STUART BATHGATE at Hive Stadium
GAMES between Scotland and Spain always used to be close affairs. This one started off in that fashion, but long before the end the home team had cut loose and ensured a victory that is the ideal morale boost ahead of WXV2.
Spain were the stronger team for much of the first half, and took the lead when their captain, Cristina Blanco, touched down from a lineout drive. But the home side hit back with three unconverted tries of their own before the break – one of them a breathtaking length-of-the-pitch effort finished off by Rhona Lloyd. And three more after the break – all converted by Helen Nelson – were testament to the home team’s superior fitness.
“It was really good preparation for WXV 2,” head coach Bryan Easson said. “I thought our defensive lineout was superb and put them under a lot of pressure, so the likes of Sarah Bonar and Rachel Malcom must take a lot of credit for that.
“Defensively in general we put in some good sets and that meant that our attack started to flow better. Overall, I’m very pleased with where we are as we head to South Africa.”
Scotland’s equaliser came from lock forward Bonar, whose imperious performance in the lineout was a crucial ingredient of the victory. After winning the ball cleanly from a penalty sent to touch, the lock forward then drifted over from the right touchline to the far left – where, a couple of phases later, she finished off.
Lloyd’s score began when a Spain attack ended with the visitors conceding a scrum right in front of the Scots posts. From the set piece, No 8 Evie Gallagher picked up and fed Meryl Smith. Breaking clear of the first tackler, Smith passed to Emma Orr, who drew her marker then passed to Lloyd. The winger was still well inside her own half, but outstripped what was left of the defence for a sensational score.
Scotland’s third try came with the clock in the red at the end of the half, and was again begun by a lineout won by Bonar. A backs move appeared to have broken down after that, but then Smith cut back against the grain to slice through a tiring defence. two defenders to touch down. With the two points again going abegging, that made the half-time score 15-5.
Ten minutes into the second half, Francesca McGhie showed good footwork to break through from a tight position and score her team’s fourth. Emma Orr blasted through the defence for the fifth following a five-metre scrum, and substitute Elis Martin got the sixth try off the back of a lineout drive.
An increasingly frustrating evening for the visitors was typified by the yellow-carding a minute from time of replacement Vico Gorrochategui for a team offence.
Scotland: Tries: Bonar, Lloyd, Smith, McGhie, Orr, Martin. Cons: Nelson 3.
Spain: Try: Blanco.
Scotland: C Rollie; R Lloyd, E Orr, M Smith, F McGhie; H Nelson, M McDonald; L Bartlett, L Skeldon, C Belisle, L McMillan, S Bonar, R Malcolm (captain), R McLachlan, E Gallagher. Replacements: E Martin, A Young, L Cockburn, E Donaldson, E Wassell, C Mattinson, L Thomson, E Musgrove.
Spain: A Argudo; C Perez, A Vinuesa, I Pozo,C Piquero; I Bueso-Inchausti; B Vergara; M del Castillo, C Blanco (captain), S Bracic, A Puig, C Castellucci, O Fresneda, A Capell, M Calvo. Replacements: I Antolinez, M Roman, L Delgado, L Bianchi, V Gorrochategui, M Aresti, Z Perez, J Blanco-Hortiguera.
Yellow card: Spain: Gorrochategui 79.
Referee: Holly Wood (England).
Player of the Match: Emma Orr (Scotland).