SCOTLAND’s victory over Ireland at Donnybrook last March was one of the most joyous occasions of the season, as Shade Munro’s team at last won a Six Nations match on the road after a dozen barren years. A length-of-the-field try from Chloe Rollie was the highlight, but above all the 15-12 win was a team achievement, one in which the squad’s collective confidence was clearly greater than it had been for some time.
Sarah Bonar, who was at blindside for Scotland in that game and takes up the same position when the teams meet at Scotstoun tonight, is convinced it will take a similar effort to end up on top. “That was an amazing day,” recalled the Loughborough Lightning player, who is more usually a lock but has moved back as part of the reshuffle which has followed the injury to Siobhan Cattigan. “It was touch and go for the whole 80. It was really an 80-minute performance and I expect it will be the same on Friday.
“It will go down to the wire. If we can just compose ourselves, play in the right areas, it will be a brilliant game.”
Bonar scored Scotland’s only try as they went down 28-7 to Italy last week, and acknowledged there were some obvious flaws in the team’s display. But there were also enough positive elements, notably a much-improved scrum and a well-organised defence.
“It was exciting, a roller-coaster of emotions,” she continued. “Scoring that try before the clock went in the first half felt like a really good momentum change. We were really positive going into the second half, but unfortunately we couldn’t execute a lot of our moves.”
Although Italy scored two late tries and finished the stronger team, Scotland competed more strongly than they did in their 38-0 friendly defeat in Calvisano back in November, and Bonar believes that the games which followed that first Test of the season showed significant improvement up front. “We had the games against Canada and Spain and our Christmas camp, so we managed to spend more time together. We have more confidence within the set piece, and knowing our roles within the moves off of that as well.”
Bonar will pack down alongside her Loughborough team-mate Rachel Malcolm, and the understanding the two have could be a real advantage to Scotland. However, with Jade Konkel still sidelined through injury, the team go into the game without the woman who is not only their best individual player, but also their most inspiring leader. Konkel played against Ireland last year, and if Scotland win without her tonight it would represent a major milestone in their progress.
Scotland v Ireland kicks off at 7.45pm tonight (Friday) and will be shown live on BBC Alba.
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