WXV2: commanding display gives Scotland bonus-point win over USA

Victory against Japan next week could be enough to win tournament

Rhona Lloyd
Rhona Lloyd scored Scotland's third try after outpacing the USA defence. Image: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images.

USA 14

Scotland 24

SCOTLAND not only defeated a team ranked two places above them at the Athlone Stadium in Cape Town, they did so in style, with a performance that was as robust in defence as it was ruthless in attack.

There were imperfections, of course – momentary lapses in defence and a couple of failures to finish off moves that would have made the victory more comfortable. But on the whole this bonus-point victory – the team’s fifth in a row in all competitions – was a superb illustration of how much progress they have made since the turn of the year.

Then they were in the throes of a desperate run of a dozen defeats. Now they have just racked up their best run of results since 2001, when they won six in a row.

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They will equal that run if they beat Japan at the same venue next Friday, and that would be enough to win the six-team tournament if they either better Italy’s result against the USA the following day or end up on the same match points as the Italians but with a superior points differential. Italy beat South Africa 36-18 in today’s later match and are now on 10 points with Scotland, but have a better points differential – 31 to 24.

There is no promotion to WXV1 in this, the first year of World Rugby’s three-tier event, but winning the tournament would nonetheless be a cause for serious celebration for Bryan Easson’s squad. As ever, the head coach himself declined to be carried away by this result, insisting his team can keep on improving. But he was clearly satisfied by most of what he had seen, and expressed his pride in the strength of character once again shown by his players.

“I think there’s more in us,” he said. “Attack-wise, the first 20, 25 minutes was excellent. We got some real pace on the wings and some of our decision-making in attack was excellent. We pinned them early – we knew there wasn’t a lot of kick attack from them. And when we got ball back I thought we attacked really well. We found some space on the edge when we needed to.

“Second half they came out the traps and put us under a lot of pressure. Defensively we put in a lot of good sets and looked really comfortable.

“So yeah, all round I thought we were really good. There were some real positives on both sides of the ball, and to beat a team who are above us in the world rankings, with a bonus point, is something we’re really proud of.”

The USA had almost all of the possession for the first seven or eight minutes, but it was Scotland who opened the scoring soon after that spell when Francesca McGhie outstripped the defence on the outside after Emma Orr had created some space for her to work in. Helen Nelson’s conversion came back off the post, but the stand-off was on target five minutes later after Emma Wassell got the team’s second try with a close-range finish.

Then, midway through the half, Rhona Lloyd grabbed the third on the right wing with a mirror image of McGhie’s try, again leaving the defence for dead with one of her trademark in-out runs. Nelson’s attempt to add the two points came back off a post again, but Scotland were soon back on the attack, and Lloyd nearly got another when she just failed to chase down a deep Lisa Thomson kick before it went dead.

General ineptitude and the strong wind they were playing into had hampered the USA’s efforts to hit back up to that point, but they got their act together in the last action of the half. Charli Jacoby finished off a few phases on from a lineout maul, and Gabby Cantorna converted to make it 17-7 at the break.

That could have been an ominous sign for Scotland and an encouraging one for the world-ranked-seventh Americans, but Easson’s side did an excellent job in the third quarter of quelling any hopes there opponents had of mounting a real comeback.

Chloe Rollie got the bonus-point score on the hour mark after steady pressure on the US goal line, and Meryl Smith, on at 10 for Nelson, converted to make it 24-7. The USA got their second five minutes later after a lineout maul, replacement hooker Paige Stathopoulos getting the try and Tess Feury converting.

With 15 minutes still to play, a 10-point lead was by no means assured, but Scotland took control of the remainder of the contest with some mature and intelligent offensive defence.


Teams –

USA: B Mataitoga (A Czaplicki 60); T Feury, K Zackary (captain), M Hingano, C Clapp; G Cantorna (K Howard 49), C Waters (T Tukuafu 49); C Benson (M Tupou 60), K Treder (P Stathopoulos 26), C Jacoby (K Sagapolu 41), H Taufoou, E Jarrell (J Kronish 67), F Tafuna (R Ehrecke 56), T Brody, R Johnson.

Scotland: C Rollie; R Lloyd, E Orr, L Thomson, F McGhie (E Musgrove 80); H Nelson (M Smith 49, Nelson 62-73), M McDonald (C Mattinson 49); L Bartlett (A Young 69), L Skeldon (E Martin 80), C Belisle (L Cockburn 67), E Wassell (E Donaldson 80), L McMillan (E Donaldson 31-40), R Malcolm (captain), R McLachlan (J Konkel-Roberts 49), E Gallagher.

Referee: Clara Munarini (Italy).


Scorers –

USA: Tries: Jacoby, Stathopoulos. Cons: Cantorna, Feury. 

Scotland: Tries: McGhie, Wassell, Lloyd, Rollie. Cons: Nelson, Smith.

Scoring sequence (USA first): 0-5, 0-10, 0-12, 0-17, 5-17, 7-17, 7-22, 7-24, 12-24, 14-24.


Player-of-the-Match: Scotland No 8 Evie Gallagher was superb in defence, epitomising the tireless fight at the breakdown that helped her team thwart their opponents time after time.

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About Stuart Bathgate 1360 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.


  1. This team have moved onto a completely different level of performance in the last 2-3 years and it’s great to see. Some terrific young players coming through, with Emma Orr and Francesca McGhie really adding punch to the attack. Stalwarts Helen Nelson and Lisa Thomson must be looking at their shoulder at Meryl Smith and worrying for their starting berths! Whilst this is the second-tier tournament, it’s brilliant to watch them getting good results.

  2. Great run of wins for the team – real morale booster. They look like they could go on and get many more, too. Agree Coach Potato that Orr was magnificent

  3. Every player was superb which is a credit to them AND the coaching team. I would like to see the stats but for me at 20 years old Emma Orr defence was PERFECT. Her attacking threat good too. Watch her though in D tackle track wide make the next tackle. Track wide make the next. In attack never greedy always first to ruck over the centre or wing partner to secure ball. For me she was player of the match.

    • I thought it was a pretty average performance tbh. Bear in mind this is the 2nd tier comp. Not clinical in attack and lacking ball carriers. Nevertheless a wins a win.


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