GAVIN HARPER @ Broadwood Stadium
SCOTLAND WOMEN scored two tries in a competitive match for the first time in five years, both through the outstanding Jade Konkel, but it was not enough to secure a first Six Nations win since 2010, with Ireland scoring in the 81st minute through outside centre Jenny Murphy.
The home side made a bright start and, after a spell of possession inside the Ireland 22, Konkel crashed over for the first try of the night. Sarah Law converted to give Shade Munro’s side an early 7-0 lead before Ireland began to grow into the match.
They struck back shortly after Konkel’s effort, with Alison Miller scoring in the corner following a well-worked move. The power of the visitors’ pack then came to the fore as they dominated a succession of scrums on the Scotland line, only to be denied – three times – by excellent Scottish defending, with Megan Gaffney, Karen Dunbar and Konkel all making crucial interventions.
There was a sense of predictability about the second Irish try, as they powered their way towards the line, before Miller took advantage of an overlap to beat Gaffney and score out wide.
Both conversions were missed, but the Irish led 7-10 before Shade Munro’s side hit back with a momentous score on the half hour mark.
A driven line-out saw the Scots to within five metres of the line, before Konkel again powered over. Law’s conversion was wide, but she added a penalty before the break to give Scotland a 15-10 lead.
The hosts dominated the opening stages of the second half, before a burst from number eight Paula Fitzpatrick, aided by some pretty poor Scottish tackling, put the visitors back on top.
Scotland prop Lindsay Smith was sent to the sin-bin for collapsing a line-out drive as it creeped towards the line, and the Irish inevitably kicked the penalty to the corner, and this time nothing was going to stop the green juggernaut, with Lindsay Peat dotting down to level the scores a 15-all.
A high tackle presented Law with a chance to kick Scotland ahead on 54 minutes, but her penalty attempt went wide. Helen Nelson missed a further penalty with 15 minutes left, after Scotland surged into the Ireland 22 through Chloe Rollie, and several phases later, Ireland infringed at the breakdown. However, the Scottish stand-off side failed to capitalise, and Ireland crept up the pitch, to seal the victory.
“It is pretty gutting for all the effort they put in. It was pretty cruel in the end but a couple of years ago they lost 70s to three and 46-10 last year so you can see there is improvements there,” said Scottish head coach Shade Munro.
“Last year they pretty much ripped us apart so you can see the improvements because that is a good Irish team. The girls are already talking about France next week.”
Scotland Women: C Rollie, M Gaffney, L Thomson, L Martin, R Lloyd, H Nelson, S Law; T Balmer, R Malcolm, L Smith, E Wassell, D McCormack, K Dunbar, L McMillan, J Konkel. Subs: L Park, H Lockhart, K Dougan, S Bonar, J Forsyth, J Maxwell, L Harris, E Sinclair
Ireland: M Coyne, N Kavanagh, J Murphy, S Naoupu, A Miller, N Stapleton, A Hughes; L Peat, L Lyons, A Egan, O Fitzsimmons, M Reilly, C Griffin, C Molloy, P Fitzpatrick. Subs: J Finlay, I Van Staden, C O’Connor, E Anthony, N Fryday, M Healy, C McLaughlin, E Considine.
Scotland Women: Tries: Konkel 2; Con: Law; Pen: Law
Ireland Women: Tries: Miller 2, Murphy; Cons: Stapleton (2); Pen: Stapleton
Scoring sequence (Scotland first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-5; 7-10; 10-10, 15-10 (h-t) 15-15; 15-20; 15-22
Player-of-the-Match: Scotland number eight Jade Konkel was outstanding, as were many of her team-mates. She carried well and tidied up at the base of a retreating scrum superbly, not forgetting her two tries.
Talking Point: Scotland’s inability to take points when opportunities arose proved costly when Murphy dived over, but plenty of positives for the remainder of the campaign.
Image: Craig Watson – www.craigwatson.co.uk