RWC: Last gasp defeat a real kick in the teeth for Scots

By Gary Heatly

Scotland have been involved in some dramatic games in the last few years, but this last gasp defeat to Wales has to be right up there with the toughest to take.

Rachel Malcolm and her charges went down 18-15 in their World Cup Pool A opener in Whangarei in New Zealand as replacement Keira Bevan kicked the winning penalty with the clock in the red.

Scotland got off to a slow start, but once they got into their stride they caused Wales problems and many will feel their opponents should have had someone yellow carded before one eventually came in the 65th minute. By that time Wales had conceded 15 penalties and referee Clara Munarini had warned them numerous times.

The Scots were also partly to blame for their own demise, stand-off Helen Nelson missing two penalties and three conversions to leave 12 points out there, although at least two of the kicks were from very wide out.

There was also a bad looking arm injury to replacement Eilidh Sinclair as Scotland took a losing bonus point from this one, but it could have – and maybe should have – been so much more.

With both sides well supported in the Northland Events Centre the anthems were emotional and sung with gusto.

A strong start came from Wales and they scored a try through back-row Alisha Butchers after six minutes. It was converted by stand-off Elinor Snowsill.

It was all Wales at this stage and after a good break through the midfield from centre Megan Webb, they earned a penalty which Snowsill put over to make it 10-0 after 12 minutes.

Scotland needed to settle down into things and they had a chance in the 15th minute, but vice-captain Nelson’s penalty drifted wide.

The Scots were starting to get a foothold in the game though and their bigger ball carriers were coming into things. In the 27th minute they got their first points of this World Cup on the board thanks to an unconverted try – after a driving lineout – from hooker Lana Skeldon.

Wales’ second try came through full-back Kayleigh Powell seven minutes later. It was unconverted and it was 15-5, though Scotland missed a penalty through Nelson just before half-time.

Scotland needed a fast start to the second half, but it did not come immediately. Indeed, but for a great tackle tracking back by scrum-half Caity Mattinson on Wales’ flying winger Jasmine Joyce they might have let in more points.

Sinclair then came on for Louise McMillan in the back-row for the Scots before they held up Wales over the try line.

Scotland needed to find some momentum from somewhere and No.8 Jade Konkel-Roberts was trying her best to get her side fired up and back into this contest.

Just before the hour mark she was held up over the try line and Scotland knew they had to score soon.

The ball was then knocked on over the try line and things just weren’t going for the Scots with time running out with only 19 minutes left at that point.

There was then a long injury stoppage after Sinclair went down and with 17 minutes to go both teams had to reset.

At that time Leah Bartlett came on at loosehead prop and Jodie Rettie replaced Sinclair who had suffered what looked like an arm injury.

From the very next scrum Wales were penalised for a 15th time in 65 minutes and loosehead prop Cara Hope was yellow carded.

Scotland scored an unconverted try out wide straight away through winger Megan Gaffney and were just five points behind, although it took a great tackle from centre Lisa Thomson to deny Butchers a score up the other end soon after.

With four minutes remaining Joyce was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on.

Wales had just returned to 15, but were at 14 again and Scotland props Bartlett and Christine Belisle took advantage to set up Gaffney who finished well for her second try.

Nelson could not convert from the touchline and it was 15-15 with the clock at 79 plus minutes.

There was still drama to come though. With the clock in the red, 14-player Wales went through 20 plus phases and won a penalty.

Bevan held her nerve to kick the three points and give her side an 18-15 win in the most dramatic of circumstances.

Scotland play Australia next at the Northland Events Stadium on Saturday, October 15 at 3am UK time. Australia lost to New Zealand 41-17 on Saturday in Auckland.

Scotland squad that played Wales: Chloe Rollie; Rhona Lloyd, Hannah Smith, Lisa Thomson, Megan Gaffney; Helen Nelson, Caity Mattinson; Molly Wright, Lana Skeldon, Christine Belisle, Emma Wassell, Sarah Bonar, Rachel Malcolm (C), Louise McMillan, Jade Konkel. Subs: Jodie Rettie, Leah Bartlett, Elliann Clarke, Lyndsay O’Donnell, Eilidh Sinclair, Mairi McDonald, Meryl Smith, Shona Campbell.

Scotland scorers: Tries: Skeldon, Gaffney 2.

Thanks to World Rugby for the main photo of Megan Gaffney

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