SCOTLAND Women ran in two tries against a strong Irish side at Donnybrook in their fifth and final Six Nation’s fixture for this year, but their opponents proved too strong overall.
Scrum-half Jenny Maxwell crossed the whitewash in the first half for the Scots with hooker Lana Skeldon slotting the extras with ease. Winger Rhona Lloyd then dotted over in the final minutes to take the score to 45-12.
This was Ireland Women’s third successive win during this Championship on the synthetic surface and they came out firing in the familiar surrounds to clinch third place, with England claiming the title and France finishing second.
The hosts piled on the pressure throughout the first half and scored four tries before the break to Scotland’s one.
The girls in green continued to be a force to be reckoned with in the second half, with captain Niamh Briggs scoring her second try and wing Alison Miller completing a hat-trick.
But a determined Scotland didn’t let up. They played with heart right until the final whistle and were rewarded for their effort with a try in the final minutes.
“Overall, there has been a vast improvement and the squad has made great strides in aspects of the game,” said Scottish coach Shade Munro.
“We’ve conceded less points than previous years and scored four tries away from home, including two against Ireland today. This is the start of our journey and the reality is there’s still lots of work to do, but the momentum has been created.”
“They’re a great bunch of people and they have worked hard to make the progress that has been evident on the pitch during this campaign.”
Ireland were first to get points on the board at the five-minute mark as Wing Alison Miller crossed out wide and full-back Niamh Briggs nailed her first and only successful conversion of the match.
Scotland showed glimmers of what they’re capable of in attack and made ground with their solid driving maul.
Ireland scored a further three tries via wing Liz Burke, flanker Ciara Griffen and Briggs, who also kicked a penalty, to take the score to 25-0.
With 35 minutes gone, it was the Scots’ turn to get on the board. Lloyd started the play by winning the high ball off the re-start and Maxwell finished it with a snipe through the defence to score.
Skeldon punted the ball with confidence and successfully converted to keep Scotland Women in the game.
Scotland had one last flurry and played some patient attacking phases before the break with centre Lisa Thomson getting the crowd going with an intercept and bolt down pitch.
Ireland were quick to strike off the re-start to edge further in front with Miller collecting her second try of the match.
With 50 minutes on the clock, Briggs’ scored again before Scotland prop Tracy Balmer was yellow carded for repeated infringements (35-7).
Ireland capitalised and Miller collected her hat-trick at 62 minutes (40-7).
Scotland flanker Jemma Forsyth also saw yellow and headed to the sin bin, but the Dark Blues did well not to concede any points with only 13 players on the pitch.
Replacement Sophie Spence collected Ireland’s eighth and final try after Scotland was back at full strength.
With fresh legs off the bench, the Scots found their feet on attack and pushed up the pitch towards the whitewash in the final minutes.
Slick passing saw the ball sent out to Lloyd who was waiting in the wings for a short sprint over the try-line to finish on a positive note (45-12).
Ireland Women: N Briggs; L Burke, C McLaughlin, S Naoupu, A Miller; N Stapleton, L Muldoon; R ‘Reilly, Z Grattage, A Egan, E Anthony, C Cooney, C Griffin, C Molloy, P Fitzpatrick.
Subs – C Moloney, F Hayes, F Reidy, O Fitzsimons, S Spence, M Healy, A Donnelly, K Flood.
Scotland Women: C Rollie; M Gaffney, L Thomson, L Martin, R Lloyd; S Law, J Maxwell; H Lockhart, L Skeldon, L Smith, E Wassell, D McCormack, J Forsyth, K Dunbar, J Konkel.
Subs – S Quick, L Robertson, T Balmer, F Sim, A Stodter, H Nelson, L Harris, E Sinclair.