RugbyMatch Report

Ireland suffer heavy defeat to Scotland as four-try finish crushes resistance

Defeat leaves Ireland with Six Nations wooden spoon but they were competitive for most of the game in Edinburgh

Scotland's Rachel Malcolm forces her way over to score despite the best efforts of the Ireland defence during the Six Nations game in Edinburgh. Photograph: Craig Watson/Inpho

Women’s Six Nations: Scotland 36 Ireland 10

Ireland and Scotland have been close rivals in women’s rugby over the past few seasons but at the end of their encounter in the final round of the women’s Six Nations Championship at the Dam Health Stadium in Edinburgh, there was the distinct impression that the Scots have made the professional jump that the Irish side has still to achieve.

The results overall in the Six Nations and in particular this ultimately heavy defeat to Scotland – who, it must not be forgotten, were obliterated by the two big guns in the championship – will inevitably generate criticism about the backing the women’s 15s game has had in Ireland and in particular the pace of professionalism

Speaking after the match Ireland’s captain, Nichola Fryday, alluded to this when she said: “If you look at the trajectory that Wales and Scotland have had since turning professional we’re following suit and we just have to catch up fast.”

To dwell on the eventually damaging scoreline would be unfair on what is an Ireland team that has youth on its side but perhaps lacks the core of experience necessary to prosper in the Six Nations. For much of the match Ireland were competitive and indeed with 25 minutes of the match remaining were level with the Scots at 10-10.


Fryday, while disappointed at the final outcome, thinks that there is much to applaud from the Irish performance. She said: “You can’t deny that we had more possession in this match and we fronted up defensively. It’s just about execution. And that’s something that’s let us down in the whole tournament.

“We have to have a fully functioning set-piece in order to get rewards, and at times we showed that. At times our maul was dominant but when we’re in the 22 we have to come away with points and that’s the bottom line.

Ireland's Brittany Hogan offloads under pressure against Scotland. Photograph: Ben Brady/Inpho

“This is the first Six Nations tournament for a lot of the girls. It’s been a tough one but they’ll learn a lot from it, no doubt. It’s only going to get better for this team and I’m 100 per cent certain sure of that”.

Ireland will have the chance to take the positives forward when they play in the World Rugby’s WXV in which the Irish side, as a consequence of collecting the wooden spoon, will be in the lower level third tier, along with one other European country and one each from regional tournaments in Africa, Asia, Oceania and South America.

Against Scotland, Ireland, were competitive for two thirds of the contest but in the final 20 minutes their resistance collapsed against a strong effort from the Scotland forwards who cleared the way for a four try finish and an eventually crushing win.

Scotland led 5-3 at the break after recovering from a difficult opening quarter that was dominated by Ireland, who were rewarded after 12 minutes with a penalty converted by 19-year old outhalf Dannah O’Brien.

Ireland then missed a real opportunity to stretch their lead when they drove a five metre lineout. The green shirts appeared to have crossed the try line only for Scotland to emerge with the ball after an unlikely turnover.

The Irish side also looked strong when they attacked in the wide channels with significant contributions from fullback Lauren Delany and wing Aoife Doyle.

Scotland, having been on the receiving end of considerable Irish pressure, then asserted themselves, scoring in the final minute of the first half through their powerful centre Meryl Smith for a slender interval advantage.

Scotland quickly extended their lead just after half time when hooker Lana Skeldon exploded off the side of a maul to score her side’s second try. But straight away Ireland responded in kind with a maul try by Fryday, and an excellent conversion by O’Brien to level the scores.

The stalemate was short lived, a strong run by Smith setting up a position for Scotland’s forwards to drive at the Irish line, ending with prop Leah Bartlett touching down and Helen Nelson converting.

It was the confidence lift for Scotland who then increased the lead with tries from Francesca McGhie, skipper Rachel Malcom and fullback Chloe Rollie and two conversions by Nelson to inflict a heavy defeat on an Ireland side, left with much to ponder.

Scorers – Scotland: Tries: Smith, Skeldon, Bartlett, McGhie, Malcolm, Rollie; Cons: Nelson (3); Ireland: Try: Fryday; Con: O’Brien; Pen: O’Brien

SCOTLAND: C Rollie; C Grant, E Orr, M Smith, F McGhie; H Nelson, M McDonald; L Bartlett, L Skeldo, C Belisle, J Konkel-Roberts, L McMillan, R Malcolm, Rl McLachla, E Gallagher. Replacements: J Rettie for Skeldon 76 mins, A Young for Bartlett 76, E Clarke for Belise 76, E Donaldson for McMillan 71, E Sinclair for McLachlan 71, C Mattinson for McDonald 56, B Blacklock for Smith 72.

IRELAND: L Delany; A Doyle, A Dalton, V Irwin, N Behan; D O’Brien, M Scuffil-McCabe; L Djougang, N Jones, C Haney, N Fryday, S Monaghan, B Hogan, G Moore, D Nic a Bháird. Replacements: C Nielson for Jones 77 mins, S McGrath for Djougang 69, K Buggy for Haney 75, D Wall for Moore 12, A Hughes, A McGann for Irwin 50, M Deely for Doyle 69.

Referee: Sarah Cox (RFU).