.

That has left the Scots bottom of Pool A and with very little chance of making the knock-out stages, especially as they have the second in the world Black Ferns to play next Saturday.

New Zealand scored 41 points versus Australia in week one and then bagged 10 tries in a 56-12 triumph over Wales on Sunday.

They will be massive favourites against 10th in the world Scotland, but Easson is calling for one last big effort from his charges in Whangarei.

“We are at a World Cup, we’ve shown everybody that we deserve to be here, we’re playing New Zealand in New Zealand, so we have to enjoy it,” he said ahead of the match when Scotland will also face the Haka.

“It’s a challenge, but that’s why we love sport. We know any team that is hosting a Rugby World Cup is going to have that little bit of ascendancy, they’re going to have the crowd behind them.

“We’ll obviously look at the video of their game against Wales extremely closely. We’ll review that game this evening as coaches, then look at it with the players and then prepare for the Black Ferns knowing that if we put in another good performance the world will look at us knowing we’re improving.

“There’s no reason why we can’t go out there and do well. We’ve got two bonus points against two good sides already and we just want to push on.”

Looking back on a pulsating match with Australia at the Northland Events Centre in which the Scots were 12-0 up at half-time with the wind, Easson believes just a few more points in the first half would have done.

“I thought it was a 17 point wind in the first half, I’ll be honest,” Easson said after watching converted tries from winger Bienne Terita and replacement Ashley Marsters hand his side a 14-12 defeat and just a losing bonus point.

“I said to the management team about 15 minutes in ‘I think this is probably a 17 point wind’ because it was going to be so difficult to defend [into the wind] in the second half.

“Rhona was unlucky. If we had gone in 17 points up or even more it probably would have made a big difference.

“We did have to keep the ball and tighten it up a little in the second half and we knew doing that for 40 minutes was going to be really hard.

“With the wind as it was, we tried to defend as well as we could and our discipline was excellent.

“The wind was so strong out there and I thought, at times, we were [playing] a little bit wide in the second half.

“We kept fighting to the end and again, like against Wales, it was just a hard one to take.”

Hooker Lana Skeldon scored one try for Scotland while they were awarded a seven point penalty try.

Meanwhile, Chloe Rollie’s arm injury is being assessed by medics after the full-back was forced off after 37 minutes.

Scotland squad that played Australia: Chloe Rollie; Rhona Lloyd, Emma Orr, Lisa Thomson, Hannah Smith; Helen Nelson, Caity Mattinson; Molly Wright, Lana Skeldon, Christine Belisle, Emma Wassell, Sarah Bonar, Rachel Malcolm (C), Rachel McLachlan, Jade Konkel. Subs: Jodie Rettie, Leah Bartlett, Elliann Clarke, Lyndsay O’Donnell, Mairi McDonald, Sarah Law, Evie Wills, Shona Campbell.

Scotland scorers: Tries: Skeldon, Penalty try (seven points).

Thanks to World Rugby for the main photos

The Rugby World Cup runs from October 8 to November 12 and is on ITV