Source: INPHO

Two on the trot for the Scots

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Scotland v Ireland – Six Nations – Round Five
DAM Health Stadium, Edinburgh

Another desperately important game for both sides. If the Scots could beat the Irish at home, they would qualify for Tier 2 of the WXV next autumn. But they hadn’t achieved back- to-back wins in the 6N for seventeen years.

For Ireland, could this be the start of the comeback they all desired? Another record crowd of 4,863 was on hand to roar the players on.

Result: Scotland 36 Ireland 10 Player of the Match Meryl Smith

The game

For the rare neutral in the crowd it was sad to know one side had to lose. Both had so much at stake: Scotland having experienced a long history of lost matches; Ireland in the middle of their biggest slump for decades.

Ireland started promisingly, phases developing just as the coaches would have wished. In less than four minutes Dannah O’Brien, still a teenager, kicked a penalty.

They maintained that lead till just before the interval, but crucially they couldn’t extend it. They thought they had complete a first try of the tournament – such had been their fate through four rounds – but Louise McMillan got her hands under the ball to deny them.

Instead, Meryl Smith forced her way over the line to open Scotland’s account.

Half-time: 5-3

The lack of scores revealed the two sides’ problems, but few could have imagined how the second half would develop. Lana Skeldon scored yet another try off the side of a maul to hearten the hosts.

It took another five minutes for the visiting skipper, Nichola Fryday, to bring up that first 2023 try for ireland. At last! And the scores were level 10-10. Still no inkling of what was to follow.

In the event it was a wash of tries to the hosts, who went on to complete six. It’s hard to remember if and when they have ever scored so many in a 6N match.

The pick of them was by another teenager Fran McGhie, on the end of a move taken straight from the England copybook. The ball was spread fast and wide to the left, where McGhie accelerated to round her opponent and curve back in towards the posts. The crowd roared.

Surrounding this gem of a score, Leah Bartlett (her third this tournament), skipper Rachel Malcolm and Chloe Rollie (right at the close) added to Ireland’s woes.

Irish voices have been loud enough for long enough for the IRFU to sit up and take action. It is coming, but at a snail’s pace. In the meantime the players and the coaching staff have to withstand the comments coming their way.

Unlike today’s opponents, the Girls in Green are not familiar with such a mournful state of affairs. They are destined for Tier 3 of the WXV, not the place any of them wanted to be.

We can only wish them well for the future.

For Scotland this was a triumph, a second win in succession and proof that they are on the mend. There is much needed competition for places, the pack is getting stronger and more cohesive.

There is more competition for the 9 shirt, where a controlling figure of the Bourdon type would help to ensure the best option being taken as often as possible. Both wingers are capable of beating defenders to provide that vital element that has been missing for so long, the sharp point to finish off promising moves.



15. Chloe Rollie (Loughborough Lightning), 14. Coreen Grant (Saracens), 13. Emma Orr (Heriot’s), 12. Meryl Smith (University of Edinburgh), 11. Francesca McGhie (Watsonians), 10. Helen Nelson (Loughborough Lightning), 9. Mairi McDonald (Exeter Chiefs), 1. Leah Bartlett (Loughborough Lightning), 2. Lana Skeldon (Worcester Warriors), 3. Christine Belisle (Loughborough Lightning), 4. Jade Konkel-Roberts (Harlequins), 5. Louise McMillan (Saracens), 6. Rachel Malcolm (captain, Loughborough Lightning), 7. Rachel McLachlan (Sale Sharks), 8. Evie Gallagher (Worcester Warriors)


16. Jodie Rettie (Saracens), 17. Anne Young (Sale Sharks), 18. Elliann Clarke (University of Edinburgh), 19. Eva Donaldson (University of Edinburgh), 20. Eilidh Sinclair (Exeter Chiefs), 21. Caity Mattinson (Worcester Warriors), 22. Beth Blacklock (Harlequins), 23. Liz Musgrove (Wasps)


15. Lauren Delany (Sale Sharks), 14. Aoife Doyle (Railway Union), 13. Aoife Dalton (Old Belvedere), 12. Vicky Irwin (Sale Sharks), 11. Natasja Behan (Blackrock College), 10. Dannah O’Brien (Old Belvedere), 9. Molly Scuffil-McCabe (Railway Union), 1. Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere), 2. Neve Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury), 3. Christy Haney (Blackrock College), 4. Nichola Fryday (captain, Exeter Chiefs), 5. Sam Monaghan (Gloucester-Hartpury), 6. Brittany Hogan (Old Belvedere), 7. Grace Moore (Saracens/IQ Rugby), 8. Deirbhile Nic a Bháird (Old Belvedere)


16. Clara Nielson (Exeter Chiefs), 17. Sadhbh McGrath (Cooke), 18. Kathryn Buggy (Gloucester- Hartpury), 19. Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock College), 20. Dorothy Wall (Blackrock College), 21. Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union), 22. Anna McGann (Railway Union), 23. Méabh Deely (Blackrock College)


Referee: Sara Cox (RFU)
Assistant Referees: Clara Munarini (FIR) and Katherine Ritchie (RFU) TMO: Matteo Liperini (FIR)

Final Table

                                      W​      L​       Pts

England​​​                        5         0        28
France                          4        ​ 1         21
Wales ​​                          3         2        15
Scotland      ​​                 2         3        10
Italy                               1         4         4
Ireland    ​​                      0         5         0  ​


The disappearance of Lisa Thomson after a single showing in the 6N confirms the unhappy relationship between Fifteens and Sevens. It was a lucky chance that Emma Orr was declared fit, so could neatly replace her.

Only two changes for Ireland, both on the bench. Dorothy Wall and Ailsa Hughes returned to combat.
The result means that Scotland achieved their best position for five years. More strikingly, they hadn’t scored two consecutive wins in the 6N for seventeen years. No wonder there were even more tears of joy than last week.

Scotland won another, unmentioned game 12-6. That is the number of players operating in England. You can argue that two ways: Ireland won that game, by encouraging their home clubs. (Irish critics of the IRFU won’t accept that assertion; in their view the AIL is too weak.) Scotland won it by ensuring their best players were being better looked after ‘abroad’. In their favour, it was good to see promising youngsters, not least their winger McGhie and centre Orr coming from home stock.