Source: Inpho/Women’s 6 Nations

The world turned upside down – Six Nations Round 4

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You need to look twice at the final score to believe your eyes: Scotland 13 – France 13.

It marks a sea-change in Scottish fortunes unimaginable before the events at Scotstoun. When their kick-off ran dead, you feared the worst. When they were driven off the second scrum, it looked even bleaker. But no, they kept their composure, kept their defences tight, and when in possession, ensured there was support in the right places.

After five minutes a French line-out came to its inevitable conclusion: Safi N’Diaye was in control over the Scottish line. Jessy Trémoulière’s kick faded left. (0-5)

From there the Scots found more cohesion, advancing into the French half. Helen Nelson accepted the offer of a penalty to reduce the margin. (3-5) They undid the good work by infringing three times with side-entries.

A huge French drive at a scrum allowed Trémoulière to pot her first kick. (3-8)

On 28 minutes Morgane Peyronnet was replaced by Camille Boudaud, an innocent moment in itself, but it was to have major consequences much later.

Scotland’s new-found confidence was evident as Hannah Smith in particular made important gains in territory out behind, while Jade Konkel led a determined campaign up front.

Just before half-time, another sign that all was not well with the French invaders. They kicked a penalty to the left corner, won another for pulling down but still couldn’t convert these gifts into a score. The Scottish pack won a vital turnover.

Half-time: 3-8

So we all knew what was going to happen after the break.

Only it didn’t.

Five minutes in, France increased their lead to ten with another catch and drive to the line. It was noticeable how often the captain Gaëlle Hermet was used as the catcher, not someone in the specialist positions. Coumba Diallo and Safi N’Diaye were delighted to be reunited in the second row after debuting together in 2012 (in the back row), but the throw was often aimed elsewhere. (3-13)

When two youngsters in the trio of replacement forwards came on (Molly Wright, Christine Belisle and Louise McMillan), the home pack’s rewards increased. There was good reason for rejoicing when Sara Cox awarded them a penalty at a scrum.

An unusual and dramatic sequence now followed. When a replacement, Lénaïg Corson, had to retire injured, Cox checked with her officials whether another replacement was in order. It wasn’t! France had used all 23 permitted players. You can now judge subsequent events in this light. Was this not an unnecessary error by their management?

For the last quarter it was 15 versus 14, and no cards had been brandished.

Now for the first time we saw the ball travelling down the Scottish line to the wing with intent, but it ran into touch. Therein lies a remaining weakness in their game-management. The backs don’t have enough ready-made moves available to ensure possession is retained and ground is gained. That adds to the burdens placed on the pack having to be ready to assist too often.

Still, the French were being held in check. On the three-quarter mark Nelson potted another penalty to reduce the gap (6-13). The French could look dangerous, but were denied by unusual inaccuracy as well as terrier-like defence. Cyrielle Banet is a threat when she comes infield on the diagonal, but today she couldn’t provide the crucial blow.

Instead it was the Scots who provided the grandstand finish: a delightful move saw the deserving Konkel have the honour of timing the final pass to the debutant Rachel Shankland on the right wing to score wide out. (11-13)

So near and yet so far (out)!

But once more Nelson produced the goods with a magnificent kick from the wide right. (13-13)
In the closing five minutes the Scots needed a bit more English know-how in keeping the ball stuck firmly up jumpers. But wayward kicks out of defence gave the French three more chances to spread their wings.

Why they were quite unable to achieve that extra score will be the subject of intense debate in the post-op reviews.

A great day for the Scots.

Player of the Match: Jade Konkel



15 Chloe Rollie
14 Rachel Shankland
13 Hannah Smith
12 Lisa Thomson
11 Megan Gaffney
10 Helen Nelson
9 Mairi McDonald
1 Leah Bartlett
2 Lana Skeldon
3 Megan Kennedy
4 Emma Wassall
5 Sarah Bonar
6 Rachel Malcolm (captain)
7 Rachel McLachlan
8 Jade Konkel

16 Molly Wright
17 Katie Dougan
18 Christine Belisle
19 Siobhan Cattigan
20 Louise McMillan
21 Rachel Law
22 Abi Evans
23 Annabel Sergeant


15 Jessy Trémoulière
14 Cyrielle Banet
13 Elise Pignot
12 Morgane Peyronnet
11 Marine Ménager
10 Audrey Abadie
9 Pauline Bourdon
1 Lise Arricastre
2 Agathe Sochat
3 Rose Bernadou
4 Coumba Diallo
5 Safi N’Diaye
6 Axelle Berthoumieu
7 Gaëlle Hermet (captain)
8 Emmeline Gros

16 Laure Touyé
17 Maylis Traoré
18 Clara Joyeux
19 Lénaïg Corson
20 Marjorie Mayans
21 Yanna Rivoalen
22 Camille Boudaud
23 Caroline Boujard

Referee: Sara Cox (RFU)
ARs: Joy Neville (IRFU) & Francesca Martin (WRU)
TMO: Ian Davies (WRU)