Source: Alessandro Sabattini - World Rugby via Getty Images

World Cup Qualifiers – Round Two Spain v Scotland

  • +1

You don’t often see a league table looking like this:

Table after 2 Rounds          W     L     Pts

Ireland                                        1       1       5

Italy                                             1       1       5

Scotland                                     1        1      5

Spain                                           1       1      5

This is the picture after two rounds of the World Cup Qualifiers (European section). For each nation this brings enormous tension. All will be resolved next Saturday 25 September, when the fixtures will be:

Italy v Spain KO 14.00 BST
Ireland v Scotland 17.00 BST

– bringing the two Latin and the two Celtic nations together. How cunning of the planners to leave these spicy contests to the final round.

Scotland v Spain

Round Two meant life or death to Scotland and Ireland after their unwelcome losses the previous week. Now the Scots were to face las Leonas for the 22nd time.

The game could hardly have started worse for them. Patricia Garcia’s kick-off was knocked on. From a very delayed scrum Spain constructed a simple move that saw Amaia Erbina stroll through midfield to plant the ball under the posts. Garcia converted. (7-0) Not two minutes on the clock. Me, oh my!

The Scots stayed calm; they were in for the long fight. On 18 minutes they developed a nice move off a scrum. The ball winged right; Rhona Lloyd had to reach high for the final pass, it stuck and she was over. The TMO checked that pass wasn’t forward. (7-5)

Then the moment that every defence coach dreads: two consecutive errors. Spain kicked off, Lisa Thomson claimed the ball on the run down the left wing. A well judged pass to Megan Gaffney and she was away. A final step inside the last defender and the game had swung.(7-12)

The Spanish forwards took charge. They mounted a drive that the Scots had no means of stopping. Garcia took her time over the conversion. She swung it over from the 5-metre line to add a vital advantage. (14-12)

The game was taking on the appearance of a boxing match, slug for slug.

On the half hour Spain added another try of a very different quality. From an attacking line-out the ball swung right; the Scottish defence was deceived by an excellent inside pass by Amalia Argudo to the left winger Marcia Garcia that created the gap. (19-12)

Just before half-time the Scots shaped a really good looking attack. It started with a drive by Jade Konkel, was developed by quick hands in the backs, then the forwards had a few drives under the posts. Finally Jennie Maxwell fed a simple ball out to Helen Nelson and she dropped over the line; the sort of move that gives a team a huge shot of confidence. Nelson spoiled this pretty picture by slicing the conversion from in front.

Half-time: Spain 19 Scotland 17

Nelson was relieved to be offered a penalty chance from in front of the posts. (19-20) But three minutes later Patricia Garcia was happy to return the compliment from a similar position. (22-20)

A critical moment came when Carmen Castellucci was shown yellow for a dangerously high tackle. Although there were still 25 minutes on the clock, just the one score was to prove enough, and it was Scotland who scored it. The Spaniards were looking careworn under intense pressure. Aurélie Groizeleau played advantage as the Scots closed on the line; when they were held up, Lisa Thomson popped a kick into the corner. From there an accurate line-out drill saw Rachel McLachlan over the line on the end of a powerful drive.

Result: Spain 22 Scotland 27
Referee: Aurélie Groizeleau (FFR)

Scotland will be greatly heartened by this result. Forwards and backs all played their part in victory, but they know they will have their hands full defying the Irish next weekend.

It will be a surprise if the Spaniards manage to beat the hosts in Parma; it’s not impossible, but it’s doubtful they will last the full 80 minutes. Fitness will be a decisive factor as much as skill and power.

Ireland and Italy to qualify.